JOANNA DELALANDE & SJANNA SANDALOVA
A 21-year-old Coogee woman will be spending the night in a kennel on November 28 to raise awareness for dog neglect and abuse.
Melissa Garbin says she feels strongly about this issue because dogs have been part of her family since she was born.
“They have protected us and brought joy and love to our home,” Ms Garbin says.
“My aunty has fostered dogs continuously over the years and my family has rescued two of our four dogs from being left on the road homeless.”
She says while a lot of people know animal cruelty exists, it is the knowledge of how to get involved and help that is lacking.
“It’s in my best interest to play my small part in making a couple more people aware,” she says.
Murdoch University senior lecturer in animal welfare and ethics, Teresa Collins, agrees the issue of dog neglect and abuse is of great concern.
“There needs to be more community awareness and people need to be educated,” Dr Collins says.
She says the effects of neglect can stay with young dogs for life.
“Short term effects include fear, anxiety and malnourishment, while long term effects can mean it is difficult for the dog to be happy,” she says.
General manager of the Dogs’ Refuge Home in Shenton Park, Judy Flanagan, says neglect could mean anything from physical abuse to the dog not being walked or interacted with.
“We get animals that have severe cases of mange, fleas and tick infestations, or are really malnourished, but we mostly deal with cases of common neglect where the dog is not given what they need,” she says.
“A lot of the dogs are amazing.
“Despite what they’ve been through, they have tremendous courage and capacity to love.”
Ms Garbin says a lot of dogs would be put down immediately if not for shelters and organisations that “give dogs a fighting second chance”.
“They are human friendly, for the most part, animals that love and want to be loved,” she says.
“We don’t put people down when they are hungry and homeless.”
According to an RSPCA report, 7313 dogs were euthanased in Australia from 2013 to 2014.
The main reasons were either behavioural, where a dog attacks humans and other dogs and cannot be re-socialised; or medical, where they carry an infectious disease or are injured so horribly they have to be put down.
RSPCA Western Australia communications manager Stewart Richmond says three or four dogs are brought through their doors every day for neglect and abuse, and that rehabilitating them for adoption is a long, hard process.
“A dog that has been severely damaged by somebody through physical abuse is usually very timid and it can’t really be re-homed until it gets its confidence back,” Mr Richmond says.
“You get dogs that have been chained up and put into tiny cages, some of them in chains so tight the chain has actually grown into their necks.
“Those dogs take a very, very long time to be re-homed.”
He says every dog that comes in is given the best chance for survival.
Photos by Sjanna Sandalova