Australian council orders shelter dogs shot, killed amid COVID-19 restrictions

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best and worst in humanity worldwide as every community reacts to the infectious disease and associated government restrictions intended to reduce its spread.

In Australia, one rural council cited strict lockdown orders as the impetus for shooting a number of dogs at a shelter that had been scheduled to be picked up by a rescue organization.

Council decision sparks outrage

According to the Daily Wire, the killings have since sparked outrage from animal lovers and activists around the globe.

Furthermore, the backlash has sparked a local investigation to determine if the council or shelter workers violated any applicable laws.

The decision to put the dogs down came from the Bourke Shire Council, which governs a rural area of New South Wales, which is currently under exceedingly restrictive lockdown orders.

As for the reason given, council members argued that the shootings were approved in an effort to prevent rescue volunteers from traveling to the rural shelter amid ongoing restrictions. The Office of Local Government, which serves as a council watchdog, determined that the ordeal deserves additional scrutiny.

“OLG has been informed that the council decided to take this course of action to protect its employees and community, including vulnerable Aboriginal populations, from the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” an agency spokesperson explained.

Critics demand accountability

Making matters worse, OLG Minister Shelley Hancock had already faced questions from members of Parliament regarding prior instances of shelter dogs that were unnecessarily killed. She initially pleaded ignorance before refusing to provide any additional data regarding the animal deaths.

Animal shelters had reportedly been permitted to operate during the COVID-related lockdowns, meaning that they could still be open to the public and facilitation adoptions or rescues of impounded animals.

Those factors in conjunction with the manner of death have sparked fury among animal rights activists across Australia and beyond.

Animal Liberation campaign manager Lisa Ryan said that the organization is “distressed and completely appalled by this callous dog shooting” and rejects the council’s effort to justify the order as a component of COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Abigail Boyd, another animal welfare activist, alleged that the government “twiddles its thumbs” amid the slaughter of innocent animals, adding: “Council pounds are paid for by local communities, and it is clear that shooting lost and unclaimed dogs housed in these publicly funded facilities falls far short of community expectations.”

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