Thursday, February 26, 2015

Deadly Parvovirus on the rise in the Hunter

Dog owners in the Hunter region are being urged to ensure their pets are up-to-date with their parvovirus vaccinations with a spike in cases.

“We are seeing dogs fall ill across a large area at the moment,” RSPCA Hunter Vet Manager Dr Simone Cooper said. “Dogs have fallen ill in the Lake Macquarie region as well as Rutherford, Maitland, Singleton, Cesssnock and Kurri,” Dr Cooper said.

“We've even seen dogs die from four homes in the same street in Weston, the situation is incredibly serious and a major concerns with the weather set to stay warm and see the virus thrive,” she said.

Parvovirus (often referred to as parvo), is a viral infection that affects young puppies and unvaccinated adult dogs.  The disease is incredibly hardy, and can survive up to a year in the environment. It’s highly contagious and can be contracted through direct or indirect contact with infected dog faeces. 

“Even if dogs don’t come in direct contact with an infected dog, they can still contract the virus through contaminated objects such as shoes, clothes, even the ground,” Dr Cooper said. 

Once infected, dogs typically start to show signs within seven to ten days.  Symptoms may include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and profuse, bloody diarrhoea which can quickly lead to dehydration.  If left untreated, severe shock and subsequent death can occur within a 24-hour period.

The only way to protect your dog against this deadly disease is through preventive vaccination.  Puppies are first vaccinated at six to eight weeks of age, with a booster two to four weeks later. Dogs then need another booster every year.

 “People cannot underestimate the potency and prevalence of this virus right now. If in any doubt about your pets’ vaccination history, speak to your vet immediately,” Dr Cooper concluded.

Our vet services can help you protect your dog. Contact us on 02 9770 7555 for more information.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Luck of the Irish Wolfhound

St Patricks' Day is an Irish cultural and religious celebration held annually on the 17th March. Although originating in Ireland, it has since become recognized world-wide, with many people embracing the event by wearing green and decorating with shamrocks.

In celebration of St Patrick's Day, RSPCA NSW is highlighting our current Irish Wolfhounds, and why they make such great pets!

The Irish Wolfhound is of ancient origins and in Ireland, these dogs were favoured by Irish Chiefs for hunting wolves and Irish elk. Irish Wolfhounds are known to be big-hearted, gentle, and sensitive creatures, but their size is an important consideration, in fact Irish Wolfhounds are the tallest breed of dog!

Like all sighthounds, the Irish Wolfhound is known to love chasing and running, but they are generally model citizens with other dogs, pets and children. Their great size can be intimidating, but due to their gentle nature, are generally not known to be good guard dogs.

RSPCA NSW has six Irish Wolfhound crosses in care which are currently looking for their new home. Click on their profiles below:

You can view all of our animals available for adoption at

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Man fined, banned from owning animals

On 18th of December 2013, the RSPCA received a complaint in relation to a dog taken to Blacktown Council Pound.  Witnesses described the dog as being skin and bones, missing large amounts of hair and having scabs, pus and sores over its body.

The Pound staff advised the man with the dog,  that the animal required urgent veterinary treatment. Witness accounts state the man became agitated and left the pound after staff questioned him about the dog’s poor condition.

One witness approached the defendant in the car park where he agreed to give her the dog. The woman immediately took the dog to a local vet who assessed the dog as being very underweight with a body score of 1/5, where 1 is emaciated and 5 is ideal.  The dog had no discernible fat and was experiencing severe muscle wastage, he had a heavy flea burden and severe areas of hair loss associated with severe thickening caused by rubbing, scratching and crusting.  These conditions would have been present one month prior to presentation.

After taking witness statements from the woman and pound staff members, the RSPCA Inspector then spoke to the man on the 13th of February, 2014. During the interview the defendant said he’d gone away for a week and returned to find the dog in that condition. He said he believed it was from a spider or insect bite. The dog was reportedly in the care of his parents while he was away. The man stated his parents told him there was something wrong with the dog. He said he took her to the pound a week after he returned.

The man said the dog’s appetite had notably declined and that he didn’t think his dog’s condition was normal, but couldn’t afford vet or medical care. He acknowledged the dog would have been in discomfort.

