Outrage after dogs killed metres from rescue
Hundreds of outraged people and a devastated pet owner want an investigation into how two dogs were killed at a Queensland pound after less than three holding days when an established rescue group shelter operated in the same complex.
Tank, a two-year-old bull mastiff cattle dog cross and Ace, a six-month-old wolfhound cross, were taken to the Goondiwindi pound on November 19 and euthanised the following Monday morning.
Concerns have been raised on social media about whether sufficient attempts were made to rehome the pair.
Goondiwindi Regional Council Mayor Lawrence Springborg did not return multiple calls and emails, but News Corp understands council officials have put the deaths down to a "miscommunication" between a council ranger and the shocked Macintyre Pet and Animal Rescue (MAPR) volunteers who run the on-site shelter.
News Corp also understands the pound was not full at the time.
A council spokeswoman did not answer questions about the circumstances surrounding the surrender of Tank and Ace and their deaths, instead only emailing a brief written statement.
"Council sought assistance with the rehoming of the dogs from two Animal Rescue Services. The response from both was that neither had local rehoming options available," she wrote.
"For dogs surrendered, there are no minimum days legally required for Council to hold the animals.
"Council has worked with local rehoming organisations to either return to owners or rehome 426 of the 459 dogs impounded by Council in the previous three years (over 92 per cent).
"Please note Council will not be making any further comment."
The devastated 18-year-old owner of the two dogs surrendered them after being led to believe they would be rehomed.
She had tried to raise the $400 needed to have Tank and Ace released from the pound.
Aleasha West Alexander said she only found out her dogs had instead been euthanised after her sister showed her a post a charity group posted on Facebook on November 25 that indicated they had been killed two days earlier.
Miss Alexander said the puppy had slipped her collar and Tank had snapped his chain overnight November 18 after she had heard roaming dogs harassing them.
The stay-at-home-mum was alerted to her dogs being loose early the next morning and said a local who knew where the pair belonged had even tried to catch them.
As she was home alone and with no car, Miss Alexander popped her two-year-old daughter, Alyrah in a pram and went searching for the pets.
She soon discovered the dogs had been caught and taken to the Inglewood pound.
"I asked if I could come and get them … they said you have to pay $197 per dog as they weren't microchipped or registered. I said I can't pay the full amount but I can do the registration and microchipping that day. I booked them into the vet at 1.30pm and rang the ranger back and told him," she said.
"I was crying on the phone because I couldn't afford the full amount straight away. I'm only on Centrelink and it wasn't my pay week. … So I asked if they would defer the rest of the fine to SPER (the State Penalties Enforcement Registry)."
The request was declined, so Miss Alexander then spent hours calling friends and family members, in a desperate attempt to try to raise the needed funds.
"I was so devastated. I'm at home alone and I was ready to walk 1km with my daughter just to bring them back home. … Nothing was in my favour."
The teenager said she felt she had no choice but to surrender the dogs but believed they would be rehomed if they were taken to the pound.
She was devastated when she discovered Ace and Tank had been put down.
"I was in so much shock. I was heartbroken," the teenager said.
"(I was) never once told … that killing them was on the table. If (they) had said that I wouldn't have surrendered them."
Miss Alexander said she took responsibility for not yet having the dogs registered or microchipped after moving to town from a farm, but it was no reason for them to die.
"It's super overwhelming. I feel so much regret with my decision, even though I was backed into a corner," she said.
Jay West, of Yelarbon, contacted the Goondiwindi Regional Council office and spoke to one of the two animal management officers after discovering her daughter's dogs had been killed.
Miss West said the ranger told her he had contacted two shelters but one was full and the one next to the Goondiwindi pound could not take them either, a claim that is disputed.
Miss West said she was disgusted with the deaths.
"I looked on the council website and Facebook. Those dogs were not even advertised, they did not even try to look for a new home. How is anyone even going to know they are available?" she said.
"These dogs did not have to die because (Aleasha) only had three days to pay."
MAPR president Maxine Wheatley said the group knew Tank and Ace had been surrendered to the pound, but did not know the circumstances.
"When dogs are brought into the pound and they are surrendered or they are there for the three days or five days and if they remain unclaimed by their owners then they come to us," she said.
Ms Wheatley, 70, said a volunteer had informed the ranger that brought the dogs in they would contact other rescue groups over the weekend to see who could take them, as was often the case.
She said they had no idea the dogs would be euthanised and only found out themselves when they rang the ranger about lunchtime on the Monday to inform him a rescue group had been found.
She was under the impression that ranger may not have known about the deaths at that time, Ms Wheatley said.
"He said 'that's great, 'thank you very much' But when we got to the shelter about 3pm, we went to look for the dogs and they weren't there," she said.
Ms Wheatley said it was "not normal" for the pound to euthanise dogs.
"I can't even tell you how shocking it was to us because it was so out of our normal process.
This has not happened in years," she said.
An emergency meeting was called between members of the MAPR and the council, where Ms Wheatly said existing protocols were reinforced.
"We enforced the fact that we do the rehoming of the dogs, it's not up to the rangers and not up the council of the dogs, period," she said.
"Whether they're surrendered or remain unclaimed we do the rehoming. Basically, we reinforced what we've always done.
"We were terribly upset about what had happened and we really don't have any explanation for this," she said.
"The council said it was a miscommunication, that we didn't communicate to them that we had found a home for the dog. We had by Monday lunch time but by then it was too late."
In a MAPR post on Facebook, a group volunteer wrote the pound and rescue group usually worked well together.
"Goondiwindi Regional Council are very supportive of our organisation as is the Goondiwindi Community, without their support MAP Rescue would not have the wonderful facility that we have," the post stated.
Requests to interview one or both of the council animal management officers were declined.
However, one of the rangers, who News Corp has chosen not to name, was quoted in the Goondiwindi paper in 2018 celebrating the opening of the MAPR shelter and stating the council dealt with 150 impounded dogs each year.
Originally published as Outrage after dogs killed metres from rescue