City council under fire for dog-killing method

The council has changed its killing methods, from shooting dogs, to a lethal injection, to firing a pin into their brains.
File photo

The council has changed its killing methods, from shooting dogs, to a lethal injection, to firing a pin into their brains.

The Invercargill City Council's method of killing dangerous dogs has been described as "archaic" and has come under fire from the New Zealand Institute of Animal Management.

The city council has changed its killing methods over the years, from shooting dogs earmarked for euthanasia, to taking them to the vet for a lethal injection, to firing a pin into their brains with a "humane gun", commonly known as a captive bolt.

The council's environmental and compliance manager John Youngson said they stopped shooting dogs that were considered dangerous about two years ago and instead used vets to administer lethal injections.

However, Youngson said it was stressful for the dogs to go to the vet, as well as being time-consuming for animal control staff.

So about six months ago the council voted to kill unwanted dogs with a captive bolt which fired a pin into their brains, he said.

The council changed to using the captive bolt because it was more humane, he said.

Southland SPCA chair Rachel Hucklebridge.
Kavinda Herath

Southland SPCA chair Rachel Hucklebridge.

The dogs were put into a restraint before being killed.

The dogs killed in this manner had died instantly, but a backup plan was in place in the event it didn't work as planned. 

"It's worked out cheaper but it wasn't based on price," he said of the new method of killing the animals.

"The only reason it's cheaper is we are putting down less animals."

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The council's new killing method for dangerous dogs has been criticised by the New Zealand Institute of Animal Management, which consists of practising animal control officers around the country.

The institute's national president, Les Dalton, was not impressed the city council was using a captive bolt to kill dogs.

Most councils in the country used lethal injection to kill dogs and less than a handful of councils used a captive bolt, he said.

"It's archaic in this day. That's the view of the institute."

The lethal injection was "far more humane" than the captive bolt because the captive bolt had more room for operator error, he said.

It could also be "psychologically horrible" for the operator if they got it wrong when using the captive bolt.

Even when they got it right, the captive bolt method was messy, with blood coming from the dog's nose and brain matter often coming out of the hole shot into the animal's head, he said.

It was "very unusual" for a council to go back to the captive bolt after using the lethal injection.

"I have got my views and I think the lethal injection is far more accurate and less stressful for the operator, Dalton said.

He planned to ring the city council to discuss the issue.

Shooting a dog in any form was not a good look in terms of public perception, he added.

"It goes down like a lead balloon."

SPCA Southland chairwoman Rachel Hucklebridge said the captive bolt was classified as a humane way of killing the dogs.

"The concern I have is the psychological effect on the person that has to do it." 

Cr Rebecca Amundsen, chair of the city council's regulatory services committee which deals with the animal control issues, said councillors chose to euthanise dogs with the captive bolt instead of lethal injection because it was more humane, and the SPCA had supported it.

When told Dalton's views, she said "that's not the impression we were given when the report came to council".

"We were told it was instant and a much better way of doing it."

People would be concerned no matter what method the council used to kill dogs, she said.

 - The Southland Times

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