As the Lost Dogs Home prepare to wrap up their operations at the Wingecarribee Animal Shelter next week, Wingecarribee Shire Council is ready to take the leash.
The Lost Dogs Home announced their termination of the contract with Council in August, but agreed to an arrangement to continue operations of the shelter until November 29 2013 to assist with a smooth transition.
Deputy General Manager Operations Phil Marshall said that despite the challenging circumstances, staff had been working behind the scenes in collaboration with The Lost Dogs Home to ensure an efficient handover.
“To their credit, The Lost Dogs Home have gone beyond their contractual obligations to assist us with a longer transition time, and we are confident that this will help us achieve the best outcomes for the animals at the shelter,” Mr Marshall said.
“This has also allowed Council staff the opportunity to purchase brand new equipment for the animals and update our security measures which will be ready in time when we take over the facility on the 30 of November.”
Council issued a media release on the 18 November clarifying its position on the immediate future of the animal shelter, dispelling rumours and mistruths. Mr Marshall said that while the misinformation was disappointing, Council staff were committed to moving forward with a transitional plan for the facility.
“Council’s intention to take over management of the Wingecarribee Animal Shelter has always been clear and never in doubt,” Mr Marshall said. “The facility will be managed in line with the Draft Minimal Euthanasia Policy, and in accordance with the division of Local Government’s better practice guidelines and Department of Primary Industries Animal Welfare Code of Practice: Dogs and Cats in Pounds and Animal Shelters.”
“Council’s commitment to the wellbeing of the animals of the shelter remains paramount,” Mr Marshall added. “For anyone to suggest their welfare will be jeopardised, is pure scaremongering.”
“We also understand that the transition period for the staff of The Lost Dogs Home has been difficult since being notified of the contract termination by their Melbourne-based employer.
“However, whilst there are still contractual issues with the current staff and their employer (The Lost Dogs Home), we can report we have been in contact with current staff about the potential for future employment.
“We would like to reassure the community that we do have staffing arrangements in place for this transitional period, and that Council has also ensured that equipment and resources are available to guarantee that the facility continues to run as normal,” Mr Marshall said.
“Future staff employment is an operational matter, and positions at the shelter will be subject to the Local Government Act and Council processes.
“We are also mindful that value for money must be achieved in all of our services and the animal shelter is one where expenses are running at approximately $25,000 per month.”
For the immediate transition period, the Wingecarribee Animal Shelter will be closed to all but animal reclaims over the weekend of 30 November/1 December 2013. The shelter will reopen as normal on Monday 2 December, with qualified staff supervising the shelter and assistance as usual from the dedicated volunteers.
“Council reiterates its position that the welfare of the animals remains paramount,” Mr Marshall added.
“We would therefore ask that any other issue, such as the location of any future facility, be separated from this immediate concern and let Council staff get about their jobs in providing the Shire’s abandoned animals with the best possible care.”
“I also welcome any questions should the community have concerns moving forward as The Lost Dogs Home withdraw from their current position, and ask that the facts be fairly represented and all angles of the story considered.”