PETS DYING IN AUSTRALIAN QUARANTINE DUE TO LACK OF CARE

PETS DYING IN AUSTRALIAN QUARANTINE DUE TO LACK OF CARE

0 have signed. Let’s get to 35,000!
At 35,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!

INTRODUCTION 

The Department of Agriculture has recently acknowledged that increasing numbers of pets are dying at their government run PEQ (Post Entry Quarantine) facility which is located in Mickleham, Victoria.

This Australian tax payer funded facility, is the only one in the entire country and houses tens of thousands of pets arriving into Australia every year for their mandatory 10 day quarantine period.
How many pets are losing their lives while undergoing quarantine? It is unknown as PEQ are protected from the Australian Freedom of Information Act 1982. However, we can’t help but wonder how many deaths could have been preventable, had the right level of care and procedures been put into place. 

The Department has failed in their duty of care and responsibility to the Australian public by not providing veterinarian care facilities required to keep pets healthy during their time in PEQ.

Unfortunately, this immoral oversight, can quickly turn into a cruel nightmare for pets and their owners. In addition, a deceased pet cannot be released to the grieving family and PEQ are unable to provide cremation services and release the ashes to their distraught owner. 

THE ISSUES

The key issues that need to be addressed are:

  • PEQ is staffed only by biosecurity and husbandry staff. There are no veterinarians or vet nurses in-house.
  • Pets are left unattended for 170 hours (17 hours per day) with staff availability only between the hours of 8am and 4pm.
  • Pets arriving from long international flights can be waiting as long as up to 48 hours for the initial PEQ health check when immediate attention may be required. To quote the department of Agriculture “International travel can cause them to de-stabilise and rapidly deteriorate.”
  • Stressed animals are likely to suffer from unwillingness to eat or drink during their stay.
  • Key care decisions are put on owners (who may be travelling or in a different time zone), meaning significant potential for delays in the provision of life saving care.
  • Same day emergency external vet availability is not guaranteed (and is often unlikely) and they can only attend during 8am and 4pm due to PEQ staffing hours.
  • On-site diagnostic tools, surgical facilities, and even basics, such as IV drips are not available.
  • PEQ is mandatory and there are not alternatives within Australia.

To think that a critically ill and/or dying animal is experiencing extreme discomfort, pain and suffering during the long period of unsupervised hours is not only unfathomable but unquestionably animal cruelty!

These animals are already suffering from stress and separation anxiety from their owners and it is not uncommon for pets in PEQ to be depressed and go off their food which in itself is dangerous, especially for smaller animals. 

Even during the supervisory hours, PEQ staff are heavily reliant on the pet owner's ability to organise a vet. In a large majority of cases, pet owners are still overseas in a different time zone or uncontactable due to being on a flight to Australia.

The owners in our experience are required to frantically search the names of emergency vets and a lot of the time, these vets are fully booked, or cannot get out to the animal the same day as PEQ closes at 4pm and therefore do not cater to the veterinarian’s schedule. Some of our members have been told a vet cannot go out on the Saturday, and the animal has gone at least three days before having access to veterinary care. 

What if a pet requires emergency life saving surgery with no veterinarian hospital available onsite? 

We strongly argue that every animal deserves the right to be rushed to a vet when it gets sick (as would be the case outside of PEQ) to be immediately alleviated of it’s symptoms. To have access to life saving surgery, fluids, around the clock veterinarian supervision when critically ill and to be humanely euthanized, should it be essential; instead of suffering a slow and very painful death.

The department has always negated the responsibility of providing adequate health care by suggesting a pet owner should reconsider flying their pets, if they have underlying health conditions. All the while readily accepting pets that require medication and have pre-existing health issues. This is extremely weak reasoning on the department’s part.

The bottom line is that all veterinarians are legally required to sign off that the pet(s) in question are fit to fly. A lot of our members have flown to Australia with pets who are considered elderly and have medical issues including being diabetic and have successfully completed their time in quarantine. 