The RSPCA Inspector took photographs taken of the dog (by witnesses on the 17th of December, 2013) to a veterinary skin specialist for assessment. The report noted the dog to have a skin disease which was characterized by extensive hair loss with skin thickening and increased pigmentation affecting over 70% of the body surface area and would have been present for at least three months prior to presentation and more likely for six months or more.  The generalised disease and poor body condition was not consistent with an initial localised insult or trauma, including a spider bite.

  • Fine: $800
  • Prohibited from owning animals for two years
All Charges Made Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

For media enquiries, please contact Jessica Conway on 0488 905 353

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rabbit owners urged to vaccinate against Calicivirus

Owners of domestic rabbits are urged to ensure their pets are fully vaccinated against the deadly Calicivirus before 28th February 2015. The Calicivirus baits are set to be laid in late March, weather permitting.

The warning comes as many councils across Sydney prepare to release the virus in a bid to tackle the ongoing feral rabbit population in the area.

The virus is highly contagious and spread by rabbit-to-rabbit contact and by biting  insects, causing a rapid death for rabbits. “The best form of protection is a yearly vaccination,” said RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian Magdoline Awad. “Rabbits should also be housed in a mosquito-proof enclosure away from contact with wild rabbits,” Dr Awad said.

“The virus only affects rabbits and causes a disease known as Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease or RHD. The virus works by infecting a number of organs including the lungs, gut and liver of the rabbit. The liver infection causes acute hepatitis that can kill the rabbit within 48 hours,” Dr Award said.

There is a vaccine available from your vet to protect your pet rabbit from this virus. The vaccine is given once to rabbits over 12 weeks of age. For younger rabbits, the first vaccine requires a booster. All rabbits require yearly boosters. Contact us to get your rabbit vaccinated.

All RSPCA rabbits are vaccinated for calicivirus, desexed and microchipped prior to adoption.

Council areas to be impacted are; Hills Shire Council, Hornsby Shire Council, Hunters Hill Council, Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council, Lane Cove Council, Manly Council, Mosman Council, North Sydney Council, Parramatta Council, Pittwater Council, Ryde City Council, Warringah Council, Willoughby City Council.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Woman banned from owning animals after dog found dead

A 33-year-old woman has been fined $750 and banned from owning animals for two years after appearing in Mount Druitt Local Court on Thursday, the 19th of February, 2015 and pleading guilty to two counts failing to provide veterinary treatment to her female Great Dane dog resulting in its death.

  • Fail to provide veterinary treatment — Flea Burden (one charge)
  • Fail to provide veterinary treatment — Emaciation  (one charge) 

Key Facts
On 27th July 2014, a complaint was received by RSPCA NSW alleging that a dog was dead in a backyard in Bidwill.  On arrival, a four-year-old black and grey female Great Dane was seen laying unresponsive in the rear yard. There was no one home at the time.

The dog was noted to be in an emaciated body condition with its ribs, spine and hipbones clearly prominent.

NSW Police assisted in seizing the deceased dog and the RSPCA transported it to the RSPCA Sydney Shelter in Yagoona where a post mortem was conducted.

An RSPCA Veterinarian noted the dog weighed 21kg and had all bone prominences easily visible from a distance. Based on the Tufts Animal Care and Condition Scales for assessing body condition, where 1 is an ideal body condition and 5 is the most underweight, this dog was given a body condition score of 5. Further observations noted severe generalised muscle and fat atrophy, with the rib, bony prominences of the scapula, spine and hips easily visualised and palpated.  A large amount of flea dirt was also found alongside live fleas. It was estimated the dog had needed treatment for fleas for no less than two weeks but likely longer.

The vet assessed that the dog would have required a veterinary examination for its emaciated body condition and necessary treatment for a period of no less than 4 weeks prior to its death.

Two RSPCA Inspectors returned to the residence where the dog was found to interview the woman on the 4th August, 2014. The woman said she owned the female Great Dane for around four years and was in charge of her daily care.

The woman said she was aware that the dog needed treatment for worms and that the dog hadn't seen a vet for a year or two.

The woman said though she usually lived at the residence, she had been staying elsewhere, returning home sporadically to give her two dogs food and water.

She admitted knowing her two dogs fought over food, and the male dog dominated, leaving the Great Dane to starve, and she did nothing to intervene.

The accused last attended her home on 27th July 2014, not returning until some four days later. She failed to have anyone else check on the animals or feed them in her absence.

