SA Capa - Live Saving Legislation

What is SAcapa: South Australia Companion Animal Protection Act?

SAcapa is a model legislation that mandates life saving programs that will offer best outcomes for animals entering the shelter system.

Is this legislation implemented elsewhere?


CAPA is based on a similar law that has been in effect in California since 1998. CAPA has been introduced in Delaware, Austin (Adelaide’s sister City), Minnesota and Michigan. CAPA is currently pending in Florida.

The killing in the State of Delaware has declined by 78%.

In California, law makes it illegal for shelters to kill animals when non-profit rescue groups are willing to save them. Rescue transfers went from 12,526 to 58,939 at no cost to taxpayers. In fact, it saved taxpayers almost $2,000,000 a year in costs related to killing.

CAPA was passed unanimously in our sister city, Austin Texas in 2009. At that time, admissions were exceeding 23,000 per year and within 6 months after CAPA was passed, and under the leadership of a interim Director, the save rate jumped from 67% to 91%. Now, after five years of No Kill, the admission rate has decreased to 17,000 despite an explosive population growth.

Why do we need CAPA?

Life saving programs for shelters have been available for over a decade and Australian shelters have not voluntarily implemented these programs.

The Australian public is purchasing over 600,000 dogs and cats per year

and it was guesstimated that Australian shelters were killing over 250,000 dogs and cats per year. There are many more people buying dogs and cats every year than there are animals being killed in shelters. The term ‘pet overpopulation’ seemed to provide a logical explanation for the killing, but in reality there are enough homes.

In South Australia, The Advertiser newspaper stated that SA shelters were killing over 13,000 dogs and cats

in a year period, which equates to a save rate of only 45 percent.

Over the past decade we have seen Directors voluntarily implement programs and operate successful shelters. But, when they leave the new Director has dismantled the life saving programs and returned the shelter to a killing model. The first time this happened was in San Francisco in 1998 when Ed Sayres dismantled the efforts of Richard Avanzino. In Australia in 2014, we saw previous Director of RSPCA ACT Michael Linkes life saving programs get dismantled after Tammy Ven Dange became Director.

Life saving legislation is required to save healthy and treatable animals today, and also to safeguard the healthy and treatable animals of tomorrow regardless of administration and leadership changes.

What are CAPA’s highlights?

-requires shelters to provide animals with fresh food, fresh water, environmental enrichment, regular exercise, veterinary care and cleanliness.

-makes it illegal for a shelter to kill an animal if a qualified rescue group is willing to rehome that animal.

-makes it illegal to kill an animal with a gas chamber.

-requires shelters to have comprehensive adoption programs, including offsite adoption.

-ends the practise of killing animals within minutes or hours of admission by mandating holding periods.

-requires a shelter to tell the truth about how many animals are admitted, adopted and redeemed, killed and euthanased by mandating annual reports.

-improves shelter operations and staff well being.

Why is transparency important?

Without transparency, workplace safety and animal welfare cannot be determined.

In South Australia, the majority of a shelters income comes from donor money. The donors have a right to know how their money is spent.

Is CAPA economically viable?


Killing costs money. Although killing costs vary, it’s approximately between $100-$200 to kill an animal. Housing, feeding, cleaning, cage space, paying for the pharmaceutical/needle/syringe, paying for someone to administer it, plastic wrap for the carcass, dumping fees for the carcass, or in the case of incineration – maintenance, cleaning and operational costs of the incinerator. The estimated cost to kill over 13,000 dogs and cats in one year is around $1.3 million and under CAPA, this money can be directed towards life saving programs.

CAPA mandates the relationship between the shelter and qualified rescue groups. The transfer of the animals saves in shelter costs, and under CAPA the shelter can charge the rescue for the transfer. CAPA transfers costs to private philanthropy, brings in adoption revenue and other user fees.

With less animals staying in the shelter, there is a reduced risk of the spread and exposure of disease. Disease costs money in treatment, cleaning and killing.

Peripheral effects to CAPA

With more South Australians purchasing puppies, dogs, kittens and cats from shelters, the demand for pet shop animals will decrease. This inturn will have a detrimental effect to the demand for puppy factory canines and backyard bred dogs and cats.

Studies show that staff members responsible for killing animals in shelters are vulnerable to emotional trauma, exhaustion and burnout. CAPA improves the emotional wellbeing of shelter staff and keeps them safe by banning the carbon monoxide gas chamber and providing standards of practise.

The PAW Project is working with the South Australian Greens to draft CAPA and modify this legislation to suit the needs of companion animals, the community and the animal welfare workers in South Australia.

The PAW Project is working with other SA political parties. Saving lives is not only good policy, it is also good bipartisan politics. In both Delaware and Austin unanimously passed this legislation.

How does a kill shelter transform to a no kill shelter?

Click on the handbook to see what worked, what did not, statistics and transparency.





Why does SA need CAPA?


Greens SA commits to CAPA


Greens SA media release


Economic benefits of CAPA


Interview with a RSPCA Lethalist


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