16 dogs, including a mom and her puppies, were slaughtered by shelter workers while awaiting pick-up.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Bourke Shire Council in rural Australia ordered all lost and stray dogs at a shelter to be killed, instead of placing them in foster homes or allowing them to be picked up.
Their reasoning for the mass slaughter? They didn’t want volunteers caring for the dogs to spread COVID-19.
Naturally, the council’s decision sparked outrage. Animal Justice Party member and politician Emma Hurst shared her disdain and disbelief with the decision on Facebook, saying, “Last week my team and I worked desperately to stop Bourke Shire Council killing every homeless and lost dog in their care, only to find out they had been killed already.”
She went on the explain that 16 dogs, including a mother and puppies, were killed. While rumors were started that the dogs were shot, Emma claims her “contacts” said the dogs were actually euthanized.
Emma also noted that it didn’t seem the council made any effort to spare the dogs. She wrote:
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“Council staff say the dogs were killed because they could no longer care for them during the COVID-19 outbreak. It seems to me that no genuine attempt was made to get the dogs into foster care or to rescue groups. I’ve heard there were at least two groups who were open to taking the animals in. These lives could have been saved.”
Beyond the ethically upsetting decision to kill all of the dogs, it’s possible the council also breached the Companion Animals Act that went into effect in 1998.
According to Michigan State University, “it is the duty of the council concerned to consider whether there is an alternative action to that of destroying the animal and (if practicable) to adopt any such alternative.” Evidently, the council failed to do that, and Emma claims they will be investigating the situation further.
Hurst ended her post, saying, “I’m sharing this to make it clear there is NO health order for pounds to kill all the animals – please share this so it doesn’t happen again.”
Shelter and pounds are currently allowed to be open to the public in areas less affected by COVID-19. Additionally, staff of animal welfare organizations are authorized workers in Australia’s locked-down areas, meaning, they can move freely between shelters and pick up and rescue animals as needed.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Lisa Ryan of the Animal Liberation group said, “we totally reject council’s unacceptable justifications that this killing was apparently undertaken as part of a COVID- safe plan.”
Animal activists also want to get to the bottom of the method used to kill the dogs. While Hurst claims they were euthanized, other sources (like the Syndey Morning Herald) are still reporting they were shot.
It’s unclear why the council chose to kill the dogs when there were plenty of rescuers fully ready to take them in.
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