BARK - DEATH OF
A NO-KILL POUND?
THE FIGHT TO SAVE BARK
(BURWOOD ANIMAL RESCUE KENNELS)
(PLEASE START AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE)
CURRENT SITUATION REGARDING BURWOOD POUND
Sadly, and despite
assurances to the contrary from Burwood Council,
the Pound decided they no longer wanted to have volunteer dog walkers and
the staff member responsible for informing us of the transfer of the dog to
Blacktown Pound no longer works there. We aren't able to go into the
circumstances and will leave you to draw your own conclusions! The Pound claims
to be operating as a No-Kill facility and we have no proof either way. If they
are then it means the dogs are being held for long periods without exercise,
socialisation and stimulation. If they aren't then the dogs are sent off to be
killed while the Council gets unwarranted kudos for having a No-Kill Pound.
Either way, it's the dogs that suffer and is a sad ending for a once great Pound
who was recognised worldwide for their rehoming policy.
WORKSHOP - REPORT
Burwood Council recently held a workshop for Pound Volunteers and supporters
on Tuesday 21st December. At this meeting they advised that they had reached
an agreement with Enfield Vet for them to continue to take Burwood dogs
while the new tender to operate Burwood No-Kill Pound is finalised. Cr.
Teresa West has now been put in charge of the Pound and says the Council
have agreed to pay Enfield Vet to look after the unclaimed dogs in their
care while they are awaiting new homes.
As the lack of Council funding was the reason Enfield Vet made the decision recently to only take in microchipped or tagged dogs whose owners could be traced there should be NO Burwood dogs going to Blacktown Pound. It seems the decision to send them there was made by Council staff without the approval of the Councillors (who are adamant they will continue to operate a No-Kill facility). Apparently Burwood Council have always had some sort of agreement with Blacktown Pound to take their dogs but because Enfield Vet have agreed to operate a No-Kill Pound at their own expense for the last 10 years they have never needed to send any there until recently.
So if anyone knows of any dog from the Burwood Council area being held at Blacktown Pound please email email@example.com so Cr. West can be notified.
Thanks everyone who phoned and emailed the Burwood Councillors as it was only public pressure that made the Council agree to provide funding to Enfield Vet so Burwood could remain No-Kill (at least for the time being as if Enfield Vet don't tender to run it in future then anything could happen!)
UPDATE 13 DECEMBER: Burwood Pound Volunteers and Supporters attended the Council meeting and this time we had seven speakers in Open Forum (five new speakers from last meeting and two of us who spoke again). We responded to the General Manager's answers to the previous six questions we asked (see 30 November update) and tabled another six more specific questions regarding the current situation at the Pound (with particular regard to large breed dogs). These questions are given below this report ....
The meeting began at 6pm and at 11pm it became obvious to the Volunteers still present that the Councillors did not intend to address our concerns that night. However after being approached by one of our number who is a Burwood resident, Cr. Glenn Sanders did agree to ask a "question without notice" on her behalf to ask if our questions were going to be answered. The General Manager Mr Romano indicated that he was unable to answer as he had previously answered our questions "against legal advice" and it would take some time before he could reply to our latest ones. Cr. Ernest Wong was unhappy at him leaving the time frame open ended and wanted an undertaking that the questions would be answered at the next meeting. But Cr. Teresa West asked what was to happen to the large breed dogs in the meantime as the next Council meeting isn't until late January. Mayor Weiley indicated that the questions had been taken "under advisement" which appears to be another way of saying "we aren't going to answer them" !
As the minutes of the meeting aren't available for almost two weeks after the event we aren't able to check against them but the above is our best recollection of events. Interestingly though, despite having 6 speakers at Open Forum of the 23 November Council meeting, there is no mention of what BARK Volunteers were there to speak about other than that we were dog walkers. Yet the two people who were there to speak on matters other than the Pound had their concerns and requests documented. We wonder what could possibly be the reason for such a glaring omission! Cr. Teresa West also declined to vote to accept the minutes of the last meeting as she did not believe they were accurate. One important point that IS documented in the minutes is that the Mayor has agreed to have the Volunteers participate in a workshop to be held sometime during the process of seeking new tenders to operate the Pound.
