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MARK ALDRIDGE

Lead Senate candidate for the "GREAT AUSTRALIAN PARTY"

WARNING TO ALL ANIMAL LOVERS SHELTERS, RESCUERS AND SANCTUARY OWNERS

It has become apparent in recent months, that it is time we all worked together and keep updated lists so as to unite us as an industry and ensure the safety of our animals

The RSPCA around Australia appear united in the way they are now treating us as self funded carers, in particular those of us who hold the ideal of a non kill status close to our hearts.

This warning is for any animal owners, farms, sanctuary's and shelters, and even more so rescue groups.

Recent actions of the RSPCA are sending us all a very sad message that we can be charged with criminal offences if we have injured, elderly or abused animals on our premises, or if some one else is in charge or in custody of your animals.

Making matters abhorrent is the fact once the RSPCA do turn up; they can seize and destroy the animals leaving the owner without the ability to defend any charges laid with independent veterinary reports.

If you are not on site, or agist your animals at another property seizure can still occur, even with a perfectly health animal, and once taken, their best interests may not be served well.

RSPCA, how many animal fit in a horse float I was told was for 4 horses (9 horses) ??

The RSPCA are seen here taking animals from a property because a person on the propery has restrictions on how many animals she can own, the animals are owned by two other people, but due the legislat...

In this video taken on the 25/10/13 9 horses, from stallions, mares and miniatures are crammed into a float designed for 4 horse, they are being taken even though the 2 owners were on site, because another person on the adjacent property is subject to restrictions on how many horses she can own.

Under current legislation ownership is described as "being in a persons custody or control".

Age related illness like arthritis, glaucoma, teeth decay are reason enough for the RSPCA to put down animals they seize and to then charge you, with cruelty charges, and on top of that extensive legal and veterinary costs. 

Most animals are put down under behavioural issues by the RSPCA, but seizure under behaviour is not covered by the legislation that empowers them, so consider reading your local laws and keeping notes so you know your rights

In one case I worked on even rescued animals with existing health complaints, were taken by the RSPCA, and charges were laid; 1 kitten that was dumped on the night before the RSPCA raid, with signs of cat flu, even though the kitten was in quarantine had been treated and was awaiting a booked vet inspection the very next morning, the RSPCA raid occurred before the planned vet visit, the kitten was seized, put down and the owner of the shelter charged.

Another prime example is a dog with mange that was on death row at a local pound, a non kill shelter stepped in and rescued him, started the usual medical treatments, but is also being charged for the animal being on site.

Recent cases from other states paint the same picture, where animals were in care and receiving treatment, if they still had any visible issues at the time of the raids, they were also taken, even with evidence of their ongoing treatment.

"Making matters even worse, behavioural issues that are evident, is also cause to have an animal seized, even if behavioural training is in place, this includes jumping at their gates, any sign of aggression, and even timid behaviour", as if these poor animals are being punished for having suffered abusive treatment, in the same way rescuers are being charged for trying to rescue and rehabilitate them. 

Another reason to ensure you heed advise is when raids are carried out when you are not home by either the RSPCA or in recent cases by certain animal activists, staged photos or events can be made up to support their position, so keeping regular photos or videos is imperative.

In the short term while I am doing my best to have these issues resolved by legislative means, it is best we all err on the side of caution, make sure very good records are kept, photos of all animals that arrive noting their condition immediately.

Running logs books on every animal’s treatment and progress again with video back up is absolutely essential, keep names of any visitors and possible witnesses again as back up should you become part of any future raids or break-ins.

It is best with any elderly animals, to have them vet checked on a regular basis while this problem with the RSPCA exists, or keep regular video footage of their condition, ensure your vet provides you with written reports.

Only 2 weeks ago, a woman's vet advised her that the costs of surgery was a certain price and may be needed in the next few days, the woman went home to find the money and get a second opinion as the price was beyond her savings, before there was even an issue, the RSPCA were on her door step, as much as I have not investigated this case to ensure its accuracy, it shows even pet owners should become informed.

If your animal has any health issues being treated, or has had recent surgery, keep it out of site, if you are not home, your animal will not be able to explain to the RSPCA it is being treated.

