Dubbo's "sub-standard" animal shelter is overcrowded and underfunded, leading to more diseases and stressed dogs that become unsuitable for rehoming.
Dubbo Regional Council's submission to the NSW government's inquiry into pounds in the state has painted a grim picture of the local facility.
The inquiry is looking at the level of resourcing for NSW pounds, as well as the state of the buildings and facilities. Euthanasia rates and practices will also be scrutinised to see if any changes need to be implemented by the NSW government.
In the submission, the council's chief executive officer Murray Wood said the Dubbo City Animal Shelter was a "sub-standard, ageing asset that is well overdue for renewal".
The shelter has a capacity of 82 dogs and 24 cats, but is frequently operating at 40 per cent over capacity.
For the first time a surrender waitlist was introduced in 2022/23. At the time of writing the submission, Mr Wood said there were 103 dogs and 76 cats on the waitlist.
Because of the council's "constrained budgets and competing community priorities", Mr Wood said they did not have the funding to "maintain the facility to the desired standard". It has led to "regular outbreaks of diseases such as cat flu, canine parvovirus, kennel cough and ringworm".
Mr Wood said a lack of staff and time at the animal shelter means the animals are also missing out on regular exercise.
It's all adding increased levels of stress to the dogs at the shelter.
"Dogs that were previously suitable for rehoming due to their nature have become unsuitable due to the negative impacts of the stress from being in the pound environment for longer periods of time," Mr Wood said.
The council CEO also used the submission to highlight the negative impact changes to euthanasia laws have had on the Dubbo facility.
In February 2022, changes were made to euthanasia laws. It includes a ruling that the council must reach out to multiple re-homing organisations first before euthanising the animal.
"Whilst this may appear to be a more humane approach, this change has added more stress to the animal itself over a longer period of time whilst reducing the attention able to be provided to animals in the shelter collectively. It also has an impact on staff who genuinely care for the animals and do not like to see animals' suffering unnecessarily prolonged," Mr Wood said.
"It is council's view that this amendment has not reduced the number of animals being euthanised. It has simply made it more difficult for pounds and rescue groups by prolonging the animals' stay, taking up much needed space and resources for suitable animals to be taken in and rehomed. This effectively decreases the level of service available to animals and the community."
On a positive note, Mr Wood highlighted the work being done by the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League. The organisations visit the shelter twice a year to provide free vaccinations, microchipping and health checks.
Increasing vaccinations at the shelter has lead to a decrease in euthanasia rates from cat flu and parvovirus.
The council has plans to build a new $5.5 million animal shelter that would have a capacity of 101 dogs and 40 cats. However, grant funding is not currently available.
Submissions to the pound inquiry have closed.
Hearings will be held in the coming months.
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