Family left devastated after Walgett Council seizes family's pet dog and shoots it at Christmas.
Ninja was a lovely, happy puppy who loved his family.
SPRA took a call from a distressed mother of two young children, at Collarenabri in northern NSW, on Saturday 22nd December asking us if we could help her find her black Labrador pup Ninja. Ninja aged 6-9months had been seized by Walgett Shire's Council ranger the day before.
This is the story Ninja's owner told us......About 8-8.30am on Friday 21st December, the council ranger came uninvited onto her property, with a piece of rope, advising the owner that he had come for her black Labrador pup Ninja. At the time he attended the premises, Ninja was chained up, as is commonly the case at present until she gets her gate fixed. Ninja was thought to have knocked some rubbish bins over in the street. The ranger told her he had some papers she had to sign. The ranger did not explain her rights and she did not read the surrender papers as she said she was too upset, and she was also still half asleep. She did not want to sign the papers, stating that her two children aged 6yrs and 9 years would be very upset and they would be looking for Ninja. The ranger told her that Ninja would be sent to Dubbo and he would find a new home there with a good yard. The owner, who was vulnerable, thought that she had no choice but to sign the papers, which she did, but she continued to convey to the ranger that she did not want to surrender him. Ninja's owner described the ranger as a 'Bully'
The ranger took Ninja back to the council pound.. About 2 hrs later, the owner rang council and spoke to the ranger again and asked where her dog was. The ranger told her that her that Ninja was a lovely lab and had been sent to Sydney where he should find a good home with a lab breeder. As a result of being advised this, the owner rang Sydney Pet Rescue & Adoption asking if we could help her find her dog. By this time, Saturday morning, Walgett Council had closed for the Xmas period until 2nd January. SPRA was concerned that if we did not track Ninja down straight away, he could be euthanased as commonly happens with surrenders. SPRA was eventually able to get through on the emergency numbers and spoke to a couple of different managers. The Director of Planning & Regulation did at least treat it as an urgent matter as requested by SPRA, and spent time investigating the matter between Saturday and Monday morning. He spoke with the pound ranger who agreed that he had told the owner that he had sent Ninja to Sydney, when in fact he admitted to the Director that he had not sent Ninja to Sydney but rather shot Ninja dead that same day.
The Director claimed that Ninja was well known and had been knocking down bins all over town over the last two weeks. SPRA asked the Director to investigate if any Nuisance Notices had been issued in relation to this. He confirmed that no nuisance notices had been issued. The Owner advised SPRA that she had never been given any verbal or written notices that Ninja was a nuisance. SPRA asked the Director, if Ninja was so well known all over town for knocking down bins why hadn't a Nuisance Notice been issued. The Director advised there was a range of enforcement strategies which could be used and a verbal warning could be used without a written Notice. The owner is adamant that she was never previously advised that Ninja whom she had only had over a matter of some months, had been knocking over bins.. Council has provided no proof that any verbal warnings were given. SPRA will be nvestigating if a ranger can seize a dog without issuing a Nuisance Notice.
SPRA asked the Director to explain their euthanasia practices. The Director advised that their standard practice was to to either put a bullet in the animal's head either on site at the pound or to take the live animals out to the tip and shoot them there. SPRA expressed disgust at such a practice which does not constitute euthanasia, but rather execution. The Director dvised that they had to work within their resources which did not include a vet.This seems hard to understand since there is in fact a vet clinic located in Walgett. SPRA asked for further clarification to ascertain if animals were shot in front of each other however the Director declined to discuss the matter any further until after New year. It seems likely that is exactly what happens. Both Ninja and another little brown and white dog seized as a stray at the the same time, were shot on the same day. Imagagine the terror of those animals waiting their turn to be executed...just like Australia's tragic live export cattle who were forced to watch their friends slaughtered in front of them whilst awaiting their turn.
Ninja's Owner also reported to SPRA that the pound ranger took this other little brown and white dog at the same time as Ninja. This dog was a stray which had wandered into Ninja's owner's front yard. The dog was observed by Ninja's owner to be in good condition, active and playful. Ninja's owner was canvassing the area in an attempt to find the owner. Upon learning about this little dog, SPRA asked the Director to investigate the status of this dog, fearing that it too may have met the same cruel fate as Ninja . The Director followed up with the pound ranger who reported to him that the dog was sick, had fleas and ticks and so he shot it at the same time he shot Ninja. SPRA questioned this stating that it is in fact illegal for an animal which is known to be a stray to be killed before a minimum of 7 days if it is not micro chipped or 14 days if it is micro chipped. The Director stated that the pound ranger has to make a decision as to which animals could be re homed and which could not be re homed. SPRA protested that the pound does not have this discretion before the 7/14 days are up. This 7-14 day period is required by law to give owners a chance to find their lost animals. the Director then stated that the ranger had assessed this little dog as sick. Ninja's owner had reported to SPRA that this little dog was in fact on the fat side, active and playful, with no indicators of it being sick whatsoever. SPRA suggested to the Director that this sounded very much like
a made up story to justify the ranger's non compliance with the legal requirements. SPRA asked the Director what were the ranger's qualifications to assess the animal as so sick it needed to be shot. The Director advised that in fact the ranger has no relevant education or training to qualify him to make a decision about euthanasia whatsoever.
SPRA will be investigating Walgett Council pound's practices further and making a formal complaint to the Dept of Local Government. Beyond that we will request the General Manager do an audit of Council's practices in these two cases, and generally and beyond that we will consider a complaint to the Ombudsman. We have already contacted the media and hope to get as many newspaper and television stations as possible to pick the story up. It seems logical that the way these two dogs have been handled is indicative of how Walgett council manages animal control generally. It seems to us that the legal requirements were not followed, and that the ranger seems to have taken advantage of a vulnerable owner who did not understand her rights and who was powerless in the face of a pound ranger who coerced and pressured her to surrender her dog when she clearly did not want to do this.