The woman said she last saw the dog alive on the 27th of July, stating “she was on the...she was on like the… the slender side,” describing her body condition as “Um, like her back bone a little bit was...a little bit was showing and her haunches,” and acknowledging that the dog did not look normal or healthy.

  • FINE: $750
All Charges Made Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

For media enquiries, please contact Jessica Conway on 0488 905 353.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

RSPCA NSW to be on panel investigating Greyhound racing industry

RSPCA NSW Chief Executive Officer Steve Coleman is welcoming the opportunity to be part of an independent panel to investigate allegations of live baiting within the greyhound industry in New South Wales.

It comes after the board and CEO of Greyhound Racing NSW stood down overnight, in the wake of the video footage showing the blooding of greyhounds using live rabbits, possums and piglets. 

The head of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing Paul Newson, has been named interim CEO. Mr Newson will join Mr Coleman on the investigative panel to be headed by former High Court Justice Michael McHugh. Additional members are to be appointed in coming days.

“Our focus is on the welfare of animals.  This is a unique opportunity to go back to square one and consider all of the aspects that potentially impact on welfare including whether self-regulation is the future for this industry,” Mr Coleman said. 

Deputy Premier Troy Grant has said ‘everything is on the table’ when it comes to preventing further cases of live baiting, and restoring the integrity of the industry.

 “This is what we’ve been asking for since the footage came to light, and we are heartened that our calls have been heeded,” Mr Coleman concluded.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Pancake Day

Are you participating in Pancake Day? If so, don't forget your pooch!
Here is a great Dog Pancake Recipe.

You will need:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Cooking spray
  •  2 cups sliced banana,
  • 1 cup plain yogurt

  1. Pre-heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, butter and honey.
  3. Gently whisk in the whole wheat and all-purpose flours, baking powder and cinnamon.
  4. Spray the griddle with cooking spray. 
  5. Drop the batter, 2 tablespoons at a time, onto the greased griddle. 
  6. Cook the pancakes until bubbles begin to form and break, about 3 minutes. Press a few pieces of fruit into each pancake, then flip and cook until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.
  7.  Drizzle with the yogurt and top with the remaining fruit.
Don't forget to use our Shop Humane Guide when purchasing the ingredients!


Monday, February 16, 2015

RSPCA investigates live baiting in Greyhound racing industry

RSPCA NSW is investigating allegations of live baiting in the Greyhound racing industry.

Last week, inspections were conducted across three properties in Sydney in conjunction with NSW Police.

The RSPCA received a complaint including video footage which showed live rabbits and a possum being used to encourage Greyhounds to chase the lure around the track. Some of these animals were subjected to extreme distress before eventually being caught and mauled.

“It is deeply troubling that live baiting, or blooding, is still seen as a legitimate training tactic in some Greyhound circles,” said RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman.

“RSPCA NSW received the complaint and confronting footage on 2nd February, 2015 prompting an immediate investigation which resulted in the simultaneous inspections at two greyhound training facilities and one residence in western Sydney last Wednesday. Our Investigations are continuing,” said RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David OShannessy.

The footage and ABC’s Four Corners investigation implicates trainers in three states, indicating this illegal practice is present within the industry.

“We do have concerns about the Greyhound industry’s self-regulation model, and perhaps it is time to revisit this method of governance,” said Mr Coleman.

“The use of live rabbits or any animal for training in the Greyhound industry is illegal with fines of up to $110,000 for a corporation and $22,000 and/or two years imprisonment for an individual,” Mr Coleman concluded.

RSPCA NSW is continuing its investigations into this matter and urges the community to report any animal cruelty concerns via or 1300 CRUELTY. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Find your Purr-fect Match this Valentine's Day

Are you looking for love?

The Petbarn Foundation is hosting their national Pet Dating event this Valentine's Day, Saturday 14th February.

Potential adopters can choose to go on a mini-date with a number of cuddly animals.

The pets available for adoption will vary from store to store, and will range from playful kittens to senior cats, puppies, dogs or even rabbits. There will be no shortage of loving animals all looking for a forever home.

The aim of the event is to raise awareness of the importance of pet adoption and encourage everyone to think to consider adopt first when adding a furry friend to the family.

Petbarn stores across the country have partnered with a number of local animal shelters including the RSPCA, to offer pet adoptions.

