Vet defends welfare society over online video furore

Geelong Advertiser, October 14th 2011

A LEADING vet has defended the besieged Geelong Animal Welfare Society, saying footage showing dogs allegedly being drugged and inhumanely treated is a “pack of lies”.

As fresh videos emerged yesterday with more footage of cats and dogs being euthanised at the shelter, Dr Ian Walter said the treatment was “common practice”.

Dr Walter, who stepped down late last month as GAWS president after 18 years, rejected claims of animal cruelty and said editors of films GAWS Exposed 1, 2 and 3 had “doctored” the footage.

The videos were allegedly shot on a hidden camera installed in an air vent in the veterinary treatment room.

In GAWS Exposed 2 and 3, footage shows cats and dogs being dragged onto a table and given a lethal injection.

The RSPCA described the footage as “distressing” and the Department of Primary Industries and City Hall are looking into the matter. Police are also investigating whether the images were obtained illegally.

“The drugs used are tranquilisers and an epilepsy drug, which has been used for 40 years, and the two together allows them (animals) to go to sleep or become drowsy,” Dr Walter said.

“This is common practice, it’s not inhumane, it’s for the staff’s safety. It doesn’t hurt the dogs, it simply puts them to sleep because some dogs not all dogs are aggressive and have been surrendered (to the shelter) because they’ve either attacked or killed another dog. They (the video creators) have drawn their own conclusion to what the facts are. I do get upset and cross because it’s a pack of lies.”

Dr Walter said morale was low at the shelter and said abuse from the protest group was becoming too much for staff members some with more than 30 years experience.

He said he resigned to care for his ill wife but admitted constant abuse from protesters had been a contributing factor.

“They (staff) are under enormous pressure. They cop a cascade of abuse not matter what they do,” Dr Walter said.

Tasmanian Paul Archer, who created the Deathrowpets blog, said he was working on a “database of evidence” to follow up on his September 26 post that spurred the local activist group GAWS Exposed.

He said he was first alerted to it on Tuesday by a reader.

“Three (former GAWS staff members) have been in touch and I’m yet to go through everything since Tuesday it’s becoming a full time job,” Mr Archer said. “We’ve been frustrated by the council’s lack of progress, we met with them and contacted the RPSCA months ago.”

City of Greater Geelong community services general manager Jenny McMahon said the council recognised the need to re-home more animals.

Geelong Detective Senior Sargent Mark Woodhead said police were establishing whether any action was needed on the video’s content. He said the RSPCA and government departments would be notified to see if there was “anything more” to the video, while the hidden camera investigation was continuing.

COMPANION ANIMAL NEWS FOOTNOTE: if you are not across the GAWS story, go here to read the background    To see the videos discussed in the article, go here 






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