The awarding of a contract to a new service provider for the Carlow/Kilkenny dog pound is to be deferred until a new ‘consultative committee’ has been established.
The committee, which is to feature a number of local councillors as well as representatives from animal welfare bodies and the IFA, will examine a variety of issues relating to the running of the dog shelter services. Quarterly reports on the activity of the pound are also to be presented to councillors.
It follows a notice of motion brought forward by Mayor of Kilkenny Andrew McGuinness (FF) at the February meeting of Kilkenny County Council. It called on the council to adopt a policy ‘to maximise re-homing of dogs by the new service provider’ and prioritising animal welfare.
The motion, which was supported by the other members, also said that Kilkenny County Council will monitor all the activity of the pound, and that regular reports are to be presented for analysis. A cross-representational consultative committee will be set up during the transition phase to the new service provider to assist the local authority in its aim to maximise re-homing.
“I would ask the members to support this,” said Cllr McGuinness.
“We would be the first council in Ireland, as far as I know, to introduce such a policy.”
Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Green) welcomed the discussion of the topic, but questioned whether the motion went far enough.
“I support the motion but ask that we include in that a ‘no kill’ policy,” he said.
He said there was precedent for this in other counties, such as Leitrim which has a very low kill record compared to counties such as Kilkenny. This ‘no kill’ policy idea received support from Sinn Fein councillor Kathleen Funchion and Independent councillor Breda Gardner.
However, Cllr McGuinness defended his wording of the notice of motion.
“I originally did seek a ‘no kill’ policy, but I wanted this motion to be achievable,” he said.
“I believe the ‘maximise re-homing’ is a big step forward.”
Cllr Mary Hilda Cavanagh (FG) said it was important that the IFA were included on the consultative committee.
“I think it’s fair to say that we are all dog lovers, but we also have a responsibility to farmers and to sheep,” she said.
“The stray dogs can do a lot of damage.”
Director of services Philip O’ Neill agreed with this, and said the council had to keep in mind the protection of livestock.
“We also have an obligation to the farming community,” he said.
“We are a rural county. And we have had three serious sheep attacks within the last few weeks.
“It is out there and we cannot ignore it. There are wandering dogs that can cause serious problems to livestock.”
Mr O’ Neill added that the council executive ‘totally supports’ the motion. He said the consultative committee would look at issues such as re-homing and the number of dogs put to sleep, and produce a quarterly report.
“If you look at the statistics, as regards re-homing, things have improved over the last eight to 10 months,” he said.
Both Mr O’ Neill and acting chief executive John Mulholland also called for a calmer and more respectful discussion of the issues surrounding the dog pound contract. They referred to one particular email circulating, which they said was unfair and disrespectful to a member of council staff.
“Some of the staff have been subjected to personal abuse, which is unacceptable,” said Mr O’ Neill.
The consultative committee is to feature four elected members, the county veterinary officer, and two animal welfare nominees. There will also be two nominees from the IFA and a senior council official.
The council has said it will defer the awarding of any contract until this committee is established. The nominated councillors are Andrew McGuinness, Fidelis Doherty, David Kennedy, and Malcolm Noonan.