Geelong Advertiser; Anthea Cannon | October 12th, 2011
CITY Hall will investigate a Geelong animal shelter after confronting footage revealed dogs being drugged and euthanised.
The video was shot on a hidden camera installed in an air vent in the veterinary treatment room of Geelong Animal Welfare Society’s Moolap pound. Police are investigating how the camera was placed there.
The RSPCA has described the footage as “distressing” and the Department of Primary Industries has weighed into the furore over the contents of the video.
The video alleges dogs on death row receive a cocktail of up to 24 tablets which could kill them or leave them highly distressed the night before being put down.
Geelong Animal Welfare Society acting vice-president David Cecil said the video was an “unfair” misrepresentation of the pound.
He said a handful of dogs had been drugged overnight at the start of the year on the recommendation of a vet.
Mr Cecil understood the practice had since stopped and only some dogs were now given a sedative an hour before being euthanised.
“Some of the video is from July but it doesn’t depict the current situation,” Mr Cecil said.
“There’s a new code of practice and DPI, the council and the society are working to operate under the new guidelines as quickly as possible.
“There was a DPI inspection after the new code (came in on June 30) and some shortfalls were identified, though nothing major and those have been rectified.”
Mr Cecil said financially and emotionally it was better for the pound to sell the animals to new owners than have to put them down.
Hundreds of people viewed the “GAWS Exposed” video on YouTube yesterday and the Geelong Advertiser received numerous calls about the footage. Six hundred people signed a change.org petition calling for City Hall to take back control of the pound.
Council’s community services general manager Jenny McMahon said the council would be concerned if animals had been mistreated but current practices at GAWS ensured the issues raised in the footage “could not occur”.
As part of “ongoing business” a full audit of GAWS would check it was complying with DPI’s Code of Practice.
Ms McMahon said the hidden camera may have been planted during a break-in and the filming had been reported to police.
Inspector Chris Gawne confirmed detectives were investigating a complaint about a recording device and urged people to stay within the law when protesting or claiming to act in the public interest.
A RSPCA spokesman said the footage was “distressing on a number of levels” and numerous animal-lovers had called yesterday to complain.
DPI, which is the governing body for pounds, has been in discussions with the operator, the RSPCA and the council about the video and has warned that although GAWS had a contract to operate the facility, it was up to the city to ensure it was operating within the law.
The group “GAWS Exposed Time for Change is NOW” will hold a protest on Saturday at the council offices at noon.