Thanks to those BARK supporters who attended the meeting and also the six other hardy souls who sat through 5 hours of development applications only to be completely ignored by the Council. At least we made the point that we don't give up easily .....
FURTHER SIX QUESTIONS TO BURWOOD COUNCIL REGARDING THE
OPERATION OF BURWOOD POUND
1. Can Council please clarify the criteria for deciding when a dog will be held at Enfield Vet Hospital and when they will be taken to another vet hospital or Pound? Is it based on how many dogs are already being held there, their size or breed, whether or not they are microchipped or identifiable by a collar or tag or is some other method used?
2. Since there is no longer any accommodation for unclaimed large breed dogs at Enfield Vet, has Council been able to find another Vet hospital in the area who will accommodate them, not just for the mandatory holding period paid for by Council, but for as long as it takes to find them new homes?
If an alternative vet hospital has been found can Volunteers be
told who they are so we can contact them and request access to walk any Pound
dogs in their care and also photograph them so they can be advertised.
4. If Council has been unable to find alternative accommodation then where do they now intend to hold unclaimed large breed dogs?
5. As the General Manager has advised that Council are now prepared to meet the cost of looking after unclaimed animals during the tender process, are Council also prepared adjust the budget and contribute to the cost of operating a No-Kill Pound under the new contractual arrangements?
6. As the Council have stated they have a No-Kill policy for Companion Animals (not specifically dogs) will the new contractual arrangements include cats and kittens in the No-Kill Policy?
UPDATE 30 NOV 2004: Thank you to the many BARK supporters and volunteers who attended last Tuesday's Burwood Council meeting. A special thanks to current walkers Lynne, Janina, Rachelle, Ann and former walker Maureen who joined myself (Sheila) in speaking at the Open Forum. The next Council meeting is at 6pm on Tuesday 7th December and is being classed as an Extraordinary meeting (having been moved forward because of the Christmas period.) Can everyone please put it in their diaries as it looks like we have to do it all over again since our concerns were not really addressed at the last meeting ... !!
The 6pm start made it difficult for people to get there straight from work but I estimate that over 50% of the public gallery were BARK supporters. When the General Manager appeared to be having difficulty answering questions from Councillors Wong, Faker and West the Mayor Cr. Weiley stopped any more discussion of the Pound and, as we then all got up and left, I think it made an impressive walkout!
The Volunteers who addressed the Council are either current or former walkers of many years duration. We congratulated Burwood Council on their commitment to a No-Kill policy but expressed concern over recent changes to the Pound operation. Volunteers also told of the pleasure to be gained from walking the dogs and how proud we were to be able to help out at a No-Kill Pound. We expressed concern over the fact that a young, female Cattle dog had been labelled aggressive and transferred to Blacktown Pound just because the current Pound was no longer prepared to hold unclaimed animals. Two of the Volunteers who had walked the dog prior to her transfer also testified as to her good temperament. The Mayor said he had given that information to the Burwood Courier in good faith but we did wonder who had told him she was aggressive ... no need to ask why though as it seems obvious it was done to justify the dog's transfer to Blacktown.
We stated our disappointment that unclaimed dogs no longer had a safe haven at the Pound and asked where they were now to be held, given the claim that the transfer of the Cattle dog had been a "one-off". If Council are approaching other local vet hospitals to hold unclaimed animals then we would really like to be given the names of those who agree to do so in order to arrange access to walk the dogs.
A number of things we previously believed became quite clear at the meeting. Firstly, the General Manager Mr Romano is not prepared to spend any money on the Pound past the 7 or 14 day legal holding period and wants the Pound to be self funding. How this is supposed to happen was not explained, given that the registration which allowed BARK to legally fund raise expired back in June!
He also confirmed that the veterinary hospital (or "current service provider" in Council-speak) where the Pound has been for the last 10 years is no longer prepared to hold unclaimed dogs and absorb all costs for their upkeep while they are waiting for new homes. And who can blame them since it is the Council that get all the kudos for having a No-Kill Pound, not the veterinary hospital! Mr Romano claimed that the current service provider had not asked the Council for any more funds (which seems extraordinary) but, even if true, there is no reason why the Council could not have offered any ....
