A dog welfare group is welcoming improvements at Far North District Council dog pounds including better food, blankets and a plan to introduce daily exercise.
However, no date has been set as yet for hiring fulltime pound keepers as required by the SPCA.
Representatives of the Bay of Islands Watchdogs and an SPCA inspector were given a tour of the council's northern dog shelter at Kaitaia and its temporary southern shelter at Horeke on August 17.
Watchdogs spokeswoman Leonie Exel said the group was pleased to see some progress in the care of dogs in council shelters. They had been advised the dogs were now receiving bones and Blackhawk food and were being kept warm with blankets.
Annette Inglis, of the Watchdogs' pound working group, welcomed the SPCA's focus on ensuring compliance with animal welfare codes and staff training by an expert in dog behaviour. She said the council had committed to setting up exercise areas at both shelters in the near future instead of waiting until new facilities were built.
"Dogs need to get out of their kennels every day for at least 30 minutes under the legislation, and we are relieved that this will soon be a reality," Inglis said.
FNDC services manager Dean Myburgh said the council had made good progress on all three goals agreed to in a meeting last month with the Watchdogs — increased rehoming, ensuring shelters met animal welfare codes, and reducing the number of dogs being put down.
Rehoming rates had been boosted using an Adopt a dog webpage launched in June and by working more closely with community groups. Another eight lost dogs had been reunited with their owners via a new Is this your dog? page.
With the SPCA's help conditions had been improved at both shelters, and the organisation would also have input in the design of two new dog shelters. A new northern shelter near Kaitaia is due to be built by June 2019.
Planning was also well advanced on a new southern shelter at Ngawha that would have room for 52 dogs and open by the end of 2019.
SPCA Northland manager Francine Shields said the council had acknowledged its Kaitaia shelter was outdated and no longer fit for purpose, but it had shown an openness to take on SPCA recommendations.
''We will continue to independently oversee its operations to ensure adherence to appropriate animal welfare standards and codes of practice at its shelters," she said.
The SPCA also advised the council that two fulltime keepers were needed in each shelter to meet health and safety regulations and to ensure the dogs' welfare.
No timeline has been set for hiring extra staff but the council has set aside an extra $180,000 in its Long Term Plan for animal management staffing.