Neglect continues as Victoria’s most reported animal cruelty concern

Neglect continues to be the most commonly reported animal cruelty concern across Victoria, according to RSPCA Victoria’s analysis of the 10,745 animal cruelty reports – averaging 29 per day – made to its Inspectorate during 2019-2020.

For the fifth year in a row, RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker is disappointed and concerned about the welfare of Victorian animals knowing that basic neglect continues to make up the highest proportion of reports.

“I am disheartened to see the overwhelming issue continues to be neglect, indicating many animals in Victoria are not receiving the most basic standard of care, such as sufficient food, water and shelter.

“It is heartbreaking to know so many animals continue to suffer across our state due to a lack of basic care and these statistics clearly illustrate the need for our Inspectorate’s important work,” Dr Walker said.

“Additionally we are concerned for all animal welfare in the year ahead as the economic impacts of the pandemic are yet to be fully experienced.

“The 2019-20 animal cruelty report statistics clearly indicate the need for further education and for people to seek help if they are having trouble providing basic care for their animals.” Dr Walker said.

These numbers are a return to the historical average of the past six years, with the high level of reporting seen in 2018-2019, similar to the high levels of reporting in 2015-2016 that were associated with particularly dry seasonal conditions.

Offences in these reports included:

Reported concerns

19/20

18/19

Instances of animals with insufficient food, water or shelter

6,044

6,672

Concerns about hygiene, grooming and housing conditions

3,887

3,706

Reports of underweight animals

2,862

3,274

Sick and injured animals not receiving veterinary treatment

2,559

2,799

Concerns about animals being beaten or wounded

1,467

1,310

Instances of abandoned animals

1,172

1,232

Note: Many of the reports received by RSPCA Victoria in 2019-20 included allegations of multiple offences involving multiple animals, hence the total number of concerns exceeding the 10,745 reports.

Dr Walker noted that RSPCA Victoria relies heavily on the public to report concerns regarding animal cruelty and neglect.

“Unfortunately we know that cruelty continues and that Victoria’s animals need us to continue our work to end animal cruelty so I encourage people to continue reporting to our Inspectorate.

“Without the caring Victorians who take animal welfare seriously and make the time to report cruelty to our Inspectorate, many animals in need would go without the care and attention they deserve.

“There is no shame in asking for support so we also encourage people to seek advice or assistance if they have concerns about properly caring for their animals.

Dr Walker also emphasised the hard work and persistence of RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectors, who investigate cases of animal cruelty and enforce animal welfare law.

“While our inspectorate importantly investigates matters of cruelty, the inspectors also work directly with the public to provide support by helping people to improve the care they provide to their animals.

“Our Inspectorate performs a vital function for the Victorian community and RSPCA Victoria is thankful for the support of the Victorian Government as we work toward our vision of ending cruelty to all animals.”

In 2019-20, RSPCA Victoria Inspectors:

· issued 492 notices to comply

· laid 120 charges against 44 people

· finalised 51 prosecutions, with facts proven in 49 cases

At the end of the financial year, 62 cases were still before the courts.

While the Inspectorate continues its important work, court cases have been adjourned due to COVID-19, meaning the length of stay in shelters for animals involved in court cases has increased. Currently there are 106 animals in care under Protective Custody Hold while RSPCA Victoria awaits revised court dates.

Animals most commonly reported

Welfare concerns for dogs, cats and horses continued to make up the majority of the 10,745 cruelty reports in 2019-20:

· 6,723 reports involved dogs and puppies (an increase of approximately 4% from 6,445 reports in 2018-19)

· 1,886 reports involved cats and kittens (an increase of approximately 7% from 1,756 reports in 2018-19)

· 1,236 reports involved horses (a decrease of approximately 28% from 1,712 reports in 2018-19)

Reports by local government area

Reports by local government area

Rankings by number of reports

2019-20

ranking

2019-20

reports

Local government area

2018-19 ranking

2018-19 reports

2017-18 ranking

2017-18 reports

1

581

Casey City Council

2

561

2

462

2

561

Greater Geelong City Council

1

617

1

559

3

374

Hume City Council

3

410

3

376

4

344

Whittlesea City Council

5

383

10

311

5

338

Melton Shire Council

6

375

7

325

6

338

Frankston City Council

10

315

4

350

7

333

Latrobe City Council

12

310

11

305

8

328

Wyndham City Council

7

364

13

291

9

320

City of Greater Bendigo

4

393

6

333

10

303

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council

13

300

9

322

Neither Yarra Ranges Shire Council, which ranked 8 for 2018-19 with 362 cruelty reports, or Cardinia Shire Council, which ranked 9 for 2018-19 with 351 cruelty reports, appeared in the 2019-20 top ten ranking for the highest number of cruelty reports.

Rankings by Reports per capita

2019-20 Ranking

2019-20 Per capita

Area

2018-19 Ranking

2018-19 Per capita

2017-18 Ranking

2017-18

Per capita

1

1:144

Pyrenees Shire Council

1

1 : 101

5

1: 223

2

1:179

Hepburn Shire Council

3

1 : 180

1

1 : 157

3

1:208

Loddon Shire Council

2

1 : 139

11

1 : 289

4

1:223

Corangamite Shire Council

15

1 : 274

7

1 : 248

5

1:227

Latrobe City Council

8

1 : 243

6

1 : 247

6

1:263

Mitchell Shire Council

16

1; 277

12

1 : 290

7

1:265

Rural City of Wangaratta

19

1 ; 288

26

1 : 388

8

1:283

Moyne Shire Council

12

1 ; 260

18

1 : 345

9

1:289

Yarriambiack Shire Council

31

370

23

1 : 370

10

1:290

Wellington Shire Council

13

260

24

1 : 370

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