Animal Control Chairman laments number of dogs being destroyed

Thursday 29 November 2012, 4:44PM
By Marlborough District Council


Council’s Animal Control subcommittee chairman Peter Jerram is appealing to prospective pet owners to think carefully before taking on the responsibility of dog ownership.

Councillor Jerram is stepping down from the chairmanship of the Council’s Dog Control Sub-committee after two years in the role.

There are about 9000 dogs licensed in Marlborough. In this year to October, 281 animals have ended up at the pound but only 148 of them have been reclaimed by their owners.

“I realise that is not a big proportion of the total number of dogs in the district but the reality is that it’s very difficult to find homes for animals that have been abandoned to the pound,” Councillor Jerram said.

Of those that were not reclaimed, about a third have been re-homed but about 80 have been put down.

That’s a worrying increase on the 30 to 40 animals a year which have had to be destroyed in 2010 and 2011 and it tells us we are getting more problems with dog owners, says Councillor Jerram.

A vet of 30-plus years’ experience, Councillor Jerram said euthanasing animals is never a pleasant task for animal control staff.

“My philosophy in veterinary practice was to put down aged family pets or injured animals only where absolutely necessary but I understand that it is increasingly difficult for our animal control staff and the SPCA to find new homes for animals.”

Animals that must be destroyed are usually put down by injection administered by a vet and past use of bolt guns has been discontinued.

“We have taken the opportunity to improve practices but nevertheless it is always sad to see a good animal put down,” said Councillor Jerram.

“I have no doubt that our animal control officers here are humane in their treatment of animals that come into their care but the unfortunate reality is that unwanted animals cannot be kept indefinitely.”

He says Marlborough’s animal control officers make valiant efforts to find new homes for unwanted dogs but there are always more dogs than suitable homes.

“People too often take on a dog as a pet without thinking through the consequences; not just the cost of feeding them properly but the socialisation, surgical sterilisation and training that is required for a dog to be healthy and happy, and socially acceptable,” he said.

It was disturbing that so many people were unwilling to pay pound fees and reclaim their animal even though they knew that there was likelihood their animal could be destroyed, said Councillor Jerram.

“It may be a sign of tough economic times but I wish people would think twice about getting an animal if they cannot really afford the costs of responsible pet ownership,” he said.

Councillor Jerram said, now that the review of the Council’s dog control bylaws has been successfully completed, he wants to devote more time to the Resource Management Plan Review Sub-committee.
Councillor Jamie Arbuckle will be the new chairman of the Dog Control subcommittee.