We would like to thank Councillors West, Faker and Wong for contributing to the discussion on the future of Burwood Pound. Cr. Faker stated he was in favour of Council meeting with the Volunteers prior to completion of the tender document so as to address our concerns and we very much hope to be given that opportunity!
PAWS would like to clear up a couple of things ... firstly, Council are making much of the fact that the Mayoral Motion was not a unanimous vote because Councillor Teresa West voted against it. Cr. West has always been a great supporter of the Pound and was instrumental in the formation of BARK as a registered charity. Teresa has confirmed that she only voted against the motion as a protest because she believed Council were paying lip service to the No-Kill policy and she thought that was the best way to draw attention to the fact that they won't allocate any money to fund it. Although it's being made to seem that Teresa is against a No-Kill policy for the Pound I assured her that we know this is not true ...
Secondly, our objection to dogs going to Blacktown Pound is based solely on the fact that it is not appropriate for Burwood Council stray dogs to go there given the Council's No-Kill policy and is not meant as a criticism of either Blacktown Pound staff or their operation. We recognise that they do endeavour to rehome as many dogs as possible under difficult circumstances.
Here are the General Manager's replies to our questions (with PAWS comments in italics) followed by the Mayoral Minute that was voted on by the Councillors:
The Mayor and Councillors consider it important to re-affirm Councilís No-Kill policy in relation to impounding animals prior to the preparation of a new contractual arrangement.
The Mayor invited the General Manager to answer the 8 questions raised in recently received e-mails:
Q1 As sending the unclaimed stray dogs of Burwood to Blacktown Pound is against Councilís No-Kill policy, where will they be held while the tender process is undertaken?
will continue to use the current service provider while Council is going
through the tender process. Where the current provider is unable to
provide the service, Council will negotiate with other vets in the area
who are willing and able to implement Councilís current policy.
PAWS COMMENT - We believe the vet hospital who previously operated the Pound (hereafter referred to as the "current service provider" ) is only prepared to accommodate dogs short term and are therefore only accepting microchipped or traceable dogs. We have requested details of the vets in the areas who have indicated they will accommodate unclaimed dogs for an indeterminate period at their own expense so that Volunteers can request access to walk and photograph the dogs for advertising purposes. We will let everyone know if we are given any but until then must continue to believe that unclaimed Burwood dogs will go to Blacktown Pound ...
Q2 Will the Council meet the cost of feeding and caring for stray and unclaimed animals while the tender process is undertaken?
- this is currently the situation and the formal arrangement with the
PAWS COMMENT - By the General Manager's own admission at the meeting this is NOT the current situation as Council only pays for the 7 or 14 day mandatory holding period (depending on whether or not the dog is microchipped) He stated that this gives an incentive for the current service provider to rehome the animal more quickly!
Q3 Will the Council meet the cost of veterinary treatment for sick or injured animals while the tender process is undertaken?
A Yes Ė no change to the current formal
arrangements with the current provider.
PAWS COMMENT - We understand the current service provider does receive funding for veterinary care from Council (less any donations received either through the Saturday Telegraph weekly advert or the PAWS website when we were legally able to fund-raise for BARK). However we also understand the payment is usually given begrudgingly as Council officers would prefer the animal to be euthanased (even when the medical condition has not been life threatening).
Q4 Will the Council make funds available to advertise the animals while the tender process is undertaken?
A Advertising is available with the
current service provider. The Mayor will also provide space
in his fortnightly Mayoral Column in the local newspaper.
PAWS COMMENT - Some months ago Council told the current service provider they would no longer fund the weekly advert in the Saturday Telegraph. If funding has now been restored then we expect to see this newspaper advertising recommence shortly!
Q5 Will the new contract require that the business or organisation appointed to operate Burwood Pound meet the costs specified in Points 2 to 4 for all Pound animals in their care?
A Yes they will.
PAWS COMMENT - While we're sure the Council would dearly love to think that local vets are queuing up to operate the Pound we think this is fairly unlikely given that they will either have to absorb the costs themselves (after the mandatory holding period that Council pays for has expired) or be responsible for fund-raising themselves if BARK is re-registered (see Q6 below)
Q6 Will Burwood Pound continue to operate as BARK (Burwood Animal Rescue Kennel) which is an incorporated Non-Profit Organisation. If so, will the new contract require that the business or organisation appointed to operate BARK comply with the appropriate Department of Gaming & Racing regulations for charitable organisations?
