Fixing the Broken Pound and Shelter System

Today Abigail called out the horrific alleged animal abuses of dogs and puppies at the Bourke Shire Council Pound in February and demanded action to fix the broken pound and animal shelter system in NSW.

Mr PRESIDENT:

I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move: 

(1) That this House notes with concern allegations reported by AAP Newswire on 14 May 2023 regarding alleged cruelty against dogs and puppies in Bourke Shire Council pound in February 2023, and further notes that these allegations are the subject of animal cruelty complaints to  Bourke Shire Council and RSPCA NSW.

(2) That this House further notes the details of the allegations as reported by AAP Newswire and outlined in complaints to Bourke Shire Council and RSPCA NSW:

(a) that nine dogs and puppies were removed from the custody of the Bourke Shire Council pound by Queensland-based volunteer-run rescue organisation Domestic Animal Rescue and Education (DARE) on 22 February 2023,

(b) that eight of the nine dogs and puppies required urgent veterinary care for an extended period, and veterinary records detailed that:

(i) eight of the nine dogs and puppies tested positive for parvovirus, a contagious and potentially deadly canine virus spread by contact with feces and other forms of contamination, noting that parvovirus has an incubation period,

(ii) four of the five adult dogs were observed to be very thin, 

(iii) four puppies had severe tick burden, 

(iv) one adult dog was so unwell she could not stand, and

(v) that some of the dogs were suffering from severe dehydration and likely had been suffering for a number of days,

 (c) that DARE volunteers reported witnessing evidence of neglect and cruel behaviour towards the dogs, including:

(i) that none of the five pens in the pound had blankets or bedding,

(ii) that one of the dogs, a two year old border collie named Fleur who was in the pound for three weeks, lay in her own waste and was unable to stand when DARE volunteers first attended the pound,

(iii) that Fleur was housed in a pen with a five-month-old cattle dog cross named Bellatrix at the time of DARE’s intervention, and both dogs were hosed down by a council worker to remove feces and diarrhea from their coats and limbs,

(iv) that a council worker dragged Fleur from her pen to the van by a slip lead, which tightens around the animal's neck as it is pulled, and

(v) that a council worker dragged Bellatrix from her pen by her collar on her back across a concrete floor to the DARE volunteers’ van as she squealed, and then tried to lift her into the van purely by the slip lead around her throat,

(d) that DARE volunteers originally agreed to rescue three specific adult dogs, but left Bourke Shire Council pound with a total of nine dogs, including five adult dogs and four puppies, and:

(i) that DARE volunteers were advised of four puppies which were surrendered on the morning of 22 February 2023, and when DARE enquired what would happen to them a council worker advised that they would likely be euthanised if DARE did not take them, and

(ii) the euthanasia of healthy impounded animals on the same day it was impounded without strict adherence to the Companion Animals Act as amended by the Companion Animals Amendment (Rehoming Animals) Bill 2021 would contravene a council pound's statutory requirements, and

(e) that Bourke Shire Council has denied all allegations of cruelty, neglect, and improper conduct in relation to the dogs rescued from their facility by DARE on 22 February 2023, and further stated that all the dogs were observed by staff to be eating, drinking and in good health, that none of the nine dogs showed signs of sickness, including parvovirus, and that the dogs would have been taken to a veterinarian if observed to be ill.

(3) That this House commends the work of DARE and its volunteers, and thanks them for their intervention on behalf of the nine dogs and puppies they rescued from Bourke Shire Council pound in February 2023.

(4) That this House further notes:

(a) that fifteen dogs and puppies were shot dead at Bourke Shire Council pound in August 2021 while a rescue group was coming to rescue them during the COVID‑19 lockdown despite public health orders not requiring this action, and that the killing of these fifteen dogs and puppies was a direct catalyst for the Companion Animals Amendment (Rehoming Animals) Bill 2021 passed by Parliament in February 2022, 

(b) that since February 2023 Bourke Shire Council has confirmed their pound has no exercise area for dogs, in contravention of the requirements of the Animal Welfare Code of Practice No 5—Dogs and Cats in Animal Boarding Establishments, which has been in effect since 1996, 

(c) that Bourke Shire Council has confirmed that in the period 1 February to 9 May 2023 one dog died in the custody of Bourke Shire Council pound, and

(d) that Bourke Shire Council has confirmed that only one council worker is authorised to release animals from the pound, and so in their absence members of the public may be required to wait up to six days to reclaim a lost companion animal or adopt from pound facilities.

(5) That this House:

(a) notes NewsLocal reporting on 29 May 2023 which outlined concerns with the condition of multiple other council pounds located in regional NSW, which council representatives attributed to under-resourcing, 

(b) further notes recently released Office of Local Government data details that almost one in ten dogs and three in ten cats impounded in local council pounds in the 2021-2022 financial year were euthanised, and

(b) expresses concern with demonstrated poor welfare outcomes for animals impounded in NSW and acknowledges that the NSW pound and shelter system is broken.

(6) That this House calls on the Minister for Local Government and Minister for Agriculture to urgently act to fix the broken pound and shelter system in NSW.

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