RSPCA ACT Annual Review 2011/12

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Design, layout and production: Leisa Quinn. Contributors: Sue Gage, Michael Linke, Lyn Mitchell. Statistics: Jane Gregor. Edited by: Mardi Linke. Reviewed by: Mardi Linke, Michael Linke, Debbie Hartley, Lyn Mitchell, Maarit Maher and Simon Yates. Photographs taken by: Leisa Quinn, Maarit Maher & Debbie Hartley. Proudly printed by Blue Star Print. Please note: full audited financials are available upon request.

Contents President’s report............................................. 2 CEO’s report..................................................... 4 Our strategy..................................................... 7 Events.............................................................. 8 Canines............................................................ 10 Felines.............................................................. 12 Our staff........................................................... 14 Our shop.......................................................... 15 Other animals................................................... 16 Wildlife............................................................. 20 Success stories................................................. 22 Our volunteers.................................................. 23 Inspectorate..................................................... 24 Veterinary work................................................ 26 Community work.............................................. 28 Thank you......................................................... 30 Kitten foster...................................................... 31 Our supporters.................................................... 32 Statistics.......................................................... 34

“ Indeed, it was almost twenty years ago that I wrote my first letter to all Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly calling for a ban on battery cages. ACT is now the second Australian state or territory to make the decision to allow the production of ONLY CAGE FREE eggs within its borders.”

2 President’s report

President’s Report


he 2011/12 year has been a rewarding one for our council. The council has continued to build on the strong commitment and momentum that developed when we first met after our new constitution was approved by the members at the last annual general meeting in October 2011. We have reviewed our Governance Policy Manual and all our new governance activities are now operating within the framework of the very good governance principals approved by the council. In addition, the council has set up two new committees: the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee; and the Finance, Audit & Risk Committee. The committees have been working closely with both the council and RSPCA ACT’s management. These working relationships have clearly contributed to the success we have achieved this year. Both committees worked with our management to produce a business plan for 2012/13, which sits within a three-year strategic framework. The business plan was considered and approved by the council at its July meeting. I would like to express my appreciation to all council members for their commitment and the many hours of extra time they have given throughout the year. By now many of our members would be aware that there have been discussions between RSPCA ACT and the ACT Government regarding our shelter being moved from its present site in Weston. At this stage I can report that no further progress has been made towards a firm decision regarding our relocation. Although the announcement by Minister Andrew Barr regarding battery hens was made on 4 July 2012, which was a few days after the end of the 2011/12 financial year,

I am mentioning this achievement now while it is still fresh in our minds. The Minister announced that battery cage egg production in the ACT would be phased out and that Parkwood Farms would be required to convert to barn egg production. Over the last couple of decades RSPCA ACT had lobbied successive ACT Governments to end the cruel suffering of layer hens by banning battery cages in the ACT. Indeed, it was almost twenty years ago that I wrote my first letter to all members of the ACT Legislative Assembly calling for a ban on battery cages. ACT is now the second Australian state or territory to decide to allow the production of ONLY cage free eggs within its borders. The announcement also acknowledged the decision by many Canberrans to avoid buying battery cageproduced eggs. The Minister’s announcement was great news for the welfare of hens and we should now be able to look forward to Canberra finally being battery cage free. Again, this year our managers, staff and volunteer workers have continued to maintain a very high standard of care for our shelter animals. On behalf of the council, I thank our members and supporters whose concern for animal welfare has made this high care possible.  Sue Gage


CEO’s Report


hen there is a lot going on around you it can be easy to be swept along by the momentum of others and become a product of your environment. But that’s the time to shut out distractions and focus on the things that matter most, and make the environment around you become a product of your actions, your commitment, your dedication. Animals are better off today as a result of our actions. Actions are what matter. Here are a few: •  •  •    •    •  •  •

Our action to save more kittens than ever before Our action to end battery hen farming in the ACT Our action to support and assist the most needy people in our community Our action to host epic events to raise funds and celebrate our love of animals Our action to stamp out puppy farming Our action to rehome every healthy companion animal Our action to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned native animals

I have often said to our team at RSPCA that we are in the business of saving lives and our return on investment is positive animal welfare outcomes. That is our action and it is a true measure of our success and 2011/12 will be remembered as one of our most successful years on record. I’d like to acknowledge, thank and praise our team. Some 50 paid staff and more than 500 volunteers; all of whom played a role in some way and helped us to save thousands of animals again this year. At a macro level it is easy to see what RSPCA has achieved. We saved 3,921 lives.

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We adopted 2,078 companion animals to new homes, 1,146 lost animals, including a lost sheep, were returned to their owners and 697 native animals were returned to their habitat. Our inspectors attended over 700 alleged animal welfare

incidents and we helped 250 families in crisis with emergency animal welfare support. We delivered dog and puppy training to over 2,000 families and their dogs and hosted the ACT and region’s biggest dog walk when more than 4,500 dogs descended on Stage 88 in May. At a micro level, and what people don’t often see or realise, is that our animal welfare teams cleaned the equivalent of 30,000 dog kennels and prepared over 55,000 meals for our dogs. Our team in the cattery cleaned 60,000 litter trays and prepared 80,000 meals for our cats, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs and rodents. Our wildlife team prepared 50,000 meals and cleaned about 32,000 cages. Add to this the 10,000 loads of washing, the 15,000 kilometres of walking, the 3,200 veterinary procedures, the 400 x-rays and the 120,000 kilometres travelled by our inspectors and you start to realise how much work is involved in saving so many animals. This hard work on the ground is supported by our business support and marketing teams. Our finance office processed over 10,000 donations from $0.25c to $10,000, our marketing team responded to over 4,500 enquiries, engaged with more than 4,000 members, hosted events that attracted more than 20,000 people, posted 400 photos and stories to our 7,000 Facebook fans, tweeted 700 times to 1,800 Twitter followers and actively promoted four key RSPCA animal welfare campaigns. Our business support team arranged 2,500 hours of training for our staff and volunteers, recruited and inducted more than 100 volunteers and 12 new staff members, ensured our site was safe, protected, insured, serviced and cleaned. This team also checked 1,300 staff time sheets, 350 leave forms and ensured our staff received their appropriate entitlements in accordance with federal and territory based legislation. But the hard work has never scared us. The thing that unites us is the knowledge that the hard work pays off. The hard work binds us. The hard work saves lives. Saving lives is in our DNA and just like any organism, it takes the sum of all of the parts to make the whole. From the team in kennels to the team in the vet clinic. From the team in wildlife to the team in business support. From the inspectors to the marketing and events team. From the cattery team to the public contact team. Like a well-oiled machine each part plays its role and each role is played to perfection.

