Due to the efforts of various volunteer rescue organisations, Hawkesbury Pound {in Sydney, Australia} has not euthanised a re-homable dog for over two years. Until this week. Despite broad reaching posts {if we’re connected via social media you’ll know I share as many of these posts as I see}, this week time ran out for four dogs who had been held over a number of times.

Most people who commented were just heartbroken for the dogs and the volunteers. Heartbroken that they couldn’t do more. But then, as there always are, there were the others. The people who seemingly have all the solutions. The ones who you can bet your last dollar have never stepped foot inside a shelter, let alone done anything for nothing.

A volunteer from one of the rescue groups, Pound Rounds, wrote a response from their perspective. Food for thought. With their permission, I have copied it below.

Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing
because he could only do a little.

Edmund Burke

Pound Rounds are a group of volunteers that uses every avenue possible to save pooches from being killed in Hawkesbury and Blacktown Pound in Sydney, Australia.

After the horrific result of yesterday when four potentially beloved family pets were killed for space I feel the need to clarify a few things to ensure we are always working on the right problem – only if we are working on the right problem do we have a hope in hell of stopping the killing. In fact I posit that it’s been our previous breeder originated rescue myths that have allowed the killing to continue for much longer than it should have.

Firstly, do not lash out at the public. If you are a pound volunteer, an animal rescuer, a welfare page – remember this at all times – especially at moments like this. The public, including the ones passionate enough to be heartbroken and to criticise you, are the ones that saved the pets all along; allowing the unprecedented rehoming rates of today. Rescuers are mere conduits; I am literally nothing without fosters, sponsors and adopters. I mean, sure I can save a hundred dogs – but then what? The overwhelming majority of the public support you financially, emotionally and practically. Without them our efforts would forever have remained lacking efficacy.

Indeed, do you know that with a population of over 600,000 – LESS THAN ZERO percent of the Hawkesbury pound catchment area has a dog impounded – and most of those people rush to bring their dog home again. Can you think of a more, incredibly, responsible public than that?

The “Irresponsible Public” is an easy myth to expose. Under 0.5% of any population drives cars errantly, commits crime, doesn’t raise children soundly etc. The list is endless. There is a time when we accept and pay for the consequences of a small portions of populations actions – and support their victims – in every part of life. Hospitals, nursing home care, parks, police, disabled access ramps all of which you may never use personally etc. Insurance for theft exists for such a purpose. It’s not even altruistic at under zero percent – it’s a miracle of the responsible population.

And then; why does the “responsible” population get to pay for killing pets but not re-homing them?

Christmas “dumping”. Another myth – literally made up in the US by a marketing director trying to ‘blame the public’. As a large-scale rescuer and a person who has reviewed the impounding data – this is a fact: no month of the year has a long-term, seasonal upswing in dog impounding, over the years. What does happen is far more realistic and evidence based.

  • Foster carers go away
  • People put off adopting when on holidays
  • Kennels are too busy to accept welfare dogs
  • Transport routes for dogs close
  • People are buying gifts and donating less – rescues have fewer resources
  • Public holiday closures mean less access for reclaims
  • People on holidays mean longer reclaim times
  • NYE fireworks exponentially increase scared strays

And the number one problem – unlike every single other business known to man {retail shops, childcare centres, ski resorts, beaches, banks – in fact any profit or not for organisation alike!}:


It can be one of two things – they still don’t care – or Christmas comes as a surprise. E.v.e.r.y.  S.i.n.g.l.e.  Y.e.a.r.

Any one of these factors and many, many more (especially given how reliant pounds are on rescues) can affect the likelihood of a kill.

It’s the perfect storm.

Council does not increase kennel space, does not improve staffing levels, does not extend opening hours, they do not increase advertising (using Petrescue for example), they do not prevent the killing in any proactive, efficacious way at all. When there is a big sports event in Sydney you get to ride buses and trains for free – it costs the government enormously – but it’s better than drink drivers and congestion – surely a fee waiver for dogs impounded over NYE is exactly on par with this.

Indeed why are dogs held hostage for impound fees? If you ride a train without a ticket on normal days and get caught – you are issued with a fine – to pay later. We all understand punitive measures are used in every avenue in society, however what would happen if the police person pulled you over for speeding, demanded the money right then and then said if you cannot pay, he was taking your car hostage until you do? It would be inconceivable. Yet Local council policy is precisely that with your family member, with a live, sentient voiceless pet. They have systems in place for debt recovery. It’s normal in every other practice of businesses – and other business don’t kill family pets.

There is no other system in the world that operates in such a way.

So the staff at the pound are just expected to put up, work harder and kill some dogs occasionally to make space.

Why is killing dogs a universal community service – but not killing them a luxury?

I would like to highlight that Hawkesbury Council committed to a new contract – on the back of the work rescues (the public) have done reducing their kill rate. The moment I heard this news I could not speak for a day. Assured by the fact that it was a small contract only, we continued.

However, and this actually hurts to say, council policy killed 4 dogs yesterday and at the time of writing this for you – there were 4 gorgeous dogs from that new council contract sitting in their pound awaiting reclaim.

So be very careful who you blame this year. The wrong end of the stick plays right into the hands of councils attempting to deflect you from the only organisation able to prevent killing literally overnight. Them.

If you run a page or group like Pound Rounds does and are sometimes the unintended face of a council or pound – or criticised for not doing enough, consider for a moment, is it true? Had we have done things differently could we have prevented the killing. I know that is where I go with each freshly painful tragedy. Immediately to revision – are we on the right path supporting pounds and councils? Would our efforts have been better spent in activism of a different kind? Protests? Leaflet dropping? Court action? Is appeasement and support the right strategy to end suffering – to end killing? Yes I question how we use the public’s support and sponsorship every single day – more than ever on days such as this.

So make sure you target the right problem this year. If anyone thinks welfare and rescue are anything more than battlefield triage, make no mistake that is all we are. We are merely triage. We have never had the resourcing to be more than that.

Council doesn’t subsidise our work – only the public do.

The only people with the power to stop killing are the same people who have stopped it so far. You. The overwhelmingly responsible, passionate, caring, active public.

And now you know where to start.

Waiting for you


One Comment Add yours

  1. dogdaz says:

    That is an outstanding post. Thanks

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