Kevin Coutts has helped put down more than 3000 dogs in the six years he has worked for Rotorua District Council's animal control section.
It's part of his job he hates, but someone has to do it. In an effort to try to reduce the number of death-row dogs in Rotorua, he has suggested a reduced pound fee to try to encourage more people to reclaim their pets. The idea has been approved in concept, but needs to be rubber stamped by the council.
The move would mean it would cost less to retrieve a dog from the pound, and would hopefully lead to up to 150 less dogs being destroyed each year.
On one day last month the Rotorua District Council animal control supervisor, another staff member and a vet had the "soul destroying" job of putting down 30 dogs - a record number.
"I came away from the pound feeling gutted. It's not me to put dogs down."
Between 700 and 900 dogs are put down each year.
The council is forced to put the dogs down because their owners refuse to pick them up from the pound and Mr Coutts believes the cost is a big factor.
At the moment it costs a dog owner $93.20 plus $7 a day, which covers food, to pick up a dog after it has been impounded.
The dog owner also has to pay extra if there are any veterinary bills, if the dog is not registered or it needs to be microchipped.
Councillors at this week's finance committee meeting voted to reduce the fee to $50 to encourage more owners to go to the pound and pick up their dogs.
The new fee needs to be signed off by the council and would not come into effect until July 1.
Mr Coutts said research he had done showed that in other centres which had low "impounding" fees there was a higher number of people reclaiming their dogs.
He hoped the fee reduction would see at least 25 per cent fewer dogs being put down.
Most dogs impounded have been roaming the streets, while others have been picked up because they don't have any food, water or shelter.
Other dogs are kept at the pound pending the outcome of a court hearing.
Dogs have to be kept at the pound for seven days before they can be legally put down. Sometimes staff have kept a dog at the pound for three to four weeks to try and find a new home for them.
Mr Coutts admits owning a dog is expensive. He owns two and they cost him up to $1400 a year and that's just for food and registration. Additional costs include veterinary and vaccination expenses.
He said while about 90 per cent of Rotorua's dog owners did the right thing, the rest should not be allowed to own a dog and he admits he is annoyed at the number of people who do not reclaim their dogs.
"If you can't afford to own a dog don't have one. It's not just a case of buying a puppy for $20 or getting it for free and chucking it a bit of food."
Meanwhile, the costs of reclaiming a dog from the pound for a second or a third time are $112.50 and $132.60 respectively.
These are expected to go up by $2.50 and $2.40.
- DAILY POSTBy Abigail Caspari