Wagga council’s response to serious issues at Glenfield Road Animal Shelter has been called into question, six weeks after the facility made national headlines.
Former volunteers claim some of the issues addressed in the letter, released last month, were inconsistent.
In particular, questions have been raised as to how at least two cats were placed in a freezer at the facility without being put in black plastic bags beforehand.
One of the cats was shockingly placed in the freezer alive as it was “motionless”, according to council’s letter to the public.
“Council inquiries after the incident found the second ranger believed the cat was deceased as it was unresponsive,” the statement from council general manager Alan Eldridge said.
“As it was left in the cage and potentially visible to the public, the ranger removed the cat from the cage and placed it in the deceased animal storage freezer.”
It is stated council staff did not intentionally place a live animal in the freezer.
However, the letter does not address why the then three-month-old kitten, now known as Saviour, was not checked over by a vet, or why he was not placed in a black plastic bag before being placed in the freezer, which is standard procedure, according to volunteers.
One volunteer, Simone Lieschke, is a bachelor of animal science graduate and said not putting deceased animals in a plastic bag was “unhygienic”.
Another volunteer, Myriam Hribar, said deceased animals had been put in plastic bags for as long as she had been involved at the shelter.
Questions have also been raised over the protocol of accepting animals at the shelter, particularly the use of cages to transport the stray animals handed in to the facility.
Council commissioned the NSW RSPCA to investigate the incident. The RSPCA report stated that it “was not confident of proving criminal charges beyond reasonable doubt”.
Mr Eldridge reaffirmed council’s commitment to improving conditions at the embattled shelter.
“A highly qualified veterinarian is currently conducting an external review of the shelter, including an independent assessment of the procedures and policies,” Mr Eldridge said.
“Interim management of the shelter has also been moved under the Environment and Community Services Directorate, along with additional changes and actions noted in the open letter.”