Killing practically everything that comes through your doors tends to be hugely unpopular when the public find out. And when the killing extends to people’s owned pets, things tend to hit the proverbial fan. Ipswich found an ingenious way to take the public attention away from their terrible effort at managing the community’s pets. They engaged the AWL Queensland totake over running their crapped out, 90% killing pound.
From November 18 2011, the Animal Welfare League then got to doing what they did best – saving lives. Regardless of the old facilities and the lack of any council initiated programs already in place, they got in, rolled up their sleeves and the results were dramatic. In just 18 months they accomplished zero euthanasia of healthy and sociable animals.
Now, you’d think the Ipswich Council would be celebrating the fantastic success. However, never underestimate the ineptitude of local government. Animal Welfare League Queensland’s contract to operate the Ipswich pound has been suspended amid allegations of animal neglect.
Ipswich Council comments on AWL suspension(March 24, 2013) Council has further made arrangements for the RSPCA to provide interim pound management and animal welfare services during the suspension period - so now we have the organisation responsible for enforcing animal welfare, who hasn’t taken any formal action against the AWL, stepping in to support Council while they conduct their own ‘internal audit’ on those same animal welfare abuse claims. WFT?
It’s also worth noting, Councillor Andrew Antoniolli, the one giving comment in the original ABC video clip, is a board member of the RSPCA QLD.
The RSPCA have been on-site and no action was taken. If animal welfare was compromised, surely they would have pressed further? Or launched their own investigation of the claims of the ex-volunteers? An internal audit, conducted by the same Council who seems to have already made up its mind that it wants the AWL out the door, does little to allay the concerns of residents. Especially, when this same Council has a history of its own of failing to protect pets.
On Saturday morning a rally of Animal Welfare League Queensland supporters in Ipswich saw a surprise guest - the Mayor Paul Pisasale; “…After the investigation (into the allegations), the suspension should be lifted, the AWL should go back and we can go through all the processes of what needs to happen. What I’m hoping is the report is finalised and I would encourage council to lift the suspension and then we sit down with the Animal Welfare League about the ongoing state of the pound and the things that need to be resolved – some checkpoints so this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
But the failed investigation didn't stop Cr Antonelli and the RSPCA QLD tag-teaming on an attack on the performance of the AWLQ organisation.
A final flurry of ego and greed in Ipswich(June 6, 2013) The Ipswich Council’s pound issues have again been thrust into the public space, thanks to some ugly point scoring by a disgruntled councillor and the RSPCA Qld. Despite the Animal Welfare League having never been charged with even the smallest transgression by the RSPCA, and a investigation into their operations by council being found as ‘inconclusive’, with no welfare charges for them to answer – today the RSPCA Qld and their board member, and Ipswich Councilor Andrew Antonelli are tag-teaming an all out assault on AWL operations.
Even though the figures being used to bash the AWLQ around the head were from the first nine months of the pound's operations, when the AWLQ took over Ipswich's 90% killing crap-pound. It takes time to get something so broken, up and running again, and decades of neglect, aren’t remedied overnight – especially if Council is dragging their feet on proactive programs. In actuality, the RSPCA QLD figures being offered, were comparable to the most current figures coming out of the pound at the time.
Fast forward to 2016, the now Mayor Antonelli oversaw the RSPCA QLD taking the Ipswich contract from the AWLQ.
So to wrap up: a high-kill council pound fluffs the newly established relationship with their third-party operators and a massive hoo-haa ensues. Everything gets righted again. End scene.
Fast forward to May this year and the Ipswich Council puts out the call for new operators to run the pound. Nothing really out of the ordinary, and nine times out of ten these events result in the existing operators staying put.
(It's worth noting that in the five years since the AWLQ took over the pound, they have been left with the same crapped out facilities as they moved into; struggling daily with facilities which proved an obstacle to disease control and staff satisfaction. Despite these challenges, the organisation has maintained an at least 85% save rate for the City. A far cry from the days when everything that came through the door, left in a black, tip bag.)
Both organisations quoted around $2 million dollars to operate the pound for 12 months; AWLQ ($2.1M) RSPCA QLD ($2.1M)The RSPCA QLD also asked for a $100,000 once-off set up fee to become established in Ipswich. Free money.
Also, if the council do not build a new pound facility within the three year contract period with the RSPCA QLD an additional $200,000 penalty applies. More free money.
Then the decision was put to a panel of three (yes, just three) council representatives; And that's how AWLQ lost the tender to the RSPCA QLD
As part of this package, the RSPCA QLD requires a new pound be built. And here it is.
Isn't it gorgeous. I'm sure the AWLQ would have appreciated the chance to work in a place like that. Especially, when Council's own report says about the pound;
The site is flood prone and sustained significant damage in the 2011 flood event. The facility has been subject to two further flood events, one in February 2013, and the other in April 2017. No significant damage to infrastructure or assets occurred with either event but the site had to be evacuated during both.
The ‘Lynskey Report’, procurred by Council in 2011, sets out various deteriorations as part of a structural engineering assessment on the pound buildings. The concrete slab in the main kennel area remains in poor condition, with some repair of extensive cracking occuring on an ad hoc basis. Rectification and sealing of the slab as per the recommendations was not undertaken. The slab therefore remains compromised, displaying furtther cracks and potential water seepage due to the wet area work conditions.
Some cracking in the masonry walls in the old kennel building was also identified as well as structural steel corrosion. This type of deterioration was consistent with the age and use of the building, but the recommendation was that the areas required repair.
The current animal management facilities are old, damaged in some areas, with limited ability to apply conservative renovation or aesthetic value. Given the age of the facilities, disease control and welfare issues are difficult to overcome without a complete refit. Some minor additions such as physical barriers have made a slight impact on kennel cough, but cat disease, predominantly feline influenza, is extremely difficult to control within current facilities due to lack of space and quarantine areas.
While the Ipswich facility provides separation between cats and dogs, there is still the ability for the transfer of pathogens directly (faeces, bodily fluids etc.) between dogs cages and airborne pathogens between both dog and cat cages (sneezing, coughing, dust etc.).
In addition to concerns about the integrity of the older buildings, increases in impound animals, population, and approved dwellings in the Ipswich region indicate the current impound faciliy is inadequate.
So while the AWL was made work in a shit box pound, the RSPCA QLD get a new one gifted by the community.
But at the same time this new facility is being designed to RSPCA QLD specs, the RSPCA QLD is telling the public they shouldn't be expected to care for the community's pets.
Now they're in the media complaining they've "had" to kill hundreds of the community's pets.
Total surrendered: 3,967 Euthanased: 1,769 Adopted: 839 Reclaimed: 210
The RSPCA QLD was under no obligation to take this contract but CHOSE to when they were already complaining they were overwhelmed at their other shelters. I'm certain the AWL would have happily continued the contract.
Renovation of existing kennel facilities could provide an opportunity for private boarding, an automated dog wash system could be added, potentially in a community fundraising capacity, while an on-site vet clinic could be built as part of the centre.
As well as getting a new council shelter, the RSPCA QLD is being gifted a commercial revenue stream;
The RSPCA QLD want to blame the public for the killing they're now doing and turn the Ipswich site into a commercial site, generating a quarter of a million dollars a year in cost offsets for council.
No wonder Ipswich Council were keen to get the AWLQ out.