RSPCA not ‘extreme’

The RSPCA has emphasised its defence of animal welfare, not rights, after allegations of extremism by farm organisations.

Concerns were raised by over 300 delegates at the annual New South Wales Farmers Association conference over the RSPCA’s role in monitoring livestock across the state.

The delegates passed a motion urging that the special-constable-status of the RSPCA be removed in regard to commercial livestock.

We flatly reject any suggestion the RSPCA NSW is biased or using our brand to drive an agenda…we are not an animal rights organisation,” RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman said.

RSPCA Inspectors enforce existing animal protection legislation on behalf of the NSW state government.”

Separately to the inspecting role, the RSPCA works to promote uptake of husbandry and management practices, Coleman said. Continue reading RSPCA not ‘extreme’

Vet Ethics: A badger brouhaha

The badger is one of those animals to have shuffled its way into the human imagination. My first exposure to badger folklore was when my father told me that a harassed badger could be uncommonly fierce, and that, like a wolverine or a Tasmanian Devil, he packed a punch beyond his diminutive size. This idea of a small British creature taking on large dogs, or even wolves and bears, appealed to a young boy’s imagination.

Around the same time, I read about Badger from Wind in the Willows. Badger was short-tempered, intimidating, and did not suffer fools gladly – the fool, of course, being Mr Toad. Bill Murray’s badger character from the recent Fantastic Mr Fox film fought – or “cussed” – with George Clooney’s Mr Fox. Badgers have also featured in stories by Richard Adams, Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll, and in an episode of The Simpsons.

Badgers have been eaten and used for their pelts in various parts of the world. Until the 1800s, they were subject to baiting in the UK. Things have somewhat changed. Now badgers in Britain (the European badger is called Meles Meles) have greater security in the form of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which prescribes criminal penalties for harming or killing the animals. Prior to that, they were gassed in their setts to prevent the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB).

As I write, badgers are once again in the news in the UK. Brian May has just led a demonstration in London against the Tory Government’s plan to cull some of them. May, from the rock group Queen, released a very Queen-esque snippet – a short song of protest called Badger, Badger, Badger. This old rocker is an eloquent spokesperson for the anti-cull side. He is joined by Bill Oddie, for many years an enthusiastic advocate for wild British creatures. Oddie is now looking as fiercely resolute as a wounded badger. Some other celebrities, plus the Badger Trust and the RSPCA, are similarly set against the cull. Continue reading Vet Ethics: A badger brouhaha

Outcry over new Victoria dog laws

Veterinary groups have been highly critical of Victorian laws which led to two dogs being euthanased.

The dogs, named Bear and Kooda, were destroyed in June under Victoria’s new dangerous dog laws following a legal battle to save them.

The dogs had not engaged in antisocial behaviour, but were put down after an officer from Moira Shire Council identified them as pitbull crosses, despite the owners’ claim that they were bred from a Staffordshire-ridgeback cross and a bull mastiff cross American bulldog.

Victoria toughened its dog laws following the fatal mauling of a toddler last year.

The legislation has procedures for councils on how to identify pitbulls based on indicators such as build and head profile.

The RSPCA, AVA and ASAVA have expressed concerns that new laws could punish responsible dog owners, who follow the law and have their pit bull or pit bull crosses registered, and let irresponsible owners slip under the radar. Continue reading Outcry over new Victoria dog laws

RSPCA demands end to pig hunting

The NSW branch of the RSPCA is calling for an end to feral pig hunts using dogs in state forests.

The campaign comes on the heels of the NSW Game Council’s invitation to 24 hunters to participate in a trail using pig dogs to hunt feral pigs.

The trial commenced on April 30 in Nundle, Hanging Rock and Tomalla state forests in the New England area.

Continue reading RSPCA demands end to pig hunting

Veterinary care in Papua New Guinea

If you’re wanting to volunteer your veterinary or vet nursing skills abroad, but don’t want to travel too far from Australia, then consider Papua New Guinea in the south west Pacific region.

Papua New Guinea is Australia’s closest international neighbour, yet many Australians may never have considered travelling there. In the Torres Strait between the two countries, the closest of Australia’s islands sits a mere four kilometres off the Papua New Guinea coastline and there are close traditional ties between the people living in the area. Australia has had significant involvement in the development of Papua New Guinea as we know it today, as Papua New Guinea used to be administered by Australia since the time of the first World War through until independence in 1975. The military history of war in Papua New Guinea is well known, including the famous battles along the Kokoda Track between Australian forces and the invading Japanese army during World War II.

Australia still contributes a significant amount of international aid to Papua New Guinea, and there are still strong ties between the two countries. Many Australian’s travel to Papua New Guinea in order to hike the Kokoda Track to learn about the historic military campaign which occurred there, along with experiencing the culture and landscape of the Owen Stanley Mountain range through which the Kokoda Track passes. However there is more to Papua New Guinea that just the Kokoda Track.

Papua New Guinea tourism uses the slogan, ‘the land of the unexpected’, and it definitely lives up to this description. There are over 800 language groups in Papua New Guinea, and it is a culturally and topographically diverse country home to an incredible array of plant and animal biodiversity. Being close to the equator, the climate in Papua New Guinea is tropical and hot with the wet season between December and March, however it can rain at any time. Dense tropical rainforest blankets a large proportion of the country. Divided into twenty provinces including various islands, each has its own cultural and natural attractions. English is spoken by many Papua New Guineans, however there is widespread use of pidgin or Tok Pisin which can be an amusing language to learn. Continue reading Veterinary care in Papua New Guinea