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Councillors inspect the inadequacies of the Moruya Pound as part of their budget review

More than one year on after Eurobodalla Councillors listened to a considerable number of concerns raised by the community the councilors conducted a "bus ride" following their morning ZOOM briefing to finally visit Council's animal pound at North Moruya. Reports and complaints have long been made around the condition of the pound. In December 2019 a request was put forward for Council to undertake, at its next budget review, that sufficient funds be allocated to conduct: a) A detailed inspection of the current animal pound to assess its suitability in light of community expectations and current best practice b) further, that should there be inadequacies or improvements needed, that a scoping plan to address these be developed. c) further, on the basis of such a scoping plan, that costing estimates to implement any improvements be prepared for councillor consideration. The December 2019 motion, presented by Councillor Pat McGinlay, considered the suggested improvements by the local RSPCA, in particular, upgrading of facilities comprising: a) paved entrance and parking area b) extended dog exercise area c) construction of separate, enclosed cattery d) construction of separate office and visitors’ area. The motion was presented by the Councillor on behalf of the members of the local Eurobodalla Branch of the RSPCA and was widely welcomed by those in the community who have been concerned by the conditions they have seen at Moruya pound. The Councillors moved (on December 10th, 2019) that they receive a detailed briefing, as early as possible in 2020, on the pound and potential works, including those recommended by the RSPCA to improve its condition and operations. This timing was to then allow them to undertake, at its next budget review in 2020, that sufficient funds be allocated. As no report was forthcoming and no estimates presented the pound was allowed to continue below standard for another year. In 2019-2020 267 animals entered the animal pound with 89% returned to the owner or rehomed.

Source Eurobodalla Council is required, under the Companion Animals Act 1998, to have a pound, where seized or surrendered animals can be kept, while their owners can be identified and contacted, if possible. In the background offered to the December 2019 motion Councillor Pat McGinlay offered: "The facility run by Eurobodalla Shire Council, while meeting basic legal requirements, by its existence, is nevertheless old and due for replacement in the near future and is arguably not fit for purpose nor community expectations for the humane treatment or conditions of temporary captivity and accommodation of animals awaiting collection or re-homing. "The reasons why dogs and cats end up there are many and varied. They include over breeding, unsuitable premises to keep dogs secure, family breakdown, mental health and drug issues, and changes in financial circumstances of owners. "Whatever the reason, the animals are impounded due to the actions - careless, negligent, unfortunate or sometimes unavoidable - of humans. "On that basis, we have a duty to them that goes beyond legalities, and is based on what our society considers to be appropriate treatment for companion animals. Animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA and others, seek to address the types of problems which lead to cats and dogs being impounded, in a range of ways. These include discount de-sexing programs, community programs for homeless people, promotion of responsible pet ownership via Facebook and at events, and promotion of and participation in Council activities such as free microchipping days. "These organisations also take animals directly from the pound for re-homing, whenever possible. Councillor McGinlay put forward "It is important that Council and these organisations continue to work together to achieve good outcomes for the animals concerned. The work of the rangers in recent years in re-homing many of these animals is acknowledged, as is the care, concern and hard work put into delivering good outcomes for as many impounded animals as possible." "Joint re-homing efforts by council and various animal welfare agencies have seen the numbers of animals being euthanised drop dramatically in recent years, nevertheless, a number are still being euthanised with thirty recorded in the last year. "The rangers can only do so much, under the present conditions. It may be that rehoming suitable animals can be further improved through changes such as a revamped impound facility, which better caters for animals' needs, and provides a more welcoming space for visiting members of the public. "Many of the cats brought to the pound have been caught in traps. Studies have shown that trapping a cat is extremely traumatic for that animal. The cat is then brought to an unfamiliar place, with dogs barking in close proximity. It would be much more humane to house the cats in a fully enclosed structure, further away from the dogs. This would greatly assist in identifying cats which are rehomable, by lowering their stress levels. The pound also needs to be able to house many more cats than it does currently. While feral females may not be re-homable, their kittens, if found young enough, often are. "We should be maximising the utility of the pound as a resource to accommodate and responsibly home such cats as part of our work in protecting our precious environment in this beautiful shire. "Many of the dogs in the pound are larger breeds, yet the exercise area in our current facility is tiny. Those dogs are locked in kennels for most of every day, so a decent exercise area, for the short time they are able to use it, is essential for helping maintain their well-being in a stressful environment. "Furthermore, sometimes that area needs to be used for another type of animal, such as goats, which means that it is not available to dogs at all. We also need a place where people can safely interact with animals they are thinking of adopting. An enclosed area, with a small grassed run and covered seating, separate from the main building, would give potential adopters the opportunity of a longer, calmer meeting with the animal they are interested in. Assisting Councillor McGinlay's motion being endorsed by his fellow councillors were the several points that are contained in Council’s Property Strategy are relevant to this motion: Strategy 5: Continue to resource and improve the accessibility and sustainability of Council properties. Strategy 8: Align assets with service and community expectations. Strategy 9: Invest in property that will deliver economic, social/cultural or environmental outcomes.

Above: to assist councillors in their vote to fund a detailed inspection of the current animal pound was requested to be carried as soon as possible in 2020 to assess its suitability in light of community expectations and current best practice