RSPCA over-stretched on Northern Rivers, lawyer warns

THE RSPCA in the Northern Rivers is stretched to its limits and failing in its role to protect animals, a Lismore lawyer claims.

Angela Pollard, co-ordinator of the Animal Law and Education Project at Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre, said some animal welfare groups across the region are unsatisfied with RSPCA's efforts.

"The real villain in this is the State Government though, not individuals," Ms Pollard said. "It's under resourced and we have just one inspector to cover such a massive area, even though there are tens of thousands of farm and companion animals in this region.

"The government's happy with the way things are. They don't spend much money and when they are questioned about animal welfare they just say the RSPCA is an independent body."

The Northern Rivers is included in a large operational area that stretches from Tweed Heads in the north to Grafton in the south and Tenterfield in the west.

One RSPCA officer covers this entire area.
One RSPCA officer covers this entire area.

Ms Pollard believes there is a "systematic failure" in how RSPCA manages animal welfare issues in the Northern Rivers.

"We just see endless situations where animals are left for dead," she said.

"It happens again and again. This is not news."

Ms Pollard claimed RSPCA often has the power to seize animals in jeopardy and prosecute those who break animal cruelty laws, but for various reasons, fails to act.

"It's groundhog day all over again. It's a constant problem," she said.

Ms Pollard believes NSW Police need a specialised unit to deal with animal welfare issues.

The RSPCA conceded it's under funded but believes it adequately manages animal welfare issues in the Northern Rivers.

"There is never enough manpower to tackle the animal welfare issues around the state," a spokesperson said.

"If the same question was asked of the NSW Police, I think they have 16,000 police, even the commissioner of police would say that's not enough.

"It costs RSPCA NSW $43.6 million to operate this year. Less than 2% comes from the State Government."

The spokesperson said RSPCA has three inspectors based across the whole of northern NSW.

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