Whangarei District Council Dog Pound Welfare inspection visit declined by Council.
Hi I’m Warren Slater and I’m Pat Slater
In 2007 there were a number of issues in relation to, the running of and animal welfare issues with the Whangarei District Council Dog Pound.
Further to public pressure a Dog Control Review was undertaken with many submissions made to council on 11th & 12th July 2007. The Dog Control Review Members were : Crs Crichton Christie (chairman), Cr Frank Newman, Cr Sue Glen and Max Atkins (independent). This review was tabled and accepted to Council on 5 September 2007.
There have been some developments with an addition to the administration building at the pound.
With time (two years) gone by we decided that it was now appropriate to have an inspection of the pound in relation to the well being of animals being contained there. We went through the whole of the Dog Control Review recommendations and made up a check list so upon our visit to the Pound we could tick some boxes and see what improvements have been made.
So with this in mind and after discussion and great support and encouragement from an Animal Welfare Organisation on 14 October 2009 before Environment Committee meeting I asked Whangarei District Council Environmental manager Mr Paul Dell in front of Environment Committee Chair Councillor Shelley Deeming to make an appointment for us to look at the pound. He stated he would get back to me.
On the 11th November 2009 after the Environment Committee meeting of November I sent an email to Whangarei District Council Environmental manager Mr Paul Dell as he had not made contact and there had been numerous opportunities to do so, as we attend all Council meetings.
He replied on 12th November
Morning Warren. As you are aware Grant and I have been working to implement a number of the recommendations of the Dog management review that was undertaken prior to my commencing with WDC. Over the last 2 years there have been many changes including; the development of an audit system of the dog management contract which we report to Council, the construction of the dog run on Pohe Island, the soon to be finished upgrade to the pound, the move to injection euthanasia. Over the last 2 years my staff and I have received few complaints regarding dog management which you will know to be a difficult area at the best of times.
We also have a working relationship with the RSPCA which has included trying to re-house dogs where possible. They also undertake visits to the pound.
With all the changes that have been put in place I see no reason why you need to “look around the pound” and therefore decline your request to do so.
On 12th November I sent another email reminding him of all our involvement regarding the dog issues before he joined the Whangarei District Council in 2007.
Thank you for your reply to my email of 11th November 2009.
Just to refresh your memory, prior to your employment with Whangarei District Council Pat and I had been well involved with improving the services of animal control/welfare in Whangarei. Many of these points were discussed when we, (Patricia and Warren Slater) met with yourself, Cr Crichton Christie, Mr Heinz Scheld and Mr Grant Couchman on 23 November 2007. The Dog management review undertaken and presented to council, by the review team, reflected immensely on the submission that Pat & I made to council during the review process.
We have involvement with the ‘ProPetsHelp’ group who also have been waiting patiently for developments to take place in regards to the review. They have been kept updated of developments and we felt it was now time to check for ourselves, hence the request of a visit.
There were a number of issues regarding the upgrade of the animal care facilities, inclusive of the exercise yards, mentioned in the review and to the best of our knowledge we understand these changes may not have been undertaken as yet.
The ‘dog run’ at Pohe Island, we also understand, was not part of the Dog management review.
We are aware some work will still not be complete but were happy for those issues to be discussed during the visit. We indeed need to move forward on this project and are disappointed that once again we are experiencing resistance with any requests regarding animal welfare.
I would like to give you an opportunity to reconsider our request.
We require a reply no later than 20th November 2009 to enable us to inform our next group meeting of developments.
Warren & Patricia Slater
Paul Dell replied on 12th November
‘Warren clearly not all matters of the review have been addressed at this time however we are aware of that. In due course I will update Council. My decision re the visit has not changed.’
On 12th November because of the replies received I emailed Cr Shelley Deeming
You will be aware of the original request that was made to visit the pound to Mr P.Dell and the ensuing emails which you would have received copies of.
Would you be kind to answer two questions.
1/ What input have you had as an elected Councillor and Chair of Whangarei District Council Environment Committee, in the decision that has been made, in regards to the request for us to visit the pound?
2/ Should the request to visit the pound and the ensuing answer be a Governance or Management decision?
NB To date I have had no contact from Cr Shelley Deeming in regards to this request
On 19th November I received an email from Mr Paul Dell Whangarei District Council Environmental manager
Hello Warren. You have enquired as to the role of the elected representatives in the decision on your request to visit the pound. As the Group Manger Environment I am responsible for the management of the pound facility and while I discussed this with Councillor Deeming as the Committee Chair I made the decision to refuse entry at this time.
