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From the barnyard to the backyard

 article about From the barnyard to the backyard
2005-04-17 22:33:44

They are more accustomed to the barnyard than the backyard.

Sporting hoofs, horns and feathers, they jostle for space beside the cages of domestic dogs, cats and rabbits that find their way to the Sydney, Australia headquarters of the RSPCA.

But unlike their fellow animal refugees, these chickens, goats, calves, pigs, ducks and geese are more likely to be euthanised because it is harder to find them homes.

RSPCA chief veterinarian, Dr Mark Lawrie, said stricter council rules were partly to blame for the influx of livestock.

``There are increasing complaints of noise pollution,and local government rules now put limitations on the keeping of animals like birds,'' Dr Lawrie said.

``Roosters, for instance, are inherently noisy they tend to crow. Hens are a better option for rehoming in the city.

``But then again it's a bit much to rehome them in a townhouse in Abbotsford the neighbours would be throwing bricks through your windows.''

Dr Lawrie said most of the RSPCA's hard luck cases tended to come from the poorer fringe areas of Sydney where animals were often neglected.

Take Jimmy the kid (as in goat) for instance. He was found by the side of the road at Picton in NSW barely three days old, huddling next the the corpse of his dead mother, a road accident victim.

Or Toby the Murray Gray calf, who was rescued from a home on Sydney's urban fringe suffering from severe joint infections. His owners surrendered him during a routine RSPCA inspection.

And then there is Ginger the pig. RSPCA carers suspect she may be an escapee from a commercial piggery who managed a Babe-style escape to the big city as a piglet. Or perhaps she was owned by someone enchanted with her as a baby who turned her loose

when she outgrew the confines of a suburban backyard.

``The animals come from a number of different

sources,'' Dr Lawrie said.

``Where they come from before they arrive here, who knows? Some literally fall off the back of a truck during transport. We often see animals during inspections that we take into care, some of which we have to humanely look at putting to sleep.

``Sometimes we'll visit properties that have been abandoned and we bring the animals in that have been left roaming around. Other times people can no longer afford to keep them and they are surrendered.''

Naturally the hardest part of the job for staff is putting down the animals, which have ended up at the shelter through no fault of their own.

``It's difficult. We don't like putting animals to sleep, but it all gets down to space. We hold what animals we can, but if we can't find homes for them we have to put them to sleep,'' Dr Lawrie said.

``They need to go to places where people know what they're taking on and have the time and space to care for them.

``Animals like pigs need a bit more forethought. You just can't have them in the city. It's alright when these animals are little, but one day they do grow up.''

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