'Disposer' wanted to tackle stray cats

ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 10:29 04/07/2014

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A cat welfare agency is advertising for a full-time ''animal disposer'' with experience in euthanasia to target Christchurch's strays.

The listing was posted by Cats Unloved Charitable Trust, whose boss Wendy Sisson has previously come under fire for using a metal gas chamber to euthanise cats in her backyard.

Sisson told The Press the ad was placed by a third party ''who was asked to supply copy to us for approval and didn't''.

She said: ''I have no exact detail of what is in the ad.''

The Canterbury SPCA is now investigating after fielding a number of complaints from other animal welfare agencies.

Cats Unloved listed the advertisement on online job search website Opportunity Canterbury on June 24.

The organisation initially listed the position under ''animal disposer'', but it was later revised to ''trapper''.

The job requirements simply state an eligible candidate must have a clean driver's license, and ''strong prior experience in euthanising animals''.

The position was described as full-time, 30 hours a week or more.

SPCA Canterbury chief executive Barry Helem said it was ''fair to say we're concerned''.

''The difficulty is, how do you know if an animal is wild, feral or someone owns it, particularly in residential Christchurch?

''If you euthanise someone's pet you leave yourself open to litigation.''

He did not know ''the scale of the problem'' with wild or feral cats in Christchurch at the moment, as there had not yet been enough research in terms of a survey or census tounderstand it, but believed it was unlikely to require these kind of measures.

Helem said the two main procedures for humane euthanasia were to take an animal to the vet, or by using a rifle in rural areas.

The Animal Welfare Act states that it is an offence to kill an animal in a manner that causes unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

''No-one really has the right to euthanise any animal unless it is the owner, a vet or the SPCA (under the Animal Welfare Act), and when it comes to companion animals, particularly in residential areas, it is illegal if not the owner.''

Many agencies dedicated to cat welfare in the city declined to comment, as the SPCA are investigating. 

Janis Richards, of The Cat Help Charitable Trust Janis Richards, said many agencies had ''shunned'' Sisson after she spoke about using chloroform to euthanise stray cats in a metal gas chamber in her backyard in 2011.

''She faded into the background somewhere after that,'' Richards said. 

According to reports at the time, Sisson said the chamber was used to put down those cats for which no home could be found, and there was no alternative to euthanasia.

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She disposed of the bodies in Christchurch City Council bins.

Cat Help did not have much to do with Cats Unloved since, aside from the odd call about a ''friendly'' cat to rehome.

However, she was ''worried'' about their latest venture, saying sometimes it was extremely difficult to tell if a cat was a stray or not.

''They can be lost cats gone wild, a truly feral cat your not likely to see.

"Some of the ones hanging around the red zone are the ones that have been repatriated, and some have become tame and have been rehomed.''

- The Press

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