The Community Expects Better For Our Pets

Update: Melbourne City Council has dumped the Lost Dogs Home in favour of RSPCA Burwood. Community concerns over LDH’s high kill rate does make a difference.

Melbourne City Council is asking for public feedback on it’s Domestic Animal Management Plan. Part of the requirement under the Act is for them to address how they will reduce high rates of euthanasia for pets.

Submissions can be sent to

here’s our submission… feel free to borrow from it!

5.2 Impounding of dogs and cats

Melbourne City Council has a live release rate of 50% for impounded animals. For every animal that goes home, either to their family or to a loving new one, one dies by lethal injection.

Industry best practice is a greater than 90% live release rate for animals entering a pound facility. The reason it’s not 100% is that animals with life threatening illness or injury that cannot be treated should be euthanased. Unfortunately there will also be some dogs who are too aggressive to be rehomed.

The three areas of improvement to reduce Melbourne City Council’s high rates of pound killing are pet retentionreuniting pets with their family and rehoming unclaimed pets.

Pet Retention

Council should be focusing on keeping animals out of the pound in the first place.
Council should discourage people from trapping and impounding cats that do not belong to them. Cat’s are not generally confined by fences and like to explore. Unless a cat is seriously sick or injured it should not be removed from it’s environment. There are very few lost cats.
When owners register their pets they should be provided with a free pet id tag with their phone number on it. Then if a neighbour finds their pet they can phone them and return it directly rather than call the Council to impound the animal.
When a Ranger picks up a pet they should have a microchip scanner in their vehicle. If the animal has a microchip they can either phone the registry to get the owners details or else use a smart phone with web browser to do so. They should aim to deliver the pet safely home to it’s family, avoiding stress for the animal and cost for the Council.

Reuniting Pets with their Family

If an animal is impounded, everything possible should be done to help the owners find their pet. A photo of each impounded animal should be uploaded to the Council website within 24 hours of impounding. For the distressed owners, this makes the process of searching for their pet daily so much easier as the web is open 24×7. It also avoids problems where people phone The Lost Dogs Home and are told their dog is not there because of misrecording of breed.

Rehoming Unclaimed Pets

In 2010, Melbourne City Council
  • killed 27 of the 40 impounded dogs not reclaimed by owners (67% killed)
  • killed 161 of the 180 impounded cats not reclaimed owners (89% killed)
The Lost Dogs’ Home has some of the highest kill rates in Melbourne. In 2010 their North Melbourne pound killed 13,594 cats and dogs and reported a $2.7 mil profit. Unfortunately The Lost Dogs’ Home vigorously defends its high kill rate.
Some options available to Council include:
  • making unclaimed cats and dogs available to other shelters willing to take them (e.g. Lort Smith)
  • requiring random spot checks to review medical and temperament assessments of animals selected to be killed