By Brendan Rees
It’s the “heartbreaking” milestone that’s leaving animals neglected, beaten, and abandoned in the City of Casey.
The municipality recorded the largest number of animal cruelty, with 581 complaints received by RSPCA Victoria in 2019-20.
Casey’s tally was up 20 reports from 561 in the previous financial year, when it ranked second.
Cruelty cases included animals with insufficient food, water or shelter, grooming and shelter concerns, hygiene, underweight animals, and sick and injured animals.
Casey nudged out Greater Geelong City Council as the top offender, which recorded 561 reports – down from 617.
Hume, Whittlesea, Melton, Frankston, and Wyndham were also named among the top 10 worst areas for animal cruelty reports.
State-wide, welfare concerns for dogs, cats and horses continued to make up the majority – averaging 29 reports per day.
In 2019-20, RSPCA Victoria inspectors issued 492 notices to comply, 120 charges against 44 people, finalised 51 prosecutions – with facts proven in 49 cases.
At the end of the financial year, 62 cases were still before the courts, which have been adjourned due to Covid-19.
RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said: “It is heartbreaking to know so many animals continue to suffer across our state due to a lack of basic care and these statistics clearly illustrate the need for our Inspectorate’s important work,” she said.
While City of Casey was ranked number one in terms of the number of reports made, it was ranked number 48 in the per capita ranking.
Casey Council safer communities manager Caroline Bell said it was disappointing to know there are so many instances of animal cruelty in the community but applauded residents for notifying the RSPCA and other animal protection organisations.
“The high number of reports shows a low tolerance in the community for these actions and we applaud residents for notifying the RSPCA and other animal protection organisations when they see it,” she said.
Ms Bell said council worked closely with RSPCA and directed all reports of animal cruelty to RSPCA inspectors to support their investigations.
“Our responsibility is to enforce the Domestic Animals Act 1994, the Casey Community Local Law 2018 and to promote responsible pet ownership,” she said.
This included regulations about the number of animals that can be kept on a property and ensuring that the property size is suitable for the number and type of animals, and that they are kept in clean and appropriate conditions that ensure their health and wellbeing, Ms Bell said.
“Council officers will investigate and enforce identified breaches of the local laws, she said. “Animals are an important, enriching part of our community and we urge all residents to ensure they know and act on their responsibilities as a pet owner.”
For more information visit www.casey.vic.gov.au/pets-animalsIf residents believe an animal’s life is at immediate risk, RSPCA urges people not to make an online report but to call 9224-2222 so an inspector can be notified right away.