The city's long-awaited pound for cats and dogs has officially opened after a six-month delay.
The site has been housing lost and homeless animals since November but its completion was delayed by the construction of overnight "drop-boxes".
Mayor Reg Kidd and councillor Stephen Nugent opened the $1.5 million "state of the art" facility on Tuesday morning, with the latter calling it a "major step forward" in how pets were treated in the region.
The purpose-built facility which is equipped with 32 dog cages and 18 cages for cats also includes exercise yards, insulated kennels, a vet room and hydro-bath, plus four under-cover kennels known as "drop boxes".
The purpose of the latter is to provide a safe, secure place for the community to leave stray dogs after-hours. Delays to the construction of these kennels was what largely held back the official opening of the pound.
"The new drop-off kennels are secure. If someone leaves a dog at the pound, they're asked to call the pound number to let staff know. That way we'll have some information about where the animal was found that could help us to find its owner," Cr Kidd said.
Residents wishing to adopt an animal from the pound are not currently allowed to visit the site but those needing homes will be advertised on Facebook after being fostered out to carers with local animal rescues.
Animal welfare advocates including Jasmine Smart from Central West Animal Rescue welcomed Council's new rehoming approach and applauded pound staff who had spear-headed the initiative.
Cr Nugent, who is also chair of the Orange City Council Companion Animal Community Committee, said that the new pound had also brought about the creation of a number of jobs, including the appointment of a full-time qualified vet nurse plus a few casual attendants.
"Like any pound, when it comes to keeping the community safe, our staff have to make some tough decisions about stray cats and dogs. We can't release animals back out into the community that are judged to be behaviourally unsuitable," he said.
"At this stage, the pound isn't set up to deal face-to-face with people who are looking to buy a cat or a dog.
"But we do want to move to re-homing directly from the pound in the near future."
The pound is in the Narambla Industrial estate at 36 Astill Drive. To ask about an animal, call 6393 8990
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