Australia’s intense COVID-19 restrictions have led to the shooting deaths of several dogs who were about to be rescued by a shelter — because a rural council didn’t want volunteers to travel to pick up the dogs.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Bourke Shire Council in Australia’s New South Wales interpreted the country’s COVID-19 restrictions in the harshest terms possible, killing the dogs “to prevent volunteers at a Cobar-based animal shelter from travelling to pick up the animals last week.” Australia is currently enforcing an extreme lockdown to combat the Delta variant. In Sydney, the country’s largest city, military personnel were called in to enforce lockdown measures.
“Residents there will be forced to wear masks outdoors and to stay within five km (three miles) of their homes. With even tighter restrictions set to begin on Friday, New South Wales Police said it had asked for 300 military personnel to help enforce lockdown orders,” Reuters reported in late July.
Over the weekend, hundreds were arrested and fined in Sydney and Melbourne during nationwide protests against the draconian lockdown orders, The Daily Wire reported.
The Bourke Shire Council’s watchdog, the Office of Local Government (OLG) reported the discovery of the killed dogs.
“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,” a spokesman for OLG told the Herald. The spokesman also told the outlet that the OLG was looking into whether certain animal protection laws had been broken.
“The Herald attempted to contact the council administration multiple times, but received no response, and a member of Rural Outback Respite/Rescue – the shelter that was supposed to receive the dogs – declined to comment,” the Herald reported. “A source who is familiar with the arrangement said the shelter volunteers were distressed and had COVID-safe measures in place to handle the dogs, one of which was a new mother.”
To make matters worse, the Council made the determination to follow strict lockdown orders even though the city of Cobar has seen “no recent locally acquired COVID-19 case,” according to the Herald. Fragments of the coronavirus have been found in the sewage system, however.
OLG Minister Shelley Hancock did not provide a comment to the Herald. The outlet reported she has faced questions in Australia’s Parliament regarding other shootings of animals in council-owned pounds. Hancock did say in March that she was unaware of animals being shot as euthanasia.
“If it was a practice, I would be concerned about it — if it was a cat or a dog,” Hancock said.
During that same meeting, Hancock said that councils weren’t required to say how they killed animals.
The situation has led to severe criticism from animal welfare activists, including Animal Liberation’s regional campaign manager Lisa Ryan, who called for an investigation into the shootings.
“We are deeply distressed and completely appalled by this callous dog shooting and we totally reject council’s unacceptable justifications that this killing was apparently undertaken as part of a COVID- safe plan,” Ryan said.
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