Animal welfare group Watchdog chair Jessica Maxwell says Napier mayor Bill Dalton owes her an apology after a Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) report found four major failures at the Napier pound.

The MPI external audit report is a precursor to a wider investigation on the pound allegedly breaching the Animal Welfare Act.

The investigation began after Watchdog wrote to the ministry when the welfare group's request for a review of operations was declined by the council.

In a letter to Hawke's Bay Today this month, Mr Dalton said the council was aware of shortcomings "well before Ms Maxwell decided to make the matter her life" and urged Hawke's Bay Today to ignore her "pathetic crusade".


The council refused to release the MPI audit report, instead releasing a statement late last year saying the report said the Napier pound was "on the whole" well run.

The report, released to Hawke's Bay Today under the Official Information Act on Friday, is widely critical, identifying four major and two minor non-compliances: a lack of standard operating procedures, a lack of evidence of training, a lack of documentation, poor ability to control temperature in the facility and a poor ability to prevent contagious disease.

A major non-compliance is defined as a major failure that caused or could have caused a risk to animal welfare.

While the overall management, supervision and operation of the facility might be compliant with MPI codes of welfare, the report said it was "a significant failure" that the situation could not be verified through documentation.

The council statement on the report said it found "no breaches of the Animal Welfare Code".

Ms Maxwell said the mayor and chief executive Wayne Jack "should hang their heads in shame for misinforming the media and the public".

"Instead of being up-front and admitting there were issues, they colluded to consistently deny there were problems and tried to discredit our group in the media," she said.

"In a case of men in powerful positions behaving badly, their poor choices have backfired badly on them."

Mr Dalton said he did not owe Ms Maxwell an apology because his "pathetic crusade" comment related to Watchdog "trying to sensationalise" the pound situation "and we were trying to play it down".

He said the council did a review of the pound when it became aware there were minor shortcomings "long before Ms Maxwell became involved".

The council "never shied away from admitting shortcomings" found in the MPI report, Mr Dalton said.

"What we have been found wanting on is the record keeping and that is because the regulations have changed and we haven't caught up.

"We have rapidly changed the whole management structure and everything needed to comply.

"Clearly Hawke's Bay Today has bugger-all to talk about when they keep going on and on and on about a bloody dog pound."

He had no doubt animals were always well looked after "and to me that's what's important".

Councillor Faye White said councillors were told there were some minor issues in the report which were being addressed.

"It probably is disappointing to have to read it in the press," she said.

Councillor Keith Price said Mr Jack told councillors there were "no issues other than some minor things that needed rectifying".

"When the second report is out there might be clarification on the whole thing."

The second MPI report, into alleged breaches of the Animal Welfare Act, is expected to be released next month.