MUSWELLBROOK Shire Council has defended itself in the wake of social media backlash after two dogs were euthanised last month.
A number of animal welfare groups posted comments on various Facebook sites, claiming there was a “high kill rate” at the local pound and criticising the facility’s opening hours.
Their condemnation followed the deaths of two rehomable canines, Bandit and Buddy, on April 21.
Council’s manager for integrated planning Fiona Plesman said all the business practices at the Muswellbrook Animal Shelter are RSPCA approved and had been correctly applied in this instance.
“It’s certainly disappointing – we don’t want to euthanise dogs,” she told the Chronicle.
“But, this was not a rushed decision.
“Bandit and Buddy were surrendered by a woman on April 6.
“She paid the money ($102) and signed the surrender form, stating she didn’t want them because her kids didn’t play with them anymore.
“Staff pointed out to her, and everyone who surrenders an animal, if we couldn’t find a new home that they would be euthanised.”
Ms Plesman said 33 rescue groups, and individuals, were contacted but no-one responded.
“Photos of Bandit and Buddy were readily available; and notifications [about the pair’s plight] put up on April 11, 19 and 20,” she explained.
“We even send out a regular internal message to staff – there was plenty of notice over the two-week period.
“Every care and attention was paid to the dogs, as we do with all the dogs at the shelter.
“However, Bandit and Buddy weren’t doing well; they were fretting and their weight was dropping.
“In the end, we had no choice.”
Ms Plesman said the criticism had taken its toll on the employees.
“They’re unhappy by what’s transpired [on social media],” she admitted.
“The rangers and staff love the animals – it’s a hard job.
“But, you have to ask the question: why do people take on dogs and give them up?
“It happens a lot in Muswellbrook.
“Please think twice before you get a puppy.
“While we’re not looking at making any changes immediately [to the opening hours], council will be providing a new shelter in the near future.”