The family of a much loved dog is devastated after it escaped from Kapiti Coast District Council's high security dog pound and was found dead three days later near the Paraparaumu railway tracks.
Dre, a two year old staffy cross, was first notified as missing by council staff on Saturday, October 22, however it took until the following Tuesday morning for his owners to be notified.
Picked up roaming by an animal management officer on Tuesday, October 11, Dre had been in the pound for two weeks while his family secured fences and a gate at their Otaki home.
While the family took time off work to install an electronic control system at their property, Dre escaped from the Fytfield Place based pound by pushing his way through wire fencing, according to council.
Three days later he was found dead.
According to Dre's owner Terry Poko, Youthquest's Kapiti's area manager, the fact they were not made aware of his escape until a few days later secured his fate.
"My family is very upset at losing our lovely dog, especially as we believe that if told, we would have found him," Mr Poko said.
He said since the family was visited by animal control, they had spent significant money and time securing their fences and gate, including ordering a new cage kennel and an electronic collar.
"On Tuesday, October 25 a council officer came to my home while I was working on the fence and told me Dre had escaped the previous Saturday from the pound.
"Later that afternoon, another council officer and the group manager in charge gave me the very sad news that Dre had been killed."
Since the death of Dre, who was licensed, registered and microchipped, Kapiti mayor K Gurunathan had visited the family to offer his condolences and ensure there would be a robust investigation.
"Our main issues are the long period Dre was missing without action or being informed, as well as the significant cost we have gone to in securing the section," Mr Poko said.
"Why did my dog escape and what actions will be taken to ensure it doesn't happen again?"
Main Security, the external contractor responsible for animal control work on weekends and public holidays, was in charge of Dre's care over the three day Labour weekend.
According to council regulatory services group manager Kevin Currie, Main Security staff left a message with an officer on Saturday afternoon, although it was not picked up until Tuesday morning.
"We let the owners down," Mr Currie said.
"That dog was in our care and we didn't take good care of it by not initiating a search for it until Tuesday morning.
Mr Currie said council was working to ensure a similar incident did not happen again.
"We were reviewing our after-hours service and processes but we are now prioritising this work and have launched an investigation.
"And we've put in place immediate interim measures, while the longer term solution is being put in place."
Immediate steps included changing back to having animal management staff rostered on for all weekend and public holiday work.
He also said repairs had been made to the area where Dre escaped.
"We made repairs and have gone back to check the fence and the perimeter to ensure the animal shelter is secure - which it is.
"However, it's clear there are significant issues here beyond a fence.
"We have commissioned two external experienced and capable investigators, Anita Dixon, the former senior sergeant in charge of Kapiti police station, and Peter McCallum, a senior animal welfare officer at the SPCA.
"The investigation will involve reviewing documentation, including CCTV footage, interviewing council staff, Main Security staff, the dogs' owners, and others that are able to assist in the inquiry."
He said a report would be written to form the basis of further action.
"The community should be confident their animals will be looked after and safe.
"In this case, we let the owners and the community down."
Dre's family, who laid their "best friend" to rest this week, said while council had been apologetic, nothing would bring him back.
"I trusted my dog in their care, thinking he was in a safe environment until I got things sorted," Mr Poko said.
"He was a member of the family - my best friend.
"He went with dog control happy and content and was brought back to me wrapped up in blanket."
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