Twenty members of Bay of Islands Watchdogs arrived at Thursday's Far North District Council meeting with a small mountain of blankets, beds and treats for dogs they say are not being well treated at the council pounds at Horeke and in Kaitaia.
They also presented a 1361-signature petition demanding that the council meet all conditions set by the SPCA, comply with the Animal Welfare Act, and promise that no healthy dogs would be euthanased as long as there was still room in the pounds.
Other demands included public access to the pounds and a community working group to offer advice and rebuild trust.
"We can only shout and scream and make petitions. In the end the buck stops with you, the kaitiaki of our most vulnerable kuri."
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The blankets and other gifts were handed over to councillors, Leonie Excel asking them to ensure they reached the pounds' canine inmates.
"We can only shout and scream and make petitions. In the end the buck stops with you, the kaitiaki of our most vulnerable kuri," she said.
The council has two pounds, one at Kaitaia, which it admits is well past its use-by date, the other a temporary facility on leased private land near Horeke.
The Watchdogs have been lobbying for better conditions at both for some time, and in October last year the SPCA issued a Section 130 notice demanding improved record keeping, protocols for managing disease or emergencies, visual barriers between cages, and daily exercise.
Two weeks ago, after a meeting with animal management staff, SPCA Auckland chief inspector Greg Reid said the council had made "some progress".
The SPCA would cancel the notice, but planned regular inspections, and would keep working on a memorandum of understanding with the council.
Issues still to be resolved included staffing the pounds during the day by professional canine attendants, and giving the dogs sufficient daily exercise. The kennels must also had to be comfortable in all weather.
Council district services manager Dean Myburgh said the council and SPCA had intended to work together on a new dog facility two years ago, but it had come to nothing because of circumstances beyond both organisations' control.
"We want to achieve the best possible outcome for dogs that come into our care.
"We also want the community to have confidence in how we run our animal shelters," he said.
All dogs that posed no danger to staff or other dogs now received some form of exercise every day.
Staff had also made the kennel beds warmer and more comfortable.
"Our current facilities are less than ideal, but we are developing designs for new shelters, and will seek the SPCA's advice so they meet optimum animal welfare standards," Dr Myburgh added.
Ms Excel, however, was unimpressed with the new beds, saying the hessian sacks might be a small improvement on bare wood but could not be washed easily, and would get wet when the enclosures were washed out.
The reason given for not having bedding at the Horeke was that the site had no power so blankets could not be laundered, but she wasn't buying that.
"It's not okay to not have bedding, just because you've picked a piece of land with no power," she said.
The council plans to build new pounds at Kaitaia and on land it has bought at Ngawha.