visit our new project!

The Ultimate Animal Society: RSPCA

Stepping into the RSCPA headquarters in Yagoona is like walking into cute’s mecca. The staff’s nurturing and welcoming attitude to animals of all shapes and sizes – and, inevitably, breeds – leaves the anticipated twinge of sadness well and truly outside the front door. This is a place that will not turn away an animal in need, and will strive to ensure each and every one of them survive and end up in a happy, loving home. Defined by the core belief that people must treat animals humanely, the RSPCA receives more than 144,000 animals nationwide per year. The Sydney site provides a safe haven for more than 800 dogs, cats, and even farm animals, making it the largest animal shelter in the southern hemisphere.

Acting as a refuge, an adoption agency, a hospital, a policing unit and a therapeutic community, the RSPCA is well and truly an animal’s society. Although strays generally have to be sent to government-owned pounds (where they have 7 to 14 days to be claimed before they are euthanised), the RSPCA takes in the injured ones with open arms, and does everything it can to help them in the process. It also embraces surrendered animals, operating on the principle that animals should be wanted and adopted by a loving home where they can thrive. Reasons why people give up their pets vary from moving to getting sick to having a baby, but each and every surrendered animal is treated the same when they enter the RSPCA – with warmth and a determination to ensure their happiness.

“The first thing the animals do is go through a behavioural and medical assessment, and they have to pass both in order to qualify for adoption,” says one of the team leaders, Nicole Dann.

If they do not pass, the staff go through a process of rehabilitation and socialisation with the animals to get them ready for a new home, an endeavor that involves a great deal of animal psychology. This is something Nicole says she learns about every day, as each animal – like each human – has a different personality, character and temperament than the next. For instance, if the animal is timid or scared, the staff introduces them to new people and other animal peers to get their confidence up.

Euthanasia is the absolute last resort, and is only ever administered when there is nothing further than can be done – and the RSPCA does go above and beyond what is called for to ensure it doesn’t happen. Most recently, its veterinary hospital conducted plastic surgery on a Shar Pei whose wrinkles were starting to cover up his eyes and impact his quality of life, a cost fronted by the organisation itself. With less than two percent of funding coming from the government, the RSPCA spends hundreds of dollars more than it actually receives in order to ensure the welfare of animals.

As someone who grew up around pets, Nicole is, like everyone else at the RSCPA, an ardent animal devotee, which makes the organisation both the ideal and, at times, difficult place to work.

“Although it’s great when the animals get adopted, we do sometimes miss them and wonder how they’re going,” she says.
“We spend so much time with them, and it’s so rewarding to see them grow into these wonderful animals.”

Indeed, the staff’s devotion to the animals certainly doesn’t evaporate when they go home from the day. Nicole has acquired three dogs and three pets from her five and a half years on the job, and often acts as a foster carer to the animals, taking them home for a night or on an afternoon stroll. As the animals are kept at the shelter until they have a new home – a process which can take 12 months or more – the staff treat them like their own. Volunteers are also a value at the RSPCA, with their main role being to spend time with the animals. Although the animals are kept in relatively small pens, they are taken out to the paddocks regularly to run around, play catch and experience a taste of freedom.

Nicole Dann

Another main component of the RSPCA is its Cruelty Inspectors Unit, which investigates animal welfare complaints and has the power to seize animals should they be found in unsafe conditions – and even jail the family in the process. They recently seized 160 animals from one home alone.

All of the pets in these photos are up for adoption, and they’re looking for a companion who has the time to spend with them, understands them and has nothing but love to give them. To learn more, visit or call the Yagoona centre on 9770 7555.

The RSPCA is trying to raise $30million to renovate its old premises and make them more suitable for the pets, as well as incorporate an education unit down the track. Please donate.

words and photos: Seema Duggal


Related Posts with Thumbnails