The RSPCA believes that an animal’s welfare should be defined by these five freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst (access to fresh water and a healthy diet); freedom from discomfort (an appropriate environment, including shelter, should be available); freedom from pain, injury and disease (through access to rapid diagnosis and treatment); freedom to express normal behaviour (enabled by proper facilities, space and company); freedom from fear and distress (by being able live in conditions and receive treatment which avoid mental suffering).
RSPCA NSW helps animals (and people!) in many different ways. From shelters across the state providing safe beds for animals in need, to veterinary hospitals, to community outreach and education programs, RSPCA NSW works on the ground to be there for the animals and people who have no one else.
The organisation believes that behind every animal is a person in need of encouragement, guidance and often just a helping hand. RSPCA NSW has many programs in place that work with local communities and the wider public to increase animal welfare awareness, as well as providing practical and helpful support to pet owners.
One such program is the Community Animal Welfare Scheme (CAWS), which addresses the issue of the overpopulation of unwanted animal companions. The aim of this program is to reduce the number of animals being euthanised in rural pounds and shelters by providing low-cost desexing, microchipping and vaccination services in specifically targeted regional and remote areas of NSW. Run in conjunction with local councils and local veterinarians, all owners are means tested beforehand to ensure help is being given to those who need it most. The program is also an opportunity to increase community awareness about the importance of desexing, as well as other aspects of responsible pet ownership.
Another way that RSPCA NSW helps the community is through its partnership with Mission Australia. Staff from the RSPCA NSW Sydney Shelter in Yagoona visit Mission Australia’s Common Ground community housing facility in Camperdown, which provides both short- and long-term boarding for homeless and disadvantaged people. Shelter staff educate residents about pet ownership and provide low-cost microchipping services for the animals. Pet ownership is a common barrier for people experiencing homelessness when it comes to finding appropriate accommodation, so RSPCA NSW works with Mission Australia to remove this barrier.
Other programs run by RSPCA NSW for people and animals include their Community Aged Care Program (formerly known as POOPs [Pets of Older Persons]) and their Community Domestic Violence Program. For the elderly, pet ownership can mean everything, offering them a friend when they are spending most of their time alone. The Aged Care Program assists with veterinary treatment and grooming; case workers visit the homes of elderly people to assist and also help with transportation to vets and emergency foster care for the animal if required.
A recent Australian study found that approximately 50 per cent of women in violent relationships reported that their abusive partner had hurt or killed one of their pets. The study also revealed that 33 per cent of these female owners had delayed leaving their violent relationship because of concern for their pet’s welfare.
The RSPCA NSW Community Domestic Violence Program (formerly known as Safe Beds for Pets) aims to remove this barrier and aid people in seeking help by facilitating a safe option for their pets. It offers temporary foster care for the pets of victims, as well as financial assistance for veterinary treatment, impound fees and transport fees. Providing housing for the pets of victims gives the victim time to find a safe refuge for themselves, with the aim always being to have their beloved pet back with them as soon as possible.
RSPCA NSW works through a network of dedicated staff, shelters, branches, volunteers and veterinary hospitals. The organisation receives less than 2 per cent of its funding from the government, meaning they rely almost entirely on the goodwill of donations from people like us.
If you wish to support the amazing work of RSPCA NSW both in the community and at its shelters, why not consider donating to its cause? You’ll be doing your part to help animals that have experienced suffering, neglect and abandonment, giving them a second chance at the life that they deserve. To spread some good karma around and help our furry friends in need, call the RSPCA NSW Donations Team on 1300 777 221.
Jordan Murray is Digital Communications Producer for the RSPCA