RSPCAPNG GOVERNANCE AND FUNDING
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE RSPCAPNG?
RSPCAPNG stands for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Papua New Guinea Inc. The RSPCAPNG aims to improve the welfare of all animals in Papua New Guinea. We do this by providing welfare veterinary services for domestic and wild animals, providing education to people in the local communities about animal welfare, promoting public awareness on animal welfare and animal disease, by assisting local agencies in developing humane population management strategies for addressing issues involved in cat and dog overpopulation and by providing an adoption program for unwanted animals that are treated, desexed and rehomed.
HOW IS THE RSPCAPNG FUNDED?
The RSPCAPNG relies on public donations, sponsorship and subsidization for most of its activities. The RSPCAPNG currently does not receive money from the government to assist with the provision of veterinary care, education or rehoming of animals. The RSPCAPNG is currently under contract to manage NCDC pound contract, which covers the collection of stray and free-roaming dogs and cats.
WHERE DO THE “PROFITS” FROM THE VETERINARY CLINIC GO?
Proceeds generated from the medical and surgical veterinary services provided through our welfare veterinary clinic are used to directly support the RSPCAPNG’s operations, and covers everything from the care and rehoming of abandoned animals to covering the costs of staffing, maintenance and acquisition of medical equipment and other operational costs for the organization. All “surplus” income is invested directly into expanding available veterinary services, covering the cost of care for our shelter animals prior to rehoming, developing educational programs and campaigns to raise awareness regarding animal welfare issues, and covering the costs of clinic and shelter operations.
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: “WE’RE IN IT FOR THE MONEY”
One of the most common public misconceptions encountered in the veterinary and animal welfare industries is the assumption that by charging for veterinary care services, veterinary professionals and animal care workers “don’t care about the animals”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that medical care is costly for both humans and animals, particularly in Papua New Guinea, where inventory and equipment must be purchased overseas at prices based on the international economy, cost of living and veterinary market. Prices are further inflated by the costs associated with international freight, import permits, customs and duties, resulting in baseline prices that are, in fact, higher than those encountered by the veterinary and animal care industries in countries overseas. At present, 40% of the total revenue generated by fundraising, donations and veterinary clinic revenue is used cover costs of goods sold.
Approximately 10% of the revenue generated is used to provide care and treatments to the RSPCAPNG shelter animals prior to rehoming. All of the animals are examined, treated regularly with preventative treatments including vaccination, deworming and flea control, receive medical treatments for any illnesses or injuries, and are desexed prior to adoption. When addition funding is available, we are able to offer homes to more homeless and unwanted animals and provide them a second chance at life.
Staff wages and benefits account for approximately 30% of the gross revenue from the organization. Few charitable organizations are completely volunteer-run, particularly in a field where most of the employees have undergone post-secondary education to achieve the qualifications required for their respective jobs. Like any other organization, our employees have cost of living expenses and families to provide for, and although most donate a considerable amount of personal time outside of regular hours to working to support our organization, it is nearly impossible to survive without a means of income. In reality, even if every single staff member worked for nothing, this would only amount to a 30% discount on our services. The remaining revenue (approximately 20%) is used to cover the operating costs and additional costs involved in providing welfare and rehoming services to the public. In the rare cases where income exceeds expenses, any additional funding is used to purchase lifesaving medical equipment and expand our veterinary services.
In truth, our staff and volunteers, including our board members, have chosen to be a part of this organization based on their love for animals, and their desire to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. Our team makes recommendations based on providing the best possible care for your pet and ensuring public health and safety. We understand that preventative health care is considerably cheaper than treating your animal for disease, and will make recommendations to help reduce the likelihood of disease in your pet. At the end of the day, we want you to keep your pet for as long as possible, and we want to save as many of the unwanted and abandoned animals as possible.
THE RSPCAPNG IS SUPPOSED TO CARE FOR ANIMALS. WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY?
All organizations, including charities, required funding to continue operations. The RSPCAPNG must pay its staff, cover utilities and maintenance costs, purchase retail items, pet food and pharmaceuticals, and cover additional costs of caring for all of the unwanted, abandoned and surrendered animals that call the RSPCAPNG home. For example, even with donations of supplies, inventory and equipment, the cost to the RSPCAPNG for caring for one healthy shelter animal for a period of three months, ranges from approximately 350-400 PGK for a cat, and 500-550 PGK for a dog. The costs of caring for a hospitalized animal that requires medical or surgical treatment are much higher.
Please note that fees charged by the RSPCAPNG are fairly reasonable compared with private veterinary clinics overseas, despite the fact that inventory and equipment costs in Papua New Guinea are higher. Providing proper care to an animal is not cheap, and we do the best we can to reduce costs wherever possible. We strongly advocate for providing proper preventative care such as vaccination, deworming and flea control, which is considerably cheaper than treating diseases caused by these agents.
