Founder of the Australian Pet Welfare Foundation
Dr Jacquie Rand, BVSc, DVSc, MANZCVS, Dip. ACVIM (Int. Medicine)
Emeritus Professor, Universtiy of Queensland
The Australian Pet Welfare Foundation (APWF) was founded by Jacquie Rand, after more than twenty years researching ways to improve companion animal health and the quality of pets’ lives.
As a Professor of Companion Animal Health, she was convinced that the power of research and subsequent programs could improve the lives of pets and people.
It was simply about doing the right thing for creatures who could not speak or act on their own behalf.
At that time in Australia, however, there was a scarcity of studies aimed at reducing the number of homeless and unwanted dogs and cats. This lack of research was despite the very large strides made overseas in reducing euthanasia in shelters and pounds as a result of implementing strategies proven by research to be effective. Most foundations supporting studies to improve the health of companion animals rarely funded shelter studies aimed at finding life-saving strategies to improve the outcome for adoptable and treatable animals in shelters and pounds.
This was despite the fact that being homeless and unwanted killed more pets than disease and trauma.
As a result, the Australian Pet Welfare Foundation was formed by a small group of people who cared about the health and welfare of pets. The founding members, Jacquie Rand, Julia Keith, Margaret Scott and Guy Farrands – believed in their mission, that through a greater understanding of the health and welfare of pets, new initiatives and human kindness would in turn enrich the bond between pets and people.
Through research, education and advocacy – on behalf of the animals who have no voice to advocate their needs, they ask the hard questions – “What strategies are more effective in saving lives of pets in shelters and pounds? What improvements could be made in diagnosing and treating major diseases affecting the quality of life of pets? What is the magnitude of benefit of pet therapy for sufferers of mental illness?”
For many years Australia had little improvement in the welfare of pets, and in some cases there was a decline in the outcomes with the numbers of dogs and cats killed in municipal pounds steadily climbing, year after year.
However, the tide has finally turned and is gaining momentum. The work inspired by the founders of APWF is creating a significant cultural shift in how animals are treated. That movement, rooted in the simple notions of right versus wrong, kindness over killing, individual value over faceless numbers, has taken hold in agencies across Australia. The number of animals dying in our nation’s shelters is down with the largest welfare agency in Australia having halved its euthanasia rate for dogs and cats over the last 4 years, and is in striking distance of zero euthanasia of adoptable and treatable dogs – a euthanasia rate of 10% or less. Some leading pounds have achieved it for dogs.
However, the worst pounds still kill up to 55% of dogs and 85-95% of cats.
Sadly, those people who most care about the unnecessary suffering of pets are also severely traumatised by the unnecessary killing. Many human lives are devastated by post-traumatic stress as a result of killing treatable cats and dogs.
Our vision is that within 10 years the majority of Australian shelters and pounds will have achieved zero euthanasia of adoptable and treatable dogs, and for cats, within 20 years. These benchmarks will be achieved through a combination of research demonstrating better ways of reducing intake and increasing live release, and through education and advocacy on behalf of those who are voiceless – homeless and unwanted dogs and cats.
Pets enrich our lives, improve our mental, physical and mental health, and don’t judge us as some people do. They need you to advocate for them.