We’re building a new animal shelter for Palmy’s impounded dogs as the current building is in poor condition and doesn’t comply with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ requirements.
Failing to meet standards puts us at risk of fines ranging between hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. We had been compliant up until the Animal Welfare Act changed four years ago.
This isn’t a decision about poor-management of our facility, but rather meeting new legal requirements (just like how we upgrade buildings to meet new seismic requirements or upgrade our water facilities to meet new environmental legislation).
In 2020, Council made the decision to build this new and specialised facility which will be a lot safer, more secure, and will fully comply with the Code of Welfare requirements.
The new building will be constructed next to the existing shelter, which is along Tōtara Road in Awapuni.
The existing dog pound is in poor condition and doesn’t meet the requirements of the Code of Welfare: Temporary Housing of Companion Animals. We risk potentially large fines for every time we breach this code, e.g. for every dog.
We’re not meeting requirements due to there being no adequate isolation or quarantine area; insufficient space to provide for behavioural needs; and the design, size and maintenance of the shelter aren’t up to scratch. Dog beds are too small and there are issues with drainage. The overall conditions for staff and animals are poor.
We investigated upgrading the current shelter, but the costs of doing that would be more significant than building a new facility.
The facility and its systems have been designed to provide a safer experience for both council officers and the public when onsite. There will be more space, a designated viewing area and a secure and separate area for aggressive dogs.
Currently, there’s also a real risk around dogs getting sick. Because the current facility is small and not fit-for-purpose, if a dog comes in with canine cough, parvovirus or any other illness, there’s a high chance that it’ll be spread to all other dogs in the facility. The new facility will have an isolation area in case of any dogs being sick, as well as a health assessment area and a space for micro-chipping animals. That’s the reason kennel numbers are increasing from 29 to 39 – so we can keep the other dogs at the facility safe.
Construction of this new shelter began in November 2022 and its expected to take around 14 months to complete.
All up, the project will cost $7.3 million. This includes full construction costs and contingencies.
This will be a specialist facility and will provide a much-improved environment for the animals housed in the shelter.
The initial budget was $4.5 million but after going out to tender, it was identified that the budget had to be increased to ensure there is sufficient budget to complete the project to meet the Code of Welfare.
While this project was out for tender, many contractors were able to make bids. We shaved off $1.5 million in costs of the tender price to bring the price down to the final amount. These changes don’t have any significant impact on the tender.
We’ve been hearing comments that it’s cheaper to build a house, and yes, it is. However, this is a specialist facility with specific requirements, caging and security etc.
The cost is considered a ‘capital’ expense. This works like buying a house where you take out a loan and make repayments. This means there isn’t a significant impact on rates. It also means all ratepayers contribute to the repayments, not just people who own dogs. We know that many people think it’s unfair they’re having to chip in to support dog owners who aren’t as responsible. We get it. Palmy is a city that loves its pooches and a facility like this means our city’s dogs have a safe place where they will be cared for. The other thing to note is that in recent years we have started to see far more registered dogs at our pound, which shows that sometimes pups can still get out of their property and take themselves on a walk around the city.
Yes, we have and they’re supportive of this project and ensuring we meet animal health requirements. They currently don’t have the capacity to help us out any more than they already do.
Some people have suggested it would be cheaper to send them to private kennels. Often dogs that come to the pound can be unregistered, unvaccinated or aggressive. That means private kennels wouldn’t accept these dogs.
If we can track down the owner, they do. They pay daily fees, and all dogs must be microchipped and registered when they leave.
Over the past couple of years, the pound has been a bit quieter than in previous years. That’s because with COVID-19 we’ve all been at home a bit more and working from home is a bit more common which means dogs are being more closely supervised.