We are successful; we punch above our weight, because we are one team saving lives. The team delivered so many highlights during the year. The most significant of these highlights came in the form of signing up more than 150 kitten foster carers and a dedicated team of staff in the cattery who helped us achieve the stunning homing success that saw nine out of ten domestic kittens go to a new home. Animal shelters have, for over a century, struggled with the influx of kittens during spring time. RSPCA ACT was not immune from this influx. Our commitment to saving lives allowed us to explore possibilities outside the normal options used in the past. Historically, shelters generally euthanased the excess of kittens or because of the volume many became sick and the most humane thing to do was to euthanase them. Either way only about three in every ten kittens survived. To stop this from happening in the ACT we employed three key strategies. We engaged a strong and large foster network to care for kittens outside of the shelter environment. We supported our on-site staff and volunteers with additional training and resources to combat disease in the shelter. And we undertook advertising and engaged the community to help us combat kitten breeding issues associated with the spring breeding season, or as we call it kitten season. These three strategies combined to achieve some fantastic results. We homed 802 kittens, which is only a few more than the year before. However, the most telling positive outcome from our effort was with overall intakes and euthanasia. In total we euthanased 97 domestic kittens, down from 443 in the previous year, which is a reduction of 78%. Kitten intakes also reduced to 1,151, down from 1,471 a reduction of 22%.

“ I have often said to our team at RSPCA that we are in the business of saving lives and our return on investment is positive animal welfare outcomes. That is our action and it is a true measure of our success and 2011/12 will be remembered as one of our most successful years on record.”

Our second highlight was the success of our major events, Million Paws Walk and Cupcake Day. Both events are now firm favourites in the ACT event calendar. Million Paws Walk attracted a crowd of more than 12,000 and helped raise over $210,000. Cupcake Day involves thousands of bakers and raised more than $110,000 – or about 55,000 cup cakes! With limited government funding of about 14% of our budget, events like these are imperative to ensure we have the funds to continue to save lives.

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When we consider our role as the Territory’s only licensed wildlife carer we look back at our successful release rate. There is also the role we continue to play in educating and informing our community about the importance and care of native animals. We are proud that the ACT government entrusts native animal care to us. We are proud of our track record of care. We are proud of the difference we continue to make to native animals. Other areas of success include our dog rehoming program, with more than 90% of dogs again being homed or reunited with their owners, and our dog and puppy training program. Our Life Skills training school is really starting to get a name in Canberra and our committed and skilled team of trainers continue to ensure happy dogs and happy families remain together. Another area we are excelling at, but which is also an area of concern for us, is the increasing demand being placed on our resources to assist members of our community who suffer from mental health disorders. More than 200 cases were dealt with during the year. Our caring inspectors work tirelessly ensuring animals owned by people affected by mental illness are not unnecessarily placed at risk. We act as a safety net to ensure adequate feeding, adequate shelter and adequate medical attention is afforded these animals. Sometimes the undying love of an owner in these circumstances is not enough to ensure the ongoing welfare of the pet, but the bond between the two should not be broken. We work very hard to keep owner and pet together. We are not only saving the life of the animal, but in a lot of these cases we are saving the life of the human as well. Each of these actions says a little bit about how hard we have all worked. When put together our combined actions present a formidable force in animal welfare in our region. We will continue our work. We will continue to fight for the welfare of animals. We will make a difference. ď Ž Michael Linke

Chief Executive Officer

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Our strategy


s with any business entity, strategic and business planning plays an important role at RSPCA ACT. Our responsibility is to manage a $4m budget and deliver animal welfare, care and protection services to almost 9,000 animals annually, so we take our role very seriously.

We have in place a comprehensive governance model which sees RSPCA ACT governed by a body of nine elected councillors. The governing council meets every four to five weeks and reviews financial and business performance, animal welfare activities and legislative requirements. To facilitate these meetings and to measure performance, RSPCA ACT has in place an overarching strategic plan. This plan outlines our strategic imperatives to enable the delivery of quality services that maximise the positive outcomes for animals. In delivering these strategic imperatives we have a number of core objectives. The success of our core objectives is dependent on our operational priorities, which are measured and reported on to our governing council by way of success indicators. Our key success indicators measure our success in accordance with our five key strategic imperatives: Advocating for all animals by •  educating •  influencing •  promoting. Conducting a safe work environment that encompasses integrity, respect and a cohesive team by: •  respecting •  working together •  acting with integrity. Being the leading authority on animal welfare in our region by: •  being respected among our peers •  supporting the animal welfare movement •  sharing our successes.

Operating a world class animal care, welfare and protection environment by: •  enriching the lives of animals •  delivering life-saving outcomes for animals •  protecting animals. Maintaining a sustainable, financial and business framework by: •  careful, sensible and judicious financial planning •  implementing a robust governance model •  using our combined intelligence to solve problems. We then review and measure our performance using a set of metrics tied back to our strategic imperatives. By doing this we remain focused on core actions that provide the best possible outcomes for animals within our care. We ensure that our staff and volunteers have access to the tools and resources they need in order to discharge their day to day responsibilities. Our animal welfare strategies, which are articulated throughout this report, are augmented by robust people, financial and business planning strategies. These include comprehensive induction and training programs for staff and volunteers, a weekly review of our financial position, and careful planning including risk analysis of our activities. Overall RSPCA is well managed and well governed and the assets are in safe hands, which means that each and every animal is well protected and provided with the highest possible standard of care. 

