Experts ask: ‘Are we treating our dogs properly?’

With greyhound racing and puppy farming among the hottest topics in the media this year, ‘we love our dogs’ has become the catch cry of breeders, trainers and owners alike. But is loving your dog really enough?

The RSPCA’s annual Animal Welfare Seminar will take place in Melbourne tomorrow, bringing together Australia’s leading experts in animal health and welfare along with representatives from industry and government, to debate the treatment of dogs in racing, breeding, training and remote communities.

“Dogs are often referred to as our best friends,” said RSPCA Chief Science and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones, “but as a society, we still have a long way to go before we can consider ourselves the friends that dogs deserve.”

“In the last financial year alone, RSPCA’s nationally received more than 45,000 dogs into our shelters, and the number of overall cruelty complaints investigated was the highest on record at more than 67,000 (many of which related to dogs).

“Of around 5,800 dogs that were euthanased because they could not be rehomed, the vast majority were because they had developed behavioural problems that could not be resolved.

“These worrying statistics are an indication that we as a community don’t really understand what dogs need from us; we’re not giving them what they need, and they are paying the price,” said Dr Jones.

At the event, vet and greyhound specialist Dr Karen Dawson will speak about how training practices (such as live baiting) and a lack of socialisation can damage the behaviour and future outlook for racing greyhounds.

In examining puppy farms, RSPCA Australia Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow and RSPCA Queensland’s Senior Inspector of Prosecutions Georgia Sakrzewski will look at whether current reforms are enough to prevent cruelty.

Working Dog Alliance Managing Director Mia Cobb will discuss how the world-first app DogLogBook is helping dogs live happier and healthier lives, while the Pet Professional Guild’s Deb Millikan will look at the need for more ethical training methods for pet dogs.

Well-known Australian vet and television personality Dr Rachele Lowe will talk about improving the health and happiness of popular breeds such as Pugs and French bulldogs, which suffer immensely because of how they have been bred to look.

And finally, Dr Jan Allen from Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities (AMRRIC) will share the achievements and challenges the organisation faces in addressing key dog welfare issues in remote Australia.    

The RSPCA Animal Welfare Seminar will be held at the University of Melbourne on Friday November 25 and media are invited to attend.

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The RSPCA is Australia’s leading animal welfare organisation and one of Australia’s most trusted charities. The RSPCA works to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection.