Have a question about RSPCA South Australia?

You can probably find the answer in our Frequently Asked Questions section below.


What belief guides the RSPCA in all its work?

Our work is guided by a belief that all animals are entitled to enjoy what we call “the Five Freedoms for Animals”.

These freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst – by providing easy access to fresh water and a diet that maintains full health and vigour
  2. Freedom from discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease – by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind
  5. Freedom from fear and distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment do not cause mental suffering

What should the community look out for when identifying animal cruelty?

We rely on members of the public to be our eyes and ears in the community and we encourage anyone who may have witnessed an act of cruelty to report it to us as soon as possible. Cruelty can come in many varied forms, so if you see anything that looks suspicious, the best thing to do is report it.

What causes people to be cruel to animals?

This is a very difficult question to answer and often there is no definitive reason. Animal abuse may be caused by a lack of understanding of how to properly care for an animal, lack of compassion, mental health issues, or deliberate acts of cruelty out of anger. RSPCA South Australia works tirelessly to educate the community on responsible pet ownership in an effort to decrease rates of animal cruelty.

What is animal cruelty and what is the most common form of cruelty?

For the team at RSPCA South Australia, there is no such thing as a typical day. For our Rescue Officers and Inspectors, each day is unpredictable and challenging. Our staff often deal with physically and emotionally demanding situations. Each case of cruelty against a defenceless animal can be equally heartbreaking.

Cruelty can be divided into four main categories:

Cruelty through ignorance
RSPCA South Australia encounters many animals that have suffered merely because their owners have failed to understand how to adequately care for them. The owner may not intend to be cruel, but rather lacks an understanding of the responsibilities required to look after an animal in an appropriate manner.
Cruelty through neglect
Neglect is a primary cause of cruelty and occurs when a person has inadequate consideration for the condition of their animal. There could be various reasons for this including financial hardship, mental illness, or a lack of compassion. Neglect of animals comes in many forms including no available shelter for the animal, deficient food or water, neglected grooming and lack of veterinary treatment.
Malicious intent
Deliberate acts of cruelty to animals are impossible to comprehend and are one of the most difficult aspects of working at RSPCA. Some types of malicious and senseless cruelty witnessed by RSPCA include kicking, beating, poisoning, intentional starvation and even torture of defenceless animals as well as organised events such as cock fighting and dog fighting.
Endorsed cruelty
Nationally, the RSPCA produces campaigns in an effort to educate the wider community about animal welfare practices that while legal, are considered cruel and unnecessary. An example of this is jumps racing duck shooting, the live animal export trade, rodeos and intensive farming systems.

How much does it cost RSPCA to care for one animal?

Each animal is unique and requires individual care and attention. Therefore the amount of money needed to care for each animal can differ significantly. Some animals that come into our care need to be desexed, microchipped and vaccinated before they can be adopted. Some may spend days, weeks or months at our shelters before they find loving new homes. Some require surgery to repair injuries or medical attention to cure illnesses. Some require special diets while others may need to undergo rehabilitation for health or behavioural issues.

When is RSPCA’s busiest time of the year?

RSPCA South Australia’s shelters often operate at capacity all year round, but the summer months are particularly busy for our shelters and Rescue Officers. The warm summer months are known as ‘kitten season’ when cats breed and have litters of kittens. Many of these cats and kittens end up in our care through no fault of their own. We provide them with specialist veterinary care, food, water, shelter and a chance to finding a loving home to call their own.

Why do people surrender their pets to RSPCA?

People surrender animals into our care for a large number of reasons. Some of which include:

  • The owner is no longer allowed to have pets at their property (e.g. a rental property or a retirement village).
  • The owner is moving interstate or overseas.
  • The owner is unwell.
  • The owner can’t afford to provide adequate care for animal.

Where do RSPCA animals come from?

Many animals that come into our care are stray animals brought to us by local councils.

Animals are also surrendered into our care by members of the public who are no longer able or willing to care for them. In addition, a large number of animals come into our care via our dedicated Rescue Officers and Inspectors who can seize an animal from a situation where they are not receiving adequate care.

What animals are currently available for adoption?

To view the animals currently available for adoption at the RSPCA, visit our adoption page here.

What is the most common animal that we care for?

