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I have been an animal lover since I could walk, and over recent years as I find my inner voice, it leads me further and further into animal welfare related debate and action.

I think for me it is all about a voice, someone standing up for the welfare and best interests of those who cannot protect themselves from human actions and intrusion into their habitat.

What started for me as heart left love, has turned into a large part of my life, maybe because I am loud and I never back down, or it could be my political aspirations to bring change on so many fronts, either way, it has lead me to being well known when it comes to in animal welfare related issues.

My wife and I own and fund “Willow Wood sanctuary” where we care for native animals, in recent years my time and energy has expanded to support companion animal shelters and carers, along the way doing rescues where I am the last avenue, and this happens way too often.

I have put my hand up in times of need, raising money, feed and supplies and personally delivering them in times of natural disasters across the country.

Value of life is held differently by all people, some like animals, some hate animals, others love animals, and for many of us, our animals become a part of the family, mine are.

For me, value of life should be equal in all things, how can any single sentient being believe they are superior to another?

It is this belief with in my soul, my thirst for knowledge and my ability to see through spin and bullshit that has found me, in and out of the courts, on the steps of parliament and flying all over the country is pursuit of genuine animal welfare reform.

The big difference between myself and most rescue organisations and shelters, is probably brought about by my political experience and my understanding of legislation and my many years of fighting for reform, which leads we a little too often into confrontation with authorities. 

Ministers who oversee animal welfare legislation rarely have the experience to lead such a portfolio, those empowered by it, like the inspectorate of the RSPCA, our councils and the pounds they operate, all lack the compassion and understanding to ensure their actions are in line with community expectations.

The very fact these same people think they can spin bullshit to gain our support rather than inspire us through their actions, really says it all.

Killing a healthy kitten under the guise of behavioural issues, just proves these people are out of touch and need a reality check.

If they need to make room, let that truth drive support for them, not the use of spin and cover-ups.

The other divide I regularly find, is that I hold the rights of all parties equally, the owners and the animals, and I try to always take a balanced approach, this is where I am at conflict with animal rights campaigners, who tend to see the animals rights above all else.

To explain where I stand, best I offer an example;

I am called out to a property where a person who does rescue has over extended themselves, lets say for instance, they have 50 animals they have rescued, but keeping up with the maintenance is getting beyond them.

The authorities approach is usually heavy handed, raid the property in the early hours of the morning, seize all the animals, and start litigation, usually charging the owner with animal welfare abuse, and then ensure, regardless of whatever happens, they win the case.

Mine would be one of working with the rescuer, how many animals can they handle, work with them to help rehome the excess, help them in any way I can to ensure they can continue doing what they love with in their means, so as to get the best result for the animals and the animal lover.

I read case studies, I investigate what is going on, visit the property and speak with all involved and do what I can to support the best interests of the animals in an informed manner.

Obviously in cases of deliberate abuse, I am all for heavy penalties, but animal welfare law, does not take into Account “intention”, and while this is absent from the law, any one of us with an elderly animal, or that rescues injured or abused animals, can find themselves under charges, and this my friends really pisses me off.

You see there are many animal lovers, but very few are willing to devote their lives to animals, and indeed their time and money, so these are the people, we must support at all cost.

For this reason alone, I will continue to go head to head with not only the authorities, but also animal rights based groups, and this will not change, so if who you vote for is based on how much they love animals, or how staunch their approach as elected members will be in the fight for reforms, my actions speak on my behalf.

In a recent intervention I have been ostracized by some animal rights based groups for my actions in defense of a convicted animal abuser, so this I best also explain.

A woman charged by the RSPCA for animal abuse, lost her case in court, her lawyer abandoned her when her finances ran out, so a plea bargain was her only option, the fact was the property was not up to scratch, sick animals were on site, even though they had arrived in that state, and regardless of what my views were after reading all the case notes and viewing the photos, yes she was found guilty, and indeed she was still allowed to have many animals.

When an animal rights group opposed to the courts findings, not that I believe they were privy to all the information, published this woman’s personal details and labelled her an abuser, she was abused, threatened and attacked, people were even driving past her home, at the time this was a single mother with young children living in a secluded location.

No one in our society has the right to be judge and jury, so I demanded people leave her alone and stopped frightening her children, which has resulted in me being labelled a supporter of animal abuse, what I did do was stand up for a fair go for a person and her children, in the same way I would stand up for any animal in need, this I am afraid, is who I am, this will not change.

I went out and met the lady and looked over her property, after calling for restraint and demanding vigilante actions stopped, accessed the conditions of the animals, the feed stock, the water and the enclosures, and offered my advice, because I also wanted to be certain the animals were in good condition, and they were.

If I am elected to represent my states best interests, then that includes the best interests of the animals and the people. The same applies to the environment, to farmers, and every issue in between, I will always approach any issue using compassion and equity to all involved.

If I am elected to represent my states best interests, then that includes the best interests of the animals and the people. The same applies to the environment, to farmers, and every issue in between, I will always approach any issue using compassion and equity to all involved.

Google my name and any topic of your choice, visit my website or follow me on Face Book, I am who I am and I will remain honest, transparent and accountable for my actions, and I will debate any person that thinks they know better, and if they can convince me I am wrong, I will adapt and change.

At least you know where I stand and what I do, so you can make an informed decision, and that is what democracy is all about.

Mark Aldridge

Independent for the upper house SA

Representing you in box U on the large legislative council ballot paper Youtube clips include; MC at the anti-shark cull rally, live export rallies, RSPCA reform rallies, Anti BSL, and many others, my rallies also include the annual “voice of the animal” which is to unite and find support for the self-funded rescue groups and shelters. My sanctuary “Willow Wood” has a page on face book…. Oohhh and PS; the wife does most of the hard work.

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