Dispelling the Rumours about the Bull Terrier Raid

Dogs Queensland Law RSPCA Inspectors Animal Welfare Posted Dec 7, 2018
The rumour mill is at it again, get the facts!

Unfortunately, following the seizure of 110 Bull Terriers by RSPCA Qld from a property near Gladstone, the rumour mill is at it again.

Sadly, for all its benefits, social media also has many pitfalls.

Perhaps the most dangerous of these is that it gives a voice to people who do not know the facts, or the facts do not suit their personal agenda. So they make up their own version without thinking of the harm they are causing to good people and the helpless animals who rely on them for their care and wellbeing.

Bull Terriers seized from Puppy Farm showing their living conditions

Many of these people are bitter after being prosecuted or having animals seized for neglect or cruelty. Some have their own personal agendas, groups or causes to push, and they stand to benefit by undermining RSPCA. Others don’t intend to cause any harm, but they really don’t understand the negative implications that can flow from spreading misinformation, much of which is deliberately intended to mislead. 

Many more people then blindly, or maliciously, re-publish this information. They either don’t question what is written, regardless of how nonsensical it might seem, or they stand to benefit from grandstanding and having their moment in the spotlight. Find out more about the timeline of how a cruelty complaint for five dogs, turned into a seizure of over 100 bull terriers lasting 15 hours! 
We have answered some of the more ludicrous claims circulating online about the Bull Terriers within this article. But if you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us. It’s important to understand that there are privacy and legal considerations that impact what information we can share, but we will do our best.

Read what Bull Terrier Rescue Australia Inc. had to say after their visit to meet the Bull Terriers from the raid on Facebook below:

Were all the dogs seized?

Yes. 110 animals were seized at the property and the same 110 animals were brought to our RSPCA Animal Care Centres and accounted for. All dogs arrived safe and healthy from their journey - none of these animals were euthanased or transported in a horse float. They were seized with consent of the owner, and were surrendered to RSPCA - 8 of those dogs that were seized were not surrendered, because they were owned by other people. 

RSPCA would have removed all dogs regardless of whether the seizure was consented to, or the dogs were surrendered.  There was no pressure placed on the owner to surrender these dogs. They were being seized regardless.

We are working hard towards finding homes for these bullies, and we are confident that we can achieve that. There are a lot of misconceived and unfounded comments on social media that RSPCA have high euthanasia rates, or that we euthanase for no good reason or because we have too many dogs. Those comments are simply untrue. RSPCA Qld save more and adopt more animals than any other organisation in the Southern Hemisphere. So if anyone can achieve a 100% success rate with these dogs, it will be us. We did it years ago with a very similar number of poodles, and we hope to do the same again today with the Bullies.

Who owned the dogs?
All but 8 of the dogs were owned by the person they were seized from. All dogs that were old enough were microchipped to the owner of the property, other than the 8 that belonged to other people.
Of the 8 dogs owned by other people, 3 were puppies that had already been sold, and the remaining 5 adult dogs were owned by 2 different people, who had sent their dogs to the property for breeding.
All dogs on the property were purebred Bull Terriers. There were no rescue dogs on the property. There were no dogs left there to keep them safe from the fires.

All owners have been accounted for, and dogs either have been or will be returned to those owners.
Did the fires play a part?

No. The fires were not ever threatening the property where the dogs were located and the report that RSPCA responded to came in well before fires were any issue around the Central Queensland region.

The dogs were not being crated for evacuation. They were crated because this was how they lived. Every day. This was evident to Inspectors, because dogs were unable to walk when released from crates, as they were not used to living outside the crates. There were also no areas on the property where dogs could have been running had they not been in the crates. There were no other places for dogs to be kept other than where they were located by Inspectors.

Not all dogs were kept in crates but all dogs were confined in inappropriate living conditions.

Why did RSPCA attend?

RSPCA attended in response to a complaint about 5 dogs.

RSPCA were not contacted by the owner for assistance with moving her animals, or for any other reason. RSPCA responded to the complaint, arrived at the property, and instead of finding 5 dogs, they found 110. It is however fair to say that from that point in time, there was a high level of cooperation with RSPCA by the owner.

A single Inspector arrived to investigate the complaint that was received. This was in the later hours of the morning.

The gravity of the situation was apparent immediately. The number of dogs, the conditions, the smell, and the lack of options other than seizure of all dogs.

Inspectors from Brisbane and other areas responded. They had already commenced their shifts hours earlier, but within hours they were packed, on the road, and on their way up the coast. They drove for hours, arrived late at night, camped in their cars or boarded overnight with little sleep, and returned to the property early the following day.

Were the living conditions appropriate?

Absolutely not. Any suggestion that the conditions were appropriate is quite frankly alarming, and we would question what dog owner or breeder could justify that kind of thinking.

Dogs were confined in conditions where they were unable to display normal behaviours. Some were unable to stand erect in crates, some unable to turn around, and all were unable to walk, run, engage their senses, and enjoy normal dog activities. They were un-socialised. They had dirty and very smelly coats. They were living confined in dirty smelly areas, with urine soaked flooring.

Video and photographs of dogs in their crates, and the poor living conditions, were taken when the first RSPCA Inspector attended. A second Inspector arrived less than 2 hours later and took further footage and photographs. These are the images that have been shared in the media. The hours that it took the remaining RSPCA personnel to arrive did not cause the poor living conditions and did not impact on how they appeared in the images that were released. The living conditions were caused by days, weeks, months and in some cases years of neglect.

Video and photographs taken by RSPCA showed all areas of the property. Media outlets chose which portions to show. The conditions at the property were exactly as depicted in these images, and in fact, taking into account the heat, lack of ventilation, and the overwhelming smell, the conditions at the property were in fact worse than what was depicted in the media.

