Blacktown Advocate, by Bryn Kay, 27 October 2009
FOR one Blacktown councillor it would be one his greatest ever achievements, while for nearly 8000 animals it’s the difference between life and death.
Councillor Russ Dickens has expressed his desire to implement a ‘no-kill’ policy for animals at Blacktown Council’s Animal Holding Facility.
Last year, the council said 1419 dogs and 3146 cats were killed at the facility.
That’s 34.4per cent of dogs and a staggering 88.3per cent of cats from the 7,692 combined total of cats and dogs who at some pointed resided there.
Cr Dickens, who is also a fulltime vet, said it would be one of his “greatest and proudest achievements” at Blacktown Council if he could implement a no-kill policy.
“The euthanisation of animals is heinous, I’ve never liked it. It’s not through their own fault that they’re being put into pounds and then onto death row” he said.
Earlier this month, Cr Dickens attended the 3rd National Summit to End Companion Animal Overpopulation, on the Gold Coast.
Through the conference and his knowledge on how local and foreign animal holding facilities are run, Cr Dickens outlined a number of procedures Blacktown Council could undertake to ensure the venture was a success.
His main point included desexing of all animals that come into the facility, but also included the introduction of a ‘trap, neuter and return’ program for feral cats.
Allowing temporary volunteer foster care programs for animals when facility space was limited, is another initiative Cr Dickens endorsed, whereby animals could be returned to the facility when space became available.
Cr Dickens said image was an important factor, as people are more likely to adopt when they are in inviting surroundings.
“I go in there every now and then to check on the animals and right now it is a place of horror and it needs to be a place of happiness and hope,” he said.
He cited Sutherland Shire Council’s animal shelter, whereby the no-kill policy is implemented and the shelter provides cats and dogs with play areas, toys and the cats even have their own beds.
A spokesman for Sutherland Shire Council said animals are only killed in extreme cases when the animal is either seriously injured, old, ill or dangerous.
In addition to current play areas for cats, there are plans to build a dog agility yard equipped with toys and devices to improve the dogs’ strength and coordination.
Blacktown, however, takes in significantly more animals than the Sutherland shelter, from Holroyd, Parramatta, Lane Cove, Canada Bay, Auburn and Ryde.
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