Dog rescuers left with few after-hours options for stray pets

STANDING EMPTY: The after-hours cages at the RSPCA's William Street premises are not available to those who find dogs roaming. Photo: PHIL BLATCH 1125pbrspca1

STANDING EMPTY: The after-hours cages at the RSPCA's William Street premises are not available to those who find dogs roaming. Photo: PHIL BLATCH 1125pbrspca1

DOG owners have been asked to take more responsibility for their pets as veterinary clinics feel the pressure of the number of after hours calls involving strays.

Orange City Council’s dog rangers only take after-hours callouts if there is a risk to a member of the public and earlier this year, the RSPCA closed the system of empty cages outside the William Street pound where residents could leave dogs after hours amid reports of vandalism and dogs stolen before the rangers arrived.

Canobolas Family Pet Hospital veterinarian Dr Lisa Brisbane said it had been frustrating for the people who found missing pets and tried to do the right thing by keeping them from being hit by cars.

“They do ring the vet after hours and one of our girls who was on call a few weeks ago was called three times in the same night to take stray dogs,” she said.

“We’re at the end of the line and people are quite cranky and frustrated and they show that frustration to us, and that’s not a service we’re paid for.”

Council spokesman Nick Redmond said dog rangers responded to dog attacks, complaints about barking dogs and requests to collect stray dogs.

“To responsibly manage staff resources, the priority has been in place for a number of years that only incidents of dangerous dogs warrant an after-hours call-out,” he said.

“Reports of barking dogs or collecting strays are handled during business hours.”

Mr Redmond said the council was looking at options to introduce a modified system of cages when the RSPCA’s contract was renewed.

“If the dog can be secured safely, a resident could consider keeping the dog overnight until they can take it to the pound or a ranger can arrive,” he said.

“If there’s a risk of danger to a member of the public, residents can call the council 24-hour assistance line.”

Dr Brisbane said the best way to handle the problem was for owners to ensure their dogs did not escape.

“Desexing is important so male dogs aren’t trying to find bitches in season, the fences need to be adequate with no gaps for little ones to burrow under. If there’s gates in the fences, have ones that are self-closing; they can’t accidentally get left open,” she said.

“Just having a name tag on the dog’s collar means if someone finds the dog, they can ring straight back without going through the other systems.”

The RSPCA did not respond to questions.

The council’s 24-hour assistance line is 1300 650 511.

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