Caption details at end of story. Picture/John Stone

Dog holes shock

19.05.2007

By Mike Barrington

A big stink has emerged over offal holes where dogs destroyed at the Whangarei pound are dumped.

Thousands of dogs, most abandoned, have been shot and dropped in the holes on the hill above the pound and the Children's Living Treasure Forest on Kioreroa Rd.

Critics of Whangarei District Council dog control practices are querying the methods and the council is to review dog control policies and bylaws. The council has earmarked $240,000 for a pound upgrade.

The review team - Crs Crichton Christie, Frank Newman and Sue Glen - are expected to advertise next week for comments on pound procedures.

After exposure on TV3's Campbell Live show on Thursday, Keith Thompson, manager of the council's animal control agency Environment Northland, yesterday filled some holes and organised concrete covers for others.

He said 388 dogs were destroyed at the pound in the past year. Corpses go into seven 5m-deep holes recently drilled near the crest of the hill. Topped up yesterday were other used holes where the dirt had subsided over the years.

Mr Thompson said uncovered and unfilled holes were "bad". They should have been filled earlier, which was "my responsibility, not the council's".

Also filled in were several empty or water-filled holes on the public reserve. Mr Thompson said these had not been sunk during the nine years he had been at the pound.

OSH inspectors earlier this week investigated the site. Department of Labour Whangarei manager Ian Baxter said yesterday that recommendations could be made to the council and Mr Thompson early next month.

The Northland Regional Council is also checking the offal holes. NRC monitoring manager Tony Phipps said farmers were permitted to drill holes clear of water courses.

But they disposed of relatively small amounts of offal and he considered the high number of dogs destroyed at the pound would require a resource consent, which would probably stipulate the holes be covered and better managed than they had been.

Cr Newman said yesterday he was pleased action had been taken over the holes. He had been "horrified" when he saw them, considering them "unacceptable" and dangerous for people using the reserve, particularly children.

It was a "barbaric" way to dispose of dogs, Cr Newman said.

Lethal injections by a veterinarian were suggested on Campbell Live as a better method of euthanasia than shooting.

But Whangarei SPCA manager Francine Shields said shooting was "instantaneous and humane" as long as the person with the gun was experienced.

Whangarei Mayor Pamela Peters said that owners of dogs which had to be destroyed had the option of taking the animal to a vet for injection.

If the community wanted shooting replaced with lethal injections, the council would consider making the change, but it would increase dog fees, she said.

Along with the three-councillor inquiry, major pound upgrade and dog regulations review, the council was expecting to begin construction next month of a Pohe Island dog park where city people could exercise their animals, Mrs Peters said.

Caption: Inspecting the holes for dead dogs are, from left, mayoral aspirant Warren Slater, dog owner Allan Fillery, Cr Frank Newman, and German yachtsman and council critic Heinz-Jeurgen Scheld.



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