Sunday Herald Sun (Vic); Sue Hewitt; Nov 21 2010
THOUSANDS of dogs face a death sentence as a bureaucratic crackdown bans volunteers from claiming animals and placing them in foster homes.
The Department of Primary Industries is now enforcing a rule that each carer or dog rescue group be registered as a “domestic animal business”, despite volunteers operating out of private homes.
The blacklisting means councils not using dog shelters that have 28 days to rehome dogs will have to kill healthy dogs after eight days under their rules for pounds.
Pregnant dogs, puppies, and sick animals in smaller pounds face immediate death because legally they cannot be sold.
Many animal shelters have their own foster carers to return the dogs to health to sell, but smaller pounds had relied on volunteer dog rescuers.
The volunteers fear new legislation being drawn up will shut them down, said Trisha Taylor, of the Dog Rescue Association Victoria.
“We want companion animals to have the right to live, a right to be saved,” she said.
She said the right of volunteers to rescue unwanted dogs should be guaranteed by law, not dependent on “the whim of a particular council or animal management officer”.
RSPCA chief Maria Mercurio said the situation was “appalling”.
“The rescue groups need to be drawn into the system and legitimised, not punished or forced out of the system,” she said.
Animal welfare activist Mike Bailey, who runs the Stop the Clock campaign to stop dogs being killed after 28 days, said volunteers saved about 3000 dogs a year, mostly from country council pounds.
Agriculture Minister Joe Helper said the rules for dog rescuers were not new.
“The intention was to offer support and guidance to enable pet rescue groups to continue their important work, particularly with large numbers of animals,” he said.
Tristan, a ridgeback-sighthound cross was going to be put down because there was no room at the local pound, but dog rescuer Louise Staite has fostered him until a permanent home can be found. She said her four children adored him.
The dogs featured on this page, except for Tristan, are at the Lost Dogs Home (www.dogshome.com) which has 28 days to rehome them, while those interested in Tristan can visit www.vicdogrescue.org.au