Code of Practice

General provisions for the care of sick, injured or orphaned protected animals | back

  1. General provisions for the care of sick, injured or orphaned protected animals
    1. The broad objectives of the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned protected animals are to:
      1. relieve suffering in sick, injured or orphaned protected animals by providing appropriate husbandry and care, pain relief, veterinary treatment when required, and timely euthanasia in cases with a poor prognosis
      2. contribute to the conservation of nature by promptly returning suitably rehabilitated animals to their native habitats.
    2. Additional outcomes of the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned protected animals include:
      1. contribution to the body of knowledge on the ecology, conservation, management, veterinary care, husbandry and behaviour of native animal species
      2. contribution to the education of the general public, business and industry professions on issues related to the conservation and welfare of native animals.
    3. Meeting the ‘capacity to care’ concept:
      1. The concept of ‘capacity to care’ relates to the capacity of a rehabilitator or rehabilitation organisation to provide for the essential needs of rescued animals as well as have the resources necessary to appropriately prepare wildlife for release back into the wild.
      2. When a person’s or organisation’s capacity to care is exceeded, unacceptable standards of animal care or welfare may result. This is likely to occur when the need for rescue and rehabilitation services exceeds the ability of rehabilitators and organisations to provide appropriate care. This is particularly so when major environmental or other events result in significantly increased wildlife casualties.
      3. Rehabilitators and rehabilitation organisations should be mindful of their respective capacities to care, particularly when there is an influx of wildlife requiring care due to major incidents like bushfire, significant weather events and other natural disasters.
      4. When the capacity to care is exceeded and animal welfare standards are likely to be compromised, there are three acceptable management options, which are, in order of preference:
        1. referral of animals to another licensed individual or organisation with a current capacity to care for that species
        2. increase the capacity to care by increasing or pooling resources
        3. lower the euthanasia threshold in combination with early triage of newly rescued wildlife and proper veterinary assessment and prognosis of animals in care.
      5. Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organisations should develop protocols and procedures that clearly define appropriate actions and responses in the event of catastrophic events or other circumstances in which the defined capacity to care may be exceeded.
        For example: Policies and procedures relating to the establishment of good communication, collaboration and pooling of resources between organisations during major wildlife events.
      6. The lowering of animal welfare standards such that they are not consistent with this code is not an acceptable response to exceeding the capacity to care.
      7. In circumstances that involve major or catastrophic events and where the capacity to care is exceeded, lowering the threshold for euthanasia is a more appropriate response than not rescuing animals in distress.

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