Sunday, February 12, 2017

Australia: Dog's death at Hawkesbury Companion Animal Shelter prompts outrage

AUSTRALIA -- The death of a dog at the Hawkesbury Companion Animal Shelter in December has led to anger and concern from community members and animal welfare groups alike.

Bear, a 12-year-old male Chow Chow, died at the Hawkesbury Council-run pound on December 29, on a day where the Bureau of Meteorology recorded the top temperature at Richmond as being 39.5 degrees celsius.

The actual cause of death is unknown because Hawkesbury Council did not do an autopsy on Bear according to Council’s acting director for city planning Andrew Kearns.

The Gazette was contacted by several concerned residents, who thought Bear ought to have been shaved in anticipation of the heat.

Mr Kearns said veterinary advice provided to Council was that the coat of a Chow Chow acted as an insulator to keep the heat out.

He also said that Bear’s fur was badly matted when he came into the shelter and would have required sedation in order to be shaved.

Mr Kearns said on December 29, staff at the shelter regularly checked on the animals because of the heat.

He said roof sprinklers and hoses were used to cool the animals down, and Bear was given a cooling mat to lie on.

Mr Kearns said Council planned to review its practices in light of what had happened. He added that Council had identified a number of upgrades for the shelter and planned to start these upgrades during the financial year.

Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett said she had been trying to get to the bottom of what happened.

“Any death of an animal is sad and it is important that the community have confidence in the Council and how they run their companion animal shelter,” Cr Lyons-Buckett said.

Cr Lyons-Buckett said a review of how the animal shelter was run was on the agenda for 2017.

“We are committed to ensuring any necessary improvements to better enable animals to be cared for will be implemented as soon as practicable,” she said.

“We are also mindful that there may be extreme weather conditions ahead and that appropriate reviews of the number of staff and the methods for keeping animals as comfortable as possible will be utilized.”

Local animal welfare campaigner Ashley Avci said Bear’s death was heartbreaking.

“[This] serves as a reminder that 250,000 companion animals are destroyed in Australia each year. Most of these animals are dumped at the pound because of irresponsible pet ownership,” she said.

“I would like to see more education and responsible pet ownership and ethical pet purchasing practices. I’m just sorry that Bear has to die for this to be realised.”

Ms Avci said she would like to see Council upgrade its facilities and was pleased to hear Council had plans in the pipeline to do so.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA told The Gazette the organisation was investigating what had happened but at this stage had no further comment.

(hawkesburygazette - Jan 5, 2017)