RSPCA Victoria is juggling the welfare of animals involved in court cases adjourned due to COVID-19 as the easing of restrictions in Victoria takes a step backwards, further delaying court outcomes and extending the time animals spend in the shelter environment.
Over 83 animals are currently hamstrung in RSPCA Victoria Protective Custody Hold (PCH) including dogs, cats, horses, reptiles, birds, rabbits and guinea pigs, as they await new court dates to determine their future. That number is changing every day as Inspectors continue to attend properties across the state to investigate reports of cruelty and neglect.
Protective Custody Hold refers to animals who have been seized by an RSPCA Victoria Inspector because:
• their owner has committed an offence outlined in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA).
• their welfare is believed to be at risk.
• they have been abandoned by their owner.
Animals are classified as PCH if their owner has made an ownership claim in which case the courts determine if the animal can be returned to them. RSPCA Victoria continues to care for the wellbeing of animals pending court decisions by holding them in its animal care centres or placing them in foster care where possible.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all RSPCA Victoria court hearings have been delayed, leaving PCH animals in limbo until the courts resume.
Head of Operations, Tegan McPherson, emphasised the physical and mental stress caused to animals by the extended duration of their PCH status.
“Many of the animals we have under Protective Custody Hold have been seized from very poor welfare environments. Our goal is to place them into a loving home, but this on hold until the courts resume hearing RSPCA Victoria cases. This court’s decision is understandable, but impacts how we manage the welfare of PCH animals in our care,” said Ms McPherson.
‘We work hard to provide enriching environments in our shelters, however extended periods of time in the shelter is not optimal for any animal and can have serious impacts on their physical and mental health. With many PCH animals spending longer in our shelter than ever before, it’s critical that we have the funding and resources to care for these animals to the best of our ability.
“This includes having a robust foster care program with generous people willing to care for animals while they await pending court dates, as well as calling on community for support via fundraising.”
Anyone who has concerns about the welfare of an animal is encouraged to make a report to our Inspectorate via our website at www.rspcavic.org/report or by calling us on 9224 2222.