A dog lobby group has its hackles up over a photo it says shows a dog being kept at the council's Horeke pound in wet and mouldy conditions.
The Far North District Council, however, denies the claims, saying there was no mould in the dog's run and it was wet only because it had been hosed out a short time earlier.
The photo, which appears to show a sharpei-cross in a run attached to a kennel, was posted on the council's Adopt a Dog page but has since been removed.
It prompted a flurry of comments on social media and a terse email to council officials from Watchdogs spokeswoman Leonie Exel, who demanded to know why the dog's run appeared to be wet and affected by mould, and why there appeared to be no bedding in the dog's kennel.
''Given that the council recently approved an additional $180,000 per annum in funding for staff salaries to ensure the welfare of the dogs in the pounds, would you please advise why the kennels are not being kept clean and dry, and bedding is not being provided, as is legally required?''
A second email from Ms Exel followed four days later before she received a response which, like the original emails, was copied to media including the Northland Age.
The response, from chief executive Shaun Clarke's executive assistant, said the Watchdogs had made ''a number of regrettable assumptions based on one image''.
The wooden run visible in the photo had been washed down prior to the dog's arrival as required under the Dogs Code of Welfare and, although not visible in the photo, every kennel was lined and had a blanket for extra comfort.
Most newly arrived dogs were photographed in another part of the shelter but, due to its unpredictable temperament, staff opted to photograph the dog inside its run.
As a result of Watchdogs' concerns the Horeke dog shelter was audited on July 30 and no mould was found in the run photographed, she said.
Ms Exel, however, was unconvinced, saying she had reliable information that there was mould in the run in question and that as of very recently blankets were not being used in the Horeke kennels.
She also questioned the description of the dog as unpredictable, saying the animal was known to the Watchdogs and had been noted by an expert as unusually well mannered.
The dog normally slept with a five-year-old child, she said.
The dogfight continues.
■ If you want to adopt a dog from the council pound, go to www.fndc.govt.nz, click on the 'dogs' tag on the main page, then 'adopt a dog' from the left-hand menu.