August 14, 2013

New shelter announced for Canberra

In exciting news for animals in Canberra, the ACT government has announced funding for a new animal care facility, meaning that the aging site in Weston will be relocated.

WIN Television and ABC News

The Canberra Times

RSPCA ACT media release - 9 August 2013

“RSPCA welcomes the ACT Government’s strong support for the relocation of our ageing animal welfare facility and the construction of a new purpose built animal welfare centre,” said Sue Gage, President, RSPCA ACT. “This funding demonstrates the value both RSPCA ACT and the ACT Government have for animal welfare outcomes and the new facility will provide first class care for domestic animals and wildlife in the ACT, staff and for our important volunteers.”

CEO Michael Linke said, “Our current site in Weston, although much loved over the last sixty years, is not able to fully support the increasing demand for our services. The new purpose built animal care centre will enable RSPCA ACT and the ACT Government to deliver animal welfare and regulatory services in a safer, more efficient and responsive working environment. Staff, volunteers, animals and our community will reap the benefits from the new centre as it will allow both organisations to respond to the needs of the growing community.” Mr Linke said;  “Both staff and volunteers at RSPCA and Domestic Animal Services have been looking forward to this announcement over a number of years and have worked together on it. It is fortunate the Land Development Agency (LDA) agreed to fund the project through an agreement that will see our current site become part of the new Molonglo Valley residential development.”

Mr Linke is very positive about the potential of the new centre as it will become a one-stop shop for animal welfare and regulatory issues involving domestic animals. “The new centre will include services currently undertaken by Domestic Animal Services such as securing and caring for dogs that are lost, seized and surrendered. I look forward to continuing our long-standing and valued relationship with Domestic Animal Services, the ACT Government and the Canberra community. We have a history of working together to improve animal welfare outcomes and the new shelter presents an exciting new chapter for both RSPCA ACT and government,” he said.

Mrs Gage thanked the ACT government for the agreement on the capital funding saying that “RSPCA ACT strongly appreciates the government’s on-going commitment to RSPCA and animal welfare in the ACT”.

April 3, 2013

Steps to introducing a new cat

How should I introduce a new cat or kitten to my existing cat?

Cats can be very territorial and sometimes they don't like change very much. Your cat is probably used to being the only cat around and probably had complete run of the house. Suddenly there is this strange other cat or kitten who, from the existing cat's point of view, is just getting in the way. Whenever a new cat is introduced into a house with other cats it takes time for them to get used to each other, and your first cat might a little jealous of the newcomer, so you need to take things slowly and carefully at first.

The key points to consider when introducing cats are:
  • Introduce the existing cat and the new cat in stages – gradually increasing exposure time.
  • Keep the new cat in a separate room for about a week so that the existing cat can become accustomed to their smell and presence and the new cat has time to adjust to their new environment. This separation and gradual introduction may help to reduce the overall anxiety of the situation and provides a good basis for the development of good relations.
  • After the new cat has settled in to her part of the house you can slowly introduce her to the rest of the house by bringing her out for 10 or 15 minutes at a time under your supervision. Eventually she will be confident enough to wander freely around the house and the other cat should be used to her.
  • In the initial stages there may be some hissing and tail swishing – but this should settle down after a few days.
  • Ensure that the existing cat has an area that she can go to for privacy to get away from the new cat.
  • Provide at least two litter trays.
  • Allow the cats to eat separately.
  • Ensure the existing cat receives a lot of individual attention from you.
  • Be aware that it may take some time for a relationship to develop

Not all cats will get on with each other. In situations where cats do not like each other in the long-term, they may still be able to co-exist in relative peace by seeking out their own space and spending most of the time on their own. Some cats have the ability to find a balance and share their territory. Having access to different rooms so that they may be alone can assist in these situations.

In rare situations where cats seriously injure each other or begin to show signs of severe stress as a result of being housed together they may need to be separated. Your local vet can provide more information about available options in these situations.

This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. Please note: We make no warranties that this information is accurate or suitable for a person’s unique circumstances and provide this information on the basis that all persons accessing the information responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.

February 13, 2013

Wild Things

Wildlife rehabilitation is the process of removing injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals from the wild and caring for them. The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to provide food, housing and medical care to these animals and return them to the wild after treatment.

Did you know RSPCA ACT is the only licensed wildlife carer in the ACT?

Were you aware that it is against the law to keep a native animal for longer than a 48 hour period? For the benefit of the animal RSPCA ACT should be contacted as soon as possible if sick, injured or orphaned native wildlife comes into your care.

One of the obstacles for rehabilitation we see at RSPCA is humanising, or imprinting.

Humanising occurs when a young animal is given inappropriate care during the rearing process and the animal becomes dependent on the human carer.  This condition potentially limits the animal’s chance of survival in the wild.