A The Burwood Pound has never operated as BARK. BARK was set up as a non-profit organisation which would collect donations on behalf of Council. Funds collected through BARK were used to re-home stray dogs.
has been no decision made for the future of BARK. However, a new
animal Welfare Committee has been established by Council to co-ordinate
Councilís No-Kill Policy for all Companion Animals. It should be
noted that the current or new service provider may be asked to collect
donations on behalf of BARK in future contractual arrangements.
PAWS COMMENT - This is not actually the question that was asked at the meeting! The night before we discovered that the authority for the registered charity BARK to fundraise actually expired in June this year. And in fact Council already had an Animal Welfare Committee but they had not met for well over a year so why do they need a new one ....
Whether or not Burwood Pound is actually called BARK is irrelevant. What we want to know is whether BARK will be re-registered as a non-profit organisation to provide additional (but not the entire!) funds for the operation of Burwood No-Kill Pound.
Q7 Will the new contract include a No-Kill policy for Companion Animals other than dogs?
A Council will comply with the Companion
Animals Act, and Council will continue to provide a No-Kill policy.
PAWS COMMENT - This is another one of those answers which doesn't actually say anything! The No-Kill policy operated by the current service provider did not extend to cats (although we acknowledge that they made every attempt to rehome these animals).
Q8 Will the new contract include an agreement to give Volunteers access to the Pound in order to walk, train and socialize with the dogs until new homes can be found?
A Council is receiving legal advice in
regard to this (walking the dogs); therefore it is unable to answer
this question until this advice is received.
PAWS COMMENT - When the Volunteers began this campaign to save BARK we always contemplated the possibility that Council may consider refusing us access to the Pound in future. After all, if we are not there then we can't cause the trouble we are obviously causing the Council now! But, even so, we decided to go ahead to try to safeguard the future of the Burwood strays as it should be apparent to all the Councillors that we are only acting in the best interests of the dogs. If they are going to be held for many weeks until they find homes then they must be exercised, trained and socialised. The other benefit is the number of Volunteers (or their family or friends) who end up adopting one of the dogs themselves!
Burwood Council first introduced the concept of no-kill and re-homing of dogs some twenty years ago. This concept was developed into a formal policy of Council and has now been successfully operating for many years. Burwood is one of the few Councils to continue to maintain this practice where the welfare of the animal is paramount.
While Council has been reviewing its current procedures there is no thought of changing its policy.
Council is still committed to its no-kill policy and the continuation of procedures that ensure the policy is adhered to.
Council still intends to utilize local resources where possible to ensure that impounded animals are retained locally.
I therefore MOVE:
(a) That Council reaffirms its commitment to its No-Kill policy and the continuation of arrangements and procedures to ensure the policy is effective.
(b) That Council commit to a continuation of an educational program advising pet owners and potential owners of their responsibilities as an owner.
(c) That, if required, Council adjust its current budget to facilitate any additional costs associated with the education program.
(d) That Council publicise its continued commitment to its No-Kill policy.
While we applaud the Council's decision to
provide money for the education program it is a shame they have not
agreed to do the same to look after their Pound dogs! The next Council meeting is to be held at
2 Conder Street, Burwood on Tuesday 7th December at 6pm
The next Council meeting is to be held at 2 Conder Street, Burwood on Tuesday 7th December at 6pm
UPDATE 21 NOV 2004: BARK supporters and volunteers would very much like to thank Burwood Mayor Cr. David Weiley and the other Councillors (marked with * above) who have emailed us various versions of the following statement"
"Burwood Council remains committed to its No Kill policy for abandoned and stray animals and it is proposed that all Councillors will re-affirm this policy at next Tuesdayís Council meeting prior to the preparation of new contractual arrangements.
This Council first introduced the concept of No-Kill and re-homing of dogs some twenty years ago. The concept was developed into a formal policy and has been operating successfully for many years. Burwood is one of the few Councils to continue to maintain this practice where the welfare of the animal is paramount. While Council has been reviewing its current procedures there will be no change to the existing policy."
