Australia’s gone to the dogs. Part 1.

Australia has gone to the dogs. The nation is one of the world’s major drivers of climate change and is decimating its native wildlife and ecology, and is thus becoming an international pariah. The current government controls its gullible population with marketing spin, and education levels continue to decline. A tiny fraction of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and natural disasters arrive one after the other. But all Australians seem to care about are their dogs. Dogs are everywhere – in parks, beaches and cafes, and even public transport and libraries. This country has gone to the dogs.

Dogs v native animals

Australia is home to an estimated 29 million pets and about 25.7 million people. That’s right, more pets than people. We might have to stop teasing New Zealand about having so many sheep. Most of those pets are dogs and cats, and roughly one in three households has a pet dog.

Australia also has the world’s highest rate of native mammal extinction – outright. Pets are one cause of the extinctions. Cats are the single most destructive introduced species in the country, and wild dogs cause large-scale destruction. Wild dogs were once pet dogs. Native mammal extinction points to a disregard for native animals among Australian people who demonstrate an obsession with pet animals. Australians clearly prioritise dogs and cats over wildlife.

Natural disasters

Even during the Black Summer bush fires of 2019/2020, concern for pets over native animals was evident. Unfortunately, many pets were lost, but millions of native animals also perished in the unprecedented fires. However, at one emergency centre, evacuees complained that their pets were not allowed inside the building, because health and safety regulations prohibit the entry of pets into the premises. Evacuees and fellow Australians erupted on social media and blasted the evacuation centre co-ordinators. The dogs were safe, they had food, water and medical attention, and they were supervised outside the premises. Even some of the evacuees themselves chose to sit outside the building while they waited for the fires to be put out. Australians decried the treatment of pets, while millions of native animals were dying.

National parks

Pet dogs are banned from national parks in Australia. Domestic pets have an adverse effect on native wildlife. Some dog owners ignore signage and they take their dogs into national parks. According to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, rangers cannot effectively monitor all of the parks to prevent domestic pets from entering, because they lack the resources. National parks services are not sufficiently funded by government.

Where is the national outcry?

Why aren’t Australians demanding the protection of our national parks? Perhaps for the same reason that Aussies are not doing more to protect another national icon, the koala.

Experts warn that koalas could become extinct by 2050, and wild dogs are a major cause of koala deaths, along with land clearing and climate change. Environmental groups and concerned citizens are campaigning for habitat protection to ensure koala survival, but where are the owners of the 29 million pets?

Koalas are also a major contributor to the nation’s (pre-COVID-19) tourist sector and the economy. Tourists flock from all across the globe to see a koala up close. They will not fly halfway around the world to look at someone’s pet dog.

Wildlife shelter vs pet shelter

Controversy surrounds changes to the RSPCA NSW Blue Mountains Shelter in Katoomba, near Sydney. Essentially, the debate centres around the expansion and modification of the shelter to cater for native wildlife harmed by the 2019/2020 bush fires. The fires were so widespread in the Blue Mountains that the national parks and the animals therein are still being rehabilitated.

RSPCA members and community members have voiced objections to the inclusion of native wildlife in the shelter. The RSPCA conceded that:

“…wildlife could be stressed by the sight, sound or even smell of the dogs…” and thus dogs would have to be housed in a completely separate building. One member then stated:

“I am concerned for the dogs which will need to be locked away in the new, totally enclosed kennels…” and a local politician, Kerry Brown, expressed similar sentiments.

Many of the animals housed at the shelter are strays. They are animals left without a home due to the neglect of owners. Therefore, rehabilitation of native animals is being obstructed due to concern for dogs.

The RSPCA website states that:

“Along with cats and dogs, RSPCA helps a wide range of other animals from horses to rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, goats and sheep. All of these animals are non-native, (birds may be native or introduced). Rabbits cover Australia in plague proportions and destroy native flora and fauna, as well as crops. In contrast, an organisation called WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) cares for native animals. If the majority of Australians heard the names of these two organisations, which one would they be more familiar with?

Image: Gabriel Crismariu

Eastern Suburbs residents harbouring Australia’s biggest killers.

Eastern Suburbs residents have reacted with horror to the news that many of their neighbours have been harbouring Australia’s biggest killers for years, and getting away with it.

The harrowing revelations have only recently come to light and have spread fear and panic throughout the region, which is famed for its beautiful beaches, high standard of living and relative security.

The huge loss of life inflicted by these savage murderers has remained undetected and unpunished for so many years because it occurs mostly at night, while the region’s innocent children are safely tucked up in bed, and their parents are firmly engrossed in the latest crime thriller on their preferred streaming service.

“This news sent a chill down my spine, and continues to keep me awake at night,” reported one resident, who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisal.

“I grew up in the east, and I never thought this could happen here. How could someone knowingly house a creature that causes so much pain and suffering – and right next door to me?”

A fellow neighbour reacted with similar sentiment.

“I let my children visit and play in the neighbour’s house, even without us sometimes. They must have come in contact with the murderer while they were playing – oh, it’s just horrifying.”

