What would you do if you had a fortune worth over $500 million? I’m sure, like me, you would give at least a portion to your favorite animal charities.
If you were Jan Cameron, Australia’s fourth richest woman, you would establish free spay/neuter and microchipping clinics across the country to make a dent in the number of unwanted pets who end up being killed each year. The clinics will also provide basic care, including dental, for those who can’t afford preventative maintenance.
Here’s Jan’s story as resported in The Age:
ANIMAL welfare activist Jan Cameron, Australia’s fourth-richest woman, wants to set up free desexing and microchipping clinics for dogs and cats across Australia to stop thousands of unwanted animals being killed each year.
In a move expected to cost millions of dollars, the reclusive Ms Cameron, 57, founder of the Kathmandu retail chain, plans to open her first clinic in Hobart in partnership with the Animal Welfare League within the next two months.
Ms Cameron, a former Melburnian who now lives in a modest mud-brick house on Tasmania’s east coast despite being worth an estimated $518 million, said a second clinic was expected to be set up in Melbourne before the end of the year with other clinics to follow across Australia.
She said it was time something was done to cut down on the cat and dog overpopulation and the widespread killing of so many unwanted animals.
Left to roam, just one feral female and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years.
It has been estimated that 23 cats and dogs are put down every hour in shelters and pounds around the country because people fail to desex their pets before they breed.
Asked how much she was prepared to spend on the project, Ms Cameron said it was ”open-ended”.
”The unwanted animal population is just huge, particularly among cats,” she told The Sunday Age. ”We need to start addressing this problem by trying to reduce numbers. So many of these animals are being unnecessarily killed because they’re homeless and can’t be cared for.”
Ms Cameron said the clinics would also provide basic care, including dental, for animals whose owners could not afford normal veterinary services.
The ambitious project began late last year when free desexing, microchipping and dental care for cats in Tasmania was offered for two months, resulting in more than 1000 cats being treated.
In Victoria, RSPCA manager of animal shelters Allie Jalbert estimated about 53,000 cats were admitted to animal welfare shelters across the state each year, with 35,000 put down because they were feral or shelters couldn’t ”rehome” them.
RSPCA Victoria figures show that of the 18,966 dogs taken in by its 10 shelters in 2008-09, 3958 were killed.
Of the 17,265 cats admitted, 9801 were euthanased.
The RSPCA’s Burwood and Pearcedale clinics performed 5414 desexing operations on animals in the RSPCA’s care and 2787 private desexing operations in 2008-09.
The cost of desexing a cat at the RSPCA is $65 for an immature male, $95 for a mature male, $100 for an immature female and $170 for a mature female. For a dog, it costs $115 for a pup aged six months or under and $180 for an older dog. Microchipping is $35.
”The number of cats euthanased each year by far outweighs the number of dogs,” Ms Jalbert said. ”This can be attributed to the large number of domestic and feral cats reproducing indiscriminately and the low value the community places on cats as opposed to dogs.
”Cats just aren’t being given the same consideration as dogs so are not being desexed or microchipped and not being reclaimed from pounds or shelters when they go missing.
”It all contributes to a distressing and unacceptable euthanasia rate of cats.”
Melbourne’s Lost Dogs’ Home, Australia’s largest shelter, is offering a 40 per cent discount on desexing and microchipping for stray cats until April 12 under its Who’s for Cats campaign. The shelter estimates Victoria’s stray cat population at more than half a million.
Good on ya, Jan!