please help our dogs and cats to live

Some points on the Code of Practice for Management of Shelters and Pounds What is in there and more importantly what is not.

(This is not intended to be a complete list but an overview.  We hope to compile a more comprehensive breakdown over the next week, prior to our submission.)

What is in the Code:

Who the Code applies to

  • All shelters and pounds in Victoria but small pounds with two or three dogs held in any one week have the same requirements made of them as of the RSPCA and LDH.  This is obviously wrong.

Obligations to rehome

  • This Code of Practice is a mandate for death with no acknowledgement of the responsibility of, or onus on, the proprietor(usually the council or head of shelter) to rehome animals.

Foster care

  • Incredibly onerous and invasive rules for foster caring.
  • Time limit for foster caring by a shelter or pound - a maximum of 3 months  and then animals must be returned to establishment regardless.
  • No provision for companion animals who do not find a home quickly to be placed in foster care as either a break from kennels or until rehomed. 

Reasons for not Rehoming

  • Dogs that are aggressive or anti-social or animals with known vices such as excessive barking or habitual escapees are not to be made available for sale.   Why is it not noted in the Code that responsible CFC networks and rescue groups can take on these dogs as this may be situational or in some cases people lie on surrendering their dog as to the reason?

Euthanasia

  • Proprietors can still choose to kill an animal for any variety of reasons rather than let a responsible group or person save the dog or cat’s life.  This leaves rescue groups dependent on the whim of the individual or council operating the pound.  This is inherently wrong and continues to give inappropriate power to kill as the first option.
  • Humane killing.  What can be said.  This section is indicative of the lack of understanding by those in power of the attitude of the community, particularly in city areas, to any form of killing other than barbiturate. The acknowledgement of shooting is a sop to known practices.
  • Cats continue to be treated virtually as vermin.  An unidentified and 'uncontrollable' cat can be killed without being held for eight days.

28 Day Rule

  • Has been lifted. But this does not mean that the animal will be kept alive. The dog or cat can be killed on any day after the ninth day for strays or first day for surrenders. All it means is that those few shelters and pounds that do want to keep animals alive will not be tied to this rule.

What isn't in the Code of Practice and should be. 

These points are not in the Code because there is no emphasis on the animals being kept alive:

Rehoming and Recovery

  • Mandatory internet listings showing photos of all stray animals to make it easier for owners to locate their dogs.
  • Pounds and shelters should have enough space - particularly those with multiple pound contracts - to house all animals handed in until they are rehomed.  No animal should be killed because there is no space.  Just because an animal can be killed on the ninth day doesn't mean it should be.
  • Any animal that can be saved by a responsible group or individual should be given the opportunity to live, and this should be clearly written into the Code.
  • Surrenders should be held and given the opportunity of being rehomed.  Their photos should also be put on the internet listing to give them exposure and they should be held until rehomed.
  • A pound that has a contract with a shelter should have to hold that dog for 24 hours before passing on and make an effort to return to owner.  Melbourne council pounds that do this have a much higher rehoming rate than those that do not.  Of course this would also considerably cut down the shelter's profits from fines.
  • All pounds and shelters must be open at least 4 hours on the weekend for public looking for lost animals or to adopt. The cost of paying staff overtime should not be the criterion used for keeping the pound or shelter shut. Nor should the public have to make an appointment to view dogs on the weekend.
  • Pounds should be encouraged, especially in the outer suburbs where land sites are not a problem, to have their own shelter to rehome dogs locally.
  • Pounds should be encouraged to work with local groups and/or to form Friends of the Pound to encourage public participation.   A pound whose aim is not destruction will welcome public participation, media support and local visitors.
  • Potential owners should be queried re their past ownership of dogs, and adopters rejected if there are concerns over their treatment or the longevity of their dogs. 
  • Anyone who has been found guilty of cruelty to an animal should not be allowed to adopt a dog.

Vaccinations

  • All dogs entering the pound should be given a vaccination against the parvovirus.  Furthe,r because of the correlation between parvovirus and puppies with a heavy worm load, all puppies should be wormed on entry to the pound.

Record Keeping

  • Not only the fact that a dog has died and the reason should be recorded, but also the manner of death - that is shooting, hit on the head, car exhaust.  This will force those Councils who do not choose to use a vet for cost reasons to be so noted.
  • There should be heavy penalties for a pound and shelter that subvert their records by in effect falsifying them.  Any animal taken from a pound by a shelter is the property of that shelter whether killed on or off the premises and should be so recorded.
  • Any Animal Management officer found to be passing undesexed animals to puppy farmers or back yard breeders should be dismissed.

Independent Audit / review

  • Auditors, not from the Bureau of Animal Welfare, and with a strong public input, should be appointed to assess each pound on at least an annual basis as there has been a conspicuous lack of follow through in BAW audits and obvious failure in some pounds and shelters where animals are not treated with respect and care. Is the Bureau’s role merely to check numbers and the size of cages?
  • Animal Management Officers (AMO) should not be the representatives of the RSPCA at local pounds, or at least there should be a third party back up.  This situation is ridiculous when an AMO himself is accused of cruelty.

Rescue Groups and community foster care networks

  • It is not specified that community foster care networks and rescue groups can have a Section 84Y.   Even though this is supposed to be in the Amendment currently in the system it should be specified in the Code.  There should also be a short and clear draft Section 84Y available to Councils or they should be advised the DRAV form is acceptable.  There should be no need for a four page contract for what can be covered in a half page .

Pound/shelter staff

  • All Animal Management Officers, especially those involved with the hands on killing of animals should be psychologically tested.

Euthanasia

  • Any dog or cat killed by any means other than barbituate administered by a vet must have the method of killing and the reason recorded.  This present system must surely breach the Cruelty to Animals Act.
  • No animal should be sent to a pound vet to be killed because that vet needs blood for another animal whom they are treating.

Those involved with the drafting of the Code of Practice will say many of these matters are not relevant to the Code of Practice.  Then, we would ask, where do they fit? They are not covered in the current Amendment that will be presented without public consultation. Nor are these aspects covered appropriately in the DAM plans.

We are extremely disappointed that the problems that CFC networks have with property and registration are not covered in that amendment, despite a promise from the new government of appropriate recognition.

This culture of slaughter has continued on for far too long.   Let us move forward and help these Prisoners of the Pound that have no voice.   Let us speak for them.