Mount Isa City Council says upgrade work at its Animal Management Facility, and new fee structures will assist local animal-rescue organisations.
Council said the community focus for the $400,000 new facility at Richardson Rd was stronger than ever and the numbers for animals being rehomed or claimed at the facility have improved significantly in the past year: 16 out of 69 in June last year, to 83 out of 112 in May this year being rehomed or claimed.
Local Laws Acting Coordinator Emma Murray said each animal that comes in to the facility is held for the legally required amount of time - from three business days for non-microchipped animals, up to seven business days if the owner has been identified - in order for staff to be able to find the animals' owners.
Ms Murray said that if an animal is unclaimed and becomes legally owned by Council, a comprehensive assessment is completed for each animal to determine their suitability for adoption and the facility had a qualified vet nurse on staff, and part of the facility's upgrade will include the construction of a dedicated on-site treatment room.
"So what we'll be able to do with the new facility is take them to the nice, calm environment of the treatment room, where they don't have all of the other animals around," Mrs Murray said.
"If an animal comes in showing any sort of wound or an illness, the animal is referred to a vet for a vet check and if it has been prescribed any sort of medication, we administer that here at the animal Management Facility, as well as de-worm the animals as required."
Mrs Murray said the facility's staff checked whether each dog or cat that has been surrendered to the facility has behavioural traits that make it suitable to be rehomed.
"We're interacting with them a lot. For instance, we're walking the dogs, making sure they're happy with other animals, and walking them past other dogs to check their interactions with them and we clean all the cages every day. We deal with animals all day, every day," she said.
"We also check to make sure we can hold the animal, touch its tail or paws, see whether it's eating properly and make sure it's not showing any signs of aggression towards people."
Mrs Murray said the majority of animals are adopted by rescue organisations in Mount Isa and as far away as Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.
"The rescue organisations arrange and pay for all of the flights and all transfer costs. We take the animals to the airport, and they're put in certified, secure carrying crates," she said.
"We're really lucky that the team - our administration people and our rangers - are working really closely with the rescue organisations to be able to rehome the animals that come into our care."
Mayor Joyce McCulloch said Council had changed its fee structure after talking to the rescue organisations.
"Rescue organisations now have the opportunity to purchase an animal if they cover the cost of its desexing, which may work out a lot cheaper for them if, say, they have prior arrangements with a vet," the Mayor said.
"We have also introduced free foster permits, which mean that someone from a rescue organisation who fosters pets, but who may already have two or more pets of their own on-site, can get a free permit to foster a dog or cat for 12 months. The first year of registration for a microchipped puppy, dog, cat or kitten, whether it's desexed or not, for rescue organisations is also free."
Mrs Murray said Local Laws staff were educating owners to prevent dogs from escaping.
"What we do is, if we pick up a wandering animal - usually a dog - that's microchipped and registered with Council, we're straight on the phone to the owners, and we take them home," she said.
"That way, there's no need to bring them to the facility, or for the owner to pay release fees or infringements. Whatever we can do to make sure the animals are kept safe, the better. "There are still costs associated with everything we do. Animals aren't cheap to look after."
As part of the facility's upgrade, the existing dog pens will be increased in size by three metres, and shade cloth will be installed over each pen extension.
Two large, fenced exercise yards will also be constructed at the rear of the facility, where Local Laws staff can not only walk the animals and allow them to get used to being walked on a lead, but they can also be used as areas for meet-and-greets with animals' potential new owners.
Council also has plans to significantly extend the facility's opening hours and employ dedicated animal management officers at the facility.
"Animals are a lifetime thing, they're not just a Christmas or birthday present. We want people to make the right decision," Mrs Murray said.
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