Local Australian health officials sent animal rights activists into outrage mode after they ordered the killings of an unknown number of rescue dogs, fearing COVID-19 transmission. The national government is now investigating.
In the Bourke Shire Council located in New South Wales, officials ordered the canines to be shot to death as a way of preventing volunteers from going to multiple shelter locations to help find new homes for the dogs, the Office of Local Government said.
In total, 15 dogs, including puppies, were killed. One of dogs was allegedly a female who had just recently birthed a litter of puppies.
People arrive to be vaccinated at the New South Wales Health mass vaccination hub in Homebush on August 23, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Lisa Maree Williams/)
“OLG has been informed that the council decided to take this course of action to protect its employees and community, including vulnerable Aboriginal populations, from the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” the Office of Local Government said in a statement.
Though COVID-19 cases have increased in New South Wales, no recent cases were reported in the town of Cobar, where the shelter is located despite traces of the virus being found in the town’s sewage system.
The OLG is now investigating if the council violated any of Australia’s animal cruelty prevention laws, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Meanwhile, shelter volunteers say they are devastated. Staff members at the pound had already devised and implemented comprehensive COVID safety measures that were created to prevent transmission when it came time to collect any dogs.
“We are deeply distressed and completely appalled by this callous dog shooting,” said Animal Liberation activist Lisa Ryan. “We totally reject council’s unacceptable justifications that this killing was apparently undertaken as part of a COVID-safe plan.”