MORNINGTON Peninsula is ranked seventh for animal cruelty reports and 39th on a per capita basis among Victoria’s 79 municipalities, according to a list of hotspots released last week by RSPCA Victoria.
The RSPCA says it received 10,180 cruelty reports across the state in 2016-17 – or around 28 a day. Of these, 321 were concerns about the welfare of animals on the peninsula, which equates to one report for every 483 residents.
The state-wide average is one report for 581 residents.
Reports from the peninsula included 155 relating to animals with insufficient food, water or shelter; 100 relating to hygiene, grooming and housing conditions; 80 of underweight animals; 66 involving sick or injured animals not receiving vet treatment; 37 about animals being beaten or wounded and 34 abandoned animals.
Of 321 reports received on the peninsula 161 involved dogs and puppies; 44 involved cats and kittens and 53 involved horses.
RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said understanding the rate of cruelty reporting and the different offences in various areas was critical to ensuring that the organisation could direct its education, advocacy and enforcement efforts to places where it was most needed.
“This year, RSPCA Victoria has started working more closely with local councils to understand local animal welfare issues, and to put in place tailored local initiatives to educate owners and better protect animals.”
As in last year’s data, reports in 2016-17 about animals not receiving basic care far outnumbered all other offences reported.
“It’s disappointing to see that, for the second year, too many animals were reported to us because of concerns about basic issues: food, water, shelter and vet care when they’re sick or injured. These kinds of problems are so preventable,” Dr Walker said.
“Whether it’s asking family or friends for support, seeking assistance from animal welfare groups, or surrendering animals to be rehomed, we would strongly encourage owners who aren’t keeping up with the basics to seek help to care for their animals.”
“In most cases, concerns reported to us are quickly resolved by our inspectors educating the owner or person in charge of the animals involved, and reminding them of their legal obligations to care for their animals,” Dr Walker said.
“In some cases, a stronger response is needed: a notice to comply, seizing and taking an animal into protective custody, or – when all else fails – prosecuting.”
RSPCA Victoria Inspectors issued 388 notices to comply, 433 advisory letters and 34 warning letters; laid 383 charges against 90 people, and finalised 90 prosecutions, with facts proven in 83 cases (92 per cent success rate).
At the end of the financial year, 56 cases were still before the courts.
Dr Walker said many of the 10,180 reports this year included allegations of multiple offences involving multiple animals. She said not every report resulted in a substantiated offence. Some concerns did not meet the threshold for an offence in Victoria, and others were not substantiated through investigation.