RSPCA ‘stretched to limit’ with court cases
THE RSPCA says it is grappling to deal with a high number of animal cruelty cases that are flooding Queensland's courts and draining the charity's coffers.
Prosecutor Tracey Jackson said the RSPCA had 160 prosecutions and more than 220 defendants currently before the state's courts.
"We're run off our feet and stretched to the limit resource-wise," Ms Jackson said.
"Ideally we need more people but we don't have the money to put more people on. This is a tough time of year for RSPCA."
Ms Jackson said the cases were a "big drain on resources" because the RSPCA also had to shelter the animals during the prosecution process and foot the veterinary and food bills.
One of the busiest courts is Beenleigh Magistrates Court, where there have been 51 cases in the past six months.
"Fifty-one is more matters than we would do a few years ago in a year in the entirety of Queensland," Ms Jackson said.
Of these, the RSPCA has successfully finalised 25 matters and sent one person to jail.
Most recently, a Crestmead couple were banned from owning animals for five years and ordered to pay almost $20,000 in fines and court costs.
Penny Oxley and Gary Sinclair were given the hefty sentence after they failed to appear in Beenleigh Magistrates Court in March on two charges of breaching their duty of care to their dogs and chickens.
In another matter, Kingston couple Angela McGowan and Michael Pool were given a three-month suspended jail sentence after they pleaded guilty to nine charges of animal neglect in March.
Ms Jackson said RSPCA inspectors found the couple's dogs, puppies and birds in an "awful state without access to food or water".
Magistrate Brian Kilmartin also banned the couple from owning animals for five years and ordered them to pay more than $14,500 in costs.
Ms Jackson said these two cases were a drop in the ocean to what inspectors see every day.
She said across the state, prosecutions had increased "five or six fold" - but it was difficult to tell if this was because of more offending or more reporting.
"It's a combination of people reporting more and the fact we've currently got a taskforce in the inspectorate thanks to a very generous donor," she said.
"Also the community's expectations are higher these days. They won't tolerate poor treatment of animals."
Ms Jackson said mobile phone technology had meant more people were videoing bad behaviour, leading to more prosecutions.
Despite the volume of cases, Ms Jackson said the RSPCA would not be "cutting back anytime soon".
"We do not let finances or resources determine whether or not we run a prosecution," she said.
"If people need to be before the court to be held accountable for their actions, and to learn how to care for animals, then we will always ensure that happens."