By paying your fees on time, you are helping to keep the RSPCAPNG running and allowing us to cover the costs of caring for the hundreds of abandoned, unwanted and homeless animals that are presented to the RSPCAPNG every year.
MY BILL IS TOO HIGH – I’M NOT PAYING
When you bring your pet the RSPCAPNG, you are asked to sign forms either releasing the animal to the RSPCAPNG (surrender) or client consent forms that discuss your commitment to paying your bills for medical and surgical treatments, as well as diagnostics testing and hospitalization. A deposit is often required prior to surgery, extended medical care or hospitalization. Unless it is an obvious emergency, the RSPCAPNG cannot accept an animal until these forms are signed and completed.
Once you have committed to the treatment plan provided by your veterinarian, the RSPCAPNG staff will provide you with regular updates as to the condition of your pet, will discuss treatment and diagnostic options, and will provide you with an update on the current bill and anticipated costs for ongoing treatment. Treatment is only continued on the understanding that you are aware of the charges incurred and will pay in full once the treatments are administered. Similar to human medicine, the outcome of any medical or surgical treatment cannot be guaranteed, although our staff will try to provide you with the most honest and accurate information possible regarding prognosis and likely outcome.
Refusal to pay your invoice once services have been rendered is similar to refusing to pay a medical bill or an electricity bill. In these unfortunate situations, the RSPCAPNG will be forced to take appropriate action to collect outstanding payments. Not only that, every outstanding invoice takes money away from shelter animals, reducing the number of animals we are able to take in off the streets. By refusing to pay your bill, you are knowingly and willingly limiting the number of stray and injured animals we are able to help.
WHY DO I NEED AN EXAMINATION TO GET MEDICATIONS FOR MY PET?
Under the Medicines and Cosmetics Act of 2002, Sec. 8, Reg. Sec. 50, number 1113, “Any new drug not yet listed by the Pharmacy Board” is a Prescription Only Medicine. A prescription medication must be prescribed by a veterinarian for a specific patient, for a specific condition, in a specific instance. In order for your veterinarian to provide a prescription, he or she must have sufficient knowledge about the patient to constitute a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship, in order to ensure that the medication is safe for the patient in question and appropriate for the condition being treated. By providing a prescription your veterinarian must have the following:
- The veterinarian has assumed responsibility for making medical decisions regarding the health of the patient in question.
- The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the patient to initiate a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the patient.
- The veterinarian is readily available for follow up or evaluation.
- The veterinarian provides oversight of treatment, compliance and outcome,
- All of the above is included in the medical record for the patient.
In most cases, your veterinarian will require, at a minimum, an annual examination in order to prescribe preventative medications such as flea and tick preventatives to your pet. Other prescriptions, such as antibiotics, will only be prescribed on a case by case basis based on a medical or surgical need for the specific medication.
DOG POPULATION MANAGEMENT
HOW IS THE RSPCAPNG ADDRESSING THE STRAY DOG POPULATION ISSUE?
In Papua New Guinea, the responsibility of addressing the stray and free-roaming animal populations generally falls to the sector of the local city council responsible for public health. The RSPCAPNG is responsible for managing the NCDC pound contract for the collection of stray and free-roaming dogs in public areas of the National Capital District and ensuring humane treatment of all animals during stray animal population management campaigns and helping to address the issue of irresponsible pet ownership, which is the root cause of pet overpopulation.
Currently, we are working closely with the NCDC to take in stray and free-roaming cats and dogs for the purpose of treatment and rehoming. Sadly, the number of unwanted and abandoned animals greatly exceeds the number of loving, forever homes available for adoption, and many of the animals brought into the shelter are severely injured, have been neglected and malnourished, or have been mistreated resulting in severe aggression towards people. In these cases, the RSPCAPNG team must make the difficult decision whether the animal can be treated and rehabilitated or whether to end its suffering through humane euthanasia.
The RSPCAPNG, the NCDC and local stakeholders are currently working together to investigate ways to address the root causes of pet overpopulation and to develop long-term methods of humane population control in dogs and cats.
IS THE RSPCAPNG OF PNG A “KILL” SHELTER?
Unfortunately, the distinction between a “kill-shelter” and a “no-kill shelter” is often misunderstood, and the terminology is often misleading to the public. Contrary to popular belief, the term “no kill” does not imply that a rescue organization does not euthanize any of the animals. In fact, it is generally accepted within the veterinary industry that the definition of “no kill” refers to a 90% or higher live release rate. As such, 10% of the animals from “no kill shelters” may die for an organization still to refer to itself as “no kill”. This is because in many cases, humane euthanasia is the best outcome for the animal. There will always be animals that are severely ill or injured and must be euthanized for health reasons or those who have been mistreated, resulting in significant aggression towards humans, which makes them dangerous to adopt out to the public. In order to maintain the “no-kill” parameters for live release rates, many no-kill organizations have limited admission, and may limit intakes only to those animals that are healthy and readily adoptable, or limit the number of animals they can take in to those they have room or funding to take in. In rare cases, efforts to maintain a no-kill status may result in prolonged shelter stays for many of the animals, which in turn can result in welfare concerns.
