The program will provide an opportunity for pensioners and lower income earners living within the suburbs of Rosemeadow and Ambarvale in the Campbelltown Local Government Area to learn more about animal welfare and have their pets desexed at a reduced cost by local Sydney University veterinary students.
The first community information workshop and registration day for 2012 will be on Thursday 15 March. Only residents of Rosemeadow and Ambarvale will be eligible for the scheme, but anyone is welcome to come along and join in the day. Additional workshops and registration days will follow and be made available for other designated suburbs in the Campbelltown area.
Developed in 2004, CAWS is an RSPCA NSW program that aims to address the issue of unwanted companion animals through subsidised desexing and education workshops with the community.
RSPCA NSW veterinarian and Desexing Program Coordinator Dr Ann-Margret Withers said CAWS is strictly targeted and means-tested to ensure the pets of people who often may be unable to afford to get their pets desexed are able to access the scheme.
“It’s unlikely that these animals would be desexed otherwise, and a lot of the offspring of these dogs and cats end up in pounds as unwanted companion animals,” said Dr Withers.
Parts of Campbelltown were identified as crucial areas to successfully introduce the CAWS program in an urban area of Sydney. It will have significant benefits for Campbelltown City Council and the community, where it will be progressively rolled-out to other selected locations to address the evident problems of unwanted companion animals.
Mayor of Campbelltown, Cr Anoulack Chanthivong, said Council was pleased to be part of a project which has been operating successfully across other regional councils.
“Along with the means-tested desexing scheme, we will also be educating the community on responsible pet ownership and promoting the importance of desexing to manage the cat and dog populations,” Cr Chanthivong said.
“Residents of Rosemeadow and Ambarvale will be the first in our city to benefit from this fantastic initiative, and the program will be progressively rolled out to other identified areas in the community.
“We anticipate that the program will significantly reduce the number of unwanted animals, impounded or surrendered, that pass through our Animal Care Facility.”
Veterinary students at the Camden campus of The University of Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science will conduct the surgeries under the supervision of qualified veterinarians and they will be responsible for the care of each patient. Eligible Campbelltown community members can take advantage of financially subsidised desexing and microchipping for their animals, as well as vaccinations for dogs.
The Faculty of Veterinary Science’s coordinator for CAWS , Dr Christina Dart, is looking forward to the new initiative with RSPCA NSW and the Campbelltown City Council.
"This collaborative initiative is a win-win situation," said Christina Dart. "It provides an opportunity for veterinary students to become well prepared for entering their profession. They not only learn skills but also gain an understanding of the importance that pet desexing plays for animal and community welfare."
CAWS also advocates education and public awareness. RSPCA staff, council representatives and other interest groups will speak with community members at a number of information seminars about their responsibilities as pet owners, animal welfare, humane treatment of animals and safety concepts around animals such as bite prevention.
“The humane education aspect of the program is the key to promoting long-term, effective change,” said Dr Withers.
The first registration day and community workshop for CAWS South West Sydney will be held on 15 March at 2 Mowbray Road, Rosemeadow from 1pm to 5pm. This event will provide an opportunity for Rosemeadow and Ambarvale residents to learn more about the program and register appointments for those who qualify for the program.