Flying a young animal with no pre-existing conditions is no guarantee that an animal won’t fall sick during quarantine and won’t require emergency care, as once an animal takes sick, it can go down hill very quickly. Especially in the case of smaller animals, where this could be a lot less than 17 hours.

The department of Agriculture might want to callously view people’s pets as nothing more than potential bio- specimens but to their owners they are very muched loved members of their family. Our members spend thousands of dollars to ship their pets back to Australia. They go through very strong emotions of stress, anxiety and guilt, worrying about their wellbeing and safety. To PEQ, these pets might mean nothing but to their owners they mean absolutely everything. 

There is no competition for Australian PEQ, as government policy does not allow for the privatisation of this service. Which means that a poor level of service does not result in a negative impact on PEQ, unlike in a free market.

Due to a common occurrence of pets going off the food provided by PEQ, pets are going days without eating, therefore requiring being seen by a vet. It can take several days for our members to have food deliveries sent to PEQ and some have resorted to sending Uber Eats roast chickens to their starving pets.

When considering these issues, it is important to take into account the adverse psychological (and potentially financial) impacts of confronting PEQ staff with suffering animals and providing them with almost no ability to help. This will cost the consumer and government significantly, as well as further impact animal care, due to nothing more than ill conceived Department of Agriculture governance. 

The Department of Agriculture is broadly exempt from the freedom of information act, making it able to hide statistics and data pertaining to the health and welfare of imported animals. It also allows the department to avoid answering direct questions relating to care. This obfuscates key information and restricts improvements to services that are mandatorily forced on Australians returning home with their animals.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

  • It’s absolutely vital that PEQ hire in-house veterinarians and vet nurses to be able to attend to a sick animal without delay. This would include building a small veterinary emergency hospital on site that provides 24 hour emergency veterinary care with operating facilities, X-ray, ultrasound and basic diagnostic equipment as well as the ability to provide around the clock supervision for critically ill animals. 
  • Provide reasonable veterinary costs or government supplements, inline with what’s being charged in the community i.e. not overcharging.
  • Reduce the time required to perform initial health checks when animals arrive into PEQ from the unacceptable  “up to 48 hours “ to immediately! These animals have endured long international travel and there is no limit to the immediate attention they may require! 
  • Hire overnight husbandry staff to provide continuous supervision round the clock for pets as periods of up to 17 hours without supervision is unacceptable. 
  • Simplify the import processes in order to:
    Reduce the stress on owners and pets
    Allow for treatments that meet requirements and are less likely to cause allergic reactions (eg. For flea and tick treatments).
  • Make processes more reliable/predictable, being more in-line with NZ processes.
  • PEQ needs to provide options and proactive measures to address common complaints, such as pets not eating the food provided. This could include (and not be limited to) staff being enabled to collect a variety of meals and add the cost to the final bill.
  • PEQ should hire in-house groomers for animals that require grooming due to medical or biohazard reasons.
  • Allow for at least one option:
  • Ensure that PEQ must adhere to the Freedom of Information Act in order to publicise successes and failures alike.
  • Allow for privatisation of PEQ facilities specifically for the importing of pets in multiple locations across Australia.
  • Collaboration with the Victorian government to ensure pet owners (or an appropriate representative) can collect their animals when the when border movement is restricted.

Please note that PEQ is currently booked several months in advance, so there is significant demand to be able to address concerns around costs.

FUNDING 

PEQ is a state of the art facility that cost Australian taxpayers a whopping $379 million to build! 

They have 144 hectares to monetise not only with dog and cat quarantine but also compounds for plants (complete with laboratory testing) and multiple compounds for animals such as bees, avian, ruminant, horses including big money from racing horses!

Given the revenue they already receive. It’s reasonable to assume they have the budget to implement our suggestions. Especially taking into consideration when comparing costs and facilities in New Zealand, which provide a better, more consistent service and adhere to the same level of governance and regulation as the Australian facility.

RESOURCES

https://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/industry-advice/2021/172-2021

https://petsflyingtoaustralia.com

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 35,000!
At 35,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!