Challenge 1: Speak Out Against Animal Cruelty

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An RSPCA Inspector and a greyhound share a hug

As the name suggests, the RSPCA is an organisation whose primary aim is to prevent cruelty to animals. Whilst the RSPCA Queensland has been around for more than 125 years, we are still facing the same patterns of neglect, abuse and irresponsible choices. The RSPCA Queensland believes that education is our most powerful weapon in preventing cruelty. We must be proactive, we must speak out and we must act now!

How big is the problem?

The RSPCA Queensland Inspectorate received approximately 13,000 cruelty complaints and conducted more than 9,000 emergency rescues last year. Annually, around 100 of the worst cruelty cases are prosecuted. RSPCA Inspectors, and indeed most Queenslanders, are shocked and horrified by the frequency and severity of these acts of cruelty.

Research has shown that people who are violent towards humans often start out by being violent to animals.

Many serious violent offenders, including some of our worst serial killers, have a history of abusing animals and children. For example, as a small boy, Martin Bryant tortured animals. As a 28 year old, he murdered 35 people at Port Arthur in Tasmania.

Far more common than serial killings, but just as serious, is domestic violence. Domestic Violence can affect pets as well as people. According to a recent study by the American Humane Society, 88 per cent of pets living in households with domestic abuse are either abused or killed. RSPCA Qld Inspectors often report suspected domestic and child abuse while investigating claims of animal cruelty and neglect.

Regardless of the cycle of violence, cruelty towards animals is not acceptable. Animals are sentient beings with the capacity to feel pain, fear and distress.

The Animal Care and Protection Act

Not all cruelty is intentional. Cruelty may be the result of ignorance or lack of understanding about how to care for an animal.

RSPCA Inspectors are also appointed as Inspectors by the State Government and are authorised to enforce the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001. Inspectors not only prosecute cruelty matters, they also education animal owners by providing advice and guidance regarding the care and welfare of animals.

The most common matters investigated by RSPCA Inspectors are breaches of duty of care to an animal. The Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 states that a person in charge of an animal owes a duty of care to it, and that person must not breach that duty of care. On other words, if you area a person in charge of an animals you must provide the animal with food and water, shelter, treatment for disease and injury and allow the animal to display normal patterns of behaviour.

This duty of care links to the Five Freedoms for Animals upheld by the RSPCA.

The five freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from Hunger & Thirst – we should provide our animals with nutritious food and fresh water each day.
  2. Freedom from Discomfort – our animals need shelter from the cold and protection from the heat. They need a comfortable bed to sleep in. We also need to make sure that animals are treated for any conditions that may cause them discomfort. E.g. flea treatments
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury & Disease – hurting animals is unacceptable. If an animal is sick or injured we should seek veterinary advice.
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour – what is considered normal behaviour will be different for each animal e.g. chickens love to have a dust bath whilst dogs love to play and bark.
  5. Freedom from Fear & Distress – we should not expose animals to situations, which may cause any unnecessary distress. Animals should not be afraid of us.

Consider whether the following scenarios constitute animal cruelty:

  • Failing to take a sick animal to the vet
  • Overfeeding an animal
  • Keeping exotic animals in circuses
  • Caged chicken systems
  • Transporting live animals overseas for slaughter

What are the RSPCA currently doing to prevent cruelty?

To proactively prevent cruelty to animals, the RSPCA Qld is:

  • campaigning for tougher sentencing for animal cruelty offenders with the help of BLEATS (a group of Brisbane Lawyers Educating and Advocating for Tougher Sentencing);
  • offering Animal Assisted Therapy and Empathy Programs for at risk students;
  • running Campaigns to raise awareness and promote responsible pet care;
  • delivering a suite of community education programs including an On Foot Visits and lessons from our mobile classroom EMU (Education Mobile Unit);
  • ensuring our state-wide inspectorate is on hand to respond to complaints, educate the community and prosecute offenders; and
  • running Animal Training Centres to assist families in training their pet using humane methods and positive reinforcement.

Further Information and Resources

Action Tasks

Action Task One

It’s easy to speak out against animal cruelty!

Each member of your group can enter the Bronson Memorial Essay Competition and become proactive about the prevention of animal cruelty. In your individual essays, you will identify one innovative and original idea for preventing cruelty towards animals and discuss why it will be effective and how it can be implemented in a practical sense.

The Bronson Memorial Competition was established in honour of Bronson, a German Shepherd who suffered terribly at the hands of his previous owners. Bronson came to the shelter sick, malnourished and extremely fearful. After a long rehabilitation Bronson was ready to go to his forever home and lived the last five years of his life how he always deserved to live. This competition ensures that Bronson’s memory will live on and also raises vital discussion about approaches to the prevention of animal cruelty.

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Originality
  • Effort
  • Presentation
  • Essay Structure
  • Potential for Practical Application

Winners will be awarded:

  • $250 prize money
  • $250 for their school to purchase animal welfare related education resources
  • An individual trophy
  • A place on the Bronson Memorial Perpetual Trophy

Evidence required:

Submission of essays through the Mission ImPAWSible webpage on WOAW.

For full competition details visit The Bronson Memorial Competition Page.

Action Task Two

Develop a T-shirt design to highlight the plight of exotic animals in circuses. Create the T-shirts using transfers or a silk screen. Consider selling the T-shirts to the school community. In order to do this effectively you will need to consider the costs involved, create a budget and manage your cash flow. You may choose to price the T-shirts to cover costs or to make a profit. All profits can be donated to the RSPCA Queensland to further the campaign for the banning of exotic animals in circuses. You may also wish to arrange a non-uniform day on which students wear the T-shirts to raise awareness.

Suggested Action Plan:

  • Create a number of possible T-shirt designs
  • Choose the final design
  • Decide whether you will source T-shirts or ask students to bring their own
  • Source materials for the production of the design
  • Consider how much to charge for the T-shirts, bearing in mind cost of materials, and your pricing strategy i.e. are you aiming to make a profit or cover costs
  • Develop pre-order forms to help manage cash flow and consider how orders will be collected and paid for
  • Approach your Principal about holding a non-uniform day to allow students an opportunity to wear the shirts
  • Seek feedback from customers on the design
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your project

Evidence required:

  • Copy of T-shirt design (Compulsory)
  • Completed evaluation form (Compulsory)
  • Photographs of the production process and the non-uniform day (Optional)

Information about screen printing t-shirts:

Challenges & Overview

  1. Project Overview
  2. Challenge 1: Speak Out Against Animal Cruelty
  3. Challenge 2: Help Get Chickens Out of Cages
  4. Challenge 3: Bake Up a Storm for Animal Welfare
  5. Challenge 4: Love Cats

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