Other residents have been faced with the decision of remaining in paradise, where their families are firmly entrenched, or moving in order to distance themselves from these mass murderers.

“But how do we know there aren’t more of them elsewhere in Sydney, or even the rest of the country?” despaired one local who is grappling with the decision.

Many residents remain perplexed that such vicious murderers have not only remained unpunished, but are afforded protection by the all three levels of government, the police and law enforcement agencies, and even large mainstream charitable organisations whose mandate is to protect all creatures great and small.

“Surely,” declared one harried long-time resident, “If so many lives have been lost, and the identity and location of the perpetrator is known, they should just get rid of them, to stop further loss of life.”

Other residents rejected the claims, arguing that if they were true, the region would be littered with dead bodies of the victims. Experts reminded them that the murderers are clever and cunning, and often commit their wicked acts in bushland and heavily wooded areas, where bodies can remain undetected. Furthermore, the bodies of their victims are often buried.

“The story becomes more macabre when we realise that most of these murderers return to their homes to be fed and showered with love and affection,” stated the expert.

Residents are thus asked to report sightings of cats, the single most destructive introduced species in Australia.

Image: istockphotos.com

First published in http://www.thebeast.com.au, April 2021.

Ban the importation of cats into Australia.

Prevention is better than cure and this adage should apply to the importation of cats into Australia. Cats must be prevented from entering Australia from other countries because they remain the single most destructive introduced species in the country. Continued importation will result in the destruction of more native wildlife.

This article relates to the importation of new cats – cats that have never been to Australia before, and not to cats from Australia returning from overseas with their owners.

Feral cats threaten at least 124 Australian species which are in danger of extinction, and cats are a major reason that Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world – not per capita – outright. Attempts to reduce this destruction are ongoing and include feral cat eradication, stray cat control, de-sexing and domestic cat containment. These methods all carry their own complications, but banning the importation of cats into the country is surely the least complicated strategy.

It’s simple. Tell every Australian and every international visitor that it is not possible to import a cat into the country. No exceptions. If Australians insist on having a pet cat, they can source one from inside the country.

Cats can currently be imported into Australia from other countries under various conditions. Cats from locations such as New Zealand and Norfolk Island do not even need to serve a period of quarantine, provided they have been approved as healthy in the place of origin.

According to the Department of Agriculture, people can bring cats into Australia without even obtaining a permit, provided the cat is coming from a country such as New Zealand and the exporter signs a Statutory Declaration that:

  • identifies the cat by breed, sex, age and microchip number.
  • verifies that the cat has been continually resident in New Zealand since birth or direct importation from Australia, or for the 90 days immediately before the date of export if the animal has been imported into New Zealand from any other country.
  • verifies that the cat is not derived from a domestic/non-domestic hybrid.
  • verifies that if a female cat, the animal is not more than 40 days pregnant or suckling young at the time of export.

These conditions ensure that the animal does not bring diseases into the country, but ignores the fact that cats have the potential to cause enormous damage to Australian wildlife once they arrive – no matter how healthy they are. In fact, it could be argues that a healthy, active, agile cat is more able to hunt and kill wildlife.

Cats from other countries must spend a minimum of 10 days at an official post-entry quarantine facility and arrive with an official permit.

All of these measures carry associated costs, and bringing a cat into Australia is very expensive. If Australians are determined to spend money on animals, they can adopt a koala or donate to many of the organisations dedicated to the care and protection of Australia’s native wildlife. After so many native animals were lost in the 2019/2020 bushfires, now is a perfect time to contribute to the protection of Aussie animals.

Various strategies are currently employed to protect wildlife from cats.

Feral cat eradication

Feral cat eradication programs continue throughout the nation, with limited success. Feral cats occupy an estimated 99.8% of the Australian continent, can weigh up to 9 kilograms and have directly contributed to extinctions of more than 20 Australian mammals. The destruction continues because feline species are excellent hunters and are intelligent and thus hard to trap. They exist in many inaccessible areas and current eradication methods are not working well enough. It is thought there are more than 6 million feral cats roaming the country, and importing more cats into the country potentially adds to this number.

Stray cat control and elimination

Stray cats are no one’s responsibility. They roam urban and rural areas, killing native wildlife. They were all once domestic cats, or the litter of domestic cats.

Domestic cat containment

Most cat owners are responsible.

False.

Statistics disprove this theory. A small percentage of owners keep their cats inside or provide an enclosed cat run in which their cats can play while outside the house. Many allow their cats outside during the day, where they are still able to kill. Others argue their pets are allowed only as far as their own garden, but even in a private garden, a cat can and will kill native wildlife. Most pet cats are allowed to roam free and kill with impunity, and importing cats into the country creates more pet cats and more potential killers.

De-sexing

Many cat owners think de-sexing is enough. In many cases, de-sexing simply allows owners to absolve themselves of responsibility for the destruction their pets cause. Even a de-sexed cat will kill many native animals during its lifetime if it is allowed to roam freely.

Banning the importation of cats into Australia will not solve the cat problem. It will, however, limit the number of cats in the country overall and will support existing efforts to reduce the deadly impact of Australia’s most destructive introduced species.

Image: Jae Park