Lost Dogs’ Home to cut killing rate

The Age, by MARK RUSSELL, November 1, 2009

MELBOURNE’S Lost Dogs’ Home will adopt a ”low kill” policy after being accused of killing animals considered too old, timid or badly behaved to be rehoused.

The shelter, Australia’s largest, has also been forced to reveal how many dogs it has killed after animal welfare groups accused it of hiding its kill rate to avoid scrutiny.

Responding to questions from The Sunday Age, the home’s managing director, Graeme Smith, denied that the shelter – which had a surplus of $11.8 million at June 30 last year – had anything to hide.

He said that of the 11,255 dogs taken in by its North Melbourne and Cranbourne homes in 2008-09, 3502 (or 31 per cent) of dogs were killed. This was lower than 2007-08, when 32 per cent of the dogs admitted were killed.

The figures contrast with a rate of almost 21 per cent of dogs killed by the RSPCA in 2008-09.

Of the 18,966 dogs taken in by the RSPCA’s 10 shelters, 4939 dogs were adopted, 8864 reclaimed and 3958 killed.

Mr Smith said he had decided not to publish the kill rates for the past six years after a typographical error in one of the home’s newsletters several years ago indicated the home had put down 12,000 dogs rather than the true figure of 2000, prompting public outrage.

But after inquiries from The Sunday Age, Mr Smith said that from Monday, it would publish full euthanasia figures for dogs and cats for the past 20 years.

Mr Smith said the home would also adopt a ”low kill” policy under which only dogs with serious behavioural problems would be killed. This was expected to reduce the number of dogs put down by about two per cent next year.

A new fund had also been set up to pay for any corrective surgery dogs needed before adoption.

Mr Smith said that 50 per cent of dogs now being euthanased had behavioural problems. He denied that dogs aged four and over were being killed because they were considered too old.

But one of the home’s most outspoken critics, Kae Norman, disagreed, pointing to one of the home’s own documents that said many clients did not want dogs that ”are more than two to three years old”. She said dogs were also being killed because of timidity, flea allergies and for being ”non-responsive”.

”Shelters [that] have less money are saving more animals,” said Ms Norman, who founded Rescued with Love, a network of 25 foster carers who rescue unwanted dogs from pounds and shelters.

Another critic, Pet Rescue director Vickie Davy, said the home had been killing too many animals for too long and needed to change its ways.

A breakdown of the Lost Dogs’ Home’s financial statement for 2007-08 reveals it received more than $8.8 million in total revenue.

Of this, administration expenses were $2.36 million, council and contract expenses $2.2 million, shelter expenses $1.8 million, fund-raising expenses $1.3 million and veterinary clinic expenses $1.06 million.

The home’s surplus for the year was almost $4.1 million, including donations of $3.96 million. The total operating surplus was $11.86 million after the outstanding balance of $7.7 million had been added.

Mr Smith said the home planned to spend about $8 million in the next five years on a new cat shelter, a training and education centre to teach responsible pet ownership, a sick animals’ facility and a veterinary clinic.

Dr Hugh Wirth, Victorian president of the RSPCA, said any animal welfare society that took public funding had to be accountable.

”Transparency comes from being honest with your donors and supporters about every aspect of your work,” Dr Wirth said. ”We hide nothing.”

To access the original article, click here



Filed under Victoria

5 responses to “Lost Dogs’ Home to cut killing rate

  1. lostdogshope

    Join in the discussion on we can save more of the 10,000+ cats and dogs killed each year by The Lost Dogs’ Home.



  2. companionanimalnews

    The Lost Dogs Home in Melbourne are not the only public Charity to be afflicted with this malaise. A look at the RSPCA NSW shelter kill figures and the charity dollars they are able to collect shows a similar picture. This all needs to be made public.

  3. companionanimalnews

    From Rescued with Love

    It is in print, straight from the General Manager of the Lost Dogs Home, Graeme Smith. They have been killing dogs. A lot of dogs. And they have millions in the bank.
    As the article states, it will ADOPT a low kill policy – indicating that it has been and still is high kill. And will be until it places certain proceedures in place. The Age also states they have been forced to reveal how many dogs they have killed by trying to avoid scrutiny for it’s practices. So what is the excuse of The Lost Dogs Home this time?
    There have been Low Kill shelters operating for decades in Melbourne, why are they still killing? And as shelters in the US move towards no kill implementing programs designed to save more lives, is it possible that the animals lives are valued more in US Shelters by management than in the High Kill Lost Dogs Home?
    One must remember, No Kill is not new. It has been operating for decades. For an article in the newspaper to force a publishing of death rates, and for Management of the largest animal facility in Australia to admit they are high kill, there is NO excuse. They have been exposed for indiscriminate killing. And Bailey, our lovely Cavvie would have been one of their statistics.
    We look forward to you all writing to the Lost Dogs Home and asking for their kill rate numbers (not percentages, actual numbers) to see what they have been doing. As they pointed out, they will be publishing them for the past 20 years! It will be an excellent opportunity to compare their figures to other shelters which are focused on rehabilitating and rehousing. No doubt they will fall short on all counts.
    Well done everyone who has fought and supported this article. You have just saved lives that would have been taken otherwise. The focus now will be placed exactly where it should be. On Graeme Smith, the Board of Directors, senior management and their decisions.

    The staff who genuinely care for the animals in this facility will hopefully not have to endure the burden of their appalling policies for much longer. Only time will tell. And so will we.

  4. companionanimalnews

    The Stats from the Lost Dogs Home Website 2009. Just briefly if you take away the dogs that went home to their owners, these are the kill rates.
    Jan 456 strays of those 67% killed

    Feb 386 strays of those 74% killed

    Mar 411 strays of those 68% killed

    Apr 396 strays of those 71% killed

    May 410 strays of those 69% killed

    Jun 395 strays of those 71% killed

    Jul 409 strays of those 71% killed

    Aug 379 strays of those 62% killed

    Sept 434 strays of those 67% killed

    Oct 451 strays of those 64% killed.

  5. New site highlighting the $6.3 million surplus and 10,000+ cats and dogs being killed each year at the Lost Dogs Home.


    Demand and end to the culture of killing at this pound.

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