Animal cruelty reports high in shire

A new Hepburn Shire Council domestic animal management plan is now open to public review.

DOGS: Domestic animal management plan open to public review. Picture: file.

DOGS: Domestic animal management plan open to public review. Picture: file.

The plan aimed to make improvements to animal welfare and responsible pet ownership. 

RSPCA data revealed Hepburn ranked 47th of Victoria’s 79 local council areas for animal cruelty reports in 2016-17, but first in the state on a per capita basis. 

Over 80 animal cruelty reports were made in Hepburn, equating to one report for every 189 residents in the area. The state-wide average was one report per 581 residents, according to RSPCA. 

Over 60 reports in Hepburn were concerns for animals with insufficient food, water or shelter. 

This time last year I was attending meetings out in rural areas with people who owned sheep. Well, at least they did own sheep until they were killed by dogs.

Hepburn Shire Councillor Kate Redwood

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said understanding offences in local areas helped RSPCA direct advocacy, education and enforcement efforts. 

“It’s disappointing to see that, for the second year in a row, too many Victorian animals were reported to us because of concerns about very basic issues: food, water, shelter and vet care when they’re sick or injured,” Dr Walker said.

“These kinds of problems are so preventable. This year, RSPCA Victoria has started working more closely with local councils to understand local animal welfare issues.”

The Hepburn Shire Council draft Domestic Animal Management Plan identified seven key focus areas, including nuisance animals, registration, dog attacks and officer training. 

Hepburn Shire Councillor Kate Redwood said there was greater responsibility needed for owners of animals who do harm. 

“This time last year I was attending meetings out in rural areas with people who owned sheep. Well, at least they did own sheep until they were killed by dogs,” she said. 

Cr Redwood said the Domestic Animal Management Plan indirectly impacted the number of feral cats on the streets as it contained a greater level of responsibility for animal owners. 

The new Domestic Animal Management Plan is open for public submissions. 

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 requires a new plan to be endorsed by November 3.