Further to our statement published on 3 October 2023, Pets Haven wishes to set the record straight in regard to an unbalanced article published today in the Herald Sun newspaper.

A pet shelter such as Pets Haven can be likened to an emergency department at a hospital. Just like the hospital emergency department, many of the animals that arrive at Pets Haven are already suffering a health crisis. The Herald Sun article is equivalent to going to the emergency department of the Royal Melbourne Hospital and blaming the hospital for causing the injuries and illnesses.

Many animals come to our clinic to be re-homed and it is a disappointing truth that many of these animals have not enjoyed a healthy or rewarding life prior to arriving at Pets Haven. We regularly receive animals that are malnourished, injured, diseased or mistreated in some way. They are often scared, timid and in unfamiliar surroundings.

All of the animals we receive are provided prompt veterinary treatment. Some animals require urgent and significant veterinary intervention. Pets Haven have qualified veterinary practitioners on staff who are either on site or available on call. All Pets Haven veterinary practitioners are fully licensed and must at all times comply with a large array of government legislation, including Veterinary Practice Act 1997, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, the Domestic Animals Act 1994 and many other acts of the Victorian Parliament and associated regulations.

On rare occasions, we receive animals that are in extremely poor health. Whilst everything is done to save these animals, due to the irretrievable state of health, there are rare occasions where it is in the best interest of the animal that it be euthanised or transferred to another clinic for further care. The management team at Pets Haven, since taking over from the previous owner, has reduced the euthanasia rate by nearly 350% and we are striving to reduce it further.

In the Herald Sun article, there are a number of incorrect statements that have the capability to mislead a reader. We have identified those statement below and provided our specific response.

1. “clinic filled with faeces, urine and blood”

This allegation is not true. Every cage is cleaned each morning and, should an animal soil an enclosure or become injured, the animal is taken for a walk or transferred to a new enclosure and the soiled enclosure is cleaned immediately. On occasion, an animal is soiled or injured in transit to us. In each case the animal is transferred to a clean area and the enclosure is properly cleaned. The habitat for shelter animals is strictly regulated and Pets Haven complies with these regulatory obligations. Further, RSPCA have not made any compliant or issued an order against Pets Haven for any such unhygienic conditions.

2. “dogs being left without food or water”

This allegation is not true. This is a primary requirement, and we are strict in ensuring that all animals have clean water at all times. Food is provided twice daily to adult animals and three times daily for juvenile animals. It is not healthy or hygienic to leave uneaten food with animals 24 hours of the day.

3. “Infectious animals are not always treated in a timely manner.”

This allegations is not true. All animals are identified and assessed each morning including new arrivals that come to the shelter overnight. Each animal is assessed against a thorough checklist prepared in consultation with the veterinarian staff. Any animal that is showing signs of health issues is immediately referred for further veterinary assessment.

It should be noted that animals requiring further veterinary care may take several days to recover and an observer of a sick animal may not be aware the animal is already under veterinary supervision with a comprehensive health treatment plan.

4. “There were 10 puppies with parvovirus and (management) refused to take them to another vet because it would cost too much”

This allegation is not true. On the night of the 13th of September 2023, Pets Haven received 15 puppies (10 from one litter and 5 from another). The two litters were in separate enclosures but were delivered to Pets Haven after hours in the same vehicle. For this reason, all 15 puppies were quarantined immediately upon arrival. Within hours, a Pets Haven veterinary practitioner assessed each of the 15 puppies in question and prepared a health treatment plan. Of the 15 puppies, 10 tested positive to parvovirus (all from the same litter). The following day, the health of 5 of the 10 affected puppies deteriorated further. Pets Haven contacted the Animal Protection Society to see if they had the capability to assist with the very sick 5 puppies. Unfortunately they could not take the puppies. Pets Haven staff were in frequent contact throughout the day with the veterinarian to monitor the health of the puppies.

Ultimately, care of the 10 infected puppies was transferred to the RSPCA, which occurred promptly on the evening of the 15th of September.

5. “the clinic is often understaffed and overrun with animals, which makes it difficult – if not impossible – for the employees to appropriately care for them”

This allegation is not true. Pets Haven far exceeds the regulatory ratio of staff to animals and at all times puts animal welfare as the highest priority.

6. “Medical treatment has at times also been denied to seriously sick animals or delayed, with no vets on site on Friday, Saturday afternoon, Sunday and after hours”

This allegation is misleading. It is not practical to have veterinary staff on site 24 hours, 7 days a week. Veterinary staff are on call and available in situations of emergency and onsite staff often consult after hours with veterinary staff for the care and treatment of sick animals. Pets Haven also employs animal nurses and we do take animals to the vet’s home where necessary in after hours situations. At all times the health and well being of our animals is appropriately catered.

7. “there was no vet on site to tend to the dying puppies when they arrived, which led to their seizure by inspectors”

This statement is misleading. The puppies arrived at night and the vet attend immediately in the morning. We refer to our response at #4 above.

8. “animal welfare at the facility went “downhill” from July that year”

This allegation is offensive and untrue. Pets Haven has invested significantly and replaced old and ineffective equipment, implemented proper protocols and procedures, trained staff in the better health and well-being of animals and reduced total quantity of animals held at the shelter (as compared with the prior management). Importantly, the euthanasia rate has decreased significantly since new management took over the shelter.

9. “the new owners “saw every animal that walked through their doors as dollar signs”

This comment is offensive. Whilst we are a privately run business, our primary objective is to provide quality care for animals and to give the animals an opportunity to find their forever home.

10. “The veterinary clinic is equipped to care for 50 animals but was found by inspectors last year with close to 200, its offices and corridors crammed with cages full of kittens and puppies”

In our first few months of taking over the business, the new Pets Haven team was adapting to the condition of the facility and intake of animals as it was operated by the previous owner. At times in those initial periods, there were too many animals but this has been rectified and is now strictly managed. Pets Haven now rarely holds more that 50% of the maximum allowable animal numbers. This is done at the expense of the clinic but for the clear benefit and well-being of the animals we are here to protect. It should be noted that the clinic receives a number of walk-ins and we never refuse treatment for a sick or injured animal; occasionally animal numbers can vary as a function of public demand for veterinary services but the maximum quantity is not exceeded.

11. “More than half of the animals were believed to be infected with deadly diseases which appeared to be going untreated, while some were found already lifeless.”

This allegation is untrue. As stated above, most animals require some degree of veterinary care. They do not all have “deadly diseases” although most do require some treatment which is provided. The vast majority of animals we receive for re-homing recover to full health with the assistance of a Pets Haven veterinary treatment plan.

Importantly, we note the Herald Sun article admits that no further action has been taken by any government body. We do expect – and invite – regular future inspections so that all animal welfare can be observed.

We also invite the public to come and see our shelter and to take the opportunity to connect with a new family member. The best solution to unwanted animals is always to provide immediate care but most importantly to find their forever home.

Pets Haven Management
4 October 2023