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Rescue dogs shot dead in Australia over COVID restrictions

Written by on 23/08/2021

Fifteen rescue dogs, including 10 puppies, have been shot dead by a council in Australia under its interpretation of coronavirus restrictions.

The Bourke Shire Council in New South Wales destroyed the canines, which had been at its pound, to prevent volunteers at an animal shelter from travelling to pick them up and potentially spreading the virus.

“The council decided to take this course of action to protect its employees and community, including vulnerable Aboriginal populations, from the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” the Office of Local Government, a government watchdog, told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Bourke Shire Council. Pic: Q8682
Image: The dogs were killed by Bourke Shire Council. Pic: Q8682

The spokesman said officials were investigating whether any animal cruelty laws had been broken.

A source familiar with the arrangement said the shelter volunteers were distressed and already had COVID-safe measures in place to handle the dogs.

And comedian Ricky Gervais has expressed his disapproval of the killings on social media.

The Bourke Shire Council told ABC News the dogs were euthanised because the rescue organisation was from another local government area and they had concerns about people from other communities entering Bourke.

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All of regional New South Wales has “stay-at-home” orders in place due to COVID-19.

The council said it had contacted its usual dog rehomer, who is based in the same area, but they were unable to come to Bourke.

Five of the dogs had been housed at the pound since early August and one of the dogs then had 10 pups.

The council said staff became concerned for the welfare of the dogs due to overcrowding at the pound and two of the dogs attacking one of the others.

The shelter that was supposed to receive the dogs declined to comment.

Animal Liberation regional campaign manager Lisa Ryan called for an urgent investigation.

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Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in Melbourne

“We are deeply distressed and completely appalled by this callous dog shooting and we totally reject [the] council’s unacceptable justifications that this killing was apparently undertaken as part of a COVID-safe plan,” she said.

Australia has recently seen a surge in COVID-19 cases, forcing the country’s largest city, Sydney, to extend its lockdown through September and impose tougher restrictions, such as a curfew and a mask mandate outdoors.

Staff are allowed to work at animal shelters even when lockdown measures are in place, according to the Office of Local Government spokesman.

“Councils are also encouraged to continue to work with re-homing organisations and volunteers to care for animals, where that can be undertaken consistent with NSW Health advice,” he added.

 Sky News

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