THE RSPCA will soon stop accepting stray pets leaving Orange City Council to find another pound operator.
Once the council finds an alternative, the RSPCA will use its William Street animal shelter to focus on re-homing and welfare only.
RSPCA NSW chief executive Steve Coleman said while the number of animals had dropped from 1800 annually in 2010 to 1200 now, it was difficult to balance the responsibility of the pound contract with investigating cruelty matters and providing animal welfare support.
“This comes under the Companion Animals Act and that is a function of local government so if we can add value and assist the council throughout this transition, that’s what we want to do,” he said.
“What we don’t want to see, nor does council, is animals left behind so we will make sure we’re careful in how we transition.”
He said the William Street site would not be sold or shut down.
Council development services director David Waddell said the council could either find an operator to run a pound at another location, such as a dog breeding facility, or take on the operation itself.
“We could build our own facility, which I daresay would cost well over $1.5 million if we could find suitable land,” he said.
“The technology to house dogs is pretty much just a box so I would be confident someone could look at the revenue stream, which is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and put their hand up.”
Finding a place to lock up stray pets overnight has been a challenge in recent months because rangers only respond to dangerous dogs after hours and the RSPCA cages are no longer operating due to vandalism, placing much of the burden on residents who find the dogs or vet surgeries.
Mr Waddell said any future facility would require an after-hours arrangement.
Council companion animal community committee chairman and councillor Neil Jones said it was a wake-up call for irresponsible pet owners who let their animals out, particularly without a microchip or registration, or at night.
“[If not for] the owners of dogs and cats who are allowing their pets to get away from their yards and roam the streets, we would not be faced with dealing with stray animals all the time,” he said.
“We would not have to face up to the significant cost that council is now going to incur in developing and managing its own pound facility.”
The operation will be put out to tender in the next three months.