RSPCA loses the plot over Lucky

Unlucky Lucky... Loss of the dog is really sad; the loss of yet another soldier is a genuine tragedy.

Get a grip, says MICHAEL MOORE. The RSPCA has really lost the plot. It’s a dog for heaven’s sake!

THE ACT Government should simply ignore the outrageous demands of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals chief Michael Linke in calling for a review of the pound policy of releasing dogs to the Department of Defence.

His impassioned criticism came with the discovery that a bomb-detector dog that was most likely killed in a fire fight in Afghanistan had originally come from the ACT pound.

The golden Labrador, ironically named Lucky, was an Explosive Detection Dog that has been declared “missing in action”. It was not able to be retrieved in the heat of battle in Helmand Province in early July and has still not been found.

I am an unabashed dog lover. I have even owned a beautiful golden Labrador. Dogs have always been part of my family life and our family gathers with other dog lovers and so many Canberrans to support the RSPCA through the Million Paws Walk each year. However, the household also includes people. And it is people who have the priority.

Congratulations not condemnation are in order to the Domestic Animal Service and the ACT Government for providing Lucky to Defence a year earlier. Lucky is a hero. The dog went to Afghanistan playing a bomb-detector role with the express purpose of saving the lives of Australian soldiers who are serving our country.

In the very fire fight in which Lucky disappeared Australia lost Sgt Todd Langley. The loss of the dog is really sad; the loss of yet another soldier is a genuine tragedy.

According to Michael Linke, the RSPCA “won’t home dogs into police combat situations, or military combat situations or as bomb detectors”. It does not believe governments and pounds should be doing this either.  He called for the Government and the pound to immediately review their policy. No! It should not.

I have huge respect for the work of the RSPCA but this approach is blinkered. There is no evidence of cruelty in training – in fact, the opposite is true. The dogs are not deliberately exposed to risk when it is not necessary. They are there to minimise risk and loss to our soldiers.

The official comment from the military spokesman was that accurate small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire prevented the immediate retrieval of Lucky. He added: “Unfortunately, Lucky was not recovered and, due to the tactical situation on the ground, we were unable to follow up after several hours of intense fighting. Despite repeated attempts to call him back, Lucky was last seen in the vicinity of a major insurgent concentration.”

The RSPCA response raises the broader issue of animals in society. We certainly do not condone animal cruelty – and the RSPCA, by its very name, has a responsibility to be a “watchdog” on this issue.

However, the RSPCA seems to be caught up in the growing movement around animal rights. Perhaps it is understandable why vegetarians may be committed to this movement, but for the vast majority of our community it makes no sense at all.

The bizarre nature of the animal rights movement is the larger the animal the greater the rights. It seems okay to commit huge expenditure in international courts, to run expensive disruption missions including piracy-like activity on the high seas and mount large efforts in bi-lateral diplomacy in order to protect whales.

Having cattle slaughtered without cruelty in Indonesia, debating the culling of kangaroos in Canberra and the live export of sheep all grab the attention of the community. Where is the comparable effort to protect the baby octopus, the slaughter of escargot or protection of the ecosystem of flies?

I remain a strong supporter of the RSPCA, but I want them to be focused on preventing animal cruelty as their name implies rather than being an extremist group advocating for some vague notion of “animal rights”.

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