This account is compiled from various newspaper articles and sources available on the internet.
The RSPCA officially operates as a charity dedicated to helping ‘all creatures great and small.’
Geraldine Robertson’s story from QLD, like Ruth Downey’s from NSW, shows the dark side of this organisation.
In November 2008 Mrs Robertson is still unable to resume her business and faces huge bills as well as further court action. Her loss of income and the loss of capital value of her business is significant but not yet evaluated.
So far she has $60,000 in legal fees plus an RSPCA bill totalling $253,999.46 for care of the dogs. The dogs have not been returned to her and there is no guarantee that they ever will be.
A Google search of Neiger Poodles on 23 Nov 08 still showed information on the extent of Geraldine Robertson’s reputation and the quality of her poodles.
Mrs Robertson spent twenty years breeding her famous poodles, which included rare apricot and red varieties.
She built her blood lines by carefully selecting and importing four dogs from the UK.
She researched and carefully selected and purchased other dogs from within Australia.
She used expensive tests to eliminate genetic diseases and bred selectively for desirable traits.
The First Raid by the RSPCA
On 9 January 2008 Geraldine Robertson was hit with a warrant to seize any animals housed inappropriately, any animals with disease or injury untreated, and any documentation of animals boarded at the kennels.
During this raid Mrs Robertson provided the RSPCA Inspectors with a list naming and describing each dog but the RSPCA refused to allow her to microchip them. She provided the dates when the puppies needed vaccinating, ongoing treatment for a couple of dogs with infected ears and eyes, and dietary requirements for some old dogs. The RSPCA promised to provide colour photographs with identification details for each dog but this was never done.
During the Court Case, Mrs Robertson stated that just before 9 January 2008 when the RSPCA raided her property and seized all her dogs, there had been very heavy rain that flooded half of the Beaudesert Shire. This created a flash flood that washed debris and silt through her kennels. The RSPCA swooped when the unusual conditions were at their worst. She told the Inspectors that she was remedying the situation but they ignored this.
During the Court Hearing the evidence given by RSPCA Inspectors related to animal excrement and its smell, dogs filthy with heavily matted coats, and barking incessantly. It was raining lightly at the time and the puppies were playing in it. During the hearing Geraldine Robertson was prevented from showing photographs, or playing audio-tapes, which disputed the statements made by the three RSPCA Inspectors.
Geraldine Robertson said that the RSPCA shoved her 104 dogs into trailers where they were packed tightly into accommodation intended for only 24 dogs and taken on a 45 minute drive to RSPCA headquarters at Fairfield. Her dogs were so terrified that they urinated, defecated and vomited out of fear, on RSPCA shirts, as photographed by the RSPCA at their shelter.
The RSPCA made their seizure a media event, causing tremendous distress to Geraldine Robertson. Nine months of fear and terror followed. Geraldine was abused through letters and over the telephone. People yelled at her and threw objects. She was hit on the head with a bottle.
The RSPCA Veterinarian Records show that the dogs did not suffer from ill health when they were taken, nor is there any reference to ill-health in the newspaper report from the ABC News from 2 July 2008, though, by 11 July, they had become “malnourished” as reported in the Brisbane Times.
Geraldine Robertson from ABC News.
Woman in court over 104 'neglected' dogs Posted Wed Jul 2, 2008
A Queensland woman accused of neglecting more than 100 dogs appeared in court today. The RSPCA removed 104 poodles from Geraldine Robertson's property in Waterford, south of Brisbane, in January this year.
The organisation has applied for an order for Robertson to forfeit the dogs so they can be sent to new homes.
The RSPCA says it is costing about $2,000 a day to look after the dogs.
Today Robertson told the Brisbane Magistrates Court her dogs were not sick and they should be returned to her. She also asked for her computer to be returned, which was seized when the dogs were removed.
Magistrate Paul Kluck gave Robertson three weeks to prove she was fit to take them back. She will return to court at the end of the month.
From The Brisbane Times
Dogs in limbo as court battle looms Christine Kellett July 11, 2008
The RSPCA is forking out $1500 a day to care for more than 100 malnourished poodles as the dogs' owner fights for their return.
The poodles were seized by the animal welfare organisation in January after a raid on a Waterford property, in the state's south-west.
The RSPCA alleges the dogs - 104 in total - were mistreated, and were found in "shocking conditions" with faeces-matted coats and some suffering ear infections.
They were taken into care, but six months on, the RSPCA has found itself at the centre of what is shaping to be a protracted legal battle with the poodles' owner.
The woman has twice appealed a decision by the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to uphold a forfeiture order in an effort to get the poodles back.
The matter has now gone to court and the RSPCA's Michael Beatty said it could be another month before the case is finalised.
The challenge has prevented the animal charity from being able to adopt out the dogs, which are costing $1500 a day to feed, house and nurse back to health at its already crowded Fairfield shelter.
"It is certainly dragging on," Mr Beatty said.
"Obviously it is now before the courts, so I can't say too much, but it is costing us a fortune to look after them."
