Blacktown Advocate; 05 Mar 10 by Christine O’Maley
THE volunteers who help make Blacktown’s Animal Holding Facility a more pleasant place for dogs and cats were hopeful of “drastic change” after a meeting last Monday night.
About 15 volunteers were joined by dozens more, including representatives from animal welfare groups and Blacktown councillors Nick Tyrrell, Jess Diaz and Russ Dickens, to campaign for what they say are crucial and overdue changes at the pound.
It was such a strong showing that chairman of the Blacktown City Council companion animals management advisory sub-committee Alan Pendleton was said to be surprised.
The main issues up for discussion were a no-kill policy, meaning no rehomeable animal would be put down; the tender process which forced potential pet owners to bid on animals; the low staff to animal ratio – about 1:100 – the introduction of mandatory desexing and a set of standard operating procedures.
Volunteers say they were surprised a basic operating procedure was only now being written up.
After campaigning for up to 25 years on some of the issues, attendees were optimistic that at least some changes would be forced once the matters passed through the policy committee at the end of the month and were put to a vote.
“We’ve had a gutful of being fobbed off,” one volunteer said. “This time we were better organised.”
“There’s so much wrong at Blacktown pound – we want to see some drastic changes.”
Volunteers say a general lack of staff is contributing to the suffering of animals.
In one case, a matted malamute was left for days with maggot-filled sores on its back. It took three volunteers five hours to clip Bear, who is currently being nursed back to health.
“Cruelty happens because of a lack of staff which leads to neglect,” a volunteer said.
She told the Advocate volunteers often paid for vet bills because treatment was not authorised unless it was deemed “life-threatening”.
Cr Tyrrell said staff should work with volunteers, who were giving up their time to ensure the animals were comfortable, not against them.
He said it was time for the council to act on the lack of staff, enforce the no-kill policy, abolish the tendering process and move on mandatory desexing.
“The idea that any dog or cat is leaving the pound undesexed means we’re contributing to the ongoing problem, instead of doing something proactive about solving it,” he said.
A spokesman for the council said the no-kill policy and tendering system were among several issues under review.
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