7 Our strategy



anberra Show – Mad hatters, tea pots, flamingos and lots of action and movement were all present at the RSPCA marquee at the show this year. How do a mad hatter and a tea party fit with RSPCA? We were nominated as a charity of choice for Twinings Tea ambassadors and our tea was chosen as the winner with a portion of all purchases coming directly to RSPCA and the work we do in animal welfare. We thought a tea party and some mad hatter outfits and bright colours for our theme would add to the fun atmosphere of the Canberra Show. Thousands of visitors enjoyed our fun and frivolity whilst sampling the tea and purchasing a range of RSPCA products or obtaining information on our programs and services. Our staff and volunteers were kept busy over the three days, and a number of visitors took advantage of registering early for Million Paws Walk. They were also able to purchase a ticket in one of our biggest raffles ever. It leaves us pondering the fun and games we will plan for our next appearance at the Canberra Show. Million Paws Walk – Just another lazy Sunday relaxing on the couch… with over 8,000 of our best human friends and over 4,500 of their best furry friends! Our lazy theme was a contrast to the enthusiasm and energy of the beginning of the day, with our furry and not-so-furry friends anxiously awaiting an end to the formalities so they could begin their walk. Million Paws Walk is a colourful energetic spectacle with thousands of people and their pets celebrating this fantastic event and raising money to support RSPCA.

8 Events

This year we had even more stall holders, activities, entertainment and our usual favourites such as our dog agility course and pup idol. We had some unique entries in our lazy day fashion parade, and our finalists in pup idol had the crowd enthralled with their talent. Our Masters of Ceremonies – Rod and Biggzy – relaxed on the big couch and chatted with our special guests, and they joined in on the fun and games. Rod took on the challenge of the dog agility training with a

surprise entrant – our mascot Buddy! Buddy seemed to be the one in control with him insisting Rod take on the doggy tunnel challenge. Staff were kept busy selling Million Paws Walk merchandise and providing advice on appropriate dog harnesses and a range of accessories. Our ever popular Cupcake Day stall ensured everyone had a taste of the sweetest event of the year, and if that wasn’t sufficient, fudge and Dutch pancakes were plentiful. There were also plenty of savoury delights and refreshments to enjoy whilst basking in the sunlight and watching our on stage entertainment. It was truly a day out for the whole family to enjoy, and many people stayed right till the last minute or more! We raised close to $210,000 through registrations, stalls, sponsors and donations. We are certainly proud of the support of the community in making this event a huge success. Plans have already commenced for our next walk, and we will again host a fun and exciting day out for the whole family, whilst celebrating the special bond that our pets play in our lives. Cupcake Day – Cupcake Day for the RSPCA makes everyone feel like a kid in a candy shop. For the three months leading up to Cupcake Day Canberra cooks are dusting off their aprons and warming their ovens to delight their friends and families with their baking skills. No sooner do we start promoting this sweet event than the challenges begin. Government departments, businesses, schools and groups of friends all start challenging each other to raise the most money. Even football clubs reignite grudges in the big bake off to raise the most money in the name of charity. We are amazed at the skills and artistry involved in each cupcake or pupcake, and the mouth-watering taste sensations of each bite. Many of the cakes are so fantastic in their design that we don’t want to take a bite, but the urge takes over and before you know it all that remains is a series of delightfully tasty crumbs. Cupcake day is the sweetest way to support RSPCA. We raise thousands of dollars each year, a true testament to Canberra’s support for animal welfare and our collective sweet tooth No cupcake is safe on Cupcake Day, yet our shelter animals are safe in the knowledge that funds raised through the sale

of cupcakes will give them sweet rewards and the chance to find a home in which to enjoy their next cupcake day. Trivia - Our MC Senator Gary Humphries donned a gangster outfit and machine gun and our guests dressed as a range of suspicious characters, all guilty of one crime or another. Everyone was out to enjoy a night of a crime themed trivia, and all were ready for fun, challenging questions, mystery auction items and lots of opportunities to outdo each other with their knowledge. Our trivia event raised over $30,000 on the night including over $300 for the ransom paid to return our CEO from a random hostage situation. Luckily, participants at the event contributed the cash for his release, and the cash was then recovered from the assailants, who dropped the loot in their hasty getaway. There was a serious battle for the best dressed, and the independent judges had a difficult decision, but remained stalwart despite bribes to make the best decision and avoid a crime war. Our trivia night is always well attended and this year was no exception. Plans are underway for our next event and a theme to beat all expectations. Santa Paws - One of our favourite events is Santa Paws because it captures the essence of Christmas and the festive season. It is ever popular and bookings fill fast. Many people attend each year and feel the same joy they felt at their very first Santa Paws photo sitting. Our backdrop this year was a traditional Christmas setting, with toy soldiers, gold reindeer, glistening baubles and of course, our centre piece – Santa. Santa enjoyed his time with dogs, cats, parrots and even some ferrets wearing their own santa suits. The atmosphere in the room is incredible and everyone feels the spirit of Christmas. All participants look forward to receiving their photos and a lasting memory of a special time shared with their family pet at this special time of year. Santa Paws marks the end of our events for the calendar year. However, before we know it, Santa is making his list and checking it twice – and we look forward to seeing the smiles on faces with this very special event next Christmas. 

9 Events

92.5% of dogs and puppies rehomed

10 Canines



t any time of the day we can walk around the shelter and say hello to all of the dogs relaxing in their kennels or waiting expectantly for their daily walk by staff or volunteers. There are often new faces and perhaps a litter of pups bouncing about together, and sometimes there are dogs that we all get to know and who become part of our extended family until we find them a forever home. Staff and volunteers alike call out a friendly hello when one of our dogs walks by and each of the dogs acknowledges the greeting in return. A heart-warming moment occurs when one of our long term dogs finds a home. Staff and volunteers are alerted that they are being adopted, and there is an opportunity to say goodbye and have a last cuddle and give congratulations. Many staff and volunteers will make a special trip to the shelter on their day off so that they can be part of this moment. There are tears of joy, a feeling of pride and a celebratory atmosphere, that is like experiencing a first Christmas or a birth. It is this emotion that warms our hearts and we know we are doing a great job, and in time, each of our charges will find their new family. People often say that it would be hard to work here, as you would want to take all the dogs home, but our staff and volunteers know that there is a family out there for each dog – it is just a matter of time. We also have some animals that are stray, and our job to find their owners is harder but mostly we are successful, even after a long time. One little dog came all the way from Sutton and if only we could hear her real story, she would no doubt tell a great tale. 

