Australian community slaughters 15 dogs, including newborn puppies in Covid blunder

Parliament has condemned the slaughter of 15 dogs at a regional animal shelter in New South Wales in a cruel interpretation of Covid rules and has introduced legislation to prevent future atrocities.

The Bourke Shire Council killed 15 dogs in August to prevent volunteers from risking infection by collecting them from a shelter in Cobar, western NSW. The slaughtered animals including a mother and her puppies.

The massacre sparked international outrage, with even comedian Ricky Gervais tweeting about the shooting.

The Animal Justice Party successfully filed a motion Wednesday banning pounds from ‘convenience kill’ where shelters exterminate animals despite willing local rescue groups.

MP Emma Hurst told Daily Mail Australia the party is now focusing on passing laws against the killing of animals in pounds and shelters where a rescue group is willing to take on their care.

“We rushed to find a way to get those dogs out of there and understood that there were two rescue organizations that wanted to take them in. Then we were told they had already been killed,” she said.

“It was in the middle of the lockdown, we were all struggling for many reasons, and then this came on top. We have to find ways to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Bourke Shire Council in northwestern NSW shot 15 dogs to prevent Cobar-based volunteers from risking infection by traveling to the regional town to pick them up (pictured, a volunteer at the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home in 2018)

MP Emma Hurst (pictured) said the party is now focusing on passing laws against the killing of animals in pounds and shelters where a rescue group is willing to take on their care

MP Emma Hurst (pictured) said the party is now focusing on passing laws against the killing of animals in pounds and shelters where a rescue group is willing to take on their care

Vulnerable rescue dogs were shot dead by a NSW regional council in a shocking interpretation of Covid rules, despite volunteers offering to care for the animals (stock image)

Vulnerable rescue dogs were shot dead by a NSW regional council in a shocking interpretation of Covid rules, despite volunteers offering to care for the animals (stock image)

The slaughter of the 15 dogs made headlines around the world, with US broadcasters covering the story and celebrities, including Gervais, sharing the news via social media.

The shootings prompted intervention from the council’s watchdog, the NSW Office of Local Government, which is investigating whether state “companion dog or cruelty prevention” laws have been violated.

Local government minister Shelley Hancock, who was previously criticized in parliament with questions about the shooting of animals in shelters, did not comment.

She said she was not aware of municipalities shooting dogs to euthanize them when she was asked in a March hearing on budget estimates.

“If it was a habit, I’d be concerned about it — if it was a cat or a dog,” she said.

However, a later reply revealed that municipalities are not obliged to tell the government how they kill shelter animals.

Ms Hurst says her party believes those laws have been broken.

“To know that there were people who wanted to take in those dogs,” she told the Daily Mail Australia.

“These dogs were a mother and their newborn puppies … we heard the demand for pandemic puppies during the pandemic.”

The massacre sparked international outrage, with even comedian Ricky Gervais tweeting about the shooting (stock image)

The massacre sparked international outrage, with even comedian Ricky Gervais tweeting about the shooting (stock image)

Ms Hurst (pictured) generally said 'Australians love animals and hate animal cruelty' but the system doesn't 'reflect' that sentiment

Ms Hurst (pictured) generally said ‘Australians love animals and hate animal cruelty’ but the system doesn’t ‘reflect’ that sentiment

Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock (center) has previously said she would be concerned if cats and dogs were shot as a way to euthanize them

Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock (center) has previously said she would be concerned if cats and dogs were shot as a way to euthanize them

She spoke of the “global condemnation” that helped the motion, which was successfully passed in parliament on Wednesday morning, garnered support.

PARLIAMENT CONDITION AND MOVEMENT AGAINST THE SLAUGHTER OF DOGS

(a) On August 22, 2021, Bourke Shire Council was reported to have shot and killed 15 dogs in their care, including a mother and her newborn puppies,

(b) these animals were killed despite the fact that at least two rescue groups were willing to take them and find them loving homes, and were able to do so under the COVID-19 Public Health Orders, and

(c) Bourke Shire Council’s actions have been condemned worldwide and appear to violate the Companion Animals Act 1988.

(2) That this House:

(a) Condemns the brutal actions of the Bourke Shire Council, and

(b) Calls on the Minister for Local Government to prohibit the killing of animals in stables and shelters where a rescue group is willing to take over their care.

Her party now wants to make ‘easy killing’ illegal, with new legislation requiring shelters and pounds to contact at least two local rescue groups before slaughtering animals.

“It’s a relief, it’s good to know that everyone is on the same side with this,” said Ms Hurst.

“It is very likely that we will change these laws.”

Despite public opposition, Australia remains under archaic animal cruelty laws, with live animal exports only increasing, puppy farms remaining legal in most of the country, and a lack of punishment for those who abuse them.

Ms Hurst generally said ‘Australians love animals and hate animal cruelty’, but the system does not ‘reflect’ that sentiment.

“Our political system is set up to make animals fail,” she told the Daily Mail Australia.

“I’ve tried to ban puppy farms in Australia and the government won’t listen to us.

‘The Minister of Agriculture is also responsible for animal protection. It is as if the minister for mining is also responsible for the environment. It’s a hopeless conflict of interest.’

The RSPCA estimates that there are still more than 200 puppy farms operational in NSW alone, a number which Ms Hurst says is ‘dramatically increasing’.

Despite this, she says Australians have “really opened their eyes” to the problems of “systemic” animal cruelty and that they want to make real progress in normalizing their protection.

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