Hunter RSPCA kill rates "too high"

ANIMAL welfare groups say RSPCA kill rates in the Lower Hunter are too high, with about 1200 dogs estimated to be put down a year.

The RSPCA has been accused of refusing to work with rescue groups to help rehome more animals.

While some dogs are euthanased because they are dangerous and/or have medical problems, rescue groups fear many are killed unnecessarily.

NSW Lost Pet Register administration co-ordinator Amanda Young said several animal rescue groups had tried to get dogs from the RSPCA to find new owners.

‘‘They refuse to release them,’’ Ms Young, 25, said.

‘‘They’d rather put them down than get them into care where someone is willing to find them a home and give them a go.’’

RSPCA spokesman Lukas Picton said some animals were released to breed-specific groups.

‘‘We don’t usually release animals to rescue groups, but there is no law that says we have to,’’ Mr Picton said.

‘‘We can’t in good faith put an animal in the community, which may attack a child.’’

Society of Companion Animal Rescuers vice-president David Atwell said council pounds at Muswellbrook, Singleton, Wyong and Gosford provide animals to rescue groups.

Mr Atwell said kill rates at those pounds were 8 per cent to 15 per cent.

The RSPCA does not release statistics for its Rutherford shelter, which manages the pounds of Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Cessnock and Maitland councils.

Cr James Ryan said the Companion Animals Act required councils to seek alternatives prior to killing a dog.

Mr Atwell said it was time for councils to start pressuring the RSPCA to do more to rescue animals from death.

RSPCA statistics show 4862 of 11,989 dogs received in NSW in 2011-12 were euthanased – a 41per cent kill rate.

Mr Atwell estimated about 1200 dogs were killed a year at Rutherford RSPCA.

He said the four Lower Hunter councils paid about $300,000 to $350,000 a year to the RSPCA to run their pounds.

Ratepayers deserve to know how many pound dogs were being killed, he said.

Mr Picton said such figures were problematic to release because animals were ‘‘moved round quite a bit between shelters’’.

He said if animals passed behavioural and medical tests, they were made available for adoption.

‘‘They stay with us for as long as needed, until they find a home,’’ he said.

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