MPI to investigate Napier's dog pound over animal welfare complaints
The Ministry for Primary Industries is going to investigate alleged animal welfare complaints at the Napier dog pound.
The ministry's district compliance manager for Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa, Ray McKay, confirmed on Tuesday that the investigation had been sparked by alleged animal welfare complaints.
He would make no further comment other than to say the investigation had the full support of the Napier City Council.
The complaints are understood to have been made by the Watchdog! group, which last month called for an independent review of the council's dog control practices, claiming concerns raised by staff had gone unaddressed.
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The investigation was likely to begin next week.
The council has been contacted for comment.
Watchdog! chairwoman Jessica Maxwell welcomed the news.
"The issues we raised caused widespread concern amongst the public and I think it is in everyone's interests that this independent investigation goes ahead," she said.
"The dogs can't speak up, so Watchdog! will."
Council CEO Wayne Jack said he had "had a chat to MPI ahead of their visit" and he was confident the examination would go well.
"Our policies and practices are sound and we have committed staff on board, doing everything they can to protect our community, while also meeting all health and safety requirements. Our team is strongly focused on promoting education and awareness and - where possible - returning and rehoming our dogs," Jack said.
"A complaint of this nature is distressing to our staff; however, we do understand it must be fully looked into, and we look forward to welcoming the MPI team to Napier."
The Watchdog! group last month claimed concerns raised by the full team of four animal control officers about their boss have not been addressed after they were raised in a five-page letter from their lawyer to Jack in May.
Jack said the issues were being addressed, a positive change is taking place, and there is no need for an independent review.
The staff made a raft of allegations, including that their team leader was too quick to put down animals, failed to treat animals appropriately, failed to protect staff by instructing them not to deploy stab proof vests and cameras, and was disrespectful with members of the public.
Jack responded to the letter in late June. He said a number of steps had been taken to resolve the concerns and the team leader denied that he did not make adequate efforts to re-home dogs.
Jack said the council was "doing a substantial amount of work around our policies and procedures for animal control", and there had been "some really positive change off the back of some excellent new training".
"A new manager has taken on the overall responsibility for this team and he is working closely with them around their culture and mindset, including how they see themselves in the community and how they wish to deliver the services they are employed to provide," Jack said.