SPRA is also concerned that this pound does not seem to observe the legal requirements to keep a stray for 7-14 days to give its owner. a chance to find it. SPRA is disgusted to hear that Walgett does not access a vet for pound animals and takes the cheap option of executing animals with a bullet to the head. SPRA is especially alarmed that the indications are that Walgett council executes pound animals in front of each other. Imagine the terror of these poor creatures as they wait their turn to be executed. Many readers will remember the terror we saw on the faces of Australia's live export cattle in Indonesia as they were forced to wait their turn as they watched their friends being slaughtered.
SPRA cannot put into words how angry and disgusted we are at Walgett pounds's apparent abuse of power and apparent disregard for the legal requirements, not to mention the miserable way they have needlessly destroyed two beautiful little dogs who were given no chance for a home, not to mention how Walgett Council has devastated this poor family by killing a precious member of their family, and destroying their Christmas. SPRA will not rest until we have done everything we can to assist this poor owner to get justice for her loved family member Ninja, and to get justice for the little brown and white stray dog who was executed the same day he was seized.
Meanwhile this devastated mother wonders what she should tell her two daughters aged 6 years and 9 years who are still writing notes for Ninja and still waiting for him to come home.
Story printed in Dubbo's Daily Liberal newspaper. You can add your comments there also
APPEAL FOR NINJA’S FAMILY
Would you like to join us in trying to bring some happiness to Ninja’s poor devastated family?
24.12.12 –SPRA asked Ninja’s family if there was anything they might like to add to a Wish List. Ninja’s owner replied no, that she was just very grateful that someone cared about what had happened to Ninja and his family.
This is a disadvantaged family, living in a small country town where they have no other support. In view of this, and the heartache they have endured losing their beloved pet in terrible circumstances at Christmas, SPRA thought it might be a nice idea to see if we could get a trip to Taronga Zoo at Dubbo donated.
14/2/13 The family has received their tickets for the Zoo and are busy organising the dates and accommodation. This is made possible by the donations received from our generous supporters listed below.
If you would like to contribute towards this with a tax deductible cash donation, or if you would like to send some other small gift to show your support for Ninja’s family, please email Michelle at [email protected]
Please feel free to also email your message of support which we will print below.
To donate online, please click on the link below
Reference: NINJA with your surname & initials
Here are our bank account details for our external Appeals.
Account Name: SYDNEY PET RESCUE & ADOPTION - EMERGENCY APPEALS FUND
BSB: 112-879, Account number: 456837415
Reference: NINJA with your surname & initials
THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SUPPORTERS listed below
Donations total to date $955
Dyson at Taren Point have kicked off the Appeal by donating a lovely fan to Ninja’s family. It is very hot in Collarenebri, Northern NSW, so this will be very much appreciated.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo has very generously donated tickets for the family
2/1/13 $40 Marie
3/1/13 $50 Pamela
4/1/13 $300 Jennifer Y
7/1/13 $40 Danielle
11/1/13 $200 Lanis
14/1/13 $200 Peter
17/1/13 $100 Patricia from Naremburn For Ninja's appeal
06/1/13 $25 Yip Wo Merrylands NINJA - Sorry to hear that and hope no more cruelty happens again.
1/1/13 - "That's horrible that’s not humane. Where is the RSPCA or animal welfare league How can these rangers have a heart to destroy a dog that way and leave them at the rubbish tip" S.U
2/1/13 - "Dear Michelle and Family,
With sadness and absolute fury I read of your dog Ninja. I have since emailed the Walgett council and I hope that the full force of the law comes down on the ranger involved. Unfortunately this won't help you or Ninja but just may be the start of some moral and legal changes that will help others. I hope you get some comfort knowing many others are saddened and angry at he massive injustice your family as suffered.
Warm regards, Sharyn from Victoria"
3/1/13 - "Hi Michelle, I've just read the story about Walgett Council and am horrified that this can happen in Australia! I'm proud to live in the Sutherland Shire where at least they have a no kill policy. Imagine the terror of those poor animals in the last few hours of their life, leaves you in tears. This sounds like a story for one of the current affair shows..?
I hope you manage to get somewhere with your investigations. Thank goodness for organisations like yours. Kind regards, Paulette"
4/1/13 - I think it's a wonderful, kind and thoughtful what you and your organisation are planning for Ninja's family, if only more people were like you all :) Have a great day and I hope this trip to the zoo for Ninja's family happens soon :) Jennifer Y.
Jennifer Y has kindly made a $300 donation towards providing a weekend getaway for Ninja’s family. Thank you Jennifer!
4/1/12 - "I'm appalled, horrified and find it extremely disturbing of the non audited/approval process of killing of animals conducted by Walgett Council, and the staff they employ who are not qualified to make such decisions if the animals should live or be executed, especially executing them in front of other animals one of the most inhumane ways. Taking advantage of disadvantaged families such as Ninja's family is extremely disturbing.
I hope the media publishes Ninja's family experience to expose Walgett Council's unacceptable practices. They need to take responsibility, accountability and make immediate changes so this does not occur again and they have more controlled and approval processes in place which should have existed already. Obviously Walgett Council have not done anything especially when they were fielded with questions from your organisation about the condition/whereabouts of Ninja and her stray dog taken in by Ninja's family. I'm so grateful organisations such as your SPRA exists to try and prevent inhumane treatment of animals and alerting the community of these horrible practices. My thoughts are with Ninja's family.
Kind regards, Jen"
3/1/13 Shocking. More like a story u wld expect from a third world country. I cannot believe this happened in Australia. Joanne A