Stop The Clock » support Abolish the 28 Day Rule for Victorian Shelters Thu, 30 Jun 2011 03:03:46 +0000 en hourly 1 Labor Indicates Intention to Abolish Arbitrary Deadline for Animals Thu, 25 Nov 2010 03:02:10 +0000 Mike Bailey I’ve spent several hours discussing this with the Ministers office and have been assured that they ‘get it’. The statement has been approved for release by the Minister. I think we’ve been heard.

The law in the Code of Practice for the management of dogs and cats in shelters and pounds is more than 20 years old so its important that this year we decided to review the code so we could take the necessary steps to ensure the great work that animal foster carers do can continue.

This review of the Code will be presented to the next Agriculture Minister after the election. What we will do if re-elected  is make sure that foster carers are recognised under a new Code and no longer have to be registered as a domestic animal business.

It will mean foster carers can continue doing their great work but also include minimum standards to ensure all animals are protected.

Labor will also end the maximum 28-day holding rule that currently exists in shelters and pounds that means animals are euthanased when there could be an opportunity to find them a new home.

Instead of a time limit, it will move to a case-by-case individual assessment basis and we’re confident that this will mean more animals find new homes and less animals are euthanased.

This is all part of a comprehensive package that Labor has put forward to protect animals and this can be found by visiting

Joe Helper
Minister for Agriculture

]]> 2
Stonnington Council Endorses Campaign Sat, 20 Nov 2010 10:12:22 +0000 Mike Bailey UPDATE: The Council voted unanimously to support our campaign to remove the 28 Day Rule!

Stonnington Council plan to vote on endorsing our campaign to remove Victoria’s 28 Day Rule for Shelters. As a council committed to saving the lives of lost pets, Stonnington are being proactive in calling for the removal of this unnecessary restriction. The vote is expected to occur late on Monday night’s meeting.

Campaign to abolish 28 Day Rule imposed on Animal Shelters

Manager: Bernard Mulholland

General Manager: Connie Gibbons


The purpose of this report is to advise Council of a campaign to seek the removal of the existing 28 day restriction on the keeping of dogs and cats in pounds and shelters. The campaign organiser is seeking support for this position from animal welfare agencies, Councils and shelters.


Council received an email request from advising that a campaign called had been commenced to seek the State Government to abolish the 28-day rule imposed on Victorian shelters for the holding of unowned dogs and cats. The Code of Practice for the management of dogs and cats in shelters and pounds requires:

The maximum time any animal selected for sale can be held at a shelter is four weeks. At the conclusion of this period, the animal must be euthanised or permanently removed from the facility, for example, by placement in a foster program.

The campaign organiser claims that the above restriction results in the unnecessary killing of many cats and dogs for no reason other than to comply with the Code. He further advises that no other Australian State or Territory imposes such a restriction and that the restriction only applies to unowned animals (breeding and boarding facilities do not carry a time limit). The organiser suggests that shelters should be trusted to assess the needs of the individual dogs and cats that they deem suitable for rehousing.

While not stated in the email, it is assumed that the campaign is not seeking the abolition of euthanasia of impounded animals that are not able to be rehoused, rather to have greater flexibility in rehousing suitable animals. This can be important in the case of injured or sick animals where the current time restriction may not allow sufficient time for the animal to recover and be rehomed.


In discussion with Save a Dog Scheme (SADS), which operates Council’s Pound, they advise that the removal of this restriction would provide them with an appropriate amount of time to find suitable owners for stray and abandoned animals especially dogs. While stray and abandoned cats present in greater numbers and rehousing is less successful, the removal of the restriction would allow for increased rehoming. With over 35,000 cats euthanased in Victoria each year, the opportunity through extended rehoming periods and other population strategies to allow for more cats to be purchased should be considered. SADS have advised the organiser of their support to the campaign.

The Labor Government issued a press release on 27 October 2010 stating a re-elected Government would “extend the maximum holding period for animals in shelters and pounds to allow more animals to be rehabilitated and re-housed”. The Bureau of Animal Welfare, which issues the Code of Practice, views the restriction as an appropriate method of ensuring that pounds and shelters are not overstocked with stray and abandoned animals that the operators cannot rehome. In recommending amendments to the Code regarding fostering, the Bureau recently recommended that the current 28 days could be extended to 36 days to allow for increased rehoming without significant impact. Pounds and shelters are stressful places for animals and the purpose of a time limit is to ensure that animals do not remain in shelters for so long that their health or behaviour are negatively affected, perhaps permanently, due to institutionalisation.

An unintended outcome of removing the limits could be overcrowding or a reduction in available spaces for new animals in pounds and shelters that are occupied by long-term animals, particularly cats. In Stonnington’s case, the issue of overcrowding would be regulated through the terms of our agreement with the pound operator that required the operator to ensure sufficient space is available for the reception of new stray and abandoned animals from Stonnington and Boroondara. Our Pound operator, SADS, also has the advantage of utilising its recently acquired Yarrambat property to hold animals while permanent homes can be found.