Naturally we were very pleased to have this commitment but, as we had received certain information that caused us some concern and which seemed at odds with the Council's No-Kill policy, we endeavoured to meet with the Council in person.
met with Cr. Weiley and the Director of Planning and
Environment Mr. Ian Dencker on Thursday to raise our concerns about the
recent changes made to the operation of Burwood Pound. We told the gentlemen
that although we did believe Burwood Council were committed to having
a No-Kill Pound we did not understand how they were going to maintain
that policy, given that Council rangers had begun taking non-microchipped dogs to Blacktown
Pound! Both gentlemen seemed to genuinely believe that the young,
female Cattle X that had gone there was a one-off and that there was a
legitimate reason for her transfer.
PAWS begs to differ!!!!
Both had been given different reasons for her transfer - the Mayor had been told she had "severe behavioural problems" whereas Mr. Dencker had been told "there was a problem with the microchip".
We believe that the reason given to Mr. Dencker was actually the correct one. The problem with the microchip was the fact that she didn't have one! We advised Mayor Weiley that we believed Burwood rangers have been directed to only take microchipped dogs to Enfield Vet Hospital (so Burwood residents could collect their dogs locally). Those dogs whose owners were unknown were to be taken to Blacktown Pound instead, since we understand Enfield Vet Hospital are no longer accepting non-microchipped dogs. Both Cr. Weiley and Mr. Dencker stated they did not have any contract with Blacktown Pound so the obvious question is ... why would this Pound agree to accept a Burwood dog in the first place? We were however given an assurance by the Mayor that if rangers had been directed to take dogs to Blacktown Pound then it would be stopped since it was not acceptable for rangers to be driving so far away from their LGA (Local Government Area). We were actually hoping it was unacceptable because the dogs were being taken to a Kill Pound but the important thing is that he said it would be stopped!
We offered Cr. Weiley the names and phone numbers of three Volunteers who had walked the young dog transferred from Burwood Pound to Blacktown Pound and who were prepared to testify that she was both friendly and sociable. As the dog had also been taken to a local Off leash park an offer was also made to obtain further confirmation of the dog's good temperament from local Burwood residents who were regulars at the Park, and whose own dogs had played with the Pound dog in question. Our offer was not taken up .....
We also asked why, if the dog had not been rehomable, it was unable to be euthanased at Enfield Vet Hospital as was the usual practice. What was to be gained from transferring her to Blacktown Pound? Both gentleman had been given different outcomes for the young dog .... Mr. Dencker had been told she had "gone home" whereas Cr. Weiley believed she had "gone to a rescue group for rehoming". Interestingly he didn't seem to consider this at odds with the previous information he had been given ... that the dog had severe behavioural problems which made her non-rehomable! We certainly hope that another alternative fate was not the real one and that this lovely dog is safe and well.
We also advised the gentlemen that well over 6 months ago a Volunteer had been told by a Council staff member that they had recently inspected Blacktown Pound. When the Volunteer had expressed concern at this they had been told not to worry since the facilities were not considered acceptable and therefore it was unlikely Burwood dogs would ever go there. We asked why a Council who were committed to operating a No-Kill facility would be inspecting a Pound who wasn't No-Kill in the first place but did not receive any explanation.
We stated that our main concern was where non-microchipped dogs would now be held if Enfield Vet was no longer accepting them, and since they had both agreed that Blacktown Pound was no longer an option. The Mayor said that the Council was currently preparing a new contract and this would all be worked out when the tender was awarded to operate the Pound!
Before we could point out that a tender process takes many months and that the dogs needed somewhere to go NOW the meeting was brought to an end.
We urge you all to continue to email the Councillors above and also the General Manager of Burwood Council Mr. Pat Romano at Pat.Romano@burwood.nsw.gov.au and ask the following questions:
1. As sending the
unclaimed stray dogs of Burwood to Blacktown Pound is against Council's
No-Kill policy, where will they be held while the tender
process is undertaken?
2. Will the Council meet the cost of feeding and caring for stray and unclaimed animals, treating those who are sick or injured and also make funds available to advertise the animals while the tender process is undertaken?