Imprinting occurs when a carer allows a young animal to think of him/her as a parent, with the result that the animal will most likely not fully recognise its own species and therefore may not survive in the wild, or when mature it may approach humans for food or mating.

In addition, native animals raised with or in close proximity to domestic pets will not recognise these species as predators when released.  For adult animals, the opposite problem occurs:  if being cared for in proximity to domestic pets the sight, sound and smell of domestic animals are highly stressful and may cause delay improvement in their condition.

When we receive an animal in to care that has been humanised it may take weeks or even months to get that animal to a stage where it can be released in to the wild.  Sometimes, for their own safety, these animals can’t be released and unfortunately have to be humanely euthanased.

The most common species we see that have been humanised are possums and magpies.
The possum in the photo recently came in to our care.  She was easily approached on the street, picked up and is certainly used to being hand-fed.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will be able to “wild” up this possum so that she will be suitable for release.

If you find an injured native animal please contact us on 6287 8100 and help us keep them wild.

February 4, 2013

Saving lives - the cat's out of the bag

As a supporter of RSPCA ACT, do you ever wonder if your donations of time and money are really making a difference? The short answer is yes. You are literally saving lives.

A few years ago our cat and kitten homing rates were comparatively high, but they weren’t as high as they could have been. One problem was that diseases could spread through the kitten population while they were too young to be vaccinated, and as many kittens were already compromised after a tough start in life, they simply weren’t strong enough to fight.

The solution to this problem was brilliant in its simplicity. We needed to get kittens out of the shelter. We needed to let sick kittens be treated without spreading their illness to others. We needed somewhere for all of our litters of kittens to grow big, strong and healthy so we could find them a forever home.

So, we put a call out to the public asking for help – we needed an army of volunteers to become kitten foster carers, and what a response we got! We now have around 150 trained foster carers and we are able to provide them with everything they need to raise and socialise these precious little creatures – food, bedding, blankets, litter, litter trays, bowls, hot water bottles, toys, vet care… whatever the carers and kittens require.

 In 2012 RSPCA ACT achieved outstanding results in our cat and kitten rehoming rates with 74% of domestic cats and 91% of domestic kittens being homed. These amazing figures are the result of the dedication of our staff and volunteers, and the support from our donors who make this work possible.

Cats and kittens at RSPCA ACT are given the very best chance of finding a new home, and we have you – our supporters – to thank.

December 11, 2012

Happy little campers

Returning from a camping trip to Byron Bay, a gentleman found what he at first thought was a litter of mice nesting in his glove box. These gorgeous little creatures may look like mice they are in fact a native marsupial called an Antechinus.

  Unfortunately mum didn’t join her litter on the trip to Canberra, so it is now up to our wildlife staff and carers to raise these little hitchhikers. Our carers will continue to feed them special milk every few hours and help them learn to eat bugs, fruit and mince.

When they arrived with us they weighed just six grams and we estimated their age at 35 days. When they reach 90 days and about 12 grams, we will send them back to Byron Bay for release.

These antechinus are lucky that their traveling partner realised that they were not common mice and took the trouble to bring them to RSPCA for identification. Their pointy snout and their teeth gave them away as marsupials. Without their mum they would never have made it, but thanks to lots of TLC they are now very happy little campers!

December 5, 2012

Helping Hands

International Volunteer Day is a day for public recognition of those who tirelessly give of themselves for the benefit of others. We love our volunteers, and we know they make a difference.

At RSPCA ACT we rely heavily on the support of our army of volunteers. From playtime and long walks, to grooming and cuddling, to working at events and baking cupcakes, to the intensive tasks of hand rearing kittens and puppies and caring for native wildlife – volunteers at RSPCA are making a difference to the lives of animals each and every day.

Right now at our shelter we have a number of litters of neonatal puppies in the care of foster carers. These puppies have come to us without their mothers so they are being hand reared. For the first three weeks of their lives, they will be fed every two to three hours, 24 hours a day. They will begin solid foods around three to four weeks, and remain in care until around seven weeks of age. Socialisation is critically important to ensure that the puppies will grow into well-adjusted, loving pets.

Caring for puppies is just one example of the dedication and support our volunteers offer. Without them, we could not continue to do what we do.

Perhaps the hardest part of the journey for a foster carer is handing the animals back to RSPCA so that they can find their forever homes. After investing so much time and compassion into these little creatures, it takes great strength to set them free.

All of our volunteers, from those who work at the shelter a few times a week, to those who help at our events once a year, and everyone in between, are a vital part of our strategy to save more lives every day.

So thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

November 23, 2012

Tawny Frogmouth update

We have so many success stories at RSPCA ACT, and we often hear from members of the public with updates about how their newly adopted family members are settling in. However, it is rare for us to hear updates about native animals that we have released. We return native animals to the wild once they are strong and healthy again, and we just have to hope that they will go on to live a full life.

