MARK M ALDRIDGE - "voice of the Community" Community Advocate
"Change is Necessary" Media release on Animal RightsShare Yesterday at 22:31Media Release of Helen Aldridge 7/3/10

Animal rights, where does one start? Firstly, all animals have the right to be cared for; to be fed, receive care when sick, the right not to be abused, neglected or abandoned.
How do we go about making changes? We need to have a government that cares enough to take the lead to start with. Small steps are better than no steps at all but there is a desperate need to take action. It begins with the purchase of an animal. “People need to be educated to realize the associated costs”, de-sexing, health maintenance, i.e. flea treatments, worming, treatment when sick, food costs etc. It is a contract we the educated do not take likely and adhere to because we have committed and have an understanding of the true facts.

I would propose the end to purchasing an animal from a pet shop. This encourages impulse buying, back yard breeders and the like. Are people that make an impulse purchase from a pet shop aware of the associated costs and commitment of owning a pet? Pets should only be available for purchase from a responsible source that will educate the prospective purchaser of owning a pet. This would help alleviate the abandoned pet due to the ongoing expenses associated with ownership. Compulsory obedience classes or even just puppy classes would help the education of new owners of dogs. 

Veterinary bills in themselves are extremely high not to mention the drugs administered due to sickness. I would like to see the “costs of vet services be put under scrutiny to ensure the price we pay is fair and equitable”. I would also like to see the drug companies supplying veterinary lines to have their pricing structures put under investigation, through experience I am sure they are overpriced. 

Back yard breeders need to be phased out. People need to be encouraged not to make a purchase from these sellers. Most are nothing but pet farms with no care or consideration for the females they use for financial rewards. What happens when their producer becomes ill or has problems with the pregnancy, I would hate to think. I would suggest that all breeders be licensed; most of those that breed purebreds have a registration number and must adhere to rules and regulations regarding breeding the sale of pets. As we cannot all afford purebreds and many prefer a cross breed for example, those that breed pets other than purebreds should be registered and follow the same rules. All pet advertisements should carry the license number of those placing an advertisement. 

For those that make a responsible purchase but fall into financial difficulties, could we possible find a way to help them treat their sick pets until they are back on their feet? Cheaper compulsory de-sexing for all but registered breeders would help free up our much taxed animal shelters. Registration of cats is something that has been bandied around for a very long time. It is past time we saw action not just words.

Major animal abuse cases should be handballed to the department of prosecution not reliant on the underfunded R.S.P.C.A. who relies on fund raising for a majority of their income. The R.S.P.C.A. is very much under funded and their resources unable to meet demands. Major abuse cases should be tried by the state prosecution department and not by staff of underfunded welfare groups. They need greater powers for seizure of animals, including neglected paddock animals and tougher penalties for offenders. Convicted offenders should never be allowed to own animals again and when the authorities enter and seize neglected and abused animals they should remove them all into safe custody, not leaving any under the care of these irresponsible people. 

It is past time an “Awareness Campaign” was initiated so that the public realized that they have the power to report abuse and neglect. Such a campaign should be held to ensure every South Australian understands their rights and obligations in regard to animal rights. Such initiatives should be accompanied by an animal abuse register naming those charged and investigated for animal neglect and abuse, to allow easy access to all who sell animals to ensure any proposed purchaser is someone they feel safe for their animals to go to.

There are also many people who take in stray cats, dogs and other animals on death row to re-home them. They do this using their own finances. This in itself is something that perhaps should be commended; however, I have seen firsthand that sometimes this generosity fails resulting in poor housing conditions and neglect. To help alleviate this problem these people should carry a license so that authorities are aware of them and can supervise and assist them where necessary. Carers for wild life are licensed for that very reason; domestic carers should have similar support.

Contentious issues like, the export of live animals should be banned totally as this is a barbaric exercise. Those that cull and slaughter for meat in South Australia should carry a license and be trained and supervised to ensure a quick death with no suffering on the animal’s part.

I am sure I could go on and on, on behalf of the animals of the world. They do not know how to live in our world; they rely on us for care and guidance of the rules. They cannot speak up to tell anyone they are being treated poorly. Those that speak on their behalf must receive increased powers and funding to ensure they can adequately perform the important task of animal protection. Offenders must be prosecuted in a timely manner and their offences treated as a criminal act, because there is a proven link between animal abuse and that of attacks on the general public. People that abuse defenseless animals have no place in our society, so early intervention and education programs in our schools should be paramount to assist in the alleviation of future episodes.

Helen M Aldridge
Owner of Willow Wood Sanctuary
Independent Candidate for the Legislative Council
“Change is Necessary

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