#Animal Welfare
To the Honourable Mayor and Councillors of Cessnock City Council

The animal shelter facility, located in Kurri Kurri New South Wales, is a council service of Cessnock City Council. Built many years ago, what was once fitting in its day, has been allowed to decline in both quality of animal care and maintenance care for several years. This is not the fault of current staff members who do whatever they can under an extremely limited budget.

Successive Council administrations have been neglectful of their duties, under various Acts of the New South Wales State government, in ensuring that such a facility, not only services the citizens of Cessnock City Council, but also the animals impounded at the facility. The Council itself has recently admitted, in their own report, that “The Kurri Kurri Animal Shelter does not meet the standards prescribed in the draft Code of Practice” (Council Agenda Report 3/02/2010 P39).

Although the council is offering to open the pound by a further hour a day, this will only mean that the pound will be open for somewhere between eight to eleven hours per week. Given the fact that comparable facilities, namely Wyong and Port Stephens Shelters, are open between 30 and 40 hours a week, this offer by Cessnock City Council is deemed to be unacceptable by animal rescue groups, local citizens, and other interested parties.

Furthermore there are five more fundamental issues at stake. The policy of the destruction of animals at the pound is haphazard and varies constantly from week to week. Given the fact that rescue groups are more than willing to take as many animals as possible, from the pound, consistency in this policy is critical as it means impounded animals are needlessly destroyed when they could be otherwise saved. Yet, as community demands for do-not-kill pounds are becoming louder and louder, there is no reason why such requests should not be seriously considered by Cessnock City Council. In fact, given far longer opening hours, whereupon general members of the public are given the opportunity to adopt an impounded dog or cat, along with the operations of animal rescue groups, the requirement for destruction of releasable animals could be significantly reduced if not eliminated altogether.

The next issue is that of a volunteer program where general members of the public, deemed suitable by facility staff, could conduct work activities approved by said staff. This could ensure that, not only is the extremely demanding workload eased on staff and rangers, but the rangers could conduct their other duties efficiently and effectively. Most importantly, however, the welfare and rehabilitation of impounded animals would be significantly improved, by having dedicated volunteers seeing to their requirements, leading to less animals being declared unfit for release, thus ensuring more animals are saved. Hence issues raised about exercise, inhumane confinement, and degrading health, by not meeting the requirements of the COMPANION ANIMALS ACT 1998, IMPOUNDING ACT 1993 and the CODE OF PRACTICE, would no longer be of concern.

Another important issue must see a vast improvement of the security arrangements for not just the staff but also for the impounded animals. Over the last 12 months the facility has been vandalised several times, causing thousands of dollars in damage, whilst four or five dogs have been stolen from the pound. This is in breach of the IMPOUNDING ACT 1993, Sect 21 para (d) where it states animals must be “… kept secure“. Furthermore staff members have been threatened, on several occasions, with little protection offered. The current alarm system, which maybe of use when the pound is occupied, has proven to be next to useless when there are no staff members present at the facility. This is most certainly the case during night-time.

These issues, and more raised in the “REPORT ON THE SECTION 430 INVESTIGATION INTO CESSNOCK CITY COUNCIL” in respect to the pound, need to be seriously addressed and the reforms implemented as soon as is practicable. It is believed that it is not just merely a requirement by law, but a moral and ethical obligation by those we trust to perform services to the community at large, just not within the Cessnock City Council LGA, but for the many Australians who cherish companion animals. The staff at the facility do an incredible job, under the circumstances, yet the Council has ignored their plight, and that of the impounded animals, for far too long. I hope you will sign this petition, knowing that every bit helps in having Cessnock City Council conduct the necessary reforms to ensure the proper and fitting running of Cessnock City Council (Kurri Kurri) Pound.

To the Honourable Mayor and Councillors of Cessnock City Council ,

The Petition of the supporters of Cessnock City Council (Kurri Kurri) Pound brings to the attention of Council their recent communications for significant improvements at the Kurri Kurri facility.

The current facility is in a dire state of redevelopment in several areas of issue. Supporters of the pound, that is members of rescue groups and members of the public, give generously of their time and efforts. In doing so they have identified several issues which need to be addressed. They are asking for the following:

1) Longer opening hours consistent with general business hours instead of the current four hours per week.

2) The move to a general do-not-kill policy where the vast majority of animals are given a significantly better chance for rescue or adoption.

3) A volunteer program wherein suitable members of the public can help out at the pound in a manner deemed suitable by staff.

4) Improved facilities for both staff and the impounded animals to ensure a safer and healthier environment.

5) Vastly improved security arrangements to ensure animals are not stolen, vandalism to the facility is eliminated, and staff can conduct their employment in a safe environment.

6) Full implementation of the recommendations issued in the “REPORT ON THE SECTION 430 INVESTIGATION INTO CESSNOCK CITY COUNCIL” in respect to the pound.

The undersigned petitioners therefore ask the Mayor and Councillors to support our request for the implementation of the above six points by Cessnock City Council.

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The Support the Cessnock City Council Animal Pound petition to To the Honourable Mayor and Councillors of Cessnock City Council was written by David Atwell and is in the category Animal Welfare at GoPetition.