Miss Muppet Lamby Pants earned her prestigious name as staff thought she resembled a muppet character mixed with a little lamb. She was found lost in Sutton and brought to us with the hope of finding her owner. Miss Muppet wasn’t a spring chicken; she is about 17 years old and time had taken its toll on her former beauty. She was missing an eye, blind in her existing eye, deaf, had no teeth, arthritic, and quite badly matted; a real sight to see. There were no lost reports for her and she didn’t have a microchip. One of our staff took her home that night, as due to her age and condition she wouldn’t have coped with the shelter environment, and it would be better if she was in a foster home until we could sort a permanent arrangement or her owner came forward. We even visited Sutton to see if there were any lost posters or if locals may have known her owner. There was no contact from anyone looking for this little old pooch. Time progressed and she lived quite comfortably at the home of our staff member as a foster dog. It was thought that Miss Muppet Lamby Pants wouldn’t have long to live, given her condition, however she could live the life she had left comfortably in a home feeling loved until her time came. Nearly a year has passed and she is still going strong and is very settled in her cosy environment. Our RSPCA vet checks on her regularly and she is surprised how well Miss Muppet is, and jokes that she will outlive us all. It certainly shows what love and affection can do, and what a fantastic spirit this little old dog possesses.

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magine you’re taking a moment out of a busy day, relaxing in a comfy couch in a room painted in muted colours, perhaps a cup of coffee in your hand, and you are surrounded by a number of cats of all types vying for your attention. It almost feels like home – however you are actually working or volunteering at RSPCA and you are enjoying a break in the surrounds of our cat lounge. Our new cat lounge has been set up for visitors to our cattery so they can enjoy a relaxed environment whilst choosing their new feline friend. The lounge allows the cats to relax and exhibit their natural behaviour and show their true personalities. Our staff and volunteers also find the lounge a great place to wind down for a moment or two – although it can be addictive with all that love being shown by cats rubbing along the sides of your legs, or kneading at your lap. Our adoption numbers have been significantly higher this year for cats and kittens, and this can be attributed to a range of initiatives including educational advertisements, special adoption events, and the addition of our relaxed cat lounge, where the cats sell themselves by just showing their natural personalities and style.

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89% of kittens rehomed 86% of cats rehomed

We have promoted the benefits of affordable cat containment enclosures, which not only keep kitty safe from external dangers, but allow kitty to live in harmony with our local wildlife. Many of the new suburbs cropping up in Canberra require cat owners to keep their cats contained, and we have been able to recommend some great options for cat runs. We have been advised that not only can kitty come in and out as they like, enjoying a sunbake or fun and games, but kitty’s owner can go about their day knowing kitty is safe from harm, and will be waiting to welcome them home. Our foster care program has resulted in significant success in reducing disease and death of litters, and our promotion of discounted desexing programs will impact on the number of surrendered litters for next kitten season. We stand proud of the work we do each and every day. Ideas for change and improvements continue to be considered and perhaps the best place to foster these ideas is on a couch relaxing in our cat lounge – certainly an addictive place and well worth the visit. ď Ž

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Our staff Some of our dedicated staff talk about why they love working at RSPCA ACT. Clockwise from top left: Glenn, Cris, Carmen, Simon, Dora, Belinda, Ashlee, Lauren, Frances, Jess and Rhiannon.

“Because the animals don’t have a voice but I do.” – Glenn “Because I love all animals” – Cris “I love seeing the animals going to their forever homes.” – Carmen “Great people, great purpose.” – Simon “I love the interaction with the public and helping people find the perfect match for them.” – Dora “Giving the animals a second chance at a perfect life.” – Belinda “I know I’m making a difference.” – Ashlee “It’s a very rewarding experience to know I am making a difference.” – Lauren “The satisfaction of seeing dogs go to their forever homes.” – Frances “Because it’s always interesting and you learn a lot about people.” – Jess “I like reuniting lost animals with their loved ones and seeing other animals find their perfect owners.” – Rhiannon 14 Our staff

Our shop


magine being at work in your pyjamas! Perhaps even working in a Halloween or superhero outfit—staff at RSPCA have stopped being surprised at being asked to dress up in something out of the ordinary. It is all in a good cause—to have a bit of fun and increase our adoption numbers.

Our Twilight Adoption Evenings were introduced to extend our hours in spring and summer so that people in the community who are unable to attend during our usual opening hours also have an opportunity to find their new best friend. Dressing up and setting a theme was initially based on it being twilight, as we were all ready for our beds, but the nights proved so successful we decided dressing up added to the fun and excitement of anticipated additional adoptions.

Retail Therapy - Does this outfit make me look fat? Does this jacket look ok with these shoes? Where is the mirror? Where is the change room? Will this food help my skin? These questions sound like the normal ones you would hear in a retail outlet—however, our true customers don’t ask any of these questions. Our true customers sit patiently while their owners do all the shopping and they wait eagerly for their new outfits, toys, food or treats. Throughout the year our staff help choose the right type of food to suit each and every pet and enjoy the odd fashion parade when an owner simply can’t decide which outfit to choose. Profit from sales in our shop go directly to providing care for the animals at the shelter, and we can guarantee our products and give expert advice for all your pets’ needs.

Staff were invited to dress up, we decorated the shop front, and even had prizes for the customers who were prepared to go the extra mile and join in by wearing a costume. Not only did everyone have fun, we also had numerous adoptions and registrations of interest in animals, and sales of some special gifts for new furry family members.

Staff in our retail shop are the first point of contact at RSPCA and manage a diverse range of questions every day. No two days are the same—they deal with everything from giving advice on the right food for an aged cat or reuniting a lost dog with worried owners to being handed an injured turtle or wildlife species.

One stand-out story was that of an elderly gentleman who came out with his family. He met a very affectionate older cat and the bond was immediate. His own cat had passed away and he missed the unconditional affection and quiet moments spent together. The smile on his face and the excitement he showed when taking home his new best friend was heartwarming to everyone involved—these moments are priceless. To be part of a moment that made a difference to these two lives was worth wearing funny costumes.

Their greatest joy is seeing one of our long term shelter animals finding their new home and the new owners loading up their arms with food and special gifts to welcome their new friend to the family. What other retail shop staff can say their customers have the waggiest tails, a loud content purr or knew that this purchase would make a lifelong difference to at least two lives? Staff at our shop can certainly tell a few stories of this nature, and of the smiles and excitement it gives to all involved. 

