Public scrutiny over alleged animal abuse at the Glenfield Road Animal Shelter continues to dog council.
The fallout from the claims has escalated – from flyers displaying the distressing image of a frozen cat being distributed to letter boxes around Wagga to a councillor calling for heads to roll.
The number of supporters on the online petition at change.org has ballooned to more than 37,000 and is continuing to rise.
The petition was started by three former volunteers who worked at the facility until the council suspended the volunteer program in July last year.
Volunteers were offered a chance to return after a review concluded in September.
A Facebook page has been created inviting concerned members of the public to join a demonstration at the next council meeting on Monday, May 30. The page states organisers plan the protest to be a “civilised but vocal demonstration”.
“It's about putting pressure on those who inadequately run this city,” organisers said.
Outspoken Councillor Paul Funnell said he has been trying to hold council to account for years.
“I attended a meeting with the former general manager, the planning director at the time, and volunteers from the shelter close to a year ago,” Cr Funnell said.
“The volunteers said they felt intimidated by staff.”
Cr Funnell was told at the meeting an external review would be conducted, engaging the RSPCA.
“I chased it up a few months later and was told the review was an internal one and the RSPCA would look into it – which is not what I was told (in the initial meeting),” Cr Funnell said.
“The mayor and former general manager told me it was an operational affair and to not interfere with the process.”
Self confessed avid animal lover and concerned resident Kylie Yerbury said a negative culture had been bred into the animal shelter.
“It’s been a running joke around town that if your pet ended up there … you’re not going to get it back,” Ms Yerbury said.
“There needs to be checks in place to ensure animal welfare.”
Ms Yerbury added other animal shelters seemed to get the balance right.
Cr Funnell expressed his frustration at having his hands tied.
“This is why I’m outspoken. I’m fed up with the pathetic attitudes of ‘let the process take place’,” Cr Funnell said.
“A review is taking place but don’t stop there – make people justify their existence.
“Staff members should be sacked – I was told it’s not that easy.
“This council is dandruff on the shoulders of progress.”