Rescue dogs ready for adoption shot dead by council due to Covid restrictions
RESCUE dogs ready for adoption were shot dead by a heartless council "due to Covid restrictions".
The pooches – including one which had just given birth – were killed to stop people travelling to pick them up and catching the virus.
Bourke Shire Council in New South Wales, Australia, told a local watchdog it was "to protect its employees and community from the risk of Covid transmission".
But the alarming lengths have sparked outrage among animal activists, prompting a government probe, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Animal Liberation campaign manager Lisa Ryan said: "We are deeply distressed and completely appalled by this callous dog shooting.
"We totally reject council's unacceptable justifications that this killing was apparently undertaken as part of a Covid- safe plan."
A spokesperson for the Office of Local Government said: "OLG has been informed that the council decided to take this course of action to protect its employees and community, including vulnerable Aboriginal populations, from the risk of Covid-19 transmission."
The state has seen a huge rise in Delta variant infections, with a record 830 locally-acquired cases in one day on Sunday, as well as a further three fatalities.
However, there are no local coronavirus cases in the town of Cobar, where the shelter is based, according to NSW Health.
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The OLG is now examining the circumstances of the incident to determine whether companion animal and cruelty prevention laws were broken.
The council has not responded to local media enquiries, and a member of Rural Outback Respite/Rescue – the shelter that was supposed to receive the dogs – declined to comment.
A source close to the shelter's volunteers said they were "distressed" and had "Covid-safe measures in place to handle the dogs", one of which was believed to be a "new mother".
Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock has been blasted as "clearly oblivious to the reality of the serious issues".
And Greens animal welfare spokesperson Abigail Boyd accused the government of "twiddling its thumbs on animal welfare issues while more animals are being killed".
Hancock has previously faced questions in Parliament over the shooting of animals in council pounds, stating she did not know about it.
She said during budget estimates in March: "If it was a practice, I would be concerned about it — if it was a cat or a dog."
But she later revealed that councils are not required by law to tell the government how they killed animals in their care.
We are deeply distressed and completely appalled by this callous dog shooting.
The OLG spokesperson said it had issue advice to all councils about operating pounds during Covid and lockdowns, including procedures to keep staff and volunteers safe.
They said that councils were "encouraged" to continue to work with "rehoming organisations and volunteers to care for animals", providing this could be done in line with advice from NSW Health.
Pounds and shelters were permitted to remain open to the public and people involved in animal welfare, and staff were considered authorised or essential workers in areas in lockdown.
As well as Australian animal rights activists condemning the "unnecessary" killings, people from around the world have slammed the council's actions.
Even Piers Morgan got involved, tweeting a link to the story with: "Sorry, WHAT????!!!"
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