Call to investigate Napier City Council's pound over concerns of mistreatment

By Victoria White

Lobby group Watchdog has asked the Ministry of Primary Industries to investigate Napier City Council's dog pound.
Lobby group Watchdog has asked the Ministry of Primary Industries to investigate Napier City Council's dog pound.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has been asked to step in following concerns of mis-treatment at the Napier pound.

The pound, operated by Napier City Council, has been subject to recent allegations following the disclosure of a letter from the lawyer of its four animal control officers to council chief executive Wayne Jack.

In light of this, late last month animal welfare advocate group Watchdog! lodged a complaint with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), asking it to investigate alleged breaches of the Animal Welfare Act at the pound.

Spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said Mr Jack had denied there was a problem and dismissed the group's suggestion they commission an independent investigation.

Mr Jack said they were working extremely closely with their Animal Control team right now to further improve their practices, policies and their customer engagement.

He said they were pleased with how that process was progressing.

Ms Maxwell said as Mr Jack had not progressed with an investigation, they had "taken it out of his hands".

In their complaint to MPI, the group cited alleged breaches of the Animal Welfare Act.

These included failing to get sick dogs veterinary care when first impounded, failing to carry out instructions given by vets when a dog is treated, and inadequate hygiene and infection control.

The group were currently waiting to hear back from an MPI Animal Welfare Investigator.

"We hope that if MPI agrees to conduct an investigation that it might broaden the scope of its Inquiry to cover other concerns we have," Ms Maxwell said.

Yesterday an MPI spokeswoman confirmed they had received the group's complaint.

At this stage, all that could be said was that they were investigating, she said.

A Napier City Council spokeswoman said there had not been any contact between MPI and the council on this matter.

She did point to the latest figures regarding impounded dogs.

These showed that of the 495 dogs impounded between July 2015 and June 2016, 17 per cent, 78 dogs, were euthanised.

328 dogs were returned to their owners, with 50 re-homed and 38 going to the SPCA.

She also said the Watchdog! group had published photos in newspaper ads and on Facebook which appeared to link poor treatment of euthanised dogs with the Napier pound.

"The photos were very misleading and extremely upsetting to members of the Napier Animal Control Team," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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