The Victorian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) is a non-statutory committee constituted by the Minister of Agriculture to provide advice on animal welfare issues. The Committee includes representatives from the RSPCA, Animals Australia, the Australian Veterinary Association and the MAV, among others. The proposal to extend or eliminate the maximum holding period for animals in shelters and pounds has not been raised with the Committee at this time.

Human Rights Consideration

This recommendation complies with the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.


The imposition of a time restriction on the rehoming of stray and abandoned dogs and cats has the potential for suitable animals to be destroyed due to a lack of time to find a proper owner. By removing this restriction within the Code of Practice, shelter operators would be provided with greater flexibility in determining the amount of time necessary to find a permanent home for these animals. In the case of the Stonnington Pound, any potential for overcrowding is able to be regulated through the Operating Agreement.


That Council:

1. Advises the organiser of the StoptheClock campaign of its support for the removal of the 28-day rule for the holding of dogs and cats in Pounds and Shelters

2. Advises the Bureau of Animal Welfare and the Chair of the Victorian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee of Council’s support for the removal of the 28-day rule for the holding of dogs and cats in Pounds and Shelters.

Stonnington Council Agenda/Notice Paper 22 Nov 2010

]]> 0
Even More Press Coverage! Tue, 16 Nov 2010 01:00:14 +0000 Mike Bailey

Pets dying to find a new home


THE Keysborough Animal Shelter has joined a growing campaign to change state rules requiring shelters to kill animals not rehoused within 28 days.

Under Department of Primary Industry guidelines, dogs and cats selected for sale can only be held at shelters for four weeks. After that time they must be adopted or killed.

Online campaign Stop the Clock is calling for the abolition of a time limit.

Volunteer dog walker Denise Harrison said some animals needed longer to be adopted.

“It seems unfair to impose a time limit. I don’t see why anyone would think it was a bad idea to change the rule,” Ms Harrison said.

“It can take a little bit of time for shelters to find the right family and sometimes larger dogs need every one of those 28 days.”

Keysborough Animal Shelter treasurer Christine Giles said the refuge supported a rule change.

“We would like to see it changed,” Ms Giles said.

She said the shelter’s large open spaces and numerous volunteers ensured animals were well cared for.

“We have big exercise yards. Every dog gets out for exercise at least once a day,” Ms Giles said.

Victoria is the only state in Australia that imposes a limit on how long shelters can keep dogs and cats before adoption.

Animal Aid general manager Nell Thompson said the restriction did nothing to improve conditions.

“It can force shelters and rescue services into having to play an adversarial role with the community and their supporter base,” Ms Thompson said.

Mordialloc Chelsea Leader, 16 Nov 2010

]]> 0
More Media Coverage Mon, 15 Nov 2010 21:30:13 +0000 Mike Bailey

Dying to find a new home


VICTORIAN animal shelters and pounds want a rule abolished that requires them to destroy cats and dogs that have not been rehoused or gone into foster care within 28 days.The code of practice they operate under says “the maximum time any animal selected for sale can be held at a shelter is four weeks. [Then] it must be euthanased or permanently removed from the facility, for example, by placement in a foster program”.

Victoria is the only state that imposes an arbitrary limit on how long shelters can offer animals for adoption.

A campaign called Stop The Clock is pushing for a change.

Organiser Mike Bailey said shelters were required to keep animals for collection by their owners for eight days, then they became the property of the shelter.

“If the rule to euthanise wasn’t there, then shelters could decide for themselves what to do with the animals.

“Shelters should not be forced to kill pets they are trying to re-home.”

Trish Bourke, of the Pets Haven Shelter in Woodend, said destroying animals was

barbaric and outdated.

“I think it is disgusting that Victoria is the only state that has this policy. The clock is ticking from the day they arrive.

“What I want to emphasise is the human element. You have to think how euthanising perfectly healthy pets affects those who are forced to do it. You look into the big brown eyes of a puppy or kitten, and then inject them. It’s something that stays with you.”

State Agriculture Minister Joe Helper said the government would look at amending the legislation to allow more time for animals to be rehabilitated and rehoused.

Macedon Ranges Weekly, 16 Nov 2010

]]> 1
Lort Smith Opposes Arbitrary Limit Wed, 10 Nov 2010 09:41:51 +0000 Mike Bailey

The Lort Smith Animal Hospital agrees that animals that are not re-homed before any arbitrarily set  period, that are also coping well under shelter conditions, should not have to be removed  from the shelter as a result of being at the shelter for that arbitrary period – and if they are not coping well, that is of course where having a well established foster program for them to transition to is essential and delivers enormous benefit.

It is beholden on the shelter system to ensure that there are clear parameters and guidelines in place (developed in association with veterinarians and  behaviouralists) on what behaviours are symptomatic of stress and what triggers are in place to determine when an animal needs an alternative location to continue their recovery towards re-homing.

Liz Walker

Chief Executive Officer

Lort Smith Animal Hospital

]]> 0
Geelong Advertiser Reports Tue, 09 Nov 2010 12:04:26 +0000 Mike Bailey The second week of our campaign saw it being reported on radio and the press. The story below in the Geelong Advertiser resulted in hundreds of readers giving feedback in the form of comments or Facebook ‘Likes’.

