The tragic news that 15 dogs, including 10 puppies, were killed last week by the Bourke Shire Councilin New South Wales, Australia, shocked the world. The Council reportedly claimed that it was a way to prevent the possible spread of COVID when staff from animal rehoming organizations, more than 100 miles away, planned to travel to Bourke Shire to pick up the animals from the shelter. Animal advocates everywhere are demanding answers, and that swift action is taken.
WAN reached out to multiple organizations to find out more information about the unfathomable situation, including the Bourke Shire Council, which reportedly claimed that the area was in a “tenuous situation” due to the Deltavariant of the COVID virus. WAN has yet to receive a response from the Council.
TheNSW Office of Local Government (NSW OLG) also has not responded to WAN’s attempts to reach the department, although now there are reports that it is investigating the situation.
WAN was able to communicate with Animal Liberation, a NSW-based nonprofit that lobbies for the rights of all animals. The organization’s in depth investigation from 2011 to 2020 allegedly revealed that Bourke Shire Council has an appalling performance in regards to its publicly funded management of impounded companion animals in need of protection, care, and a new home.
Animal Liberation’s Regional Campaigns Manager, Lisa Ryan, who received verbal confirmation from the Minister’s office that the dog and puppy shootings occurred, shared the following exclusively with WAN.
“We are deeply distressed and completely appalled by this callous dog shootings and we totally reject council’s unacceptable justifications that these killings were apparently undertaken as part of a COVID “safe plan.” We have lodged a formal complaint with RSPCA NSW,” Ryan explained to WAN, further noting that the abhorrent practice of shooting impounded animals has been ongoing.
“Impounded animals across NSW are suffering in council pounds. They are dying not because they are ‘unwanted.’ They are being killed because we have a totally broken pound and shelter system which allows animals to be treated as ‘waste management’ under a regime managed by NSW local government councils, a non-interested state coalition government which lacks leadership and the will to save lives not destroy them.”
As per Ryan, the Bourke Shire Council in particular has no adoption programs in place and they even fail to list lost and missing dogs and cats on their website. According to the Bourke Shire Council’s pound statistics for the years 2019 and 2020, of the 139 dogs impounded: 110 went to rescue organizations; ninewere reclaimed by owners; 11 were killed due to illness, disease, and injury; fivewere killed after being deemed unsuitable for rehoming; five were stolen; andnone of the dogs were placed by the Council in new homes. All 84 of the cats taken in during the same period, were allegedly killed upon the Council’s instructions.
“Their solution is shooting animals and they are using public money to kill,” continued Ryan. “Frequently self-funded and volunteer rescue and rehoming organizations are threatened with reprisals and accordingly are very reluctant to speak up because of the very real prospect that they will be denied the ‘right to rescue’ should they blow the whistle. The impounded animals are often used as pawns in a game of power orchestrated by many NSW local government councils.
“Remaining silent in the face of animal suffering including breaches of mandatory animal welfare laws only compounds the inherent and systemic issues. As a former whistle blower, I know speaking up takes courage and especially so in rural areas. I also know that remaining silent is not the answer because the truth remains buried, the animals continue to suffer, rescue and rehoming organizations are held ransom, and those responsible for the care and wellbeing of these animals continue to fail them.”
Based on questions asked of NSW Minister Shelley Hancock during the March 2021 budget hearings, and the responses provided, Ryan remarked that is was clear that “Minister Hancock had possibly an unintentional ‘pollyanna’ perception and was clearly oblivious to the reality of the serious issues involving many NSW council pounds. Whether the Minister is naive or pertinent information has been withheld from her by the NSW OLG is another question.”
“My Animal Liberation colleagues and I are very happy to work with the Minister to accurately appraise her with the reality and the state of non-compliance in NSW council pounds, and provide our level of expertise towards urgently needed reforms.”
While a bit vague, RSPCA NSW did post a message alluding to the killings of the dogs and puppies, stating that they are investigating an “incident” concerning the euthanasia of a number of dogs in New South Wales, on its Facebook page.
“This is under investigation for any possible offenses under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. As it is an active investigation, privacy and legal considerations do not allow us to provide further information,” stated the post.
Anyone with more information or evidence of cruelty, should contact the RSPCA NSWat 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 3589) or make a report, HERE!
Shelley Hancock, the Minister for the NSW Local Government may also be reached at (02) 8574 5400 or by sending an email to her HERE!
Animal Liberation also suggests that people email Bourke Shire Council’s Mayor, Cr Barry Hollman, at firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as SFF local state MP for Barwon, Roy Butler, at email@example.com.