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Australia’s cruellest suburbs revealed

As millions of Aussies spent the better part of 2020 locked down and stuck inside, it's no surprise that the RSPCA was busier than usual investigating cruelty complaints.

RSPCA inspectors, who travel the nation in an attempt to make sure animals are well-cared for, investigated more than 57,900 cruelty cases through the 19/20 financial year.

The almost 58,000 investigations came from the 73,997 complaints originally made to the RSPCA's cruelty hotline.

The tens of thousands of complaints were a worrying increase from previous reporting years, which saw Australians make 57,092 and 57,982 complaints in 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively.

While not all states and territories separate their cruelty reports by suburbs or local government areas, some do, with statistics showing which regions over-perform in cruelty complaints.

It's important to note that complaints to the cruelty hotline don't always translate in convictions or require further investigation.

It's also important to note that the RSPCA Darwin does not have the right to enforce animal welfare legislation in the Northern Territory and enforcement is the job of the Northern Territory government. This means the RSPCA Darwin does not collate statistics on animal cruelty or complaints.

The ACT does not separate their animal cruelty allegations into different cases but did confirm its RSPCA branch investigated 1228 complaints throughout 2020.

RSPCA's inspectors travel Australia rescuing animals. Picture: RSPCA WA
RSPCA's inspectors travel Australia rescuing animals. Picture: RSPCA WA

 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The RSPCA branch in Western Australia received 6620 animal cruelty reports in 2020 - an average of 18 a day - through its 24-hour hotline.

The ill treatment of an animal was the most common offence reported while 1293 complaints involved sick or injured animals not getting veterinary treatment.

Despite the number of complaints in 2020 dropping from the 7022 in 2019, the number of dogs being left in hot cars did rise 14 per cent.

In terms of animal cruelty hotspots in Western Australia, the statistics were split between metro and regional areas.

The City of Swan local government area, which is in Perth's east and includes the Swan Valley and Midland, ranked first on the state's metro list with 594 complaints in 2020.

The city of Wanneroo, which encompasses the north of Perth, ranked second, with 493 complaints.

The City of Stirling, also in the north of Perth, came in third with 486 complaints.

In country WA, the Kalgoorlie-Boulder region ranked first, with 223 reports.

Geraldton, which sits on the coast of WA about four hours north of Perth, came second, with 174 reports.

Bunbury, south of Perth, was ranked third, with 129 offences reported.

"Looking at these numbers, it can be easy to feel disheartened, but it's important to remember that every cruelty report received is a person speaking up and being a voice for animals," RSPCA WA CEO Ben Cave said.

"In these hotspots where we know cruelty is prevalent, RSPCA WA works hard to improve standards of animal welfare, but we're still getting a consistently high number of calls."

 

An RSPCA inspector rescuing animals from a home. Picture: RSPCA WA
An RSPCA inspector rescuing animals from a home. Picture: RSPCA WA

 

QUEENSLAND

According to statistics from the RSPCA's national database, Queensland ranks well above every other state or territory in cruelty complaints.

In the 2019/20 financial year, RSPCA Queensland investigated 18,260 cruelty complaints.

Of those, 168 were prosecuted - 129 successfully. A further 129 Queenslanders were charged with animal cruelty and 432 cases, from previous years, were pending.

The latest statistics from RSPCA Queensland ranked each suburb by its number of cruelty complaints.

Caboolture, in Queensland's Moreton Bay region, was the worst performer in 2020, with 178 people calling in to the RSPCA hotline for the year.

Neighbouring suburb Morayfield came in second, with 143 complaints.

Redbank Plains, a suburb of Ipswich, was third, with 141 complaints.

The Moreton Bay region was a particularly worrying area for RSPCA complaints with the suburb of Kallungur ranked fourth, with 139 complaints.

Southport, on the Gold Coast, rounded out the top five with 125 complaints.

The nine top suburbs for cruelty complaints in Queensland through 2020 all cracked the 100 figure.

 

VICTORIA

Neglect continues to be the most commonly reported animal cruelty concern across Victoria, according to the state's RSPCA branch.

In the 19/20 financial year, Victorians made 10,745 animal cruelty reports - an average of 29 a day.

The thousands of complaints saw a number of Victorian local government areas emerge as terrible offenders.

Casey City Council, encompassing Melbourne's southeast, was the top ranked for cruelty reports with 581 calling the state's hotline.

The council took the top spot from Greater Geelong City Council, which was ranked second with 561 complaints.

The council, south of Melbourne, was ranked first in 2018/19 with 617 reports.

The third cruellest region in Victoria was the Hume City Council, with 374 complaints.

Fourth was Whittlesea Council, in the outer north of Melbourne, with 344 complaints and tying for fifth was Melton Shire and Frankston City Council, which both had 338 complaints.

In September, RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said she feared what the finalised statistics from 2020 would look like due to the pandemic.

"We are concerned for all animal welfare in the year ahead as the economic impacts of the pandemic are yet to be fully experienced," Dr Walker said.

"The 2019-20 animal cruelty report statistics clearly indicate the need for further education and for people to seek help if they are having trouble providing basic care for their animals."

NEW SOUTH WALES

RSPCA in NSW did not have statistics highlighting which suburbs were the worst for animal cruelty allegations.

However, in the 19/20 financial year, the state's 35 inspectors investigated a whopping 14,425 cruelty cases and rescued 301 animals from harm.

The state ranks second behind Queensland in terms of cruelty complaints, with Victoria coming in third.

The state's branch spent $1.3 million caring for and rehabilitating animals who were victims of cruelty and neglect.

According to statistics from the national office of the RSPCA, NSW also finalised 87 prosecutions and laid 423 charges.

In total, 98 NSW residents were charged.

 

NSW RSPCA Chief Inspector Scott Meyers with rescue puppies Ivan and Charlie. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James Gourley
NSW RSPCA Chief Inspector Scott Meyers with rescue puppies Ivan and Charlie. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James Gourley

 

TASMANIA

While Tasmania doesn't split its cruelty complaints by suburb or local government area, the island state was busy responding to animals in need.

In the 19/20 reporting period, Tasmania's cruelty hotline received 2171 reports, relating to a total of 4598 animals.

Of those, 1536 required at least two visits or rechecks.

Dogs were the worst affected, making up 2145 of the complaints. Horses were second, with 510 feared suffering.

The RSPCA was called to check on 482 sheep and 377 cats throughout the financial year.

Inspectors were forced to take 113 animals into their care, two of which were already dead.

One positive by-product of the coronavirus epidemic was that Tasmania saw all of its shelters emptied, as "people sought furry friends to provide companionship during pandemic restrictions", the organisation said.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

South Australia received 4139 cruelty complaints in the 2019/20 financial year.

Seven inspectors work for the SA branch and cover the state's 983,500 square kilometres each year.

Inspectors seized 863 animals after receiving cruelty reports, a slight drop from the 972 they were forced to remove from their homes in 2018/19.

Cats were the most common animal being taken from their homes with 478 seized or surrendered. Dogs were second, with 291 taken.

In terms of the state's worst cruelty hotspots, the city of Murray Bridge had the most, with 95 complaints being made in the last financial year.

Morphett Vale, a southern suburb of Adelaide, came in second, with 91 complaints.

Adelaide's CBD was third, with 78 complaints made to the cruelty hotline.

Whyalla Stuart, four hours north of Adelaide, and Mount Gambier, in the state's south, rounded out the top five, with 68 and 66 complaints, respectively.

Originally published as Australia's cruellest suburbs revealed


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