A council that shoots its unwanted dogs is poised to abandon the controversial practice after a public backlash and concerns over the wellbeing of its staff.
South Wairarapa District Council is one of several councils that routinely use firearms to euthanase dogs that cannot be rehomed.
The method is legal, but has been criticised as traumatic for both dogs and the officers involved, with the animals sometimes needing a second shot to be finished off.
The practice also flies in the face of the SPCA's ''preferred'' method, which is by intravenous injection by a registered veterinarian.
Council planning and environment manager Glenn Bunny said that after the issue was highlighted in a Dominion Post article the council reviewed its procedures.
The review found the use of a vet was the ''safest and most humane method'', with shooting capable of causing ''significant'' trauma for those charged with carrying it out.
''I had a chat to our dog ranger and it's fair to say it's not a job he enjoys in any way, shape or form,'' said Mr Bunny.
''He saw it as a pretty horrible part of his job and he was quite relieved we were looking at [changing it].
''It is quite distressing and it's not pleasant.''
The council had also received ''adverse publicity and concern'' from some people, he said.
''It wasn't a tidal wave [of criticism] but there were elements of the community that weren't impressed by it.''
In October The Dominion Post revealed that a survey of 46 councils showed 15 exclusively used firearms to euthanase unwanted dogs, while 12 others used both firearms and vets.
Six councils used bolt-guns, 14 exclusively used a vet, and one council - Wanganui - used a carbon monoxide ''chamber''.
South Wairarapa, Carterton, Masterton and Tararua councils were all identified as using firearms, although Masterton now uses a vet.
The Hutt Valley, Wellington, Porirua and Kapiti Coast councils use vets.
Mr Bunny said about 10 dogs were killed by his council each year, with the change set to cost about $1000 annually.
A recommendation to abandon the use of firearms would be put to councillors at a meeting today, he said.
Royal New Zealand SPCA national president Bob Kerridge said lethal injection administered by a vet retained ''the dignity of death in that final moment''.
''Where shooting is an accepted method of euthanasia it is by no means the preferred option by the society.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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