On the 25th November 2015 the RSPCA WA opened their new cat facilities that would:
"... provide a tremendous boost in our capacity to help cats in need. It will enable us to provide shelter and safety for up to 2,000 kittens and cats each year.”
David van Ooran (then RSPCA WA CEO)
The RSPCA WA had lobbied hard for the new cat laws in the state. It was happy to take hundreds of thousands of the community's dollars in support of same, thanks to $250,000 support from the community and a $420,000 grant from the state government.
For a $670,000 investment we get.... drumroll.....
That's right - 570 cat adoptions for the entire year. Or about the same number of cats as a small to medium, unfunded, volunteer-run rescue group would adopt in a year.
The total number of cats processed by the RSPCA in the year was 847. Making the kill rate around 33%, and absolutely staggering for a low-volume shelter.
And almost unbelievably, even less dogs were processed by the organisation with just 387 dog adoption for the year.
And I'm sorry, but just read that again. The largest and most well funded shelter in the state of WA achieved 387 dogs adoptions. With a total dog intake of 684.
In 2018-19, 1104 animals were rehomed. This represents a 160% increase in rehomed animals in just five years, which demonstrates the success of investing reserves in better animal outcomes.
Five years ago, in 2014-15,we rehomed just 423 animals. It is clear our investment in improving animal outcomes has made a real difference.*
Well. Wow. Just wow. But how much does it cost the community to reach these staggering heights of meh?
That's right - nearly $9 million bucks. Most of which ($6 million or so) was spent on employees and with an organisational deficit of $1.8 million dollars.
While a little over $4 million dollars are classified as "Other operating costs" and are broken down as follows;
$700k goes directly to caring for animals, with the rest of the nearly $4 million dollars going to admin and fundraising costs.
But that's not the only car-crash operational attainment to report for the year.
Early in 2019, there was much excitement here in WA. The RSPCA was finally after literally decades, looking to countries who have a successful, working model of sheltering - in this case the The SPCA New Zealand Saving Lives Program a 'No Kill' based program which has seen multiple SPCA shelters in New Zealand SPCA achieve 90% save rates - and importing these programs into Australia.
RSPCA WA Statement from Jan 2019
"RSPCA WA has appointed experienced animal welfare advocate, Iain Torrance, as its Chief Executive Officer. Mr Torrance, who is currently based in New Zealand, will commence in the role in March.
Mr Torrance is well known as a champion of animal welfare. He has held a number of key animal welfare roles in New Zealand and is currently Vice Chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), which provides independent advice to the New Zealand Government on animal welfare issues including policy and regulatory reforms.
Mr Torrance was formerly very involved with the SPCA, New Zealand’s largest animal welfare not for profit organisation. He was CEO of Wellington SPCA, Vice President and Chair of Royal New Zealand SPCA Board and also acted as national CEO while leading the recruitment of a full-time replacement. During this time, he led a major turnaround of the organisation by addressing serious financial, operational and reputational issues. He also led the rehoming of Wellington SPCA’s operations into an award-winning community facility, with a new focus on education to prevent animal cruelty.
Since leaving the SPCA in 2015, Mr Torrance continued his active involvement in animal welfare with roles on animal ethics committees, the animal welfare committee of Wellington Zoo Trust and NAWAC. His recent work with NAWAC included chairing a working group to introduce a Code of Welfare for Temporary Housing of Companion Animals and he was a member of the group which steered the introduction of animal welfare regulations to target low level offending.
RSPCA WA Board Chair, Lynne Bradshaw AM, said in addition to his passion for animal welfare, Mr Torrance would bring to the RSPCA WA extensive business experience gained in both commercial and not-for-profit organisations in many parts of the world. He has tertiary qualifications in organisational transformation and change and in telecommunications engineering.
Originally from the UK, he has worked internationally in private enterprise across a range of industry sectors. His most recent role was CEO of the Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust, a public benefit entity which owns and operates public infrastructure including an airport, ports, electricity networks, fuel supplies, shipping, fishing quotas and other services supporting the social and economic development of these remote islands 800km off New Zealand’s east coast.
Mr Torrance said: “I am very much looking forward to the challenge of working with the RSPCA WA to improve animal welfare in Western Australia. “Our work in animal welfare will never be complete as there are always new issues emerging and there will always be more to do.
“It is time for me to return to the front line and I will be aiming to ensure RSPCA WA helps the ever-increasing number of animals in need. We live in challenging times and we must be the voice for those in our community who can’t speak for themselves. I am excited about the role and look forward to joining the team and helping to make a difference.”
Mr Torrance and his fiancé Monique have a rescued cat Monty who will also be moving to WA when he takes up the CEO position at RSPCA WA. In the meantime, Ben Cave will continue to in the role of interim CEO."
But don't for a minute lose faith in our RSPCA WA's ability to stuff up even the most flawless opportunity when given the chance - which they did.
Which is obviously a disaster for the state, with the whole schmozzle probably putting animal sheltering at the RSPCA WA back a couple of decades (at least). No other experienced, desirable candidate is going to want to move all the way to WA to take on the role when the organisation is clearly totally resistant to any change whatsoever. No matter how bloody terrible their performance currently is.
When groups ask for money to do one thing, then don't follow through, then the public have the right to become skeptical. The RSPCA WA, despite a huge infrastructure investment in cat welfare, four years on still don't match many volunteer-run foster care groups, for numbers of cat adoptions.
After years of poor performance, they destroyed their opportunity to have a CEO who could have turned the organisation into something WA could have been proud of, irreparably damaging the chances of RSPCA WA ever getting a CEO worth a dime in the process.
And they're doing all of this while also recording a record loss financially - pissing away enormous community resources into their barely functioning shelter.
Stick a fork in them - the RSPCA WA are done. They're outlived their usefulness. They're promoting and cementing outdated ideas and policies. They are squandering million in resources that would be better invested in better organisations.
The quicker the government and the community look to replace the RSPCA WA in all of their current responsibilities, the better it will be for animals.
*In 2014/15 the RSPCA WA's revenue was $8,957,640. The idea that "investing in outcomes" is something new, that we should be celebrating, seems ridiculous given the sheer enormity of the gift of resources given to this organisation annually. OF COURSE you should be investing in positive outcomes - that's literally what people are paying you for.
** But they do prosecutions too! And you're not wrong - the RSPCA WA is responsible for bringing all prosecutions for domestic animal welfare abuses for the entire state of WA and its 2.5 million people.
The RSPCA WA prosecuted twelve people in this current financial year. That's right - twelve. A standard dozen. Or one a month. Millions of dollars spent for twelve prosecutions. Hangon - not twelve.... ten.
RSPCA WA conducted 10 prosecutions for offences of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2002, and conducted two civil forfeitures to rescue animals whose owners could not be found.
*** Do give generously - but to local and community groups who achieve the same level of performance as the RSPCA, but on a shoestring and mostly staffed by volunteers. A list of candidates to consider - and there's loads - can be found here:
Make your donation actually count.