We are committed to looking outside the square for opportunities to increase our adoptions and whilst the twilight nights are a bit of fun it makes good sense to offer flexible hours if we can see these outcomes.

15 Our shop

Other animals


SPCA isn’t just about dogs and cats and we are never surprised when different animals come to the shelter. Any animal can be in need of our care and rehoming or some veterinary assistance. Recently we had a piglet brought in by a responsible owner who wanted him microchipped for his own safety. This same little pig was being taught his manners, and was quite proficient at sitting on command – although he did find the position a little awkward. Whilst we don’t often have pet pigs coming to the shelter, we do have some interesting little pocket pets that need our care until we find them forever homes. Our little pocket pets are very entertaining and make an ideal pet for someone who has a smaller area or for children as their first pet. We have a dedicated rabbit enclosure, with little burrows and hiding places, replicating a more natural environment. Rabbits are quite social and enjoy fun and games. Throughout the year we receive numerous guinea pigs; often entire litters who wait patiently for their adoptive families. Whilst we do our best to make them comfortable, these little critters would benefit from a purpose built enclosure where they could enjoy romping in the sunshine, hiding in little cubby holes and showing off their true energetic and entertaining personalities. Mordor was adopted by a young woman who lived in an apartment. She had a hutch that was set up in her courtyard or balcony and of an evening she moved it inside on to a hard floor surface.

16 Other animals

The two bonded quickly, with little Mordor showing quite a flamboyant personality, especially when he thumped or pushed his bowl around when he wanted additional attention. Unfortunately he suddenly became ill and all appeared lost. Undaunted, his new owner persisted against the odds. Mordor was given lots of water, encouraged to eat solid foods that had been blended, and provided with warmth and unlimited love. He had over a week of ups and downs, as did his owner, however her persistence won out in the end and he returned to full health and his slightly naughty behaviour. Eddie the rabbit is another of our little charges who came to us when he was lost. The people who found him thought that he was a wild rabbit. Eddie was wild in appearance only and staff worked with him to reveal his true personality. Our “wild child” is now keen to become part of a family who can enjoy his playful antics. Staff at the shelter have lots of fun finding names for all of our temporary charges, and many are named after heroes in a movie or are named using a theme. We have been home to Harry Potter characters, superheroes, actors or taste sensations like Caramel, Strawberry and Choc-chip. Cherry and Apple, which were two baby guinea pigs, must have arrived when these fruits were in season. They were very popular and weren’t with us long. They have now found their new home and we have been advised that they are treated like royalty. Even the smallest of our pocket pets are given food and shelter, and our staff encourage our visitors to consider them as their new family pet. It doesn’t take long for someone to fall in love with their new best friend and the smiles of delight are the reward that we receive each and every day. 

88% Birds & poultry 61.5% Rabbits & other animals


73% Guinea pigs 58% Livestock

“We are all on a journey. Here at RSPCA the journey is our reward. The animals that come to us are on a journey to rebuild their faith, to rebuild their health, to rebuild their trust. No matter how long it takes we give them the time and the resources to make their journey successful. We know we will never get to the end of the journey. But this, rather than discouraging us, only adds to the joy and the glory of the climb. The journey is the reward.� - Michael Linke



ur wildlife staff continue to be presented with animals and birds that have been injured by road strike or domestic pets. Canberra is the bush capital; however ongoing development of suburbs means an increased risk of danger to our resident wildlife species. We focus on rescue, recovery and release, and staff and volunteers work tirelessly to help many creatures return to their natural environment. It can be a long road but when we are successful we can celebrate and enjoy the wonderful experience of returning them to their habitat, as they scamper or fly off happily. This past spring a young male gang-gang cockatoo came into our care. He had been struck by a car and presented with a fractured coracoid. The coracoid is a major bone located behind the bird’s collar bone. When broken it hinders or stops flight. For this reason the gang-gang was not able to be released back to his habitat. Gang-gang cockatoos are listed as a threatened species and our staff wanted to ensure they could do everything possible for him despite this injury. Symbio Wildlife Park in Wollongong has gang-gangs in their park and is working on a project to breed them for release, and in time increase numbers to reduce their threat of extinction.

20 Wildlife

Our staff arranged that this gang-gang would go to Symbio, join the program and hopefully find a mate. Before he could go to this location he had to be tested for a disease called pcisttacine beak and feather disease. This disease is at epidemic levels in the parrot population. It attacks the nervous system and is a fatal disease with no cure as yet. It is also highly contagious to other parrots and therefore we couldn’t risk transferring the disease to the Symbio population. After a two week wait for a blood test the gang-gang was given the all clear and was able to go to join Symbio Wildlife Park’s breeding program in Wollongong. His carer Ash Johnston drove him to Symbio and they said their goodbyes. We hear from the keepers at Symbio that he is doing well and even has a mate. Our staff enjoy their work and take every animal into their hearts. A journey like this one is true testament that every story can have a happy ending, and we are part of their story. 

12.5% reduction for incoming wildlife

21 Wildlife

Success stories


litz the dog arrived at the shelter in May this year after being handed into Civic Police Station as a stray. Luckily he was micro-chipped and his owners were contacted. His owner was very excited because Blitz had been stolen from their house ten days prior to his arrival at our shelter. When contacted the owner advised that she was on her way and would be here very soon. Close to an hour later, our anxious and excited owner phoned to say that she couldn’t find where we were located. After some confusion and questioning, it turned out that she lived in Queensland, and that Blitz had been stolen from his home there. Our owner contacted a friend in Canberra who picked him up and took him to the airport for a 5:30pm flight back home to Queensland. What an adventure our little pooch had and what a fantastic story this is. What a happy ending and no doubt a wagging tale at the reunion. Burley first arrived at the shelter in 2009 as a stray. Because he didn’t have a microchip or any form of identification his family were never located. In time he was adopted to a new family. However, through no fault of his own his family surrendered him due to their personal circumstances. Burley is an older boy and whilst he had a lot of energy he wasn’t winning the hearts of the younger visitors to the shelter. As with many of our animals, it really is just a matter of time to find the right connection and match them to a new family. Burley found that match when a lovely older couple visited looking for a canine companion. They had come into the shelter a few times before and admired Burley, however at the time he already had a family interested in adopting him. The older couple called frequently to see if Burley had been adopted until they were advised that his adoption hadn’t been successful and that they could be considered. All went well, and since Burley’s adoption the new owners have come into the shelter to purchase food and they have told staff how much they adore him, and by the look of Burley, the feeling is mutual. 

