Hawkesbury Companion Animal Shelter – rehoming and temperament tests

Located at Mulgrave, Hawkesbury Companion Animal Shelter covers 1030 square metres with 70 kennels and a large cattery area. It services the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Hawkesbury City Council, The Hills Shire Council, Hornsby Shire Council and Penrith City Council.

As part of this arrangement, Council staff from these LGAs bring roaming dogs to the Hawkesbury Companion Animal Shelter, Hawkesbury City Council’s General Manager, Peter Conroy explained.

“Our staff do their utmost to ensure that as many lost pets as possible are reunited with their owners or found suitable new homes, thanks to our positive partnerships with a number of rescue organisations,” he said.

“The Hawkesbury Companion Animal Shelter has very good rehoming rates. The latest figures, using the 2016 calendar year, indicate that 1505 dogs were either returned to their owners or rehomed, which accounts for 94% of all dogs coming to the Shelter.

“I understand that some community members are currently concerned about the welfare of a dog which has been impounded at the Shelter for 56 days. It was delivered by Penrith Council to the Shelter on Monday, 3 April 2017. On the same day, the dog was scanned and the current registered owner contacted.”

Shelter staff have provided Mr Conroy with the following report:

Background

  • The registered owner advised that he had adopted the dog in 2015 from a rescue organisation. He claimed to have given the dog back to the rescue organisation 12 months ago; however, he could not identify the rescue organisation.
  • The Companion Animals Act requires Council to hold a dog for specified timeframes, usually a minimum of 14 days, for a previous owner to claim the dog. In the event that a dog is not claimed it is Council’s practice to pursue the rehoming of the dog.

Current situation

  • Prior to rehoming and where Council staff believe it is appropriate, a temperament assessment is carried out. In this instance it was required because the dog had shown aggressive tendencies to other dogs. The assessment was conducted by a local vet on Thursday, 18 May 2017.
  • The focus of a temperament assessment is to determine a dog’s suitability for a family environment. The dog’s stability, shyness, friendliness, aggression, protectiveness and acceptance of other animals and people and its reaction to variables in the environment is assessed. As part of the assessment, the dog sits with a carer and the dog is assessed. During the assessment, the dog in question focused immediately on another dog that it could see almost 100 metres away. The dog also lunged aggressively at dogs within 20-30 metres, growling and barking.
  • The temperament assessment concluded that the dog is a danger to other dogs and could launch into an unprovoked attack.
  • A man came to the shelter on Thursday, 25 May 2017 with a change of owner form dated Thursday, 20 April 2017. He was told the impounding fees were $2276.65.

Moving forward

  • Council is now aware of claims that the dog may have been stolen. It is not known at this stage if the dog was reported stolen to Police.
  • Council is seeking legal advice as to whether a dog that has failed a temperament assessment can be released to a new owner or a rescue organisation.
  • There are no plans to euthanize the dog at this time. Claims that this is the case are incorrect.

Notwithstanding the above

  • Council has adopted Fees and Charges in relation to the holding and release of animals from the Hawkesbury Companion Animal Shelter. These fees and charges are prepared in accordance with the Companion Animals Act and the Local Government Act.
  • The adopted Fees and Charges are placed on exhibition each year and members of the community can make submissions regarding the Fees and Charges.
  • The current adopted Fees and Changes provide for daily feeding, health care, vaccinations and other animal welfare needs.

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