The Herald; BY DAMON CRONSHAW; 29 September 2009
FERAL and infant companion animals that council rangers pick up in Lake Macquarie will be euthanised quicker, under a new policy aimed at saving money and reducing stress on animals.
Lake Macquarie City Council approved last night an agreement with the RSPCA, under the Companion Animals Act, to euthanise animals within seven days at the RSPCA’s Rutherford pound.
A council report said this would improve animal welfare and reduce the stress animals experience in the pound.
An agreement between the council and the RSPCA, which expired in June, allowed feral and infant animals to be kept for a minimum of seven days before they were euthanised.
Holding the animals for seven days was an “extra burden” on the pound and an “unnecessary additional cost to council”, the report said.
The council kept the report’s financial details confidential.
Lake Macquarie council rangers took 684 dogs, 363 cats, five goats, three sheep and two horses to the pound in the 2008-09 financial year.
Of those, 150 were considered feral or infant and kept for seven days before being euthanised.
The report said feral and infant animals were usually not claimed, could not be socialised and were not suitable for “companion ownership or domestic housing”.
“Feral animals that are not suitable for domestic housing will be managed humanely and appropriately,” the report said.
The report noted the subject was “a highly emotive issue” for people concerned with animal welfare.
The RSPCA must consider several factors when determining whether a companion animal is feral or infant.
These include: capacity of staff to safely handle and store the animal; staff occupational health and safety; the prospect of rehousing the animal; the age of the animal; whether the animal has been microchipped; the animal’s condition and its ability to eat without assistance; the likelihood of survival.
Rangers tried to return animals to registered owners “where microchip data or tag information is current”.
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