RSPCA inspector rescuing all creatures great and small

PENNY Flaherty is determined to make a difference as an advocate for all animals, great and small, around the Wide Bay Burnett.

The 44-year-old moved from Brisbane to the Wide Bay area three months ago to take on the tough role of inspector with the Bundaberg-based Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

With a background

in investigative work, nursing and three years as an RSPCA inspector in Brisbane, Ms Flaherty

is set to tackle welfare and cruelty reports in Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Gin Gin and Biggenden head on.

The work is often hard but, she said it definitely had its rewards.

"It does have its moments, but the reward is seeing the ones that get better," she said.

"It makes it all worthwhile.

"The best part of my job is seeing the animals that you have recovered or have been treated or rescued, and are now bright, happy and healthy animals.

"The worst part is the really serious neglect that happens, unfortunately where animals are badly treated or are in a serious condition due to neglect and we can't save them."

She said most minor cases were due to lack of knowledge and financial difficulties, while other serious reports were heartbreaking cases of neglect and abuse.

"The majority of work is giving advice to owners so they are looking after the animal themselves, as opposed to taking their animals off them," she said.

"It's about educating people to make a better life for the animals and a better life for the owners.

"There is no lawful excuse for mistreating or not caring for an animal.

"It's a good job and unfortunately it shouldn't keep me so busy, but it does."

Ms Flaherty said a recent case in Hervey Bay saw the owner of a badly neglected cocker spaniel fined $6000 and banned from owning any animals for three years.

"We are getting really excellent results," she said.

"We do have legislation there and we are actually getting fines and prohibitions and very good results in the court."

She said anyone concerned for the welfare of any type of animal should phone the RSPCA hotline.

"We do definitely want to know when there are neglect cases," she said.

"If we don't know about them, there's nothing we can do about it."

RSPCA facts

  • Hotline: 1300 852 188


  • Animal cruelty offence. Maximum $220,000 fine or three years imprisonment.
  • Abandonment or neglect. Maximum $33,000 or one year imprisonment.
  • Walk to fight animal cruelty

Walk to fight animal cruelty

Join the RSPCA on Sunday, May 18 for the Million Paws Walk. Fraser Coast residents are encouraged to go along to the Maryborough event and show their support for animals in need. Funds raised will help to provide essential care, veterinary treatment, food and shelter for animals in RSPCA's care. The event will be held at the Maryborough West Football Fields, Sydney St, Maryborough, from 8.30-10am. Sign up today at

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