Animals rely on their owners for their most basic needs: nutritious food, clean water and shelter.

In 2020, RSPCA WA received over 1000 reports of abandoned animals.

Intentionally abandoning an animal is a serious criminal offence under Section 19(3)(f) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002. If found guilty, offenders can be fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for up to five years.

Animals who are left without food and water can suffer slow and painful deaths from starvation. Animals left in backyards could also injure themselves, and suffer unnecessarily if nobody is there to rescue them or get them to a vet.

Even if rescued in time, being abandoned can leave an animal with severe separation anxiety which may affect their behaviour.


What to do if you think an animal is abandoned

If you believe an animal has been abandoned, please report it immediately to the RSPCA Cruelty hotline on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 358), or file a report online. If you can provide the following information, it will help a great deal:

  • Does the animal have access to any food?
  • Does the animal have access to any water?
  • Is the animal inside a premises, or outside in an enclosed yard?
  • Is the animal tethered in any way? If so, to what, with what?
  • Do you know how long it has been since any people were seen at the property?
  • Do you know anything about the people who were living there or who are responsible for the animal?
  • Are you able to get food and water to the animal from outside the property?
  • Is the animal's life in imminent danger?

Your report will be assigned to an Inspector to follow-up. Your details will remain confidential.


How to care for your animals if you're going away

Some of the reports of abandonment we receive are from concerned neighbours who are unaware that their neighbours have gone away temporarily but have made arrangements for someone to care for their pets while they're gone.

If you are going away and not taking your pets with you, you will need to make suitable arrangements for your pets while you are away.

  • Arrange a house-sitter or pet-sitter to live in your house while you're away.
  • Take your pets to a suitable boarding kennel or cattery, or arrange to have them stay with familiar friends or family
  • If you can't arrange either of the above, have someone come to your house daily to make sure your pets have ample food, fresh water, and suitable shelter (i.e. somewhere indoors or warm in winter, and somewhere with lots of shade in summer).
  • Let your neighbours know when and for how long you will be away, and what arrangements you have made for the care of your pets. Leave your contact details with your neighbours so they can let you know if there are any problems.


What to do if you're hospitalised?

If you are in need of emergency medical care, please mention your pets as soon as possible so arrangements can be made for their care. Some of the reports that RSPCA WA receives about abandoned animals relate to pets whose owners have been unexpectedly or suddenly taken to hospital or admitted to other care. 

If you know you're going to be incapacitated for a period of time, try to arrange care for your pets with family or friends. In cases where owners have unexpectedly been removed from their homes, RSPCA WA can assist with finding a new home for pets.

RSPCA's Home Ever After program offers a pet rehoming service for people who have left a gift in their Will to the RSPCA, to ensure their pets will be cared for when the time comes. 

Possum the dog was left alone for days in a backyard.Possum

Inspector Sam arrived at a suburban property in Perth's north following a report of an abandoned dog. Possum was found cowering in a far corner of the property and wouldn't move. Inspector Sam spent many hours over several days visiting the property to try and coax Possum to come with her. 

Eventually, after seeing Inspector Sam for seven straight days, Possum decided she must be OK and cautiously made her way over. After a few tentative sniffs, Possum's tail began to wag - we think she knew she was being rescued.

Inspector Sam gets a hug from Possum

When Possum arrived at the Animal Care Centre in Malaga, she was seen by the resident vet, who gave her a clean bill of health. Her behaviour assessment showed that she was very timid, so over the next few weeks, the trainers worked with Possum to gradually introduce her to different experiences.

Possum did really well - she was a quiet, calm dog who craved affection! After a few weeks in the Shelter, and getting so many hugs from the staff and volunteers, Possum was ready to find her new home. It wasn't long before her permanent loving family came to find her. She's now enjoying her new life with a family who cares so much for her.