22 Success stories

Our volunteers We rely on the community to continue to provide care for the thousands of animals that come to our shelter every year. Our volunteers are integral to assisting us with this care and day to day activities that allow us to manage a successful shelter to benefit both the community and all animals. Some of our invaluable volunteers talk about why they love volunteering at RSPCA ACT. Clockwise from top left: Dian & Sugar, John & Polly, William, Judy & Trivia, Jennifer & Photo and Joy & Doogal.

“Because the animals need lots of lovin’.” – Dian “The dogs are immensely good company, they are all good natured.” – John “I like volunteering, it’s good for the dogs because they need it.” – William “The dogs are great and it’s great fun.” – Judy “Because I love the cats. I love giving them the care they need until they find their forever homes.” – Jennifer “Volunteer work is something I love.” – Joy “Who would want to be a laundry lady for the RSPCA kennels; anyone who enjoys a challenge. Believe it or not, it is the most satisfying and enjoyable work I could have hoped for in retirement.” – Margaret (not pictured) 23 Our volunteers



he job of inspector sounds quite onerous; however, whilst our inspectors do investigate and manage cruelty complaints their role is also aligned with helping people, many in crisis situations.

Our inspectors understand the synergy between animals and people, and the health benefits pet ownership can bring. Many of the people that we assist don’t have standard social networks they can call upon for assistance, and are often without any friends apart from their beloved pet. The inspectors work alongside allied health professionals and community care workers to assist people who may be experiencing mental health conditions, domestic violence, and homelessness or living in squalor or long term hospitalisation for illness. The support may be in the form of providing donated food for their pet if they only require a short term solution, or we may care for their pet at our shelter and give extensive veterinary care, food and shelter, and exercise. We may often care for their pet for an extended period of time, and during that time if time permits we will take the pet for a visit to their temporary accommodation. Our experience has shown that knowing that their pet is being cared for whilst they are in difficult circumstances is the beacon to give them hope. They know that they can eventually return to their usual home and circumstances and the unconditional love offered by their pet.

24 Inspectorate

Our inspectors play a policing role, which means first and foremost taking all information into consideration. We may receive a report of a dog being mistreated, however it needs to be taken on face value, with our inspectors looking into each case and making a fair assessment.

If an animal has to be removed from their home due to cruelty we give the animal food and shelter, assess their health, and monitor throughout their stay. Sometimes our inspectors simply offer education and advice, as the animal’s owners don’t have malicious intent, just a lack of understanding. We take all acts of animal cruelty seriously and our inspectorate team is experienced at making assessments, and has an excellent understanding of the balance required in caring for the people and caring for the animals they own. One of our longer term dogs was owned by a man who had been admitted to hospital and ACT Housing wanted to do some work on his home. Our inspectors were asked if we could look after his dog whilst the man was in hospital. Initially we were of the understanding that it would be a short term stay. Unfortunately for the owner his recovery was slow and he remained in hospital for over a year. Our inspectors took the dog to visit his owner whenever it was possible and they smiled at the love the two shared and the joy whenever they were able to be reunited. Unfortunately the owner died and the dog remained with RSPCA and we were given permission from the owner’s estate to make him available for adoption. Almost two and a half years later he was ready to find his new home, and a new family soon fell in love with his enthusiasm and happy smile. Our inspectors were on hand the day he left the shelter, wagging his tail in expectation, and again they smiled with joy. It was a long and sometimes difficult journey but he found his new home and adores his new owner. There are very few places of employment where you can experience such elation and warmth, knowing that you have made a real difference to the lives of people and their pets. 

737 complaints investigated

25 Inspectorate

Over 1700 animals microchipped Over 1200 cats desexed

Over 590 dogs desexed Over 400 x-rays

26 Veterinary work

Veterinary work


ur experienced veterinary staff are kept busy with operations, administering medicines, performing daily checks on all our animals, and keeping up to date with all aspects of animal health and welfare. We rely on them for advice on each and every animal that comes to the shelter, and they can share many stories that show the will and strength of an animal that shows unconditional love despite adversity. Whilst our veterinary staff can share many stories, a few stand out in their minds – Fredrick’s story is one of those. Fredrick’s journey has been arduous, and he has encountered a few speed bumps along the way. However he has stood proud and strong and he patiently waits until his new family open their arms and takes him home. Fredrick, a Great Dane cross Labrador was left in the Domestic Animals Services drop off kennels with severe lacerations to his tail. Staff there brought him to RSPCA for the veterinary care he needed. On arrival he was very scared and in a lot of pain. His tail was lacerated to the bone and the wounds were very infected and quite old. Our vet advised that it was clear that Fredrick had suffered this wound for a long time. The veterinary team prepared him for surgery, as amputation was the only option. Due to infection and extensive lacerations it was necessary to amputate the tail as far up as possible. His wounds were very close to his lower back and bottom, so the process of amputation was difficult because care was required to avoid further injuring this region.

The operation was successful and even during the initial recovery time; Fredrick was definitely feeling much better. He was given pain relief to keep him comfortable and put on antibiotics to prevent any infection post surgery. Although his pain was alleviated Fredrick was still very frightened of the things happening around him and he lacked confidence with new people. He spent several weeks recovering in the vet clinic, during which time he slowly got used to the veterinary staff. He was happy to go for short walks but got spooked very easily. He wouldn’t venture far from the vet clinic at all, not even for treats! Fredrick was also very timid near men. Once he had finished his antibiotics and had recovered completely from his tail amputation he was moved to our kennel area, and our behavioural trainers began working with him to overcome his fears and give him back his confidence in humanity. After a couple of months of positive reinforcement training, Fredrick is now much more confident and playful. He is less frightened of his surroundings and is happy to meet new people and say hello. At the time of writing Fredrick found his new forever home. 

