Animal lovers are needed to open their hearts and homes to provide temporary care for animals in the centre of cruelty cases as RSPCA Victoria looks to recruit new volunteers for its Protective Custody Foster Care Program. The call for more carers comes as an unprecedented number of animals wait for their cases to be heard as the courts work through a backlog due to COVID-19-related delays.
Kris Jones, Community Partnerships Manager at RSPCA Victoria, says that Protective Custody Foster Care is a lifeline for animals who would otherwise spend extended periods of time in RSPCA Victoria shelters. It is the only program of its kind in Victoria and it gives foster carers a unique opportunity to play an active role in the fight against animal cruelty.
“On average, our Inspectorate seizes ten animals per week due to welfare issues such as lack of food, water, failure to provide veterinary treatment, or abandonment. Seized animals go into Protective Custody if their owner has made an ownership claim against them, meaning we cannot find them a loving new home until the conclusion of a court case that is ruled in our favour,” said Mr Jones.
“We do our best to provide enriching environments for the animals awaiting prosecution outcomes, but the evidence shows that extended periods of time spent in a shelter can be detrimental to an animal’s health. The absolute best place for them to be is in a home environment, where they can spend time with people, other pets and enjoy their lives fully – this is where the Protective Custody Foster Care Program comes in.
“The program ensures these animals spend their time with a loving family while they are awaiting a court ruling, instead of in our shelters. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience for the animal and foster carer alike. Many of these animals have been seized from very poor welfare environments. A caring and nurturing home is essential to help them regain their confidence and strength.
“Prosecuting acts of animal cruelty can take some time, and with COVID-19 creating a delay in the courts, we are looking to expand our existing Protective Custody Foster Care Program to meet the greater need. All you need is a little extra room and a lot of extra love to share to make a life-changing difference to an animal in need.”
RSPCA Victoria provides all the resources to care for foster animals, including food, toys, bedding, vet treatment and round-the-clock support from the foster care team. Protective Custody foster carers may be required to foster an animal in need for up to five months and will need to follow privacy requirements due to the sensitive nature of the cases the animals are involved in.
A total of 92 animals were placed in Protective Custody foster in the 19/20 financial year. These animals included dogs, cats, horses, reptiles, birds, rabbits and guinea pigs.
Those interested in applying to become a Protective Custody foster carer are encouraged to fill in the application form at www.rspcavic.org/foster.