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MARK ALDRIDGE

Lead Senate candidate for the "GREAT AUSTRALIAN PARTY"

Independent calls for parliamentary enquiry into the states RSPCA

Imagine sending health inspectors into a hospital, then blaming the hospital for any sick patients they find, maybe even go as far as imagining the inspectors take several patients and euthanizing several based on age related illness.  

This may seem an outrageous statement or indeed comparison, but that would be solely based on one’s personal capacity to determine the value of life. 

The RSPCA are empowered by and work under the protections found in the Animal welfare Act of 1985, and as a corporation they are funded by government and by way of public donations to protect the best interests of all animals in this state. 

In South Australia there are also many privately and community based organisations, shelters and sanctuaries that rescue, rehabilitate and re-home a variety of animals.

The only organisation that attracts taxpayer funded support is the RSPCA, most if not all other animal rescue organisations are self funded, the only common denominator is that every rescue organisation must adhere to local legislation and humane practices. 

Imagine if a self funded rescue or shelter were to be inspected and judged on the condition of animals when they arrive, rather than the services they provide or even their success rate. 

The RSPCA recently obtained a warrant to enter Moorook animal shelter, taking 9 animals based on supposed medical and behavioural issues, one had been dumped just hours earlier, all were under veterinary care, had adequate food, water and shelter, some were receiving advanced training others were new arrivals settling in. 

The owner of Moorook shelter and some volunteers were threatened with massive costs if they did not sign over chosen animals, they were told specialty care, and extensive daily charges relating to their housing could go on for months, and for an organisation that collects scrap metal and cans to help pay the costs, they were backed into a corner.

Four animals were immediately euthanized by the RSPCA, one had only arrived at Moorook and was booked into the Vet’s the very next day, the other 3 were long term residents who were all much loved by the volunteers and all suffered age related minor disability’s, begging the question who has the right to make such decisions, the owner who is a vet nurse and experienced shelter operator, or the RSPCA.

The other animals are now the property of the RSPCA, so both the owners and the thousands of supporters of Moorook shelter need never know what happened to the animals. Lola the shelter operator has taken in the old and the weary, abused and neglected and the unwanted for over a decade, every animal where necessary is vet checked, temperament tested, trained, micro chipped, de-sexed and very well fed and loved.

For all her years of hard work and sacrifice, and the hard work of Moorooks helpers, they deserved a little respect and support. If there in fact were deserved changes to be made, then working together as lovers of Animals would be educated and fair way forward, rather than heavy handed tactics and secrecy. 

There would never be a time in the running of a shelter that it would not contain animals with behaviour issues, as most are rescued from some very sad situations, so the RSPCA’s seizure of animals based on barking, growling or over exuberance from the safe confines of Moorook shelter is unacceptable practice, especially when most were already undergoing treatment and bonding with the shelter vets and volunteers.

Moorook has a very good supporter base, with a strong online presence, integrated social networking service, and an efficient grass roots fundraising base, and has re-homed over 1800 animals in the past few years, present re-homing is at around 7 animal’s a week.

Supporters have stepped up and offered to adopt from the RSPCA the missing Moorook animals with no success, one of the seized animals had just received thousands of dollars in volunteer’s money to have a damaged limb removed and was in the middle of rehabilitation, something only found in genuine non kill shelters.

The RSPCA returned for a second inspection on Thursday the 14 March, they only questioned one of the remaining 150 or more animals based on a health issue even though it had already been ordered the week before by them to have a vet check, even though it had been vet checked a couple of days prior to the initial visit. The RSPCA officers seemed oblivious to the fact shaved infections once treated take a few days to heal and for the hair to grow back.

During the second visit the RSPCA decided to tell Moorook how they should build and run a shelter, I assume based on their multimillion dollar funded ideals, which frown upon large well fenced enclosures for their long term residents, because the RSPCA are the end all with their tiny concrete rooms. 

Putting at risk the survival of any shelter that has homed thousands of animals, is definitely not what the RSPCA should be about, stepping in to support would be more in line with the communities expectations. 

The Animal welfare Act does not demand every shelter mimics the well funded RSPCA’s arrangements, so although Moorook has many similar enclosures with concrete floors for easy of cleaning, the RSPCA has ordered Moorook to concrete all the enclosures, even though most animal lovers would prefer to see animals in long term care have the type of accommodation Morook can offer, massive well fenced areas, with water food, shelter, baths and room to run, but if Moorook does not comply, they will be fined and or closed down.

When I questioned the RSPCA officer on exactly what their powers were, they said “We can enter any premises and take any animal they want” and this appears to typify the direction the organisation is now heading, that of being the law, not there to serve it.

Where we would expect an organisation funded to protect the best interests of our animal kingdom, by dropping into support their fellow animal carers and protectors, we see them using threats and intimidation on good honest caring people, and actions that result in the euthanasia of animals that had either a happy life or at least a chance. 

