Pound contractor under fire over kill rate

Casey Weekly; BY CATHERINE WATSON; 16 May, 2011

ANIMAL welfare organisations have expressed concern over the Lost Dogs Home’s high kill rate following its successful tender to run Casey’s pound services.

Its Cranbourne pound, near the corner of Thompsons Road and Western Port Highway, already accommodates strays from the cities of Frankston, Greater Dandenong, Cardinia, Bayside and Kingston.

But Victorian Dog Rescue and animal welfare group Stop the Clock told the Weekly the Lost Dogs Home had an unacceptably high kill rate for stray dogs and cats.

According to the home’s annual report, it killed 85.8 per cent (10,352) of the 12,072 cats and 26.2 per cent (3242) of the 12,354 dogs it received at its main shelters at North Melbourne and Cranbourne in 2009-10.

Stop the Clock co-ordinator Mike Bailey said six out of every 10 unclaimed dogs were euthanased as well as nine out of 10 unclaimed cats.

Irene Clarke-Dalton, a Berwick member of the group, said the council was “sending animals to a certain death … It’s basically waste management, not animal welfare.”

Victorian Dog Rescue president Trisha Taylor said the home had a conflict of interest because it combined the functions of animal welfare with animal control.

“We don’t understand why a pound/shelter with such a high kill rate would be actively seeking to expand.

“Surely they should be seeking ways to save the dogs and cats currently in their care rather than looking for more pound contracts.

“We would always hope that animal welfare organisations are more concerned about the life of the animal than increasing their bank balance.

“Similarly, councils should look not just at the lowest-cost tender but at the one that offered most for the welfare of the dogs and cats in their area.”

The Weekly asked Casey Council if the contract included performance targets related to re-housing unclaimed animals but was told

the council was unable to disclose information in relation to the specific details or value of the contract. By law, animals must be kept for eight days to give owners time to reclaim them.

After eight days, the animal may be adopted out, but the shelter is responsible for costs including desexing, microchipping, food and medical costs. Lost Dogs Home general manager Graeme Smith said critics were trying to imply that killing animals meant pounds could do the work more cheaply but this was not the case. He said the home had won the Casey contract “after a very exhaustive and diligent process”.

“We will be able to deliver a very good service for the residents and ratepayers of the City of Casey.

“There is no dispute that our euthanasia rate for cats is far higher than the RSPCA’s but the RSPCA does not have many contracts where they collect and trap wild cats.

“We work in areas that are socio-economically more depressed than the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. At least 60 per cent of cats we receive are wild.”

Mr Smith said his organisation’s new $2.35million lost cats home in North Melbourne had doubled the adoption rate in its first month. He said dog adoption rates would also improve following a change in regulations that means shelters and pounds do not have to euthanase unclaimed animals after 28 days.

“It means we’ve been able to introduce training programs for dogs with behaviour problems.”

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