Newcastle Herald ; DAMON CRONSHAW; June 18, 2013
HALF the dogs and cats handed in to the RSPCA’s Rutherford pound are killed, figures for the Cessnock local government area show.
Cessnock City Council released the figures following calls from animal welfare groups to make them public.
Councillors will consider the matter at a meeting on Wednesday night.
The RSPCA does not release statistics for its Rutherford shelter, which manages the pounds of Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Cessnock and Maitland councils.
But Society of Companion Animal Rescuers vice-president David Atwell said the Cessnock data would be a good indication of the pound’s overall euthanasia rate.
A Cessnock council report said 152 of 490 dogs and 239 of 311 cats from its area were euthanised at the Rutherford pound in the 2012-13 financial year to date.
This represented an overall kill rate of 49 per cent.
‘‘It is by far the worst performing pound throughout the Hunter Valley, Central Coast, Sydney and other neighbouring regions,’’ Mr Atwell said.
‘‘It is akin to a slaughterhouse.’’
Other pounds that work with rescue groups achieved ‘‘far greater results’’, he said.
Mr Atwell said pounds in Sydney, Singleton, Taree and Gosford had euthanasia rates of 15 per cent or lower.
‘‘Wyong records about 12 per cent and Muswellbrook achieves the state’s best at 8 per cent,’’ he said.
An RSPCA statement said it proactively and willingly helped to ‘‘ensure the number of unwanted companion animals being euthanised every year is reduced’’.
‘‘Along with thousands of rescue groups, animal lovers and animal welfare organisations nationwide, the RSPCA believes the number of companion animals killed each year in Australia is appalling,’’ it said.
A Cessnock council report said the RSPCA worked with numerous rescue groups and had ‘‘released five dogs that originated from the Cessnock area’’ over the year.
The council report said many euthanised cats had ‘‘a disease or medical condition’’.
Mr Atwell said the kill rate had been better at the council’s old Kurri Kurri pound.
The Companion Animals Act states that before destroying a seized or surrendered animal, councils must consider alternatives.