Two years ago RSPCA ACT saw a tawny frogmouth come into the clinic in a bad way after being hit by a car. The tawny was in the care of our wildlife staff for four months while she made her recovery. After receiving a clean bill of health she was released. With a large number of tawny frogmouths in care at that time it was necessary to identify the birds with tags, ensuring that they would be released where they were found. Usually we remove the tags before sending birds back to the wild, however this tawny ended up being released with her tags intact.

Imagine our surprise and delight when local wildlife enthusiast Stuart Rae spotted her nesting! Stuart has written a number of blog posts about ‘Double Pink’, and this week shared the exciting news that she has successfully started a family.

Tawny frogmouths are stunning birds, and as you can see from the pictures they do a very good job of blending in to their environment. A big thank you to Stuart for spotting her, keeping an eye on her and keeping us updated on her progress, and also for allowing us to share these beautiful photographs.

RSPCA ACT is the only licensed wildlife carer in Canberra. If you would like to learn more about what to do when you find an injured native animal, visit our website. You can also make a donation to help us continue our important work caring for wildlife in the Bush Capital.

October 24, 2012

Snakes Alive!

Now that spring has well and truly arrived, people living in the bush capital may find themself face to face with some of Canberra’s other residents – snakes. Snakes like to bask in the sun and may seek out water in suburban backyards on hot days.

Snakes do not like busy areas, so if you see a snake in your yard, remember that it is most likely just passing through. Snakes will not hurt you if you leave them alone. Keep children and pets indoors until the snake has moved on. If the snake does not move on within a few hours then please contact Canberra Nature Park Rangers through Canberra Connect on 132281 for advice.

Large lizards such as bluetongues are very common in suburban Canberra, and most suburban gardens will either have resident lizards or frequent visits. They are non-venomous and not dangerous. They are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks or mishandling by children or adults resulting in their injury. Please contact RSPCA on 1300 4 77722 if you find an injured lizard.

Some important things to remember:
·         Assume that any snake you come across is venomous.
·         Under no circumstances should you chase or attempt to handle or relocate a snake. If the snake is indoors please contact Canberra Nature Park Rangers for advice.
·         Under no circumstances should you injure or kill a snake. All reptiles are protected and it is against the law to kill or injure them.
·         The vast majority of snakebites in Australia (over 95%) occur when people attempt to kill a snake and the snake defends itself.
·         Injured snakes may pose a serious danger to humans as they can be aggressive and may be venomous.

You can read more about living with snakes in the ACT on the Territory and Municipal Services website.

October 23, 2012

Monotone Monotreme

Last week RSPCA ACT was lucky enough to take part in the release of a beautiful albino echidna that had been in our care. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Casper’ was found near an extremely busy road, so we sought permission to release him at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve—a much safer environment. RSPCA ACT wishes to thank ACT government rangers, staff at TAMS as well as staff at Tidbinbilla for facilitating the successful release of this beautiful creature.

Echidnas can live for up to 50 years in the wild, so we wish this little fellow a long and happy life!

Read more about Casper before his release here, and after his release here.

Watch the Win Television news segment here.

Casper is but one of 3,000 native animals we care for each year in the nation’s capital. If you would like to assist us with our life saving work protecting and rehabilitating animals such as Casper please donate today.

September 26, 2012

Sit. Stay. Good dog!

What is temperament testing and why do we do it?

Dogs at RSPCA ACT undergo comprehensive behaviour testing before being made available for adoption. We test dogs to learn about their temperament and personality so that we are better able to match them to a suitable family.

The types of traits that we test are: sociability; touch; vet checks; toys and play; food treasures; strangers; toddlers (with a dummy, not real toddlers!); mental sensitivity; other dogs; containment; and previous training. We also collect detailed information from previous owners wherever possible.

If we identify any behavioural issues that need addressing, our qualified and experienced staff develop a behaviour modification program which is implemented by trained staff and volunteers. Behaviour modification programs could include issues such as basic manners and walking nicely on lead, to rebuilding confidence and addressing problem behaviours.

After several days of training, we will retest the dog. If the dogs fails the test again, but has shown improvement, we will continue the cycle of training and testing until we believe the dog can be made available for adoption. If there is no improvement or the behaviour could result in harm to either a person or another animal then the dog will not be made available for adoption.

A dog never fails a temperament test for just being boisterous or ill-mannered as these are training issues (not temperament issues) which our team works with and improves. A dog doesn't have to be perfect to find a new home, but we need to learn what we can about their behaviour to find the perfect home for them. We understand that the shelter environment can be stressful for some dogs and we of course take this into account during testing.

While dogs are staying with us at RSPCA ACT, we are committed to keeping dogs mentally healthy through physical stimulation and the use of environmental enrichments.

Congratulations to Frances, our Senior Behavioural Trainer, on being awarded Shelter Worker of the Year by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.