It’s ruff justice

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The grieving owner of two dead pets blames Queenstown Lakes District Council’s dog control for not responding to a series of calls.

Arthurs Point’s Misty-Rose Callender is devastated her beloved labrador Buddy and eight-month-old Staffordshire cross Shelby had to be shot by a Dalefield farmer after wandering from home.

The fully-registered dogs went missing on Friday, October 23 – but were found next afternoon and held by a good samaritan in Littles Road.

An “unfortunate communi­cations breakdown” within the animal control service run by QLDC regulatory quango Lakes Environmental meant it was almost 24 hours before action was taken – despite a number of phone calls from the finder to QLDC’s helpline.

An after-hours dog catcher finally turned up on the Sunday to take the pets to the local pound – but it was too late.

Just 30 minutes earlier, Buddy and Shelby had run off again and not long after were shot dead when worrying sheep on a neighbouring farm.

“Those dogs were my mates and it’s all so sad,” Callender says. “None of this would have happened if they’d just been picked up when they were supposed to have been.”

On its website, LE states “Animal Control services [are provided] to QLDC 24 hours a day – 7 days a week”.
LE enforcement boss Tim Francis accepts “a communications prob­­lem” meant a slow response.

But he adds: “If the owner is trying to find responsibility for why the dogs were killed then they need to be looking at their own reasons for why they were found to be not under control in the first place.

“It’s all really unfortunate, but at the end of the day on two occasions the dogs weren’t under proper control as required by law.”
Callender, 24, was holidaying in Auckland when her pets went AWOL on the Friday of Labour Weekend. They were being looked after by a friend staying at her house.

“A couple of hours after the dogs disappeared [on the Friday] I phoned the animal control service in Queenstown [from Auckland] and was told nothing had been reported but they’d let me know if they turned up,” Callender says.

Littles Rd resident Antonia Crowley discovered Buddy and Shelby in her driveway next afternoon and put them in her laundry.

“I called animal control and got their after-hours service because it was a Saturday,” Crowley says. “I was told no one had reported the dogs missing and someone would be out that day to take them to the pound.”

But Crowley claims that despite her and her flatmates making other calls to the animal hotline during the next 24 hours, no one turned up to collect the dogs until about 2pm on the Sunday.

LE says its dog-catcher came at 10am.

In any case, it was too late – they’d run off again after being let out to do their business.

“Later in the day, a local farmer turned up and said he’d unfort­unately had to shoot two dogs that had got a hold of one of his lambs. He was pretty upset about having to do it,” Crowley says.

“I’m furious because if the animals had been picked up when they were supposed to, the dogs and the lamb would still be alive.”

Francis says staff at a call centre handling weekend enquiries insist they told a local security contractor on the Saturday where the dogs were to be picked up.

But Francis says Armourguard claims it didn’t receive a message until the Sunday. They responded within an hour but when they got to Littles Rd the dogs were missing again, he says.

“It’s unfortunate there was a breakdown in communication between the call centre and the after-hours dog control people. Like any system, on the rare occasion there can be a breakdown.”