RSPCA shelter worker Kiersten Hansen comforts Chives the dog at the Townsville shelter, which last night sent 18 dogs to southern facilities because of an increase in stray and abandoned animals. The RSPCA has suggested Townsville City Council’s increase in rescue fees might be behind a decrease in families picking their pets up.
THE RSPCA has called on Townsville City Council to crack down on stray and abandoned animals, raising fears that rising fees could prevent people from reclaiming their pets.
The Townsville shelter last night sent 18 dogs south to other RSPCA facilities to cope with exploding numbers, bringing the number of animals sent away to 707 in the past year.
The RSPCA is contracted by the council to run the pound, with about 40 dogs and 30 cats impounded weekly.
The reclaim rate over the past three years has been about 23 per cent.
RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty said it was frustrating.
“The council appears to have no strategic plan to reduce numbers and consistently it’s the RSPCA who’s left to sort out the mess and deal with the cost,” he said.
“We’d just like council to be more proactive. Every year for the last four years we’ve run a desexing campaign … Townsville is one of a few city councils that hasn’t supported it.”
The rescue cost to have a dog or cat released from the shelter rose from $ 125 to $ 169 at the start of this month.
Shelter manager Eileen Fletcher said they were worried the increased fees discouraged struggling residents from reclaiming their animals.
“We know what works from other parts of Queensland,” she said.
“What works is going out into the community with cut- price desexing … and offering people education. Increasing reclaim fees is not going to decrease the number of unwanted animals.
“Nothing’s changed in the last 10 years – more could be done.”
Council Community Health and Environment Committee chairwoman Ann- Maree Greaney said the council would continue to work with the RSPCA to reduce the number of animals ending up at the pound.
“The council contracts the RSPCA to run the city’s pound at the Bohle and they assess and make the final decision on any unclaimed or abandoned animals for rehousing,” she said.
“While numbers of impoundments have remained unchanged over the past three years, to reduce numbers and to tackle dog attacks, the council runs educational programs each year, including the pet expo, to promote responsible pet ownership.”
Cr Greaney said council staff were also having discussions with RSPCA management about plans for “future facilities for their own animal welfare services, as well as council’s future direction for pound operations”.
“Those talks are ongoing and involve a range of issues including land tenure,” she said.
Cr Greaney said the reclaim fees went towards the costs of impoundment and animal care.
“It’s also important that there is some sort of deterrent because the last thing we want is the number of animals at the pound to increase,” she said.
HOMELESS: Zeus looks hopefully through the cage at the Townsville RSPCA shelter which is battling overcrowding problems.