Don’t stop the clock at three days!!

Photo: Andrew Umansky, Unsplash

The RSPCA, Lost Dogs Home and other Victorian pound contractors want to be able to rehome your lost animal after just three days, instead of eight. They’re currently asking political parties to support this, ahead of the November election. Major political party’s position will be included on an RSPCA election scorecard.

Please tell political parties NO.

The many problems with this idea

  1. Microchips aren’t foolproof
  2. ‘They’ll come home. They always do’
  3. Physical visits to pounds/shelters needed. Calls aren’t enough
  4. More unreasonable pressure on rescue groups
  5. Scaredy cats are behind the 8 ball. Again.
  6. It’s not about disease management
  7. What’s with the word ‘quarantine’?
  8. ‘Animals are reclaimed in 1.66 days on average’. Really?
  9. ‘We don’t want to kill them on Day 4.’ Yet.

Act now! Don’t let them stop the clock at three days.

  1. Email lower house stakeholders
  2. Email upper house stakeholders and candidates
  3. Sign the petition (less effective than personal emails or calls, but still helpful)

The many problems with this

1. Microchips aren’t foolproof

  • Microchips aren’t always detected. Lack of detected microchip doesn’t necessarily mean lack of a family
  • Microchips move, fall out, fail and may not be registered by the implanter
  • Research has found that 37% of microchip contact details are out of date (Lancaster et al, 2015)
  • Animals can be scanned incompletely, especially if they’re displaying fear-based aggression in the frightening pound/shelter environment.

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2. ‘They’ll come home. They always do’

  1. Many people don’t contact pounds/shelters immediately. They assume their animal will come home, as they have before, or only post in local Facebook groups. This may particularly be the case in rural areas where dogs often go for a wander
  2. By the time someone contacts pounds/shelters, their beloved family member may have been adopted by someone else. And they will have no recourse to get them back home.
  3. Cats are notorious for ‘running away from home’ when their family is away. What if you’re uncontactable on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday? Neither your cat sitter, nor the pound, will reach you

3. Physical visits to pounds/shelters needed

  • People need to visit pounds and shelters when looking for their lost animal – not just call
  • Staff usually only check the database, especially in large facilities; they rarely physically look at each animal there
  • Database info is often wrong eg a tired staff member ticked male instead of female, or entered them as the wrong breed, or wrong colour
  • People who find your animal may take them to a different pound/shelter, not your local one
  • There is no central database for all Victorian pounds/shelters. People need to visit every facility where your animal could be
  • If:
    • you work full time
    • the pound/shelter is only open during business hours on week days
    • you have no car
    • you can’t raise the money for impoundment and release fees in three days
    • the pound/shelter is more than 100 km from home

how can you get to each pound where your animal may be and reclaim them in just three days?

Example: We once found a dog with no ID tag near a shopping centre. Police came upon us and insisted on impounding her. Pre-Facebook, her family found us through  a shop notice we put up. We explained that she was at the pound. The pound said she wasn’t there. We had to talk to the police who had impounded her before the pound acknowledged she was there.

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4. More unreasonable pressure on volunteer-run rescue groups

  • Councils and some pounds/shelters increasingly rely on volunteer-run rescue groups to save the animals who they don’t wish to care for until adoption. Rural pounds often rely on them entirely; any animal who a rescue group can’t save is killed
  • The RSPCA has stated that, on Day 4, they want to place animals with rescue groups
  • Rescue groups already struggle to source a suitable foster carer, arrange transport and collect animals within the eight day hold period. Few have physical shelters where animals with no other option can stay
  • They won’t be able to take in the additional influx of animals, especially in rural areas, after just three days. It is always a rush to do this with the eight day hold period

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5. Scaredy cats are behind the 8 ball (again)

  • Timid cats may display fear-based behaviour like hissing, growling or swiping when in new and stressful environments. This doesn’t mean they don’t have a family looking for them. Research shows that it can take between five and 14 days for their true personality to come forth (Slater 2013)
  • If these cats can’t easily be adopted, cared for by a pound/shelter’s foster carer or transferred to a volunteer-run rescue group on Day 4, they will become an unwanted ‘expense’ to the pound/shelter. Spicy cats aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, after all. When someone is assessing who lives and who dies on Day 9, what will likely to happen to the spicy cats, after they’ve cost the pound/shelter more money because they couldn’t be ‘moved somewhere else’ on Day 4? It’s unlikely to be good

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6. It’s not about disease management

  • The RSPCA has claimed that a three day hold period will reduce transmission of contagious health issues
  • This is not true. If animals are held in unsuitable environments, transmission can occur on Day 1
  • Transmission can be prevented using sound quarantine and disease management protocols. It doesn’t require a reduced hold period

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7. What’s with the word ‘quarantine’?

