High kill rates of lost dogs are the rule, not the exception, says local animal shelter

CENTRAL Victoria's only 'no kill' animal shelter says the Echuca pound managed by Lost Dogs Home, has a high 'kill rate'.

In the wake of concerns in Melbourne about unnecessary euthanasia of dogs Bendigo Animal Welfare and Community Services president Debbie Edwards said unnecessary killing was common.

Ms Edwards said her centre was "pro-life" and only euthanased animals if their physical suffering was beyond recovery or if they had behavioural problems that couldn't be re-trained.

Earlier this week, it was reported that a Melbourne widow's pet dog, Fonzie, was put down by the Lost Dogs' Home, which is the state's largest animal shelter, the day after his owner called to claim him.

The pound defended its decision because it waited longer than the required eight days before deciding the pet's fate.

"If an owner doesn’t come forward, the animals are assessed for their suitability for re-homing," Ms Edwards said.

"That includes health issues and temperament testing."

Ms Edwards said the decisions made on health treatment and suitability for re-training could mean the difference between life and death.

"If the dog has a major ear infection, they look at the cost of an ear infection and whether it's going to be ongoing," she said.

"Generally (an ear infection) wouldn’t pass."

Ms Edwards said the Echuca Lost Dogs Home had high euthanasia rates, like its headquarters in North Melbourne.

She said people often did not initially think to ring the pound to locate a lost dog.

"Pets will continue to end up in shelters," she said.

"It’s what happens when they enter these pounds and shelters that is the issue.

"The vast majority of pets killed by The Lost Dogs’ Home at Echuca shelter were healthy happy pets that could have been found new homes." 

Ms Edwards said publically available statistics showed that for 2013-2014, 52 per cent of 797 dogs were reclaimed by owners, leaving 381 needing a home. Lost Dogs Home killed 41 per cent of these dogs. 

"Other shelters have moved with the times, implementing proven progressive shelter approaches that focus on life saving yet LDH continues to operate with an outdated sheltering approach that fails to meet community expectations," she said.

Lost Dogs Home did not respond in time to the Bendigo Advertiser's request for interview.

The Pound Reform Alliance Australia has statistics on the numbers of animals euthanased across the country. Click here to learn more.

- with The Age

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