5 June 2024

Wollongong City Council wants to set the benchmark for animal care

| Zoe Cartwright
Start the conversation
man with dog

Project director for animal and impound services at Wollongong Council, Daniel Kennedy, with Cruz, who has been on the hunt for a new home since March and is an ideal pup for a first-time dog owner. Photo: Zoe Cartwright.

More than 59 animals have been adopted in the eight weeks since responsibility for impound services reverted to Wollongong City Council.

Daniel Kennedy is the project director for the service, which was previously contracted out to the RSPCA.

Despite the lack of dedicated facilities, he said the council wanted to set a new benchmark for best practice in the space.

“We use a number of kennel and cattery providers to hold animals long term and work closely with a local vet to process animals as they come into care,” he said.

“We are required to keep unidentified dogs or cats for a minimum of seven days; for identified animals, it has to be a minimum of 14 days. The model we use is to hold animals as long as we possibly can.

READ ALSO Thirroul Plaza developers start community consultation for new development vision

“At the moment, we’re trying a foster care program with our staff so more animals are in a home environment instead of sitting in a facility, because that impacts their mental wellbeing.

“We’re also supporting two groups to register as authorised rehoming agencies. Long term, a bricks-and-mortar facility is on the cards, but we have realised it’s not a necessity.

“There have been hiccups along the way but we have really engaged, helpful service partners.

“We all share similar values when it comes to welfare and trying to rehome every animal we possibly can. Nothing is off the table in this space for us at the moment.”

Daniel said one of the biggest challenges they faced when animals were picked up by the service was identifying whether they were lost or abandoned.

At first glance, it’s difficult to tell the difference. Even after scanning for a microchip, it’s not always easy to reunite a pet with its loving owners.

“A very low percentage of cats in particular are microchipped,” Daniel said.

“A large number of chipped dogs don’t have their details up to date, and if the address and phone number are old, the chip is effectively useless.

“We would much prefer to drive a dog home and drop them off than bring them in, process them and impound them.”

READ ALSO Society’s obsession with weight-loss diets not healthy, says UOW expert

Daniel said a growing number of pets were being abandoned as more people returned to work in the office and found they no longer had time for the cat or dog they bought to stave off boredom during the pandemic.

There are a couple of ways the whole community can help.

First, make sure your current pets are microchipped with up-to-date details.

Second, consider carefully, before you take on a new pet, how they will fit into your lifestyle, now and in the future.

Finally, if you are on the hunt for a furry friend, adopt, don’t shop.

“See if you can provide a home for an animal that needs one, rather than going through a profit-driven business like a breeder or pet shop,” Daniel said.

“The rescue business is driven by saving lives, not making money.”

When you’re in the market for a new best mate, it’s worth looking beyond appearances.

Year-old pup Cruz has been with Wollongong City Council since the beginning of March, despite his many wonderful qualities.

“Cruz is what some people would consider an undesirable dog,” Daniel said.

“He’s a crossbreed, and he definitely has Staffordshire bull terrier as one of his breeds.

“He’d make an ideal first dog for anyone looking, or an additional dog for a family.

“He plays well with others, dogs and people, is well temperamented, beautiful, placid and well behaved.

“We want to shine a light on these types of dogs because the perception often doesn’t match the reality. I’ve had a Staffy-cross boxer rescue for 14 years, and he’s the best dog I’ve ever owned.”

To adopt a dog from the council, follow this link: Find a Pet | City of Wollongong (nsw.gov.au)

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.