Cats and kittens are the most common animals that RSPCA South Australia cares for. In the 2013/2014 financial year, we cared for more than 5,000 cats and kittens across our three shelters and foster care network.

Besides companion animals such as dogs and cats we also care for a wide range of animals of all shapes and sizes. This includes rabbits and other small animals such as guinea pigs, mice & rats, birds, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and native animals. Our Rescue Officers have even rescued a five foot long carpet python that was entangled under the bonnet of a car!

How many animals does the RSPCA care for each year?

In the 2013/2014 financial year, RSPCA South Australia cared for 10,418 animals. That is 1,992 more than the year before.

Who benefits from our work?

RSPCA South Australia is South Australia’s oldest animal welfare organisation.

We are a charity, whose purpose is to prevent suffering and cruelty to all animals, continually and actively promote their care, enforce and improve animal welfare legislation in South Australia, provide high quality rescue and welfare services and raise awareness of animal welfare issues and lead public debate.

As such, you could say that the entire South Australian community (both animals and humans) benefits from our services.

How many RSPCA animals shelters are in South Australia?

RSPCA South Australia has three animal shelters located throughout the state, in Lonsdale, Whyalla and Port Lincoln.

What does RSPCA stand for?

RSPCA is an acronym for Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The RSPCA is an independent, non-government community-based charity, which relies on community and corporate support to fund the vital animal welfare services it provides.

Its role is to protect animals against cruelty and provide treatment and care for thousands of sick, injured and abandoned animals.

How is RSPCA South Australia funded?

RSPCA South Australia is a non-government, community based charity. We rely on the generous support of the community to survive. Approximately 90 per cent of our funding comes from the community. The government funding RSPCA South Australia receives is tied to the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.

How many RSPCA locations are there in Australia?

There are eight state and territory Societies, which are members of RSPCA Australia. They are:

What is RSPCA SA’s main goal?

To be the leading South Australian authority that strives for excellence in the standards of care and protection of all animals from suffering and cruelty.

When, where & how was the RSPCA formed?

While the RSPCA in Australia is not directly linked to the RSPCA in the United Kingdom, it was in the UK that a society with the aim of preventing cruelty to animals was first formed.

On the evening of June 16 1824, a number of distinguished people including William Wilberforce (who helped abolish the slave trade) assembled at the ‘Old Slaughters’ Coffee House’ in London.

 They were called together by the Reverend Arthur Broome, a London vicar, to form a society that would support the working of the Richard Martin’s Act. This Act was passed on the 22nd July 1822 and focused on preventing cruelty to farm animals, particularly cattle.

 (Richard Martin was an Irish politician who pioneered legislation through the UK parliament to outlaw cruelty to animals. He was so kind-hearted to people and animals that his nickname was Humanity Dick.)

The newly formed organisation did not at first employ inspectors, but relied on a Committee to inspect the markets, slaughter houses, streets of the metropolis and the way coachmen treated horses used for transport.

Reverend Arthur Broome employed, at his own expense, a man named Mr Wheeler who together with his assistant Charles Teasdall brought 63 offenders before the courts in 1824. It was not until the late 1830s however, that the society appointed formal inspectors.

Unfortunately, the popularity of so called ‘sports’ such as cock-fighting and bull and bear baiting, plus the initial reluctance of magistrates to convict offenders, meant that even though people were charged with breaking the new animal welfare laws, very few people were prosecuted.

Financial problems also slowed down progress. In fact, Reverend Broome was imprisoned for a short time because of the Society’s failure to pay its debts. Gradually though, public support was shown through donations and an increased willingness to give evidence against offenders.

In 1835 a Bill to prevent cruelty to all animals, including cats and dogs, was passed, and bear baiting and cock fighting were made illegal. That same year royal patronage was given to the Society when the Duchess of Kent and her daughter, Princess Victoria, became Lady Patrons. Further patronage was given to the Society in 1840, when the Princess became Queen Victoria and honoured the Society with the prefix “Royal”.

The Queen’s disapproval of using animals for experimentation was instrumental in the passing of the first law against vivisection. By 1841 there were five inspectors each paid a guinea a week and based in London, who travelled to various parts of the country bringing offenders before the courts.

Where can I find out more about the RSPCA?

