There are at least 150 community fostercare networks active in Victoria, varying from those with 100 or more volunteers to very small groups.
Perhaps one of the reasons there is no acknowledgement of our work is that councils and shelters continue to take the credit for any improvement in statistics. For example in the domestic animal plan for 2012-2013 that covers Mildura Pound it says 89 dogs were 'euthanased' and 551 were rehoused.
How many of those were rehoused by adoptions from the pound and how many were taken by rescuers, so many of whom are still tirelessly taking dogs from Mildura every week. These transports runs have been happening since 2006, but whenever has there been any open acknowledgement by the Council of the great work that so many groups still do every week in transporting and rehoming dogs in Melbourne, as well of course as the local groups.
All over Victoria groups work tirelessly to save dogs within the limited timeframe they are given. They all know the frustration of that one call not made in a busy day and a stray or a surrender being killed. Of course surrenders can and often are killed on the day of arrival. There is no obligation to attempt to rehome. And when so many pounds are far too small for the number of dogs and cats they receive, community fostercare networks are their only hope.
It should be mandatory under the Code of Practice for pounds to have to rehome dogs to the rescue community and any 'killing' should have to state a reason. It should not be a grace and favour exercise depending on the mood of the local laws officer of the day, and any animal that is killed should be taken to the vet and sedated prior to killing. And as stated every animal taken by a community fostercare network should be noted in that Council's statistics.
And the large shelters/superpounds like the RSPCA and the Lost Dogs home also make use of community fostercare networks. Is this bad? Not necessarily. There will always be dogs and cats that are more suited to the individual environment that can be provided by community fostercare networks, as long as there is recognition of the role they are playing.
The pounds, the shelters, the puppy farmers that make themselves look better by using groups like ours - what rewards, what recognition do they give to these groups. The groups ask for none, as they are after all there because they are compassionate and kind volunteers, not because they are paid to be. Sadly community fostercare networks have overall become another resource, used by so many with more money and influence than they have, but still with little recognition of our role as stakeholders in animal welfare.
Which State Government, which political party, is going to completely revise the ineffectual Code of Practice for the Management of Shelters and Pounds? None to date. Will groups like ours be asked to contribute to policy changes in animal welfare? Most likely not.
Why then do we keep on saving dogs and cats in this situation?
Because we care.