Time to let dead dogs lie

By Don Farmer

The humane destruction of unwanted dogs was in the news this week with the question posed basically being to shoot, or not to shoot.

Reading reporter Amie Hickland's news story, I formed the impression shooting dogs, while not the preferred option of at least Masterton District Council, was nevertheless the most commonly used method.

Simple arithmetic confirms that anyway as the Masterton council put down more than 100 unwanted dogs last financial year with 89 of them being shot.

The issue of shooting dogs arose from a talk Masterton vet Dr Heidi Ward-McGrath had at a meeting of councillors in which she expressed her concerns over using guns to destroy dogs.

It must be acknowledged that Dr Ward-McGrath was providing veterinary services to the council - a circumstance that apparently no longer applies - and had euthanised 20 dogs in the year ending June 30.

In that time 207 dogs picked up and impounded had been returned to owners and 89 had been shot.

Whereas Dr Ward-McGrath was critical of shooting as a means of destroying dogs I was less than convinced by her rationale.

She is quoted, in part, as saying "those are people's pets and people care greatly about animals and animal welfare."

Let us remember where these dogs enter the equation.

I venture to suggest most were found wandering, impounded and left unclaimed to be fed and cared for at the expense of ratepayers.

Of course, it is distressing to hear of any animal being killed but it is equally as distressing to realise these so-called animal lovers didn't have the wherewithal to find out what had happened to their pets, or didn't care.

The debate over whether it is kinder to shoot or to inject unwanted dogs is all a bit academic surely, as the end result is the same and we would hope councils take care either way to ensure animals, in any event, do not needlessly suffer.

Carterton District Council and South Wairarapa District Council confirmed they too shoot unwanted dogs. Part of the debate was over carcass disposal, but here again we must trust our professionals to take reasonable care in that arena.


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