MORNINGTON Peninsula mayor Cr Bev Colomb says looking after and finding new homes for unclaimed cats and dogs is “high priority” for the shire.
However, a group of animal lovers plans to demonstrate outside the shire’s Mornington offices on Sunday over their claims of secrecy surrounding how many unwanted animals are being put down.
The Save Mornington Pound Animals group wants to stop cats and dogs being killed and for the shire to increase its efforts to find new homes for strays.
The protest comes just weeks before the shire prepares to unveil $900,000 in changes to its new community animal shelter in Watt Rd, Mornington.
Cr Colomb, in a prepared statement, said the shire “encourages and promotes responsible pet ownership fostering a greater harmony and co-existence between pet owners and non-pet owners”.
She said the Watt Rd pound had been caring for cats, dogs and the occasional stray livestock for more than 30 years.
“We are always keen to first re-unite pets in the field through shire rangers. For instance, last year more than 300 pets found wandering the streets were returned home without being impounded, because they were registered and microchipped.
“The shelter last year returned more than 800 pets to their owners, usually within 24-36 hours. A further 573 were rescued or adopted by volunteer animal rescue groups.”
Protest organiser Rosy Fischer said the pound should open for at least three hours each day, allowing pet owners and potential adopters to visit without an appointment.
She said most animals should be listed for adoption on Petrescue and other media, such as newspapers, libraries and social media. The adoption process should also be made easier.
Cr Colomb said the shelter cared for 685 cats and 994 dogs last year, with all animals receiving “immediate treatment” if they are sick or injured. Animals are photographed for identification and listed on the mornpen.vic.gov.au/lostpets web page.
“Pets also receive a second microchip scan, and have their eating, toilet and behaviour monitored and recorded, in conjunction with an individual health management plan,” Cr Colomb said.
Cr Colomb said the council had spent about $900,000 on the pound, including a bigger “reunite” area; heated or cooled housing for animals awaiting collection by one of more than 50 rescue groups or direct adoption.
“These new features will ensure the highest level of animal welfare for pets in our temporary care,” she said.
The shire’s environment protection manager John Rankine said the refurbished shelter due to open next month would be open daily, by appointment, to the public.
The pound would open Saturday mornings without appointments for a six-month trial later this year.
The shire says it follows the adoption protocols of a guide for Victorian dog and cat community foster care networks, which include written confirmation that a landlord agrees to an animal being homed at a rented property.
Organisers of the protest encourage owners to bring their pets and to dress up as their favourite pet when they gather outside the shire’s Queen St, Mornington offices, 2-3pm, Sunday 23 July.