Family devastated as council mistakenly kills their dog
A KALKIE man is devastated after his pet dog was put down by the council pound after he had paid its release fee - and was then offered another dog by apologetic staff.
Shaun Proctor said his dog Zack had "carelessly" been put down by Bundaberg Regional Council during the period its staff said they would hold onto him.
The council has confirmed the dog was mistakenly euthanised as a result of an "administration error".
Mr Proctor, 35, said the rottweiler-bull mastiff cross went missing from his Shaw St yard on September 3 and the family had tried everything to find him - but days later the puppy's collar turned up without him.
"It was all very strange. Zack went missing on the third and on seventh someone left his collar with registration tag attached on our letter box," Mr Proctor said.
"We then saw him on the pound website on the night of the 10th and he was found this day, so we went to see the council the next day."
Mr Proctor said when he saw the council he advised staff he didn't have the money to pay for Zack to be re-registered and released from the pound straight away because he had lost his job after becoming ill with heart problems.
He said the council assured him he would have until September 16 to pay the fee and arrange collection of the dog.
"We were short of money - I stopped working last November because I kept fainting at work and they realised I needed a heart operation," Mr Proctor said.
"I told the kids we had found Zack and were going to get him back - they were excited.
"We went in on September 16 after we paid the $99 to re-register him - this had just lapsed - only to be told he was put down the day before."
Health and regulatory spokesman Wayne Honor said an animal management officer approved Mr Proctor's proposal to pay for registration only and take advantage of the first free release provided in a registration period, and had unsuccessfully tried to contact Mr Proctor to advise him of this after several attempts.
Mr Proctor said he was told the council would keep Zack for five days, but the dog was put to sleep before the time frame was up.
"They had a responsibility to keep him alive for at least five days and they were just careless and had him destroyed," he said.
"The two men at the pound said they were sorry and said they could try to find us a new dog from the RSPCA or Red Collar.
"We said no, we were attached to Zack.
"I still haven't been able to tell the young fella (nine-year-old son). We just told him he had run away because I didn't want to break his heart."
Mr Proctor said Zack had escaped from his yard twice before and neighbours often fed him and was sorely missed.
"He was a lovely dog - the furthest thing from savage - the neighbours actually wanted to keep him," Mr Proctor said.
"He was microchipped, but they said it didn't register at the pound and we have 4ft fencing so didn't mean for him to escape."
Cr Honor said anyone experiencing difficulties in meeting the release fees for an impounded animal was encouraged to contact the council to negotiate a payment plan.
"Council has since updated its internal procedures to reduce the risk of a similar incident occurring in the future," Cr Honor said.
"At the time of the unfortunate incident (the) council offered to provide Mr Proctor with a new dog of his choosing and cover the cost of desexing, microchipping and the first year of registration.
"Council has followed up on this offer on a number of occasions and this offer to Mr Proctor is still available."
Mr Proctor contacted the NewsMail after reading a story in the Gladstone Observer which sounded familiar to his own. He said the situation had caused a lot of stress and wasn't something he needed before going in for the operation in December.