How long can the Minister, Joe Helper, refuse to listen to the voice of reason?

Pup death penalty fight

November 5th, 2010

CLOCK'S TICKING: Lucky the terrier may struggle to live up to his name.

VICTORIA’S animal shelters are demanding an end to the rule that requires them to put down cats and dogs that haven’t been adopted within 28 days.

Victoria is the only remaining Australian state to impose an arbitrary limit on how long shelters can spend seeking new owners for their animals.

Geelong Animal Welfare Society manager Robyn Stewart said the current limit was far too short.

Have your say on the feedback form below

“You can’t re-home puppies in four weeks if a mother comes in with with brand new puppies,” she said.

“Longer would make it much easier for us to abide by the legislation. More time would give us a grace period to get animals well enough, fit enough and fat enough for sale.”

Several animal rights groups and animal shelters have demonstrated strong opposition to the current law. The new online campaign, www.stoptheclock., is calling for this restriction to be abolished and has been endorsed by animal welfare groups including the RSPCA Victoria, the Lost Dogs Home and Animal Aid.

The campaign’s Facebook group had over 2500 members join up in its first week alone.

The controversial piece of legislation is found in the Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds, which specifies that “the maximum time any animal selected for sale can be held at a shelter is four weeks”.

Geelong Advertiser

]]> 1
Animal Aid Opposes Adoption Deadline Mon, 01 Nov 2010 22:14:41 +0000 Mike Bailey

Animal Aid believes that every one of our fellow creatures is entitled to be treated with respect and compassion and have its individual needs and experiences taken into account as part of their assessment, rehabilitation and ultimately adoption.

The 28 day time limit does not allow the individual to be taken into account and is an arbitrary time frame that deserves review.

Simply putting an end to life at the end of a statutory holding period does nothing to improve the outcomes for shelter animals in the wider community. It can force shelters and rescue services into having to play an adversarial role with the community and their supporter base, not to mention the emotional implications for the staff and volunteers.

Animal Aid believes that all efforts must be made to enrich the restrictive, stressful and inadequate shelter environment. The welfare and rehabilitation of the individual concerned must always be a priority, no matter how long the animal concerned is held.

Nell Thompson

General Manager

Victorian Animal Aid Trust (Animal Aid)

]]> 0
Pets Haven Wants End to Deadline Fri, 29 Oct 2010 09:02:25 +0000 Mike Bailey

For many years now healthy animals have been killed in pounds and shelters. The 28 day rule is enforced and all pounds/shelters must comply. Not only are healthy animals being killed for an unnecessary reason but this ruling has placed emotional stress on the people who work within these pounds and shelters.

It has been proven in every other state than Victoria and across the world, animals do cope, loving homes are found and many animals for various reasons require a longer period than others in finding homes. Pets Haven encourages our Government to move forward, ensure our animals are given the time they need to find a home; we can’t make up for the past killings of healthy animals and the stress that this has caused many people who work within the field, but we can make changes and we need to make them now.

Trish Bourke

Pets Haven Animal Shelter

]]> 0
RSPCA Rejects Deadline for Animals Thu, 28 Oct 2010 02:30:50 +0000 Mike Bailey

The RSPCA believes that holding periods for animals within shelters and pounds should not be restricted to arbitrary time frames. We have tirelessly lobbied the Victorian State Government to move away from the 28-day holding period and in late October, we were delighted with the announcement that the Labour government would extend holding periods for pounds and shelters if re-elected.  We commend Labor on their planned animal welfare initiatives, including their active review of the 28-day holding period and their promise to strengthen the foster care arrangements to improve welfare outcomes.   These changes to legislation will have a significant impact on rehabilitation and re-homing rates at RSPCA shelters, allowing us to provide extensive medical treatment or behavioural training for as long as needed.  This would also allow our expert behaviourists and veterinarians to evaluate an animal’s welfare on a case-by-case basis, always ensuring welfare is never compromised.

Such a change to legislation would give RSPCA animals the best chance of being re-homed and would be a win for animals in Victoria.

Maria Mercurio


RSPCA Victoria

]]> 2
Cat Protection Society Lends Support Wed, 27 Oct 2010 12:09:15 +0000 Mike Bailey

The CPS supports a change to the Code regarding the 28 day rule. CPS has been actively involved in the writing group established by the Government which is currently reviewing the Code and we have lobbied strongly for no specific time frame but rather periodic health and temperament reviews to ensure the welfare of the animal is safeguarded and the rehabilitation/medical treatment plans are effective and the animal is progressing towards being rehomed. This is to ensure pounds and shelters allocate adequate resources to such programs and safeguards against a hoarding situation developing.

Socialised cats generally adapt far more readily to confinement than dogs and their temperament improves rather than deteriorates with time if appropriate handling, enrichment and housing is provided – 28 days is not the defining time to make a decision on this and we therefore support change.

Carole Webb
Executive Director

]]> 0