Sunday, August 22, 2021

Dogs shot in Australia to limit Covid spread

Rescue dogs shot dead by NSW council due to COVID-19 restrictions | Sydney Morning Herald - Angus Thompson:

August 22, 2021 - "Several impounded dogs due to be rescued by a shelter have instead been shot dead by a rural council in NSW under its interpretation of COVID-19 restrictions, alarming animal activists and prompting a government probe. Bourke Shire Council, in the state’s north-west, killed the dogs to prevent volunteers at a Cobar-based animal shelter from travelling to pick up the animals last week, according to council’s watchdog, the Office of Local Government [OLG]....

“'OLG has been informed that the council decided to take this course of action to protect its employees and community, including vulnerable Aboriginal populations, from the risk of COVID-19 transmission,' a spokesman from the government agency said. The spokesman said the agency was examining the circumstances of the incident to find out whether companion animal and cruelty prevention laws had been broken.

"The Herald attempted to contact the council administration multiple times, but received no response, and a member of Rural Outback Respite/Rescue – the shelter that was supposed to receive the dogs – declined to comment. A source who is familiar with the arrangement said the shelter volunteers are distressed and had COVID-safe measures in place to handle the dogs, one of which was a new mother. According to NSW Health, there have been no recent locally acquired COVID-19 cases in Cobar....

"[OLG] Minister Shelley Hancock, who has previously faced questions in Parliament over the shooting of animals in council pounds, did not comment. However, animal liberation campaigner Lisa Ryan called for an urgent investigation.... Asked ... in March whether she knew about councils shooting animals to euthanise them, Ms Hancock said she didn’t. 'If it was a practice, I would be concerned about it — if it was a cat or a dog,' she said, before agreeing to answer questions on notice regarding the practice. A later answer said councils weren’t required to tell the government how they killed animals under their care....

"The OLG spokesman said the agency issued advice to all councils about operating pounds during the COVID-19 outbreak, including changing procedures to ensure those services continued while keeping staff and volunteers safe.... On July 30, the agency said pounds and shelters could remain open to the public, and as people involved in animal welfare, their staff were authorised workers in locked-down areas."

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Agencia Brasilia, Dogs in animal control center, Brasilia, 2015. CC BY, Wikimedia Commons.

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