By David Kavanagh | posted on July 6, 2019
ALBANY recorded some of the highest numbers of cases of animal cruelty in regional Western Australia last year, according to RSPCA WA.
Recently released figures from the animal welfare organisation’s Cruelty Hotline revealed the city ranked second in 2018 when it came to the number of cruelty reports received.
A total of 187 calls were recorded in Albany across the calendar year, placing it 23 cases behind Kalgoorlie-Boulder City which recorded 210 reports.
Albany also recorded 187 reports in 2017 and was at that time ranking first on the regional cruelty hot spot list.
RSPCA WA Chief Executive Officer Iain Torrance said while the figures were high, they did not necessarily mean more cases were occurring in Albany.
“The high number of cruelty reports received in Albany could indicate that more animals are suffering abuse and neglect or that more people in the area are standing up for animals and making a report,” he said.
“In regional WA, we receive more calls from cities and towns near where RSPCA WA has a presence because people know they can depend on us for help.”
“We also see more reports where there are more people and Albany is one of the largest population centres in regional WA.”
Mr Torrance said while the organisation worked hard to improve standards of animal welfare in the state, the high numbers of reports collated statewide each year were a concern.
“It’s encouraging to see the community is reporting cruelty and giving a voice to abused, neglected and mistreated animals who can’t speak for themselves,” he said.
“But with more than 50 reports flooding in every single day, the truth is we simply can’t get to every animal in time.
“Year on year, the number of calls from across WA is increasing. This year we’re expecting to reach 21,000 which equates to almost 200 additional calls per month.”
In 2018, RSPCA WA inspectors received 366 reports of animal cruelty in the Great Southern region, with most of those coming out of Albany and Harvey.
The Shire of Plantagenet and the Shire of Katanning also saw a spike in 2018 compared to 2017, with the former jumping 35 per cent to 27 reports and the latter jumping 63 per cent to 13 reports.
Founder of the state’s largest animal rescue organisation Saving Animals From Euthanasia (SAFE) Sue Hedley said although the RSPCA’s figures were “a shock”, they did not definitively point to more cases in Albany than elsewhere.
“You’ve got to look at where people do manage to report,” the Karratha-based animal advocate said.
“When there’s no RSPCA north of Geraldton, the majority of people living in the north west don’t go near contacting them.”
Ms Hedley instead thought cruelty was “far worse” in the north west where SAFE has five of its 12 state branches.
“It’s almost a daily basis of cruelty and neglect,” she said.
“Starvation of animals, animals left without food and water, dogs absolutely covered in ticks, ringworm and mange, things like that are very regular.
“[There are also] extreme cases where cats have been found with broken legs and have just learned to get around that way because no one has helped them … and animals covered in burns because people are pouring boiling water over them.”
Ms Hedley said Albany residents were probably more likely to make reports knowing an RSPCA person was “not that far away”.
“I want people to hear that if they see animals left without food or water or in a bad way or not looked after, they need to report it,” she added.
“It doesn’t have to necessarily be the RSPCA or an extreme cruelty act, but they can ring local rangers, the police, SAFE or others.
“Do not just turn a blind eye … animals rely on us humans to help them.”
Concerned individuals can contact the RSPCA Cruelty Hotline on 1300 278 358 or the SAFE Albany branch on 0412 491 203.
Albany Animal Welfare were contacted for this story but declined to comment.