27 Veterinary work

Community work


ducation – RSPCA, as the leading expert on animal welfare, is tasked with the responsibility of educating the community on responsible pet ownership, and information on living together with our extensive wildlife species. We hope to make a difference through education and information, and encourage young people to become change agents of the future. Each year we conduct a number of training and information sessions for members of the public who have expressed an interest in becoming foster carers for dogs, cats and wildlife. We are also involved in community information and education forums offering advice on a range of animal welfare issues. Our staff are involved in educating the community on what to feed our native birds and in particular waterbirds such as black swans and native ducks. We have spent many hours on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin explaining to the public that feeding waterbirds with bread, which everyone thinks is the right thing to do, is a potential killer. We advise them on appropriate food specific for waterbirds to ensure their ongoing health and wellbeing. We have been proactive in promoting alternative netting for fruit trees to avoid injury to bats that live in Canberra, and warning people to check their chimneys for wildlife before starting their fires for winter.

We are committed to making a difference in animal welfare, and whilst some changes do take time, every step along the way is significant. Lobbying government and industry to start making changes to live export was an arduous task, and we have a long way to go. However, raising awareness will, in time, ensure that permanent policy is put in place to ban live export. Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) Initiative – We are proud of the work we do with a range of other charities and community organisations that lead to positive outcomes for both animals and people. We have forged partnership with the AMC, and we have a number of AMC staff and residents who have been trained in certain areas of animal husbandry by our wildlife staff. We have set up a small aviary and tanks to home frogs and turtles. Staff and selected residents assist in their recovery and rehabilitation, as the residents make their own rehabilitation and transition and return to society. This is a great result for the animal’s wellbeing and a reward for those AMC residents chosen to participate in the program. In time we hope that this program can be expanded to more AMC residents as it has a beneficial effect on their wellbeing as well as helping them achieve some recognition in animal husbandry that they may be able to use in future employment. Seniors for Seniors – RSPCA ACT is proud of the work we do every day and we know the health benefits that pet ownership brings to each individual. Sadly, we find that when an elderly person is faced with moving to a retirement or care facility, to which their beloved pet is unable to accompany them, they lose not only their family home but also their furry companion.

We have had the opportunity to work alongside Anglicare on a ‘Seniors for Seniors’ program. The program will allow senior citizens in certain Anglicare accommodation the ability to have an older dog or cat living with them. Many older animals that are surrendered to RSPCA struggle to find new homes because of their age. However, age doesn’t mean they can’t give enjoyment, companionship and love to people or receive the same in return. With this in mind, there is a clear synergy with the health benefits pets can offer to the seniors in Anglicare accommodation and the benefits to the elderly pets in our care. This is an exciting new venture and we look forward to its continued development and success. Pets and the Aged Steering Group – Many members of the community understand the benefits of pet ownership, and will take steps to make a difference of their own. One example is the Pets and the Aged Steering Group ACT, which has been looking to set up a similar scheme to ‘Seniors for Seniors’ but with an even greater reach within the community. RSPCA was invited to initial discussion groups, and was able to alert the steering group to work done many years ago by a local woman who set up care for pets in the homes of some elderly people in the community. With the inclusion of an Anglicare representative in the steering group it is hoped that the group can adapt the model to work and benefit the wider aged animal owning and potential aged animal owning community. 

29 Community work

Thank you


e rely on the community to help us continue our vital work with animals in need. A big thank you to all who have supported and continue to support RSPCA ACT. Every single dollar counts. Although we would love to list all of you who have donated, we simply don’t have the space. The following people have donated significant amounts to our cause and we would like to thank them for their dedication to supporting animals in need:

Mr Richard Rye, Mrs A Whyte, Mrs Kathryn Nelson, Mrs Betty Grant, Lady E Synnot, Ms Wendy Whitham, Mrs Pauline Bairnsfather, Mrs Rose Gray, Mr Tuck Meng Soo, Mrs Margaret Anderson, Mrs Margaret Hughes, Ms Elizabeth Toledo, Ms Pam Gatenby, Mrs E Law-Smith, Dr Margaret Middleton, Ms Dian Hollick, Miss Sarah Crichton, Mrs Morna Vellacott, Mr Brian Sullivan, JJB Pty Ltd, Ms Roz Bruhn, Ms Margaret McMillan, Ms Georgina Withers, Mrs J Harmsworth, C Pribil, Ms Elizabeth Bie, Mr A Sinclair, Mr Michael Sassella, Miss Lyn Brown, Mr Tom Halstead, Mrs Deborah Perrin, Ms Mary Clements, Mr Saul Schneider, Ms Di Johnstone, Ms Christine McLeod, Mrs Jennifer Cleary, Mrs Margaret Enfield, Mrs Deborah Trevor, Ms Bianca Keena, Ms Margaret Pfanner, Ms Ruth Smith, Mr Andrew Wilson, Mr Frank Breglec, The Bagnall Foundation, Ms Pam Behncke, Ms Margaret Anderson, Ms Ruth Wilson, Mr William Kempees, Mrs Shirley Llorens, Ms Hilary Nicholson, Mr Daryl Blaxland, Ms Rachael Henson, Mr John Sever, Ms Margaret Jones, Mr & Mrs David & Angela Beveridge, Ms Marjorie Wheeler, Mr ‘Daddy Cat’, Ms Marlene le Brun, Dr Ian Doherty, Mr Paul Mossop, W & C McAlister, Mr Michael Brown, Ms Judith Hurlstone and Joe & Wendy Lorincz. 

