Rescue dogs shot dead by New South Wales council over COVID-19 restrictions

The dogs from a rural pound were shot due to social distancing.
The dogs from a rural pound were shot due to social distancing. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

A regional Australian council has been widely condemned for shooting dead several rescue dogs due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Bourke Shire Council in northwest New South Wales (NSW) killed pound dogs to stop a Cobar-based shelter from rescuing them as the travel required wouldn't be permitted under the coronavirus restrictions according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

One of those shot was a dog that had recently given birth to a litter of puppies.  

In a statement, the Office of Local Government (OLG) - the authority that oversees local councils - confirmed an investigation was underway.

"The OLG has been informed the council decided to take this course of action to protect its employees and community, including vulnerable Aboriginal populations, from the risk of COVID-19 transmission," the statement read.

The NSW Government has told animal shelters they are allowed to remain open during the lockdown with COVID-safe plans in place.

NSW is in a full lockdown with cases escalating. On Monday, it recorded 818 new local community cases with three deaths taking the total outbreak to 13,022 cases.

However NSW Health has reported no locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the Cobar area - although fragments have been found of the virus in the area's sewerage system. 

British comedian Ricky Gervais condemned the action by tweeting a link to the story with the remark, "Stupid c****."

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a source who is familiar with the arrangement said staff at the Cobar-shelter are distressed and were in a position to handle the dogs in line with the COVID-19 measures. 

Animal liberation campaigner Lisa Ryan said she was sickened by the decision and called for an urgent investigation.

"We are deeply distressed and completely appalled by this callous dog shooting and we totally reject council's unacceptable justifications that this killing was apparently undertaken as part of a COVID safe plan," Ryan told the Sydney Morning Herald.