Far North dog owners are outraged the former Melka Boarding Kennels in Kaikohe have been left to fall into a state of disrepair.
Nearly one year after the Far North District Council purchased the property with the intention of using it as a dog pound, photos posted on social media show the once-popular kennel has become derelict.
Kerikeri resident Mandy Mackenzie took the photos on February 21, and they show grass and weeds growing to the top of kennel fences, through the gravel driveway and up the front steps of the house.
There have also been a number of thefts from the property.
Items stolen between August 2020 and over the holiday period include a water pump, oven, dishwasher, windows, doors, fireplace, gas califont and a bathtub.
"It was a beautiful home with awesome facilities that should have provided the Northland community with a safe and secure place for dogs to be cared for and rehomed," Mackenzie said.
"If this was a privately-owned property on the main street of town the council would have demanded a clean-up, however it doesn't appear to work the other way around."
The council bought the property on Ngapuhi Rd early last year as a permanent place to house impounded dogs after nearly three years using a temporary shelter at Horeke.
The council paid a market rate for the property below the asking price of $680,000.
The property includes 0.3ha of land, a four-bedroom house, a kennel facility with two exercise areas and a cottage for small dogs.
At the time council said it would be open in June 2020 after the upgrades needed to meet national animal codes of welfare requirements were completed.
However, this was delayed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Council environmental services manager Rochelle Deane said work would now start by July this year, and she expected building work to take at least six months.
"While this facility had previously operated as a commercial dog boarding kennel, it will require extensive upgrades to operate as a council animal shelter," Deane said.
"Unfortunately, these upgrades were delayed by the Covid-19 lockdown period and a budget shortfall."
Council initially estimated it would cost $200,000 to upgrade the kennels but a more thorough investigation put that figure closer to $600,000, Deane said.
Last July, the council was given $1 million for animal shelter projects through a successful funding bid from the Provincial Growth Fund following Government calls for shovel-ready projects.
Deane said the additional funding meant the council could "explore further options".
Re-scoping and design work are now being completed within the new budget, which includes clearing the site of all current buildings to make way for the new shelter, she said.
"The house and some outbuildings will undergo an open tender process for removal.
"The new shelter design better meets security, and health and safety requirements for council staff, the welfare needs of animals, and community expectations for a modern animal shelter facility."
Bay of Islands Watchdogs spokeswoman Leonie Exel said the property has been mismanaged and was a "disgraceful waste of ratepayers' money".
"It's indicative of their attitude toward assets.
"The property could have been rented out for some money for the council for a period, and instead all sorts of things have been stolen from it.
"They have let Melka go to ruin."
Deane said the thefts had been reported to police and there are now surveillance measures in place.
"The Horeke facility will be decommissioned and deconstructed once the new northern shelter is operating.
"Materials from the Horeke site will be used at the new shelter."