The pound has had much work done but as you already know requires more work. I am seeking funding for this. Once this is complete we may hold an open day and if so you will be able to visit. However exactly what areas will be open will depend on a number of matters including distress to the animals, liability to Council, insurance issues.
In the meantime I can assure you that the RSPCA visits the facility approximately every 2 weeks to assess the conditions. They have their own key and inspect when they wish.
Not really happy with these emails on 19th November I contacted 2 councillors in regard to this latest reply and they commented they would be happy to arrange a visit to the pound for us.
The Councillor stated
as Cr Shelley Deeming was away they would have to wait 2 weeks to discuss it with her.
We waited over two weeks and heard nothing so on the 8th December I contacted one of the councillors leaving a message that I would catch them at the Council meeting on 9th December. There was no contact at the meeting so I waited for them to return my message I had left with their spouse on the 8th December.
I phoned again on 15th December saying I was waiting for them to call and was still waiting for the arrangements to visit the Pound.
They were waiting for Cr Shelley Deeming to come back to them
and proceeded to ask me,
If we wished to go through the pound before Christmas,
my reply was Yes.
I was then told
That they would contact Cr Shelley Deeming and get back to me.
Well guess what…..It’s now Christmas and we still haven’t heard a thing so looks like there is to be no Chrissy Presents for the unfortunate canines who have a vacation destined in the Whangarei District Council pound.
We firmly believe from reliable information received, that the temperature issues inside the pound kennel areas in our hot summer of some 43 degrees, the drainage/cleanliness issues of the kennels, the implementation of Euthanasia by lethal injection and the improvement of the exercise areas, have still not been resolved.
Previous Council media releases, Annual reports & Long term Council Community Plans have stated
ANNUAL REPORT 2007 -2008
During the year work on upgrading the dog pound began with the design and consent stages completed and a project completion date set for February 2009.
P 58 How we performed
2007/08 Target 2007/08 Actual Comments
Auditing of the dog contract was started but not completed during the year because of staff shortages. The target was not met, however service delivery improvements continue to be made and an upgrade of facilities at the dog pound will be started shortly.
Whangarei District Council Annual Report 08|09
P 23 Work on the offices at the dog pound was carried out during the year
P71 A new dog pound is under construction which will provide improved customer reception facilities. Customer satisfaction surveys shows increased satisfaction with dog and noise control services – a marked increase over last year (93% compared to 56%).
Work has now begun on expanded customer reception facilities, upgrading the kennels and building a vet room. "Upgrades to the kennels will make cleaning quicker and more effective than in the past and will also improve ventilation," Mr Couchman said.
Public News - 7 July 2009 Register your dog
Pound Upgrade – Good progress has been made upgrading Whangarei District’s dog pound and facilities, work that was identified as an important action in the public consultation undertaken by the previous Council. Work is about begin on the new vet room and upgrading the kennels. We will keep you posted.
LONG TERM COUNCIL COMMUNITY PLAN 2009-2019 p133-4
Projects The upgrade to the dog pound scheduled for completion in early 2009, will provide for an enhanced customer service area, increased dog exercise areas and the introduction of euthanasia of abandoned dogs. The funding of the work was provided for in 09 year when work will be completed.
We would have thought the animal welfare issues would have been a priority.
What don’t they want us see or know?
We are trying to make positive inroads ensuring that the upgrades to the Whangarei District Council Dog Pound are up to the standard as recommended by the Dog Control Review Members. We constantly get criticised by council for being negative.
Hello, is this not a Positive request, being made so difficult that it may turn into something negative.
Why are we being blocked from inspecting the Dog Pound? What do they have to hide from the Public?
In our opinion from comments we have been exposed to there has been a vast improvement to the behaviour and culture of the contractor ENL Limited and their staff.
That’s for sure, it’s been great to see.
It must be hard for them to provide a much needed service to the high standard required when we believe the tools that council provide, with the pound facility, are not to a better standard as recommended by the review team. With this in mind we are of the opinion that the Whangarei District Council is again failing in its feeble attempt to provide a standard of animal welfare which is acceptable to the majority of people and also a requirement by law.
I have been keeping the Animal Welfare agency and various media updated of any developments or the lack of developments regarding our requests and the refusals of our requests to visit the Dog Pound by Whangarei District Council Senior management and they too are waiting for a more positive outcome.
It seems that the Senior Management have more say than our elected representatives. Is this right?
Signing off we wish you all a better 2010 for animal welfare in Whangarei.
Thanks for taking the time to watch this video and any support will be most welcome to make improvements for our canine friends.
Contact can be made through our website www.warrenslater.co.nz
They are men’t to be Mans Best Friend
Bye for now let us hope it gets sorted.