The RSPCA Australia Knowledge Base is an informative online resource that contains a wealth of information on a wide range of animal welfare related topics and issues.

Why do you have to be 18 years or older to volunteer at the RSPCA?

To volunteer at the RSPCA, you must be 18 years or older due to our insurance policy.

What qualifications do you need to be able to work at the RSPCA?

As an animal welfare organisation, RSPCA South Australia undertakes a broad spectrum of work and the organisation is made up of many different roles. Some roles have direct contact with the animals, while some don’t. All roles benefit the organisation in important ways. The qualifications, skills and experience required depends on the area of work you are interested in.

Inspectors are uniformed representatives who are trained in the area of animal welfare and the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. They investigate and prosecute people who mistreat or neglect animals in breach of this Act.

We operate a 24 hour, seven day a week emergency rescue service for sick or injured stray animals.

At RSPCA South Australia Stepney office we have a small Marketing and Communications team, which includes roles in marketing, fundraising, events, public relations and bequests. Our Stepney office also houses a Legal Counsel as well as administrative staff and volunteers who support various departments.

If you would like to work directly with animals there are a number of animal attendance / management or veterinary courses available that will equip you with the appropriate qualifications.

Work experience in any animal-related industry will provide valuable hands-on experience and is often preferred before admittance into Animal Attendance courses. Many of our Rescue Officers and shelter staff commenced their careers as an RSPCA volunteer.

Becoming a volunteer at the RSPCA is one way to gain experience as well as allowing any potential employee to see how suited you will be to the industry. It also allows you the chance to ensure the animal industry is suited to you.

Click here to learn more about volunteering with RSPCA South Australia.

How can we stop people being cruel to animals?

Education is vital to help people understand the needs of animals and to decrease animal cruelty. RSPCA South Australia has implemented an Empathy Education Program for school children focusing on Reception to Year 2 classes. The program emphasises the five needs of animals – food, water, friends, shelter & exercise. Talks are also provided to community groups.

Click here to find out more about our Empathy Education Program and book a visit to your school or community group.

How does the RSPCA help animals that have been mistreated?

If an animal is mistreated or neglected by its owner and seized by RSPCA, our staff and volunteers will do everything they can to rehabilitate the animal, provide veterinary care for the animal, bring to justice those responsible for the cruelty and ultimately find the animal a loving new home.

What are the penalties for people who mistreat animals?

If a person is in breach of the Animal Welfare Act, RSPCA South Australia would be in a position to prosecute them. This means they would be taken to court and a Magistrate decides what penalty they will receive.

In South Australia the maximum penalty for animal cruelty is up to four years imprisonment or a $50,000 fine. We are constantly advocating for tougher animal welfare laws and for the Magistrates to enforce harsher penalties.

Is animal cruelty increasing? If so, why?

In the 2013/2014 financial year, RSPCA South Australia received 4,740 reports of animal cruelty. That is a 28.2 per cent increase compared to the year before

The year-on-year increase in the number of cruelty reports is substantial. We believe there are a number of factors which continue to drive the rise in reports, including deteriorating economic conditions in the state, improved community awareness about cruelty, better resources available to enable reporting and even the weather.
Not every report amounts to a breach of the Animal Welfare Act. But each case that does is one too many.

How do I report animal cruelty?

If you witness an act of animal cruelty, we encourage people to call the RSPCA South Australia’s cruelty hotline on 1300 4 777 22 (1300 4 RSPCA).

For more information about reporting cruelty, please click here.

When was the RSPCA formed in Australia?

The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Australia was formed in Victoria in 1871. On July 4 the Society arranged a public meeting to promote public morality and to discuss the carefree and sometimes cruel colonial attitude towards animals. The main concern people talked about at this meeting was the ill treatment of horses.

The establishment of more RSPCA societies soon followed. They were:

  • Tasmania in 1872
  • New South Wales in 1873
  • South Australia in 1875
  • Queensland in 1883
  • Western Australia in 1892

The establishment of societies in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory occurred much later. RSPCA ACT was formed in 1955 followed by the Northern Territory in 1965.

In 1956 the societies were given the Royal Warrant and they became known as the Royal Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


Didn’t find what you were looking for? Email your question or query to info@rspcasa.org.au or call 1300 4 777 22.