It was a simple vote turned into a dog's breakfast.

Confusion reigned as councillors re-approved a new pound at Airport Rd but not the money to build it.

The proposed dog pound is expected to cost $1 million and with $450,000 already set aside, staff sought approval from Whanganui District Council's property and community services committee for a further $550,000.

But a replacement for the current non-compliant pound on Ridgway St now sits in limbo.

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The new pound got a majority vote but not enough voted in favour of spending the extra cash, with the stalemate leaving the council's property general manager, Leighton Toy, "slightly confused".

"It leaves us no further ahead whatsoever, so I don't know what our next steps are," Mr Toy told councillors at yesterday's meeting.

Chief executive Kym Fell said it seemed as if the council was avoiding making a decision, while councillor Charlie Anderson, who voted against building the pound, said it was ridiculous "for people to vote for it [but] for people not to vote giving the money".

It is a partial U-turn for the committee, which already approved the pound and the money in November but was asked to consider it again by the full council with staff providing more information.

The council received several complaints about the current pound relating to breaches of the Animal Welfare Act in the past year.

A council report says the complaints "focused mainly around the construction of the current pound which lacks the infrastructure and build specification to ensure that impounded dogs are returned to their owners in reasonable condition".

With 36 kennels it is also too small and was at or above capacity for 11 days last year.

Before the vote committee chair Helen Craig said no one wanted to spend the money but animal control was a core council service and she pleaded with councillors to make a decision.

"So make a tough decision and stick with it," she said.

"This is not puppy paradise. We are building a puppy prison.

"Our staff have spent three years trying to get you enough answers to satisfy your issues. We've got more facts than anybody in this community is ever going to have."

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said the current pound risked damaging the city's reputation as it did in 2014 when council came under fire over the gassing of unwanted dogs.

"If we had parvovirus going through there killing half the dogs then it would be an absolute disaster for the community. It would be the same reputational damage we had three years ago."

Mr Anderson held concerns over the effect gunfire from the nearby pistol club would have on the dogs at the new site.

Chief operating officer Bryan Nicholson said there was a reasonable distance between the range and the pound site and mitigating measures would be put in place.

"And there are obstacles in between. We're talking a good couple of hundred metres," he said.

Councillor Murray Cleveland wanted the council to outsource its animal control but Mr Nicholson said it was a core council service and it would be "high risk" to do so.

"I would absolutely advise against it."

Councillor Graeme Young said the cost was a major concern among ratepayers.

"There's a large element of the community that are quite astounded at the level of expenditure we're talking about."

The committee's decisions will come before the full council next week for approval.