Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Monday, 31 August 2009 12:49 UK

Row as dogs put down by bolt gun

German Shepherd dogs (generic)
The dogs were not considered to be suitable for rehoming

An organisation which re-homes German Shepherds has attacked the RSPCA's decision to put down 10 of the dogs with a bolt gun after their owner died.

The RSPCA said relatives of the owner signed over the animals, which had a severe skin condition, in the knowledge they would be put down.

Officers decided the bolt would be the most humane form of euthanasia for the dogs, from Pontardawe, Swansea Valley.

But German Shepherd Dog Rescue said they were not approached for re-homing.

Jayne Shenstone from the organisation also said that shooting the dogs with a captive bolt gun was "not an acceptable way to treat somebody's pets".

"No one I know was approached to re-home these dogs," she said.

"These were somebody's pets. There were 10 of them. I find it hard to believe that all 10 of them were non-rehomable, and that their skin conditions could not be treated.

The inspector took the decision that none of the dogs were at all suitable for rehoming due to concerns about their aggressive behaviour and lack of socialisation with people
RSPCA spokesman

"They needed to be put into rescue and assessed, not shot in the head with a slaughterer's weapon."

A RSPCA spokesman said it had received a call on 23 June this year from a member of the public relating to 10 German Shepherd dogs at an address in Pontardawe.

"The caller said the dogs' owner, a relative, had died and the dogs had been living on their own," he said.

"An RSPCA inspector visited the premises that day and assessed the animals.

"The inspector took the decision that none of the dogs were at all suitable for re-homing due to concerns about their aggressive behaviour and lack of socialisation with people. The dogs were also suffering from a severe skin condition."

The spokesman added that all this had been explained to the previous owner's next-of-kin, who were also told they should contact other rescue groups for help.

"The next-of-kin were made fully aware that if the RSPCA became involved, the dogs would be euthanized," he said.

"The owner's next-of-kin later contacted the RSPCA again and said they had been turned down by other charities who were unwilling to take on the animals and they signed over the dogs, fully aware of what would happen."

Humane

Following a discussion between eight RSPCA officers, a decision was made that the most humane form of euthanasia would be to use a captive bolt, said the spokesman.

"This would minimise distress to the dogs, while also being the safest method for those people responsible for dealing with the animals," he explained.

"Restraining the dogs and then shaving a limb to prepare for a lethal injection would have caused these animals unnecessary suffering, due to the animals suffering from a severe skin condition.

"It is the RSPCA's raison d'etre to prevent cruelty to animals, and it was decided this sad, but ultimately necessary, outcome for the dogs was the best way to prevent the animals any further suffering.

"The decision was not made lightly and, as always, it was made with the best interests of the animal at heart."



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