Council hits back at protesters

Council hits back at protesters

The Mount Gambier City Council has disputed claims made by the Mount Gambier Residents and Ratepayers Association from a recent protest.

The protest against the cessation of animal impound services at the South East Animal Welfare League took place at the council chambers last Tuesday night.

The association claimed the front entrance to council was barricaded, however council has issued a statement rejecting those claims.

The association also claimed the side carpark was blocked off so councillors could sneak in through a back door, but council stated this was also not the case.

“Councillors did not sneak in through a back door to the meeting,” council stated.

“All councillors entered via the front door (one councillor and the Mayor are already based in the building during weekdays).

“Council hired one security guard due to a direct threat received by the South East Animal Welfare League regarding fireworks and flares being set off during the protest.

“The presence of a security guard was also agreed as sensible by SAPOL.”

Council also addressed a claim from the association saying that council gains $181,000 a year from dog registration fees and ‘they spend $46,000 of that on SEAWL, where does the other money go?’

“The $181,000 in registration fees mentioned in the article should be considered in context with annual expenditure which was $362,774 in 2022/23,” council stated.

“This includes General Inspector wages/oncosts, vehicle costs, training and other office expenses as well as the $45,000 paid to SEAWL.”

The council statement also discussed their new pound and rehoming procedures which began July 1.

“Council had a tripartite agreement with Grant District Council and the South East Animal Welfare League until the end of June,” the statement reads.

“During the second half of last year, council reviewed models and opportunities for animal pound and shelter services to ensure we are following correct procurement principles.

“Council engaged with the league during the process and offered them an eight-month extension to their agreement, but they declined.

“We also invited them to participate in the Expressions of Interest process which closed last week, but they chose not to.

“Regardless, we thank SEAWL and their volunteers for their care of animals.

“Now we need to progress to ensure the community’s animals are taken care of.”

A council spokesperson said since the start of the month, interim arrangements were implemented for impounded dogs using kennels approved by the Dog and Cat Management Board, for 12 and then ultimately for 72 hours.

“Council appreciates that this is a very emotive issue, people love their pets and animals, and we want to ensure they are returned to their owners as quickly as possible should they get out,” the spokesperson said.

“We reiterate the best way to do that is to register and microchip your animals.

“Council staff have been hard at work returning dogs to their owners and since July 1, 19 dogs have been found wandering at large, and 18 of those were returned to their families without having been impounded.

“A puppy has been fostered by Wet Noses Animal Rescue service until he can be rehomed.

“Arrangements have been put in place to support rehoming or fostering after the mandatory 72-hour hold period.

“Council is certainly not just going to euthanise dogs after three days as has been suggested on social media.”

Council said while the request for Expressions of Interest for animal pound and shelter services has closed, the process is still being undertaken and submissions will be reviewed in coming weeks to determine the next steps.

“Until this process is complete, we are unable to disclose how many submissions were received,” council stated.

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