30 March 2024

Wollongong, Shellharbour start new service for lost and stray animals to replace RSPCA pound

| Jen White
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Sad dog in a cage.

Lost and stray dogs will be looked after by Wollongong and Shellharbour councils, rather than the RSPCA. Photo: wirestock.

Wollongong and Shellharbour councils have resumed responsibility for caring for lost and stray animals, after the RSPCA’s long-time contract to provide the service ended.

As of 29 March, Wollongong residents should visit council’s website or phone 4227 7111 if they have lost a pet, or to report a stray animal.

Shellharbour Council will accept lost and stray dogs only. The number to call after 2 April will be 4221 6111.

Wollongong, Shellharbour and the Blue Mountains were the only NSW councils which had contracts with the RSPCA to provide pound services. The RSPCA notified the councils in 2021 that it would not be renewing the contract to operate its pound facilities.

The RSPCA will continue to operate in the Illawarra, offering its outreach and education programs and focusing on the prevention of animal cruelty.

Both councils will work with local vets and regional kennels to provide animal welfare services.

READ ALSO Pets are part of the family, so why is there still so much stigma about grieving their loss?

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said council wouldn’t be operating a bricks-and-mortar facility to provide animal welfare services.

“In the past, community members would often take stray animals directly to the RSPCA and pet owners could also go there to find their lost pet,” he said.

“With the RSPCA shifting their focus away from strays and lost animals, council is offering an alternative returning and rehoming service.”

Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer joined Cr Bradbery in urging owners to make sure pets were microchipped with up-to-date details, and that the animal had a collar and tag with a current address and phone number.

“Dogs are often a beloved part of the family, and the City Regulation Team wants to give pet owners the best opportunity to return lost animals back home,” Cr Homer said.

What to do if you have lost an animal

Wollongong: Visit council’s website to check if your pet has already been listed as found, or call council’s Animal Care and Impounding Services team on 4227 7111.

Shellharbour: Visit the Lost Dog Registry page on council’s website which will be live from Tuesday 2 April, or call 4221 6111.

READ ALSO Cats versus dogs debate gets the fur flying but a cute kitty is the purr-fect pet, paws down

What to do if you have found an animal

Wollongong: Contact council’s Animal Compliance team on 4227 7111. If it’s after 5 pm or on a weekend or public holiday, you may keep the animal in your care overnight. If the animal is displaying aggressive behaviour, call council’s after-hours phone on 4227 7111.

Shellharbour: Call council on 4221 611 to arrange collection, or you can take lost dogs to your local vet. If you can’t take the dog to a vet straight away, or if it’s outside business hours you can care for the animal overnight, then call council or take them to a vet the next day. If you are unable to keep the dog, as it is displaying aggressive behaviour, call council on 4221 6111.

What happens to animals that can’t immediately be returned home?

Wollongong: If a stray animal is found and council can’t identify its owner, the pet will be moved to a regional kennelling facility contracted by council. If the animal remains unclaimed, council will advertise the dog or cat for adoption on its website.

Shellharbour: The dog will be looked after at a temporary facility as council works to reunite the animal with its owner. If council is unable to find the owner and no-one comes forward, the dog may be offered up for adoption or given to a rehoming agency.

Other ways to try and find your pet:

  • Check with nearby vets
  • Ask your neighbours if they’ve seen your pet
  • Walk your neighbourhood and any places you often take your pet – call their name if they usually respond when called
  • Look for lost animal Facebook pages in your area
  • Post on your own social media accounts to see if anyone you know can help – include a recent photo of your pet.

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