• The REAL story on NSW Council pounds

     

    For many years I worked at Animal Liberation NSW and it was not unusual for me to receive complaints from distressed individuals about the fate of companion animals held in council pounds. When I was elected to Parliament, amongst the first calls my office received were in regard to the terrible conditions of some council pounds—allegations of outright cruelty and neglect of impounded animals, high kill rates and unacceptably low rehoming rates. For a nation that prides itself on its relationship with “man’s best friend” and the frequently cited observation that companion animals are “part of the family”, we discard tens of thousands of dogs and cats each year. These animals often end up in council pounds and face an uncertain future. That future is dependent upon the resources invested by individual councils to provide decent facilities, caring staff and a commitment to working with rescue groups to rehome as many animals as possible.

    Improvement in reducing kill rates and increasing rehoming rates across New South Wales must be acknowledged as being due to the enormous efforts of volunteer and self-funded rescue and rehoming groups that outperform council pounds and authorised agencies such as RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League. New South Wales statistics collected for the period 2013-14 show that council pounds rehomed 5,549 cats and dogs, and killed 14,641 animals, the vast majority being healthy animals. The RSPCA rehomed 10,718 but killed 12,641, with one-third being killed for failing the behavioural temperament test. Community rescue groups rehomed approximately 8,000 and euthanased fewer than 200, all for genuine illness or severe behavioural problems.

    In my travels to regional areas, I will often meet with carer groups that work hard to improve the lives of impounded animals and do their best to work with councils to rehome cats and dogs. Frustration is evident in pound reform advocates who observe a lack of accountability and transparency in regard to councils discharging their obligations under the Companion Animals Act. Advocates complain about being referred between the Office of Local Government and NSW Department of Primary Industries when complaining about animal welfare in pounds.

    Although councils are required to comply with both the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Code of Practice for Cats and Dogs in Animal Boarding Establishments, many councils are either unaware or fail to comply. Examples include Griffith pound’s failure to provide daily exercise for dogs, pounds such as Singleton where animals are exposed to the extremes of weather, and Wagga pound where cats were placed alive in freezers. Evidence from the McHugh Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry found that Kempsey Shire Council Dog Pound’s record-keeping was so deficient it could not account for the number of greyhounds surrendered. The use of more than 250 millilitres of euthanasia drugs was not recorded

    I note that pounds are still legally allowed to shoot dogs and kill cats by direct needlestick to the heart or peritoneal cavity. These are marked down in reports as “euthanasia”, with some councils dumping bodies at the local tip. The public would be outraged if they knew. The public are generally unaware of the state of pounds, which can be hidden away near council tips and water treatment sites. A number of council pounds are failing to adhere to the requirements to be open for a minimum of four hours per day, making it difficult for people to reunite with their lost cats or dogs. Many pounds also refuse public access, making adoptions and rehoming difficult. I believe that a comprehensive audit undertaken by the Office of Local Government of all New South Wales council pounds, with findings and recommendations, is the only way the public can obtain a truly accurate account of the state of New South Wales pounds and the care that they provide to impounded companion animals.

  • 29/02/2016: “Ways Out Of A Cruel Deadly Maze” – Companion Animal Roundtable

    After several months of planning including meetings with and visits to a number of rescue groups, our office held Companion Animal Roundtable on the 26th February at Parliament House. The purpose of the Roundtable was to consult with 16d and other grassroots rescue groups to discuss “Ways Out Of A Cruel Deadly Maze”- the theme of Mark’s inspiring introductory speech.

    The Roundtable highlighted the problems of oversupply of companion animals including stray and surrendered animals, high kill-rates in pounds and shelters and the need to improve re-homing rates. We noted that the system for protecting the well-being of these animals is BROKEN, and that rescue groups were very much a successful part of the solution for solving these issues.

    We discussed ways of supporting free-living animals such as colony cats and considered calls for an extension of the definition of companion animals to include horses, chickens, guinea pigs rabbits and others. Education of the general public, carers, rangers and pound staff was also identified as a high priority. Funding, better resources and greater recognition for animal rescue groups was seen as crucial in supporting their work, as well as dismantling barriers within the local government bureaucracy that prevents 16d groups from accessing and re-homing animals that are otherwise abandoned on death row.

    From here our office will be developing a framework for legislative and policy reform with input from selected stakeholders, including consultation with the RSCPA and the Animal Welfare League.

    From Mark and his staff we truly appreciate all those that participated and made the event a success. This is the vital first step that has been long overdue towards finding the way out of the cruel deadly maze.

    Mark Pearson making his introductory speech to attendees of the Companion Animal Roudtable held by our office

    Mark Pearson making his introductory speech to attendees of the Companion Animal Roudtable held by our office

  • 15/01/2016: Mark to visit Coffs Harbour and Grafton to meet with local animal protection groups

    Mark Pearson MP

    Mark will be on the road again this weekend engaging with the regional community and to support local animal protection groups.

    First stop will be to support the Coffs Harbour & Environs for Ethical Treatment of Animals (CHEETA) group at their market stall. Mark will be engaging with the community and available for information on animal representation in politics as well as local issues. If you are in the area, why not drop by for a chat as well as support local animal advocacy groups?

    Mark will then attend a meeting of Grafton animal advocacy groups run by Happy Paws Haven. Please see the official MEDIA RELEASE in relation to Marks visit to Grafton.

    Coffs Harbourside Market

    When: Sunday 17th of January from 11am

    Where: Marina Drive, Coffs Harbour

  • 27/05/2015: Paws and Recover

    Motion by the Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS, on behalf of the Hon. MARK PEARSON, agreed to:

    (1) That this House acknowledges and congratulates Senior Constable Jaqui Largo, Kings Cross Police Service, on her outstanding work in establishing and running Paws and Recover, a not-for-profit organisation that assists homeless people living on the streets to care for their companion animals that are often their one and only friend.

    (2) That this House notes that:

    (a) Paws and Recover networks with police, ambulance, emergency and mental health services in cases where animals are abandoned or would be left behind after domestic violence intervention, emergency, accident, health and mental health problems; and

    (b) During the week of 18 May 2015 Paws and Recover was able to arrange an animal carer for a 90-year-old woman living alone with her companion dog so that she was able to be admitted to hospital for an operation to remove cancer.

    (3) That this House acknowledges and congratulates the more than 70 volunteers, including police officers, who assist with this compassionate and very necessary service which contributes to the wellbeing of vulnerable members of the community and their “best mates”.

    Hansard link – HERE

  • 10/11/2015: Question Without Notice, Impounded Dogs

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, representing the Minister for Local Government. In 2013-14 more than 20,000 impounded dogs and cats were killed by local councils and the RSPCA. Given that section 64(5) of the Companion Animals Act states that councils have a duty to consider alternatives to killing, by what accountability mechanism does the Minister satisfy himself that councils are responsibly exercising that duty? And given that the Office of Local Government figures show that approved rescue groups under section 16(d) rehomed close to 8,000 animals rescued from death row last year, will the Minister explain why these organisations receive no funding from government?

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the honourable member for his question. It is a question of great detail which I will refer to my colleague the Minister for Local Government. I do remember, however, recently he asked me why we had not done something about the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service [WIRES] signs and when I checked, they were not our signs, they were WIRES’ signs. We need to check on this and I will take the question in good faith and pass it on to the Minister for a detailed answer.

    Hansard link – HERE

    No answer has yet been provided.

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