You could find your purr-fect match this Valentine’s Day, simply by visiting your local Petbarn store, an RSPCA shelter or you can view our animals currently available at

Valentine's Day: A Warning for Cat Owners

Valentine’s Day can be a deadly affair for cats
RSPCA NSW is reminding romantics that popular Valentine’s Day flowers can have deadly consequences for cats.

“Lilies are exceedingly toxic and should be avoided at all cost,” said Dr Magdoline Awad, RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian.

“All parts of the lily are toxic, even a cat licking a small amount of pollen off their coat or chewing on a leaf can turn fatal,” Dr Awad said.

A few hours after ingesting the poisonous plant, cats may become sick and lethargic. After 24 hours, symptoms usually ease, but acute kidney failure develops within 2-3 days. If untreated, cats can die within 3-7 days.

Indoor cats and kittens are especially drawn to flowers and plants, as they are a form of environmental enrichment. As they investigate the plant, it’s common for them to play with and sometimes chew parts of it — ingesting possible toxins. Pet owners should instead provide safe and appropriate enrichment such as catnip and cat grass as well as interactive toys for their cats.

If a pet owner suspects that their cat has ingested any part of the lily plant, they should take their cat to a vet immediately. “Prevention is by far better than the cure,” Dr Awad advised.

Other flowers that may cause vomiting, loss of appetite and depression include:
  • Tulips
  • Carnations
  • Daffodils
  • Holly    
  • Mistletoe
  • Ivy
  • Bergonias          
  • Azalea
  • Iris
  • Bird of paradise
  • Baby’s Breath

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dora beats the odds

Dora the goat was the victim of a horrific hunting arrow attack and her rescue was made possible by the quick response of our RSPCA Inspectors who were on the scene as soon as Dora’s owner alerted them to her plight.

Dora was rushed to the RSPCA Sydney Vet Hospital by our Inspectors and taken into surgery, but there was one pressing problem. We suspected that Dora might be pregnant. So before anything could be done to save the mum, we needed to check on the kid... or as we were soon to find out... two kids. Dora was carrying twins and thankfully, they both had heartbeats.

This story’s happy ending was made possible because you give so that we can act. Without your generosity and continued support, Dora’s plight may have been quite different. Your commitment to the cause and generous support of our services means that we are able to fight for animals like Dora every day. Please support our fight to always be there for animals in need.

Monday, February 2, 2015

RSPCA Cattery at Capacity

Bob, just one of the many kittens looking for a new home

RSPCA NSW is treating more cats with cat flu than ever before, with the Sydney and Hunter shelters at capacity with dozens of recovered felines needing homes right now.

“Cat flu is one of the most misunderstood illnesses, with many potential owners instantly dismissing an adoption animal once they hear it has been sick,” said RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian Magdoline Awad.

“In reality, cat flu is much like the human flu — it makes you sniffly, sneezy, tired and off your food.  But with rest, TLC and occasionally the need for some medication it clears up,” she said.

The flu can be passed on through sneezing and mucous. It is also possible for kittens to be exposed to the virus prior to or soon after birth.

As the RSPCA Sydney Shelter continues to undergo major renovations the capacity to nurse these cats back to full health has improved, but following a particularly heavy cat breeding season space is at a premium.

“It’s like a bug in a childcare centre, when one child comes in sick others invariably pick it up as well. The same applies with cat flu, an overwhelming population of kittens and young cats, with no previous vaccinations come into a new environment with all the added stresses. Whilst we vaccinate all animals on arrival, some still succumb to cat flu — albeit a milder form of the disease,” said Dr Awad.

When rehoming these cats, RSPCA NSW has a duty of care to let people know they have been treated for flu, as there is a small chance it could be contagious to other cats already in the home. “Many owned cats in the home are vaccinated, in good health and living in a less stressful environment than a shelter, so the likelihood of catching the flu is minimal and if they do, it is often very mild,” Dr Awad said.

Like people, cats may relapse in times of stress or when they are affected by another illness.

“One of the best things to do for a newly recovered kitten is get it into a home as soon as possible,” Dr Awad said. “Once there, they can start socialising with people, settle in to the home where the environment is less stressful, feel calmer, rest and rejuvenate to stay healthy and happy.” 

Visit to view all of the cats and kittens currently available for adoption.