The RSPCAPNG is opposed to the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals, but accepts that euthanasia, at times, may be unavoidable, due to overpopulation or in the best interest of an individual animal. Although euthanasia is the final act of kindness that we can show a critically ill, seriously injured, or dangerous animal, it is viewed as an alternative, only after very careful consideration, and always as a last resort. Euthanasia of intakes and shelter animals is made on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the attending veterinarian, in consultation with shelter staff and volunteers. All decisions regarding euthanasia must take into consideration the well-being of the individual animal, as well as the shelter population as a whole in addition to the degree of compassion fatigue experienced by the shelter staff.
IF THE RSPCAPNG IS DOING ITS JOB, WHY ARE ANIMALS EUTHANIZED?
In Papua New Guinea as well as many other countries in Oceania, regulation and enforcement of animal welfare is in its infancy. With limited resources and out of necessity, other basic issues such as human health and welfare have a greater priority. The paucity of veterinary services to manage animal welfare issue and a lack of public education on animal rights and responsible pet ownership further exacerbate the issue. For many Papua New Guineans, pet ownership, particularly dogs, is out of utility and the need for guarding and protection, rather than companionship. As such, many pet owners abandon their animals when the cost of care exceeds the cost of replacement or when the animal’s utility has worn off. Unrestricted and irresponsible breeding practices, particularly with dogs, due to the limited availability of veterinary care, the prohibitive costs of veterinary treatment relative to the income of most families, and the lack of understanding and enforcement of responsible pet ownership, have result in the current dog overpopulation epidemic encountered in most parts of the country. The RSPCAPNG is certain that low cost spay/neuter programs and large-scale education and awareness on responsible pet ownership is of fundamental importance to addressing the issues of pet overpopulation. Right now, we simply do not have the resources required to undertake this type of program on the scale and magnitude required to make a measurable difference in the stray and free-roaming animal populations. However, even with adequate resources to provide low-cost services, what is really needed is for pet owners to become more responsible for their animals and to understand that pet ownership is a privilege, and not a right. While the stray animal population can be easily addressed, many of the country’s owners are to blame for the ongoing expansion of the free-roaming animal population. Irresponsible breeding practices and abandonment of animals that have lost their utility are the single largest contributing factors to the stray and free-roaming animal populations. A successful dog population management plan to effectively control the number of stray and unwanted animals requires a multifaceted approach including education and awareness to change the mindsets of the current population towards animal ownership. These types of changes happen overtime and cannot be expected to take place overnight.
WHY CAN’T THE RSPCAPNG JUST SAVE ALL OF THE ANIMALS?
Aside from the financial limitations previously discussed, the capacity of our shelter is limited. The shelter capacity for care is defined as the number of animals that can be housed in a shelter facility at any given period of time, while providing adequate humane care to satisfy the give freedoms of animal welfare. Every shelter has a maximum capacity for humane care, which is based on a number of factors, including the physical capacity of the facility, the adoption-driven capacity, and the staff capacity for daily care and flow through. Operating beyond this capacity is considered the be below the standard of ethical standards of care and is considered to be an unacceptable practice that can significantly jeopardize the welfare of animals within the shelter. The RSPCAPNG works hard to ensure the welfare of all of the animals in our care and has done statistical evaluations to determine the maximum capacity for humane care that we can accommodate.
Like all shelters, our shelter capacity is limited meaning that the number of cats and dogs we can safely house at the shelter at any given point in time without doing more harm than good is restricted. The RSPCAPNG’s main job is to ensure that those animals that are in our care have humane living conditions and can be rehomed. Overfilling of kennels leads to a higher risk of diseases, aggression between animals, increased levels of stress and an overall unhappy situation. The rules are in place for the welfare of the animals. While we would love to be able to take in every animal that is brought in, we ask the public to understand that this is not always possible. When we are unable to accept additional admissions, we ask the public to look at other options for rehoming such as providing temporary foster care facilities.
HOW CAN THE RSPCAPNG BE “FULL” IF THERE ARE STILL EMPTY KENNELS?
Sometimes you may see some empty kennels and assume there is space. These kennels may be “on hold” awaiting currently hospitalized or quarantined animals (who are in a different area away from the public for obvious reasons). Once these animals are healthy, they will need to be placed in these kennels. The RSPCAPNG does not wish to turn away any animal in need but we are constrained by space and our first rule, which is to uphold the welfare of those animals in our current care. Please help the RSPCAPNG do its job by getting your own pets desexed and help bring down the stray and unwanted animal population.
WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY A SURRENDER FEE?
The RSPCAPNG charges a per-animal surrender fee. While we never want to turn away an animal, these fees help to offset the costs of caring for your pet until he or she can be adopted, including food, cleaning, vaccinations and medical care.