NSW RSPCA is at the centre of another storm regarding its Rutherford shelter’s kill policy after two healthy dogs were put down this week.
Two Jack Russell terriers, Nikki, 1, and Rocket, 2, were euthanised despite owner Kylie McCrea negotiating to get them home.
A fee of almost $1000 was blocking the dogs’ release. Despite not failing any health or temperament tests, a supervisor deemed the dogs a ‘‘nuisance’’ and ordered them destroyed.
It follows a similar incident last year when Max the pointer was put down at Rutherford after failing a controversial temperament test.
The RSPCA concedes there were mistakes made in evaluating the Jack Russells’ situation and have launched an investigation.
But the investigation comes too late for Ms McCrea and her sons, Jaiden, 4, and Jake, 13.
Pups killed while owner finds money
TWO playful and loveable pups were destroyed at the RSPCA's Rutherford shelter even as their owner was negotiating to pay for their release.
The Jack Russell terriers, Rocket and Nikki, were euthanised on Monday after being held at the shelter more than 28 days.
Owner Kylie McCrea, of Sawyers Gully, said she had been in contact with the shelter to tell them she was negotiating the fee for the dogs' release, which had risen to $960, with Maitland City Council.
The RSPCA told her on Friday that the dogs would be held until she had a chance to contact the council and get back to them.
Yet over the weekend a supervisor made the decision to put the pets down on Monday.
"I had spoken with staff, and the manager, all last week telling them I didn't have the money and I was told to sort it out with council," Ms McCrea said.
"The manager told me she would hold onto the dogs until I got back to her."
Following Newcastle Herald inquiries yesterday an RSPCA spokesman admitted employees "did not fully investigate" the circumstances of the case.
"The RSPCA accepts that this is too late for the two dogs in question, but hopes that improvement in process and communication will ensure that this type of incident does not occur in the future," he said.
A more detailed investigation into the matter had been launched and appropriate disciplinary action would be taken pending its outcome, he said.
Ms McCrea said an RSPCA manager had told her the dogs were euthanised because they had been impounded three times in the past two years and had been deemed a "nuisance".
"They had escaped from my work, it wasn't their fault," she said.
"Now I'm totally blaming myself.
"But they didn't even give [the dogs] a chance. If they had told me they were going to kill them I would have done anything to find the money."
Nikki, 1, and Rocket, 2, lived with the McCrea family at Sawyers Gully.
Ms McCrea described them as "our other kids".
The family had been renovating their property and moving fences around, and the two pups had escaped a few months earlier.
"I decided to take them to my [work] office in Thornton with me but then they escaped out the front door one day," Ms McCrea said.
"They had tags with my mobile number on it and I called the pound that day but the first I heard about them was through a letter.
"I didn't have the money and the fees just kept accumulating."
Both Nikki and Rocket were vaccinated, registered and micro-chipped.
"They didn't fail any health or temperament test," Ms McCrea said.
"They weren't put down for behavioural reasons or because they couldn't find them a new home.
"They told me due to the fact they were impounded more than once they had been destroyed."
The hardest part, Ms McCrea says, has been breaking the news to her youngest son, Jaiden, who is only four years old.
"I can't stop crying myself," she said.
"He would ask about them every day, he would sleep with them in his bed.
"The three of them were so funny to watch, just three little kids."
In October the Herald reported on the story of Max, a pointer who was put down due to a controversial temperament test at RSPCA Rutherford, again without consultation with his owner.
Geoff Davidson has been campaigning for increased transparency within the RSPCA since Max's death and has set up Facebook page Justice4Max.
"This just shows that despite some minor changes [since Max's death] there's work to be done to get their house in order," Mr Davidson said.
"Once again they've released a similar statement, and it's not really an apology but a regret.
"They are not addressing the real issues and so these things will continue to happen."