Zac Fitzgerald leans against his newly erected dog fence with his new mastiff-cross puppy.
Zac Fitzgerald leans against his newly erected dog fence with his new mastiff-cross puppy. Claudia Baxter

Dog put down despite agreement

AN Ipswich man claims his best mate was put down at the Ipswich pound despite a verbal agreement that it would be kept alive until he could build a proper fence.

Meatworker Zac Fitzgerald said five-year-old bull mastiff-cross, Seth, was usually kept inside the house but was trained to jump out the window to answer the call of nature.

Ipswich City Council animal control workers first picked Seth up and took him to the pound on October 20 last year.

Mr Fitzgerald collected Seth from the pound the same day – with council only releasing the dog on the condition that it was kept inside the house, due to a lack of fencing.

“He would sit in the shade near the house – that's as far away from the house as he got. He was trained to stay in the yard,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“But people in the neighbourhood would see him outside and ring the council.”

When Seth was impounded again the following day, council refused to give him back to the owner until a proper fence was built around his house on Tivoli Hill.

There was a dispute between Mr Fitzgerald and the council over what happened from there.

The council claims Mr Fitzgerald offered to rehome the dog at another property and that he would pick it up on October 22.

However, Mr Fitzgerald and his mother, Trudy Prentice, claim two employees at the pound told them that Seth would be looked after until a fence could be built around his home.

Ms Prentice, who went to collect Seth on her son's behalf on October 21, said she believed the pound employees had made a verbal agreement to care for the dog until the fence was ready.

“I even asked them if there was a fee,” she said. “But they said they would feed and exercise him and that it was not a problem.”

Ipswich City Council said a week had elapsed before several attempts were made to contact Mr Fitzgerald – on October 28 and 29 – but he did not answer calls.

A message was left on Mr Fitzgerald's voice mail advising him that Seth would be put down on November 1 if alternative arrangements were not made.

Mr Fitzgerald claimed he had not heard anything from council until November 1, when he went to pick up Seth – only to find out he had been destroyed.

“I was in tears,” he said. “I was so upset when they told me – I just turned around and left.”

Health and regulation committee chairman Andrew Antoniolli said the council was not prepared to accept any of the blame for what happened.

He said the pound was “not a babysitting service for irresponsible dog owners” and employees would never make an offer to look after a pet indefinitely because kennels and shelters were already overrun with unwanted pets – especially toward the end of the year.

“Our pound officers don't like putting down dogs and it's something they get increasingly frustrated about,” Cr Antoniolli said.

“At the end of the day this dog has become another statistic as a result of an irresponsible pet owner.”

Mr Fitzgerald has moved on from Seth's sad end and has brought home a new puppy – French Mastiff-cross “Hemi”.

With a sturdy new fence around the yard, Hemi is unlikely to meet the same fate as Seth.

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