Pound in doghouse with public over pet welfare

A Hastings pound is facing a public backlash over its treatment of dogs, with claims it has yet to fix its animal welfare problems despite a string of scathing reports.

Paws Rehabilitation and Rescue founder Ginny Taft works to re-home animals but said she refused to take any animals from the Hastings pound.

"The conditions of the dogs, the risk of illnesses and major behaviour issues are just too high."

The criticism comes after a Ministry for Primary Industries report earlier this year found the council-owned pound failed to meet minimum welfare standards.

Small dogs risked being attacked by aggressive dogs in neighbouring cages. Dogs risked catching infectious diseases brought into the shelter because there was no isolation facility, and not all dogs were being exercised every day. There was also no temperature control to keep dogs warm in winter, the ministry said.

The pound came under scrutiny in 2011 after two puppies there were mauled to death.

An MPI spokesman yesterday said the council had addressed all but one of the issues raised in its last report, which related to exercising the dogs.

Taft said dogs that were not exercised often suffered "shelter shock". "A lot of people want their dogs back and they should be in a good condition. That's what we pay registration fees for."

Public anger has been growing in the past few months, with dog owners claiming their dogs had been mistreated at the pound. More than 1300 people have joined a "Hastings Dog Rangers Wall of Shame" Facebook page.

Hasting Mayor Lawrence Yule last month announced a review of the animal control unit, whichwas expected to be ready before Christmas.

Hastings district councillor Wayne Bradshaw said the problems at the pound should never have escalated.

"Do we have to wait for a crisis to act . . . The council is only acting because the community has gathered enough momentum to demand it."

The Dominion Post