Was the dog owner locked in her house?

This is perhaps the most absurd piece of information doing the rounds. No, the dog owner was not locked in her house. Apart from how incredibly illegal this would be, it would not have been possible.

The property owners chose to stay inside their house, presumably in the air conditioning, for most of the day, rarely going down to where the dogs were located. They were of course free to move about their property, to stay or to leave, as they wished. They were also free to have others visit, and this did in fact occur.

The dog owner was kept informed at all times about what was happening, from the outset. All conversations were recorded. Conversations were all polite and friendly.

The Inspectors worked all day, in the heat, carrying dogs that could not or would not walk, up from the rear of the property to their cars, transporting dogs as soon as possible, and then returning to do it all over again. They worked long hours, 14 to 16 hours, and drove long hours up to and back from the property. When they returned to their areas late on the night of the seizure, and early the following morning, most of them backed up again the next day doing what they do every day to help other animals. None of this was captured by the media. The vast majority of work done by our Inspectors is not captured by the media. Often it’s the Inspector’s hardest days, and saddest days, that are the stories that are never told. 

Were the dogs in good condition?

Physically, most of the dogs were of a healthy weight. They all stunk and the shelter manager at RSPCA Wacol has reported that most of the dogs will need several baths before the smell will be gone. This is something that RSPCA is accustomed to when dealing with large scale puppy farms where living conditions are the primary issue.

Dogs would not walk when removed from their crates or confinement. They were unused to walking, and unused to being outside their areas of confinement or crates. While some would have been out for various reasons in their lifetimes, to shows, to vets or for breeding, the vast majority clearly knew no other world.

There was a 2 week old puppy which was being hand raised by the owner. We don’t know why but we know that it was in good condition when Inspectors arrived. It required regular feeding. This is something that is part of our days here at RSPCA, feeding orphaned young puppies, kittens and other animals. It was RSPCA Inspectors who identified when the puppy was due for its feed, and they reminded the owner of this. It was an RSPCA Inspector who then fed the puppy. There was never any concern that the puppy was not being fed as required. The puppy is doing very well and is currently being fostered by one of our dedicated veterinary team.

What about the lost bloodlines?

Our priority is the welfare of the dogs. Preserving bloodlines was the owner’s responsibility, not RSPCA’s. We are not in the business of breeding dogs or preserving bloodlines. We are in the business of rescuing dogs and preserving their health and wellbeing wherever possible. The fact that this is what concerns some people, when the photographs show the state these dogs were being kept in, is concerning to say the least.

This property was not suitable for that number of dogs and they were not being cared for appropriately, hence the decision to seize. The fact these dogs are of significant bloodlines does not mean they should be kept in large numbers in conditions that are not appropriate under the Act.

Animals used for showing or breeding deserve the same level of care, socialisation and love that any family dog receives. We will not accept that purebred dogs used for breeding are to be treated in any way differently or to a lesser standard than any other dog.

Will RSPCA make money from selling the dogs?

The costs of seizure, feeding, veterinary care and accommodation have already far outweighed what we could hope to earn from the sale of these dogs.

Many of the dogs will require ongoing behavioural therapy and retraining at our shelters and with foster parents. There is the cost of vaccinating, treating for fleas and worms, washing, feeding, vet checks, training, walking, socialising, de-sexing, and providing any other ongoing care needs.

As always, we will rely on the generosity, care and kindness of our army of volunteers, donors and hardworking staff. There is no nest egg, no big earn for RSPCA, and people who think like that, in such simple terms, are welcome to come and spend a day with us to see where the money goes, and see how there are no profits in the sale of rescued animals when things are done properly.

What about the owner?

The owner was kept informed at all times and was very cooperative with RSPCA. The owner had support from others throughout the day and was free to use the phone, come and go from the property, stay with the Inspectors or remain in the house.

We know only too well that the owner will be suffering a range of emotions, and will struggle. We treated the owner with compassion, dignity and respect at all times, but we do not apologise for making the dogs our priority. We have been and will continue to be available for the owner to assist where appropriate and where we can.

The damage of words
Our Inspectors, our call centre and customer service staff, our vet team, our animal attendants, our volunteers, our management – everyone at RSPCA – all work tirelessly, doing many unpaid hours, often in poor conditions and without a friendly human face in sight. We have a single shared passion for animals. This passion will not falter with name calling and disparaging remarks. The animals we care for, the faces we see every day speak more kind words than can ever be undone by others. 

What really hurts is knowing these words are having an impact, but that impact is only on the animals we are so desperate to help. Every dollar, every volunteer hour and every limited resource spent on these words is time taken away from animals in care and in need. 

Sometimes the people we meet do unspeakable things to animals. But others, people who are supposed to be on the side of animals, hurt them by sharing and promoting these remarks. We know, beyond all else, that the work we do is valuable, and the animals we do it for are worth every cent, every minute, every heartache and every sleepless night. 
Contact us

Our operations are out in the open. We are accountable. We are required to comply with laws in relation to how we enforce legislation, how we prosecute, how we obtain our money, and how we spend it. Our annual reports, our audited books, our operations on a daily basis, are out in the open.

RSPCA is 96% funded by donations. Every cent earned is spent working for animals. The more we earn - the more we can do for animals. It means more Inspectors on our roads, shelters across Queensland, animals taken in, veterinary and specialist care provided. It means more for animals across Queensland – full stop.

We welcome questions, we are happy to answer any concerns, and we always strive to do better. 

  • If you have a concern, contact us
  • If you hear something you don’t like about us, ask us about it

If you love animals, if you genuinely care, then work together with us – despite any differences we might have – so that we can all unite with the single goal of improving animal welfare – not our egos.

Call 07 3426 9999 (available 24/7) or email us [email protected].

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