CAWS for All Paws Posted on March 27, 2017 Most of us have a pet that we love as part of the family. If you don’t, you probably know someone who does. Australians love their animals and, unsurprisingly, overpopulation of companion animals is very common in NSW, particularly in regional and rural areas. Overpopulation is recognised as a real problem, but how do we solve it? Here at RSPCA NSW, our solution is CAWS. The Community Animal Welfare Scheme (CAWS) is all about targeting companion animal overpopulation and increasing public awareness of animal welfare. Through effective community education, more people can learn about responsible pet ownership and the humane treatment of animals. Every year, RSPCA shelters take in around 160,000 animals across Australia, many of which are the result of unplanned breeding. CAWS provides low-cost desexing, vaccinations and microchipping services to remote areas and low socioeconomic groups, aiming to bring down the number of animals being euthanased in pounds and shelters. Desexing is an effective strategy to prevent unwanted pregnancies and microchipping is a form of permanent identification, making it easier to reunite pets and owners if separation happens. CAWS is only available to pet owners with a Pension or Health Care Card, ensuring valuable medical resources are dedicated to the people who need it most. While CAWS has usually been held in rural areas, such as Bathurst and Walgett-Lightning Ridge, it’s now running in the Blue Mountains and Sydney as well. CAWS relies on the involvement of local councils, RSPCA branches and local veterinary clinics all working together to fund and run the day. For many people, the decision to not desex is not based only on affordability. Through educational campaigns, CAWS also increases awareness, teaching the importance of desexing and other aspects of responsible pet ownership. Instead, we need to change the culture and encourage a shift in attitude towards desexing, microchipping and vaccinations.