WITH temperatures already soaring to the mid-30s in Sydney, Animal Welfare League (AWL) NSW inspectors are urging the Hawkesbury community to keep their animals protected from the heat.
According to AWL, their inspectors - who have equivalent powers to the NSW Police and RSPCA NSW when it comes to enforcing animal legislation - were recently driving through the Hawkesbury area following-up a job and noticed that quite a few properties had livestock but no shade or shelter.
Inspector-in-training Alexandra Rowe said this is a real concern as animal lives could be lost if they can’t seek protection from extreme heat.
“It is a requirement by law that all animals must have appropriate shelter from wind, rain and sun, plus access to food and clean water, and I encourage all residents of the Hawkesbury area who own animals to assess whether they are meeting these requirements,” she said.
“A lot of people believe that livestock are fine in the heat, but they definitely need shelter – a good idea is to imagine if you were in a paddock on a 40 degree day then think about what would help you stay cool and comfortable.”
What should livestock owners be doing?
Ms Rowe said an adequate structure for livestock - including horses, goats, sheep, cows and pigs - needs to provide shelter from the wind, rain, hail and heat exposure, and livestock need to be able to access this shelter at all times during the day and night.
“Generally, a shelter structure needs to have four poles to keep it upright, solid material (for instance, colourbond) on the top for a roof, and three enclosed sides to protect from rain or wind at all angles,” she said.
Ms Rowe advised owners to consider how many animals they have in their care, and make sure that the shelter they provide is large enough to comfortably accommodate all their livestock at any given time, or in some cases, build multiple structures.
“There are a wide range of options for every budget, and cost will depend on individual circumstance – there are many reputable companies who can build suitable livestock shelter, you could get a qualified contractor to help out, or you could even DIY if you feel comfortable!” she said.
“We don’t mind if you build a sheep mansion, or you use free wood you found on the side of the road, as long as it protects your animals from the elements.
“Having appropriate water sources is also important in the summer. Any water container needs to be deep enough so that it doesn’t run out during the day, and should be kept in the shade so it doesn’t heat up. Ceramic or porcelain troughs are best.”
What should you do if you suspect animal cruelty?
If anyone has any concerns about an animal who they believe does not have adequate shelter that protects them from the elements, food or clean, fresh water, they can call Animal Welfare League NSW on 02 8899 3333 to make a report.
Inspectors respond to legitimate reports by visiting the property, assessing the animals’ situation, and providing information to the owner about any steps they need to take to ensure they are abiding by animal cruelty legislation.
In some instances, Inspectors may seize animals if they are in serious danger, or if their owner has repeatedly failed to cooperate or improve the animal’s living situation to meet the legal standard.
“I would encourage anyone who notices an animal who has no shade or water this summer to give us a call, as we are more than happy to respond to assist, and your report could be the difference between life and death,” Ms Rowe said.
“We always try to approach people in a positive way to provide them with the support and information they need to make good choices for their animals, and I look forward to working with the Hawkesbury community in the coming months.”
What happens to seized animals?
Animals that are deemed to be in serious danger and seized by AWL NSW are taken into custody and provided with proper medical care if required. Owners that fail to properly care for animals after receiving legal directions to do so are fined.
AWL is a charity organisation, so it relies on volunteers to look after the animals, monetary donations from the public to help care for them, and caring residents to adopt animals through its rehoming program.
An 11-year-old horse named Princess is currently available for adoption from AWL’s Kemps Creek shelter. Princess was picked up from an agistment property in the Penrith area in May, after receiving neglect complaints from concerned members of the public.
AWL staff said Princess would do well with any family who knows how to care for horses, or is willing to put in the research required to do so. She will need to be rehomed with someone who has enough acreage for her to enjoy, and can afford to feed and care for her.
She seems to be fine with other animals, and particularly other livestock - as long as they have enough space to themselves.
AWL doesn’t know if Princess has been ridden previously, so they recommended hiring an experienced horse trainer to assist if the new owner wanted to go down this route.
To enquire about adopting Princess, call 02 8899 3333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to arrange a visit.