Public statement

25 July 2023

To our valued supporters, volunteers, and community,

We have recently received several enquiries and questions about our policies and procedures, which have sparked discussions and concerns about the care we provide at Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania (DHoT). We understand the importance of transparency and feel it is essential to address these matters openly.

At DHoT, we operate statewide and have become a last resort for many dog owners facing difficult circumstances. We have always believed in providing a safe haven for all dogs, and we never say no to accepting a dog into our care, regardless of the situation. As a result, we sometimes encounter unfortunate and sad cases where dogs are brought to us with severe health or behavioural issues, often as a final option for their owners who have exhausted every alternative available to them or can no longer afford proper care elsewhere.

Our policy is to accept every dog and not to discriminate. We provide a service to the community to have a place where people can bring their dogs and relinquish their rights as an owner to DHoT without prejudice or judgement. We offer this service completely free of charge to ensure there is never a financial barrier to helping a dog in need. Every dog is an individual, every dog has different needs — once in our care, our dogs are monitored daily to ensure they are coping both mentally and physically.

Euthanasia is a challenging but essential aspect of our work. We need to consider the welfare and quality of life of the dogs in our care. If a dog is suffering from severe mental health issues, displaying significant aggressive behaviour, and inflicting self-harm, we must carefully weigh up their well-being. Simply keeping a dog alive in a kennel when it is struggling and in pain is not a compassionate solution. We also have an obligation to our community to be confident that the dogs that we place for adoption are of sound temperament and do not pose a significant safety risk to our community.

At DHoT we have no control or responsibility over what does or does not happen to a dog prior to it being surrendered to us. For example:

  • Experiences during the critical socialisation period (between three to four weeks and up to 12-14 weeks of age). Socialisation includes exposure to meeting different people, children, animals, environments and sights. From which a dog builds resilience and independence.
  • Adequate and consistent training.
  • Appropriate management of undesirable behaviours.
  • Seeking and addressing appropriate medical advice for conditions.
  • Purchasing dogs or puppies from poor breeding practices that can affect their temperament and personality.

Severe behavioural and mental health concerns are extremely complex to diagnose. An accurate diagnosis requires many hours of work with the owner of the dog who can describe in detail the history and triggers of the dog. Many of the dogs that come to us have no background information whatsoever, meaning this process is not possible. It is the responsibility of the owner to provide this support to their dog. It is not a training problem, there is no quick fix and there is no one size fits all. Some behaviour patients can take up to 12 months to find the right treatment plan, including the best medication and management for that dog.

Our amazing vet team at DHoT are not only highly skilled and knowledgeable, but they are also presented on a regular basis a variety of cases — some are straight forward, and some are complex. However, what they do not have is the time allowance, prior knowledge of individual cases, or information to make a true diagnosis of such a complex medical condition such as anxiety.

We are a shelter for dogs in need of a home. We provide care, shelter, and basic training to help dogs move as quickly as possible through our Homes, and find them a new loving family. Within our available resources we do everything we can to help dogs within our care. It is our responsibility to ensure that the dogs that we put forward for rehoming are safe and healthy to take part in family and community life.

It is important to clarify that the number of dogs euthanised each year is relatively low in terms of percentages. Our statistics from the 2021-22 report indicate that out of 2,815 dogs, just under 12% were euthanised. The national average for shelters across the country is 20%. Here is the breakdown:

  • Human aggression: 3.91%
  • Dog aggression: 2.91%
  • Serious health issues: 1.60%
  • Council mandate: 1.14%
  • Mental health: 0.92%
  • Serious problem behaviour: 0.85%
  • Habitual escaping/serious anxiety: 0.43%
  • Other animal aggression: 0.11%

Our staff and volunteers are dedicated and passionate individuals who work here because they deeply love dogs. They tirelessly devote their time and energy to caring for our dogs, sometimes going above and beyond to provide the best possible care. They take puppies home to nurse them throughout the night, they exercise and train dogs 365 days of the year regardless of the weather, they scrub kennels on their hands and knees — all with a smile on their faces. They are completely committed to making a positive difference in the lives of these animals.

The decision to euthanise a dog is never taken lightly, and it is always made with the utmost care and consideration for the dog’s well-being.

We want to assure you that we operate with the highest level of integrity, compassion, and professionalism. Our priority is to provide a safe and caring environment for all dogs, ensuring their welfare and happiness while under our care.

We are grateful for the support and trust you place in us to fulfil our mission of being there for every dog, always. We will continue to work diligently to make a positive impact in the lives of the dogs that need our help the most. Thank you for standing with us and being a part of our commitment to dog welfare in Tasmania.


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