Killing animals because it is cheaper and easier than rehousing them will soon be a crime in NSW, after state parliament passed a new bill that would set out actions that councils must take towards rehoming a surrendered or seized animal.
The Companion Animals Amendment (Rehoming Animals) Bill 2021 was passed on Thursday after Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich carried the Bill to the Legislative Assembly after Animal Justice Party Member Emma Hurst introduced it to the Upper House in November.
It followed the shooting of 15 dogs and puppies by Bourke Shire Council in the Orana region of NSW in August 2021, despite at least two offers from rescue organisations to take and rehouse the animals. No legislation prevented the council from killing the animals.
Mr Greenwich, who owns a rescue dog, said that some NSW councils “choose to kill healthy animals that can be rehomed because it is simply easier”, adding that the act of “convenience killing” should be stopped.
“The new requirement on councils and pounds as a result of the bill would be minor and reasonable and, importantly, it would save the lives of healthy animals,” Mr Greenwich told parliament this week.
The Bill will require councils to take additional steps and actions to rehouse an animal before it can be euthanised, which includes giving notice to at least two rehoming organisations about the animal and taking reasonable measures to advertise the animal’s status for rehoming.
Respective members for Newtown and Balmain, Jenny Leong and Jamie Parker, both voiced their support for the Bill.
“People of the electorate of Newtown make it very clear that animal welfare is a key part of what they care and feel passionate about, and is something that we must always stand up for and support,” Ms Leong said.
“It is wonderful that we are seeing the delivery of some stronger reforms in this parliament today.”
Mr Parker said that the Bill was “very important” and that the actions specified were “quite simple, thoughtful and basic”.
According to Mr Greenwich, almost 2,000 dogs and 7,000 cats were killed in NSW pounds last year – a drop in figures from previous years.
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The passing of the Bill was one of the earliest actions of the parliamentary new year, with the Legislative Assembly sitting for the first time in 2022 on Tuesday. Both houses will be sitting from Tuesday to Thursday next week.