1 March 2024

With a whopping nine days over 40°C in the Perth metro area alone in the first two months of 2024, RSPCA WA, along with the rest of the state, has felt the heat.

The unprecedented hot start to 2024 caused bushfires, region-wide power outages and heat-related hospitalisations across WA – as well as a staggering rise in animal cruelty reports.

RSPCA WA was hit hard, receiving 251 cruelty reports relating to insufficient shelter from 1 January to 29 February, compared with 156 during the same period last year.

That is a 61 per cent increase in reports of cruelty incidents such as animals being tethered in the full sun or left in backyards without any shade.

Also on an upward trajectory were insufficient food and water cruelty reports with 403 made in the past two months compared to 310 in the same period last year – a 30 per cent increase.

The only heat-related statistic on a downward trend was harmful confinement in a vehicle which showed a 22 per cent decrease from 123 last year to 96 this year.

Animal Services Executive Manager Hannah Dreaver said while it was reassuring to see a decrease in reports about dogs in hot cars, 96 reports were still a lot in two months.

“We can see more of the general public has headed our dogs in hot cars warning this season and it is great to see but we still received far too many reports of this happening and it is really disheartening,” she said.

“That is, on average, more than one report a day of people putting their pet in a potentially life-threatening situation.

“Most cases relating to dogs in hot cars occur in shopping centre parking lots, outside of cafes and out the front of people’s houses.

“Many of the insufficient shelter reports were related to dogs being confined in backyards in the hot sun during the heatwaves and the other hot days in between without any refuge from the heat.

“To see more than a 60 per cent rise in those types of reports being made as well as an increase in reports of animals left without adequate food and water is alarming and shows us the unprecedented temperatures over the past two months have had a devastating effect on pets and our workforce.

“A jump like that increases the load on our inspectorate and animal services teams who have worked hard this season investigating these reports and caring for those animals in need.”

The RSPCA relies on the community to report incidents of suspected cruelty and neglect. Report cruelty 24/7 on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 358) or at rspcawa.org.au