Animal cruelty on the rise
ANIMAL cruelty complaints are pouring in from the Fraser Coast at more than one a day, leaving carers in despair about how to curb the tide of abuse and neglect.
The RSPCA recorded 382 cases in Maryborough, Hervey Bay and the surrounding region in the last financial year - a rise of about 15% since the previous year.
Maryborough alone recorded 121 cases, with dozens more at Tinana, Granville, Dundathu, Bidwill and other areas.
Pialba and Urangan were named-and-shamed as the worst suburbs in Hervey Bay, each having 34 reported offences.
Maryborough Animal Refuge committee president Rachel Ireland said the figures were devastating.
Sadly, many of the neglected animals end up at the refuge after their owners give them up or abandon them.
"We've just had a six-year-old Sheltie that's been so neglected that it probably can't remember the last time it was groomed," Ms Ireland said.
"Its fur is matted, it has a skin condition and its ears have a fungal infection. If it hadn't been rescued, it would be on death's door."
She said people needed to be aware when they chose an animal that it could be dependant on their care for the next 20 years.
"It's hard to know why people treat their animals badly, but a lot of it comes down to education," Ms Ireland said.
"That's why we are putting in place education sessions at schools, and we run dog training workshops every month to help owners understand why their animals behave the way they do."
RSPCA Inspector Amanda Yates said most of the complaints in the Fraser Coast region related to neglected animals.
"It can be things like people not ensuring their dogs have enough water and shade, or not tethering them properly," Ms Yates said.
"There has been a couple of cases of actual cruelty that we have investigated but there has been no prosecutions."
She said animal ownership should be considered a privilege to be taken seriously.
"If you're going to have an animal, be aware that you have a legal duty of care to provide shelter, food, water and medical treatment," Ms Yates said.
"Check them daily to make sure they are not injured or sick - it is particularly important to do that at the moment because of the numbers of ticks around."
While the number of reported cruelty incidents has risen, Ms Yates said the swell could be partly due to increased vigilance.
"It's not necessarily that there is more cruelty, but there is more awareness so people are reporting it more," she said.
"People simply do not find animal cruelty acceptable."
For more information on dog training classes, call the Maryborough Animal Refuge on 4123 1712.
To report suspected animal cruelty or neglect, call the RSPCA on 1300 852 188, or inform police.