The Second Raid: the seizure of Geraldine’s Computer
The RSPCA obtained a second warrant and raided again on 22 February 2008. This time they took her computer, with kennel records, which included her Vet reports, receipts for sales of poodles, etc.
The taking of her computer, and the RSPCA’s denial of access to its records, meant the loss of evidence to show her dogs were well fed, vaccinated and wormed.
Without these records it was difficult for Geraldine to prepare her appeal to the Department of Primary Industries. Her numerous requests for their return were ignored.
Without her computer she lost access to the internet and could no longer communicate with her solicitors efficiently.
She had to use a slow old typewriter to record evidence and provide solicitors with the details for her Appeal.
On 31st March 2008 her lawyers requested the return of her property under the relevant Acts but this was also ignored and her Appeal was done without access to her records.
The computer and copies of some records were subsequently returned at the Court's orders on 2 July 2008. Significant numbers of files had been removed.
After the Raids
The RSPCA renamed all of the dogs. An RSPCA Vet was shown on national television pointing at “Jason” (Geraldine’s beloved Simba) a 12 year old apricot standard poodle. After ordering that he be clipped to his skin, Simba died from pneumonia in March 2008 whilst in RSPCA care, where he was kept in a shipping container converted into wired pens. At Geraldine’s place he had lived happily in a brick kennel larger than 5 metres by 1.5 metres, with access to grass acreage. This national television footage also showed the business sign with address and telephone number of Geraldine’s kennels.
The RSPCA refused or ignored her lawyers' requests to allow Geraldine to see her seized dogs. On 31 May 2008 a list was supplied with mostly young male dogs, and no photos of her red and brown adult standard poodles. Geraldine Robertson believes over 600 of her puppies, born since the capture of her poodles, were sold by the RSPCA, with the local price for each being over $,1000. Prices are very much higher for adults. A pedigreed breeder produces litters of ten to twelve puppies twice a year, and each of these pups could be worth $5,000. At the time of seizure there was an order from Hong Kong for sixty puppies: 20 at $2000 each, 20 at $5000 each and 20 at $6000 each making a total of $260,000. More overseas orders were expected.
The RSPCA destroyed the irreplaceable pedigree records. They devalued the dogs from $58,000 each, as pedigreed breeders, to $250 as pet dogs. The RSPCA was asked, under Section 151 of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, to allow Geraldine Robertson to inspect her seized dogs but it appears that 46 of her dogs were sold to breeding kennels immediately after the seizure, and she was not allowed to see her poodles.
Money from Animal Lovers
The RSPCA media machine manipulates the public into seeing animal neglect where there is none. Such publicity is a major source of income to the RSPCA. Since the seizure of the poodles the RSPCA has solicited donations from well-intentioned animal-lovers who have given money, dog food, equipment and property for the care of the seized poodles. Advertising the cost of seized animals are a lucrative source of donations. The article from the Brisbane Times, 11 July 2008, shows this method of soliciting money from the public.
Money from Court Costs
RSPCA seeks legal costs for their lawyers who act for the sole purpose of getting such costs. In the case of Ruth Downey in NSW, the RSPCA lawyers are seeking costs of almost $300,000 – most of which will go to the legal firm of Andrew Wozniak, President of NSW RSPCA.
In Ruth Downey’s case the hearing lasted for 20 days due to the large number of witnesses produced by the RSPCA in order to string out the trial.
They are doing the same with Geraldine Robertson whose hearing has lasted for 13 days with 5 more days planned.
By stringing out these hearings the costs become insurmountable for those accused. Most people cave in and plead guilty so a hefty fine is given and the RSPCA proclaims it has done a wonderful job in stamping out ‘animal cruelty’. This brings in more donations from innocent people who want to help animals.
Possible Litigation for Mrs Robertson
This case can be pursued in the Federal Court under the Trade practices Act 1974 and other Acts. The RSPCA derives income from its activities, which includes income from ‘adoption fees’ for seized animals as well as those handed in or neglected.
Geraldine Robertson understands that the RSPCA’s Poodle Rescue Officer collected thousands of signatures on a petition calling on the Queensland Law Courts to deny Mrs Robertson the ownership of her 104 seized dogs and that she never be allowed to own animals of any description again.
This woman and her partner breed pedigree standard poodles – a business in opposition to Geraldine Robertson. It is believed that this woman also organised the sale of many of Geraldine’s impounded poodles.
The RSPCA also conducts significant retail trade for its merchandise.
The Power of the RSPCA
RSPCA Inspectors are appointed by the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, which gives them power under the Queensland Animal Care and Protection Act 200. This then allows them to seize animals if they have a reasonable belief that they are not well cared for.
It is certainly time that an enquiry was made into how these people determine whether animals are being properly cared for.
Veterinarians have demonstrated fear of giving evidence against the RSPCA because of the way this might impact on their business and reputation. The Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries controls their registration board.
See also www.petmafia.com.au and
The Ruth Downey Inquisition