My wife and I, and most of the animal lovers in this state have always support the good work of the RSPCA, in fact during the QLD floods, I raised thousands of dollars and tonnes of feed, and towed it up to QLD personally, but like thousands of angry South Australians my support for the RSPCA over the past week has decidedly changed, we need the RSPCA, but what we don’t need is the loss of professional courtesy, a loss of direction nor do we need total disregard of the laws that protect.

I have received enough complaints in writing about the RSPCA practices in one week, hundreds that would fill the coffers of any enquiry, yet my personal experience with the Moorook inspections, provides adequate proof in itself that a parliamentary enquiry would be the only way to relieve public concerns. 

Whatever statements are released in defence of their actions, the fact is they have devastated a caring woman’s life, if not for the huge public support, their actions had the ability to close one of this state’s hidden treasures, where love for life is equal in all things. 

Parliament should at least discuss this issue, not only to ensure it never happens again, but to restore public confidence in all that the RSPCA stands for.

Mark Aldridge

Independent for Wakefield

Owner of Willow wood sanctuary

MOOROOK CLEAN UP DAY, Map below

MOOROOK CLEAN UP SAT & SUNDAY 6th and 7th of April, this is my current quick list, I will work with supporters on final information

Bring with you, food & water for good luck, bring up any donations, equipment that will help on the day, shovels, rakes, wire cutters and clip lock tools, maybe even a few hammers and wheel barrows. 

Materials will all be on site, but tie wire 1.5 to 2.00mm would be handy for a few teams, clip locks for those who know what they are and possible shade cloth connectors and strip nails.

Jobs will include, walking the dogs, cleaning all runs, back filling with supplied rubble any enclosures that we will be concreted, ensuring all enclosures are free from loose wire and fencing is all strong and well fixed in the older runs, concreting repairs to an old approved section, collating metal into one area, timber in another and setting up a few new storage areas for feed.

There is fencing to finish and general tidy up through out to make Lola’s daily maintenance tasks easier On my Map, I will list what needs to be done;

1. Section one has 8 enclosures, all will need to be concreted once we have development plans, so all the dogs can be walked, yards levelled sloping forward with the gravel on site, and these enclosures need tidying up, in regards to sharp edges and loose fencing materials

2. Section 2 will need a simple clean, but will need drainage in the future.

3. Section 3 is the outside run for section 2, it needs a rake and clean out, and maybe ideal place for any spare kennels.

4. The container is a mess and needs cleaning out and all the bedding folded, this will be dedicated to any donated bedding.

5. This yard area needs a quick tidy up and any metal moved down the back of the shelter.

6. Quarantine, needs a clean out only, drainage will be modified in the future, but if drains can be fixed please do so.

7. The carport needs organising, all shredded paper to the right hand rear, the left hand side is for food storage, so clean up, and gets some pallets and drawers to store both excess cat and dog food of the ground, all tools and equipment is to be stored in the tool shed (20)

8. This larger run needs a clean and rake out, and the old enclosures will become part of the long term renovations, the small shed door should be kept closed and the insides tidied up.

9. These 4 larger runs are to be used as exercise yards, as the RSPCA will not let dogs be kept on dirt , so clean and check fencing only, 2 kennels per run of we have enough, fill in holes where possible.

10. Cat area to be tidied up, leave that to the cat lovers J

11. This is steel and storage are, we will fence this are of, using shade cloth if necessary, that can be found in the shed 21

12. Again this is not part of the shelter, but we must pick up all steel scrap and put it in one pile, then fence this area of again using shade cloth.

13. This are will be the new air-conditioned quarantine area, clean up around it, but this area will be awaiting council approval.

14. This shed needs a clean, and the right hand side will be for food storage for the dog food only, any old rusty cans that are out of shape must be piled for disposal, and new feed stacked of the ground.

15. This unused area is approved by council and the RSPCA, but needs renovation, concrete repairs, clean the drains, clean the exercise area, and fix up all the enclosures, with new wire and tin where needed.

16. This area is also approved and in good condition, please clean every cage top to bottom, and also remove rubbish and any un-needed clutter from the outside yard.

17. These enclosures are also approved, but are kept solely for older dogs, best we clean and tidy the enclosures and the outside yard, all scrap where it goes, please check they are all dog proof to ensure they are save and animals cannot escape.

18. This area best be cleaned up, so as to be used as an exercise area.

19. The whole front area is to be graded, so all materials must be picked up and piled in steel and wood piles.

20. All tools and equipment are to be put here

21. All leads and bowls to be kept here

22. This is the main fridge, it had broken down, it has been cleaned but will be inspected, so best we ensure it is as clean as possible. 

Collate all steel into one area behind the new proposed fencing, all tyres to one area, all wood to one are or several piles, all batteries to outside the front gates to be recycled and all wheel barrows to area 7 to be repaired where needed, entrance area and main walk ways to be raked and cleaned, and we will add rubble, all new fences that we make with shade cloth can have paw prints painted on by any younger helpers. 

Any issues on the Saturday please give me a call 82847482 / 0403379500 Mark Aldridge