Over Capacity Hits Wildlife Hospital in Wacol, Injured Koala Denied Treatment

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Queensland is facing criticism raising concerns about the organisation’s capacity to care for wildlife in need, after its Wildlife Hospital in Wacol turned away a severely injured koala because they were allegedly “too busy.”

The ordeal began when a koala was viciously attacked by a dog in the Scenic Rim region Thursday, 21 Sept 2023. The injured marsupial was in desperate need of veterinary attention. 

However, the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital in Wacol, reportedly declined to treat the wounded koala, instead diverting it to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast, a journey that would take approximately 2.5 

Wildlife Rescue Sunshine Coast, an organisation that has been advocating for an inquiry into the RSPCA following a series of controversies, strongly condemned this decision. They pointed out that the Brisbane Wildlife Hospital could have, at the very least, offered to stabilise the injured animal, provide pain relief, sedation, and possibly administer a drip to ensure a more comfortable journey to Currumbin. 

An RSPCA Queensland spokeswoman responded to the criticism, explaining that the Brisbane Wildlife Hospital had been overwhelmed with 22 koala cases during the week, which exceeded the capacity of their veterinary team and facilities. 

Apparently, the hospital had been caring for 130 other animals simultaneously.

RSPCA koala
Photo Credit: Laura Barry/Unsplash

RSPCA Queensland emphasised that they treated the highest number of wildlife cases in the southeast, admitting 24,000 native animals in the past year, a significant increase compared to 8,359 a decade ago. 

The spokesperson highlighted the urgent need for a new purpose-built facility to address capacity issues and better support wildlife care in South East Queensland.

The incident comes amidst a turbulent period for RSPCA Queensland, with ongoing controversies including an independent whistleblower investigation and public outcry over executive bonuses. The organisation is also currently facing unfair dismissal claims by two former executives who allege they were terminated for exposing “maladministration, misconduct, and corruption.” 

Published 28-Sept-2023

Funding Boost For RSPCA QLD’s Pets In Crisis Program

RSPCA Queensland, which has an animal care campus in Wacol, has received $200,000 in funding for the expansion of its Pets in Crisis program.

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The support will provide places for more than 240 additional pets, almost doubling the capacity of the program, which already cares for around 300 animals each year.

The Pets in Crisis Program is a partnership between RSPCA and DVConnect. It was established in 2005 to provide a safe house for the pets of individuals at serious risk of domestic violence.

Photo credit: RSPCA QLD/Facebook

RSPCA and DVConnect both welcome the additional funding as it will allow them to continue to offer pets a safe haven and provide their owners with reassurance their beloved companions will be well cared for during their time of need.

RSPCA QLD CEO Darren Maier said on average animals in the Pets in Crisis program will stay about a month with RSPCA staff or carers, which can equate to 4,000 care days annually, plus veterinary expenses.

Beck O’Connor, CEO of DV Connect, said their aim is to make sure victims of violence are supported across a range of services that enables them to safely leave their situation.

“No-one should have to choose between escaping abuse or leaving their pets behind in an unsafe home. The expansion of this program will help us support more Queenslanders to safety,” said Ms O’Connor.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women, and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Shannon Fentiman, said the program was vital in protecting women and children.

rspca wacol
Photo credit: RSPCA QLD/Facebook

“Pets are often used as part of coercive and controlling behaviour, with perpetrators threatening pets to control and intimidate their partner and children,” Minister Fentiman said.

Minister Fentiman added that providing safe and emergency accommodation for pets, gives victims greater comfort that they can leave the dangerous situation they are facing.

“It’s incredibly sad that not only are families inflicted with fear, intimidation and harm, but their pets are also subjected to violence,” Minister Fentiman said.

In 2021, Minister Fentiman visited the RSPCA animal care campus in Wacol and saw first-hand the quality of the program.

pets in crisis
Photo credit: RSPCA QLD/Facebook

Minister Fentiman said victims can reach out to DVConnect which liaises with the RSPCA to find temporary accommodation for pets at either an RSPCA shelter or with trained foster carers.

Women who need to seek refuge but who are unable to find care for their pets can contact the DVConnect 24 hour crisis line on 1800 811 811.

DVConnect will work directly with RSPCA Qld to find temporary care for their pets at either an RSPCA Animal Care Centre across the State or with trained RSPCA foster carers.