As we begin the new year, I think it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the challenges and accomplishments we had at RSPCA ACT in 2017.
For those of you who have followed us in the news, you would know that it was a bit of a challenging year. From bad weather that forced the move of both of our major outdoor fundraising events, to difficult animal cruelty court cases – we managed to overcome some trialling times that were often outside of our control.
Nevertheless, there were some significant successes for the year too. For one, it was the first time that we achieved a 90 percent rehoming rate across all animal species including a 94.5 percent for canines and 90.7 percent for felines. This is a significant milestone which is seldom achieved with “open” shelters like RSPCA ACT.
Our inspectors had eight successful prosecutions last year, including the final one of 2017 for a pony that we had in our care for over two years. It was great to see her finally move on to a forever home after so much time in foster care.
In 2017 we completed the third year of our Frisky Tom desexing program. From that, 366 cats were desexed as part of the program with the help of participating vet clinics. Of those, 87 percent were desexed for free for pet owners who had a Centrelink or DVA Gold Card. It was the final year of the program and now we are questioning the ongoing need for this program in its current form.
For incoming animals overall, we saw a 10 percent drop in domesticated animals coming into the shelter, most noticeable with felines where we saw a 21.6 percent decrease in adult cats and 17.8 percent decrease in incoming kittens – perhaps due to our desexing program, but it’s still too early to know for sure.
Of course, we can’t forget the significant legislative changes that impacted the greyhounds in 2017. The last piece of breed specific legislation in the ACT was repealed in June with greyhounds no longer required to wear muzzles in public by default. Furthermore, in November the ACT Government passed the greyhound racing ban which will become active on May 1, pending any court outcomes.
Finally, I am most excited about our new children’s education program that we launched in September with the release of our first book, “The Misadventures of Chris the Sheep”. It was just the beginning of the program with more to be revealed later in 2018.
To achieve the successes and overcome the challenges, it has taken a big team to make this happen including the many supporters we have in the community. While we did end the financial year with a surplus for the third year in a row, we still have not rebuilt the reserves to meet our minimum policy requirements. As such, I predict further challenges for us financially, but more successes in animal welfare, as long as, our wonderful community continues to support our work as you have done so well in 2017.
- Tammy Ven Dange is the CEO of RSPCA ACT.