30 Thank you

“Our pets and all animals give us immense joy and happiness. They give us unconditional love and friendship. Animals are an integral part of our lives and we want to return in some way, what they give to us.” – Joe and Wendy Lorincz “I donate because animals are vulnerable. They can’t help themselves. Humans unfortunately hurt animals and they need other humans to help address their needs, and the RSPCA is the best help that animals could have.” – Anon “I want to help improve the lives of helpless animals.” – Wendy Whitham “I know the money I donate is used to provide a comprehensive and compassionate service to the animals of Canberra. I know that it is genuinely needed as only a small portion of funding is provided by the government. It is not just that I am an animal lover. We have a moral obligation to care for animals that we as a society breed or injure.” – Rachael Henson

Kitten foster


very year we are inundated with kittens arriving at the shelter, and Spring is appropriately known as our kitten season. Some litters arrive with their mother but others are not so lucky and lack the early nutrition that their mothers give, which means they struggle to survive their early journey. With the advent of so many young litters and with some of their mothers already ill due to their own weak bodies, they become sicker or are susceptible to common diseases. Despite our best efforts, in time the disease often spreads to other cats and kittens in our care and we are faced with ongoing disease management and control. We were determined to overcome this continued issue, so staff met and put a plan in place to ensure that not only did we avoid disease in our cat and kitten enclosures, but all of our felines had an opportunity to be adopted. Our first step was to set clear guidelines and protocols and continue to enforce our vigilant processes for hygiene and disease prevention. We then approached the community to recruit foster carers who would be available to care for cats and kittens of various ages in their own homes until they were ready for adoption. Our recruitment and promotion of foster care was a great success and we had over 40 foster carers sign up in the first week. This number has continued to grow over time and we have a wait list of those people who are able to assist us with kitten season, and also when kittens arrive at the shelter outside of the traditional kitten season.

By putting all our kittens in foster care they were no longer susceptible to disease. This also prevented them from bringing diseases into the shelter, thereby protecting all our cats and giving them the best chance possible. Currently we have 115 foster carers registered to look after kittens – last year we had four. This year we saw a homing rate of 89% (44% above the national average) – whereas last year our homing rate was 46%. Our results were outstanding and our team in the cattery was congratulated along with our foster carers. A heartfelt thank you was given to everyone, and they can all feel tremendous pride in the job that was done, and in making a difference in the lives of these vulnerable cats and kittens. We presented our case study to other RSPCA shelters in Australia and the feedback was very positive. Many will follow our lead to overcome an ongoing concern with cat and kitten management. RSPCA ACT continues to punch above its weight and save more lives than ever before. A number of shelters are implementing foster programs like ours both within the RSPCA movement and outside of it. This past year as we approached the end of kitten season we all felt proud of this success. ď Ž

31 Kitten foster

Our supporters

Statistics Domestic Felines

Domestic Cats

Domestic Kittens

Outcomes Reclaimed Rehomed In stock Domestic euthanased Feral euthanased Other# Total

This year 226 1243 71

Last year 161 1221 118

This year 203 441 39

Last year 152 424 79

This year 23 802 32

Last year 9 797 39













44 2406

90 2842

24 1324

29 1154

66 1518

Medical Behavioural Total

325 107 432

244 136 380

82 15 97

434 11 445

15 1252 Domestic euthanasia reasons 678 243 147 92 825 335

#Other: includes dead on arrival, stolen, escaped, unassisted death

Canines Outcomes Reclaimed Rehomed In stock Transferred* Euthanased Other# Total

This year 967 358 100 245 117 20 1807

Medical Behavioural Total

61 56 117

Dogs Last year This year Last year 923 885 806 434 149 202 59 56 43 219 244 218 105 92 91 7 5 5 1747 1431 1365 Domestic euthanasia reasons 68 54 61 37 38 30 105 92 91

Puppies This year 82 209 44 1 25 15 376

Last year 117 232 16 1 14 2 382

7 18 25

7 7 14

*Transferred: RSPCA works collaboratively with Domestic Animal Services to maximise positive outcomes for dogs. RSPCA also received dogs from DAS and this figure is included in the total above. #Other: includes dead on arrival, stolen, escaped, unassisted death

34 Statistics

Statistics Rabbits

Guinea Pigs

Outcomes Reclaimed Rehomed In stock Euthanased Other# Total

This year 17 118 17 91 13 256

Last year 9 145 8 69 13 244

Medical Behavioural Total

90 1 91

41 28 69

This year 0 90 8 33 1 132 Euthanasia reasons 32 1 33

Last year 2 40 13 8 1 64 6 2 8

Other (Rodents, ferrets, fish, reptiles, amphibians) This year Last year 10 21 73 42 33 14 48 38 8 1 172 116 27 21 48

17 21 38

#Other: includes dead on arrival, stolen, escaped, unassisted death

Domestic Birds Outcomes Reclaimed Rehomed In stock Euthanased Other# Total

This year 20 103 12 8 7 150

Last year 22 99 13 14 12 160

Medical Behavioural Total

7 1 8

14 14

Poultry This year 4 88 8 20 1 121 Euthanasia reasons 15 5 20

Livestock Last year 2 76 9 19 5 111

This year 2 5 1 5 0 13

Last year 1 13 4 0 1 19

12 7 19

4 1 5


#Other: includes dead on arrival, stolen, escaped, unassisted death

35 Statistics

Statistics Wildlife Report Animals In

This year

Last year

Mammals Marsupials Monotremes Native Amphibians Native Birds Native Reptiles Non-native Birds# Non-native Mammals* Total

24 313 4

80 313 6



1999 154

2231 265










Animals Released Mammals Marsupials Monotremes Native Amphibians Native Birds Native Reptiles Non-native Birds# Non-native Mammals* Total Other Outcomesâ€

This year

Last year

16 107 -

47 114 3



513 60

599 127









#Includes Blackbirds, Pigeons, Indian Mynahs, Sparrows, Starlings *Includes Foxes, European Rabbits, Brown Rats, Wild Mice †Includes transferred out, escaped, dead on arrival

Inspectorate Investigation

737 700 2 4 2

Dogs Cats Cattle Sheep Horses

Number of complaints 120 21 1 1 12







4 2 1

Rabbits Guinea Pigs Other

4 2 0

17 7 0



Type of animal Complaints investigated Complaints revisited Prosecutions finalised Number of charges laid Number of people charged Number of successful prosecutions (charges found and proven) Number of convictions recorded Cases examined (trials / hearings) Cases examined (trials / hearings)

36 Statistics

Number of animals involved 157 53 1 1 18

Number of prosecutions 1 1 -

Number of animals involved 1 1 -

Psst... We couldn’t wait until next year to tell you... as of 4 July 2012 Canberra’s only egg production facility announced they would be converting to cage-free. Hens in Canberra will now be able to spread their wings. Literally.

RSPCA ACT 12 Kirkpatrick Street, Weston ACT, 2611 | PO Box 3082, Weston Creek ACT 2611 1300 4 77722 (1300 4 RSPCA) | | ABN: 35 730 738 037