If the RSPCA turn up when you are home, demand to see and copy any paper work and warrants, also demand to see their ID, and take notes, please in any event film everything that goes on from the moment of entry, also get witnesses there immediately.

These ideal may seem excessive, but in many recent cases, so may people and animals would have been better of, if they had known what to do, or had evidence to protect their animals or lively hood.

The RSPCA now prefer to enter when you are not home, so they can control every little bit of evidence, so consider installing video surveillance now, and make sure it is out if sight, if this cannot be achieved, put up signs saying there is, and inform any neighbours to keep you informed and to be there again with video cameras, if not their phone cameras.

The Chief inspector of the RSPCA in SA took 9 animals in a recent raid on a leading no kill shelter saying in their statement “Sadly, three dogs and the kitten needed to be humanely euthanized due to untreatable, unmanageable, and ongoing medical conditions” The remaining five dogs surrendered to us by the Animal Shelter are in our care, and are receiving vital treatment & TLC from staff and volunteers, and their conditions are improving.   

"Dont be deceived here, this same RSPCA branch were regular visitors at this shelter, always offered a chat and a coffee, and never raised any concerns, even just a few months earlier."

That means this; the 3 dogs had age related issues, glaucoma, arthritis and the usual age related tooth wear and decay, and were all being treated appropriately, these, as we all know are manageable, by way of medication and diet, each case is evidenced by way of witnesses, videos and photographs which clearly show these animals were in good health. see video here

The shelter operator is being charged for allowing these animals to live.

Surrendered means; She was told if they were not surrendered, they would be seized in any event and the costs of hundreds of dollars a day, could be drawn out and cost her tens of thousands of dollars, money she didn’t have, once surrendered, they become the property of the RSPCA. 

The Kitten had the flu, again a treatable health issue, and would have been at the vet that morning, if not taken and killed by the RSPCA.

The other 5 dogs were taken under the banner of “Behavioural issues” and were again being treated and rehabilitated, the owner of the shelter now faces 7 counts of animal cruelty, a woman who has saved and re-homed thousands of injured and abused animals.

In a current WA case, where an experienced rescuer was raided using an invalid warrant while she was not home, all up 80 animals were taken, simply because 2 elderly dogs did not meet the RSPCA's scrutiny and many cats were housed together, not separated she refused to sign over the animals, after some 12 months is still awaiting her day in court, and it took 4 months to even press charges.

The RSPCA are now up to around $600,000 in storage fees and legal costs, and have already put down 25 animals, so they are after her entire estate, which was already bequeathed to another animal rescue organisation.

So the warning here is not just for the animals safety, it is about everything you hold dear.

Also lock down your quarantine areas, in video surveillance at a recent RSPCA raid when operators were not home, they walked through quarantine, and then continued into the rest of the shelter with out wash down, and we all know what the result of that could have been.

  • Video every new arrival.
  • Keep all vet records.
  • Ask for receipts for every expense and every rescue.
  • Keep records of all visitors and donations.
  • Install video security and hard drive storage.
  • Ensure you keep recovering animals out of public view.
  • Always have regular written vet reports, especially with elderly animals.
  • Apply for a section 6 or equivalent so you can legally receive donations (even food).
  • If you rescue from pounds, ask for a report upon pick up.
  • If you preform of site rescues ensure you have a witness.
  • Never criticize the RSPCA on-line or in the media, to avoid legal threats.
  • Keep written agreements if you lease or use another property to house your animals.

This advise is based on current and recent precedent, and case studies are available upon request.

If these actions can happen to a leading shelter, leading rescuers, and even the innocent, it can happen to any of us. Play and stay safe my friends, ensure all local groups exchange contact details, and work together to protect the animals and the carers.

Reform is reliant on spreading the truth, if you have any evidence you believe will help bring change, please forward it to me at my email address, all information will be treated as confidential until a national enquiry can be organised, and then we can all put forward our experiences with out fear of retribution. 

Mark Aldridge  

Australian Alliance animal welfare division

Animal rights activist, owner of Willow Wood Sanctuary S.A. & Federal Independent candidate