GREATER Taree City Council say it was abiding by the law when its Taree Companion Animal Pound euthanised a one-year-old cattle dog on Sunday.
News of the dog's death has caused outrage, and has gone viral online, with more than 100 angry posts from around the world written on the Manning River Times Facebook page, and animal welfare supporters urging people to write to the council and express their anger.
The response was prompted by a post on the Dog Rescue Newcastle Facebook page on Monday, which stated that on Sunday they had put out a call for the one-year-old blue female cattle dog whose 'date was up' on Sunday at Taree Pound.
The organisation said they had found a carer on Sunday afternoon but because the pound was closed at the time they couldn't ring until 8.30am Monday, which was too late.
They said the Companions Animals Act states that if a due date falls on a weekend or public holiday they have to give more time.
In a statement to the Manning River Times, council said the Companion Animals Act and council's pound management plan requires that an unregistered unidentified dog not wearing a tag be kept at the pound for seven days before being sold or euthanised, unless the owner is located beforehand.
The dog in question was an unregistered unidentified dog not wearing a tag and was kept at the pound for eight days.
During this time the owner of the dog was not forthcoming and nobody had shown any interest in the dog.
This being the case the dog was euthanised.
Contrary to the comment from Dog Rescue Newcastle, council said there is actually no requirement for an animal to be kept for a longer period of time where the pound is open on weekends.
Council's pound is open on weekends and public holidays (the pound's hours are 3.30pm to 5pm weekdays and 8am to 9am weekends and public holidays).
Council said that while it is not an animal welfare group, its practices do seek to encourage re-homing of animals by allowing individuals and animal welfare organisations who have an interest in an impounded animal to register that interest.
Council undertakes this process so that if the owner cannot be located, the animal can be given a new home.
Where such interest by a group or individual is shown in an animal, the animal is then kept for a longer period.
Council said that Dog Rescue Newcastle is aware of this practice, and they have availed themselves of this service previously.
However in this instance, although a representative of Dog Rescue Newcastle had attended the pound in the seven days prior to the dog being euthanised, they had not shown any interest in the dog.
A spokesman for council said council is not able to keep animals for an indefinite period, particularly where no interest is shown and it is inevitable that there will be circumstances where animals are to be euthanised, however it should be noted that the current practices of council and the relationships that have been fostered with animal welfare organisations has resulted in more animals being re-homed and a significant decrease in the numbers of animals being euthanised.