The closure of one of Auckland's three dog shelters is being discussed in a confidential council workshop today, raising concerns that the decision will be made before they have heard public feedback.
Councillors will tomorrow be briefed on plans to close either the Henderson or Silverdale shelter as part of the council's plans to save $350,000 in the first year and then $500,000 a year thereafter.
The aim of the workshop is to provide councillors with information to help them make a decision.
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The council earlier proposed closing one of its three shelters as part of its emergency budget, saying it does not house enough animals to justify having three, the document shows.
But animal advocacy group Dog Friends Auckland Region and Rodney is concerned the decision is being rushed through without taking in consideration public feedback or what the impact of the economic downturn could have on dog owners.
Spokesperson Claire Teirney said the closure of one of the shelters could result in an increase in dogs being put down because the council didn't have enough room for them.
Teirney said shelter space would already be tight once one of the shelters closed and this could be exasperated if dog owners couldn't afford to either keep their animals or pay the $78 fee to get them back if they were found roaming.
If the Silverdale shelter closed she estimated the remaining shelters would be on average 84 per cent full and 76 per cent full if Henderson closed, leaving little wriggle room. There are no plans to close its largest and most-used shelter in Manukau.
The group also raised concerns about the accuracy of the information being used in the council document, which said the dog registration fees of $8.2 million needed to be applied to dog-related matters as stated by legislation. However, the group said it was wrong and believed the act not only related to registration fees but all fees including impoundment, taking the income to more than $10m.
Teirney said she was aware of a number of submissions being put to the council about the shelter proposal as part of the emergency budget and she was concerned the council was using the information in the memo to help make the decision on the closure tomorrow without having all the facts including feedback in the submissions in front of them.
The deadline for submissions closed on June 19 but the analysis is currently underway.
"On one hand they are saying send your information in, we want to hear from you and your views, and on the other hand they are saying we don't need to listen to those views because it's an operational decision."
Auckland Council manager of animal management Sarah Anderson said there had been a large response to the council's proposed emergency budget and the council was in the process of analysing the feedback before the political deliberations took place.
"Our animal management services and shelters are important to Aucklanders, they provide a safe haven for many animals and we remain committed to ensuring we can protect the lost, hurt or unwanted animals in our city. However, we also need to consider how we manage the unprecedented financial impact of Covid-19.
Anderson said the council was making some "incredibly difficult decisions" to account for the forecast $525m shortfall in revenue and the council believed they could close one of the shelters without it having any impact on the service.
The council did not respond to questions relating to the accuracy or completeness of the information being discussed in today's public-excluded meeting.