3. Will the new contract require that the business or organisation appointed to operate Burwood Pound meet the costs specified above for all Pound animals in their care?
4. As the authority for BARK (Burwood Animal Rescue Kennel) to operate as a registered charity expired in June, does the Council intend to re-register BARK Incorporated so that legal fundraising can be undertaken to provide funds for their No-Kill Pound.
5. Will the new Pound contract include a No-Kill policy for companion animals other than dogs?
6. Will the new contract include an agreement to give Volunteers access to the Pound in order to walk, train and socialise with the dogs until new homes can be found?
PLEASE POINT OUT THAT UNTIL THE COUNCIL CAN PROVIDE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS THEY WILL CONTINUE TO RECEIVE EMAILS AND PHONE CALLS FROM DOG-LOVING MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND THE MEDIA!
PAWS would like to thank the Burwood Mayor, Cr. David Weiley for meeting with us and giving us the opportunity to raise our concerns with him. We sincerely hope that this uncertainty over the future of the Burwood dogs can be resolved quickly and that recent events are the result of either a genuine error or just a lack of communication between the parties involved.
The claim that "Burwood Council has a proud record in animal welfare initiatives and will continue to maintain its No-Kill Pound Policy and be active in promoting responsible pet ownership" provides genuine hope that the future of the Burwood strays is assured!
THE NEXT BURWOOD COUNCIL MEETING WILL BE HELD 6PM ON
TUESDAY 23 NOVEMBER AT 2 CONDER STREET BURWOOD
All five Councillors who have replied to the emails received from concerned dog-lovers have stated that they intend to re-affirm their commitment to the No-Kill Policy at that meeting. We do hope that this will still occur as PAWS has obtained a copy of the agenda for the meeting and there appears to be no mention of the Pound on it at all! We hope that Councillor Chris Christogeorge will also declare his support.
27 NOV 2004:
We know many people who were unable to attend last Tuesday's Burwood
Council meeting are eagerly awaiting our report on proceedings. This is
currently being prepared and will be available on the website as soon as
possible. In the meantime the NEXT Council meeting is only 10 days
away and will be held at
6pm on Tuesday 7 December.
This is an Extraordinary meeting as it has been brought forward for
Christmas. Please mark it in your diaries now ..... the fact that we are
asking that gives some indication that we weren't entirely happy with the
outcome of the last meeting!
16 NOV 2004:
Thank you to
everyone who contacted the Burwood Councillors as we have had positive
feedback from them in response to the number of emails they received. We understand that
the Mayor has held discussions with the owners of the vet hospital where the
Pound has been located for the last 10 years and so we are still hopeful
that the decision will be reversed!
UPDATE 12 NOV 2004: If you would like to read the moving story of how Burwood Pound became No-Kill and so led to the formation of the registered charity BARK (Burwood Animal Rescue Kennel) please click here. The local newspaper Burwood Inner Western Courier has also raised public concern about changes to BARK with the Council. The Mayor and those Councillors marked with * below have stated they will re-affirm their commitment to the No-Kill policy at the next Council meeting.
Chris Christogeorge firstname.lastname@example.org
* John Faker email@example.com
* Bob Nanva firstname.lastname@example.org
* Glen Sanders email@example.com
* Teresa West
UPDATE 10 NOV 2004: PAWS has received information that Burwood Council have decided their local Pound will no longer operate as BARK (which is a No-Kill operation) and all future impounded dogs whose owners cannot be traced will be taken to Blacktown Pound, who are not a No-Kill facility. This comes approx. 12 months after they retrenched the Animal Control Officer who was responsible for both re-homing the dogs and raising the funds needed to advertise and care for them while they were in the Pound.
Although Burwood Council deny any changes to the Pound re-homing policy are being made, Blacktown Pound have confirmed they received a Burwood dog a few weeks ago!
Burwood Council have received much kudos over the years for being the first (and for many years the ONLY) No-Kill Council Pound in Australia. In fact their Pound Manager joined other speakers from interstate and overseas at a conference on "Best Practice in Pound and Animal Shelter Management" held at Parliament House in 1999.
COUNCIL HAVE A NO-KILL POLICY
WE WANT A NO-KILL REALITY!