  • The RSPCA is using the term ‘quarantine’ for the three day period before they want to rehome your animal
  • By definition, quarantine is ‘the period for which a person (or animal) is kept in isolation to prevent the spread of a contagious disease’ (Oxford dictionary)
  • Contagious health issues like ringworm, parvo, canine distemper etc require much longer than three days to be ruled out. We are puzzled why the RSPCA is using this term
  • Stopping the clock at three days isn’t about quarantine

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8. ‘Animals are reclaimed in an average of 1.66 days’

  • The RSPCA has stated that, on average, animals are reclaimed in 1.66 days. It hasn’t explained how this figure has been determined and whether it includes animals in rural areas, or just cities
  • From our lost cat recovery experience, we find this statistic very puzzling – many people don’t look for their lost cat for several days, because cats do often come home on their own
  • Could there be some ‘devil in the detail’ of this figure? For example, could this be the statistic only when:
    • a microchip was detected
    • the contact details were current (only 37% of cases)
    • the person answered the phone when called
    • the person had the funds for the impoundment and release fees
    • the person was physically able to get to the pound/shelter promptly?

If so, it would be incorrect to claim that all animals are reclaimed in an average of 1.66 days.

Example: One person who we helped with a lost cat wasn’t contacted for nearly two business days after she arrived at the pound. Are situations like these included in that statistic?

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9. We don’t want to kill them on Day 4. Yet.

  • There is much concern amongst the general population and the rescue sector about the proposal
  • More than three weeks after publicly announcing it, and possibly due to the public furore, the RSPCA has now stated that they don’t wish to be able to kill animals on Day 4, just ‘move them somewhere else’
  • If the three day ‘move them somewhere else’ proposal passes, is there any reason for us to believe there won’t be a subsequent push to make it legal to kill animals on Day 4, instead of Day 9? The words inches and miles come to mind

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Act now! Tell politicians not to stop the clock at three days

Please contact politicians of all parties, including minor parties, and ask them what their policy is. Ask them to not to stop the clock at three days.

Current lower house stakeholders

Current upper house stakeholders

Current lower house government stakeholders

Current lower house MPs are the most important to contact.

Labor Head office
Min. for Agriculture
Liberal Head office
Shadow Min. for Agriculture
Greens Head office
Candidates for Nov election


Current upper house political parties, and candidates for the November election

If you have time, write to these people, too. Help them realise how important companion animals are, before they get in Parliament.

Party Contact Email
Democratic Labour President Hugh Dolan
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Head office
Fiona Patten’s Reason Head office
Freedom Party Victoria Head office
Health Australia Head office
Independents Adem Somyurek
  Ali Cupper
  Catherine Cumming
  Kaushaliya Vaghela 
  Russell Northe
  Suzanna Sheed
Liberal Democrats Head office
Nationals Head office
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Head office
Sustainable Australia
Transport Matters Head office
Victorian Socialists Head office


Please also sign the petition. (Personal emails are far more effective than petition signatures).

We must not let this pass

If it’s made legal to ‘move animals somewhere else’ after three days, a more reasonable hold period of eight days is unlikely to ever be restored.

We simply can’t allow families to be torn apart after just three days.

It’s not reasonable. It’s not humane. And our animals and fellow Victorians deserve better.

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Lancaster E., Rand J., Collecott S., Paterson M. (2015) Problems associated with the microchip data of stray dogs and cats entering RSPCA Queensland shelters. Animals. 2015;5:332–348. doi: 10.3390/ani5020332.

Slater, M.R., Garrison, L., Miller, K.A., Weiss, E., Makolinski, K.V., Drain, N., & Mirontshuk, A. (2013). Practical Physical and Behavioral Measures to Assess the Socialization Spectrum of Cats in a Shelter-Like Setting during a Three Day Period. Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI, 3, 1162 – 1193.