The Lost Dogs Home in North Melbourne had an open day last weekend to celebrate their 100th birthday. Which sounds like a pretty sweet day out, except for the peaceful rally across the road accusing them of murdering pets for cash.
The LDH is the largest pound in Australia, and according to rescuedwithlove.org also the wealthiest. The money in question comes from numerous contracts it has with councils around Victoria. Basically, if a lost dog or cat is found in any of these councils, the LDH is responsible for dealing with them. This can mean caring for them until the owners turn up, rehousing them if they stay unclaimed, or euthanising them if niether of those things are possible. It's been reported that 70 percent of unclaimed animals at the LDH are put down. Rescued With Love argues that with all the money they're raking in, this number is much too high (especially considering smaller pounds with less funding have shown it’s possible to run with a zero percent kill rate.)
I’m a huge animal fan, from spending hours everyday looking for cute kitties on Google Image Search, to spending my last $30 on a travel pillow so my dog Herb doesn't get sore elbows when we go out for coffee, I support animals wherever I can. These are obviously huge and serious claims, so I felt like I had to ask around and see if they had any legs. It was one of the mellowest protests I've ever been to. Afterwards I walked over the to LDH birthday party. Before being admitted I was subjected to a full security search. When they finally let me inside I didn’t see any promotions for their adoption services. No dogs were adopted from the LDH on Sunday, the lack of interest was blamed on the protesters.
VICE: Hey, who's Bobo?
Marilyn: Bobo was a dog the council decided looked like a pitbull, even though he wasn’t. They took the dog off the owner, and under legal advice the owner was told to surrender him to the lost dogs home. So he’s probably dead now.
Are you angry?
Cathryn: Anger’s a perpetual thing, it’s not something you want to send out. I think its more disappointment. It’s sad and unacceptable when there are other alternatives and people wanted to adopt him.
You mentioned you're both animal communicators. What does that involve?
It involves talking to the animals through telepathy.
What are the advantages of being able to communicate with animals?
Well you’re able to understand why they’re behaving a certain way, it could be something to do with what the guardians are doing, or that they’re not happy with their food or they’re sick. You can also have general chats with them and they can tell you to stop being so scrambled in the mind. We’re full of thoughts which they’re not.
Can you ask them about their history, like ask a shelter dog where it came from?
We’re recommended not to, well you can, but don’t push the issue because some of them have been through pretty horrific things they don’t want to remember. Sometimes, because I do crystal healing as well, you can help move some of that energy.
What if your dog says, "I only want to eat steak from now on?"
Then you let it. Oh one more thing: Billy and her husband, two other protesters, are in the process of making a film about a farmer who had cattle that used to be slaughtered and then suddenly he realises that the cows are reincarnated philosophers.
I cannot wait to see that.
Are you angry?
Eric: Furious! Furious! What is Graeme Smith (director or the LDH) doing? It’s at 70 percent kill and he’s got 17 million dollars in the bank. What’s he doing with it? Having a pie and sauce night every second Thursday or something? I’m part of a small rescue group and we run it off our credit cards. I have six to eight dogs at home at any time because I’m a fosterer. If I had $100 a week it would help me feed them! I mean, he’s got 17 million and he’s killing them! They’re going out the back door in body bags! I’m furious!
Do all of the dogs that you foster find permanent homes?
ALL of them. ALL!
Do you believe the Lost Dogs Home refuse any outside help?
Yes, and I think it’s an ego thing. Seriously. I was leaving six figures to the lost dogs home in my will but I’m not anymore, that’s now going to a local community group
I better not say because Graeme has a nasty habit of suing people.
Jack: It’s Unforgettable Creatures. It's dedicated to doing to what we’re doing today. That’s its soul. That’s its reason to coming into being.
Are you angry?
Jack: I think anger can be channelled and transformed and processed and turned into something positive. Anger is an active thing not a passive thing.
Raymond: We do want to work with the lost dogs home. We don’t want to single out an organisation that could do good. We want to change their methods. They’re making millions off the murder of animals.
Talking to you guys makes me feel like running in there and taking them all home.
Raymond: We still want people to come in and adopt out these animals, not enough people are doing that.
Jack: People are accessorising with nature man, they’re being speciest, “I prefer this breed to this breed”.
Raymond: Shopping for a particular dog, they want a Border Collie but that Labrador right there could be the perfect dog for you. On their website now there is only 10 dogs available for adopting, yet there are hundreds locked up that need homes. They’ve developed a business model based on optimising income and being an efficient business so that a dog with the slightest problem will be put down, and the most commercially viable and easiest to promote dogs will be saved. These guys pulled in 17 million last year and we’re running our rescue on Centrelink!
Jack: We want more transparency. It’s supposed to be a public open day but we were denied access. Even some people who took flyers off us were denied access. Is this an animal welfare organisation or the secret service?
Why did you come out today?
Patricia: I’m from Unforgettable Creatures and we’ve joined forces with the Pound Alliance for this campaign. We’ve been rescuing dogs from the lost dogs home for about a year.
Can you turn your recorder off?
After I turn off my recorder, she tells me about some crazy spy-type shit they have going on.
Are you angry?
Distraught! It’s been going on for so long right in front of us. They make so much money and invest it all in marketing, not animals. They’re a money laundering business.
Do you have pets?
I currently have five dogs from the lost dogs home and 21 in my foster care network who were intercepted from the lost dogs home. Looking at them every day makes me feel so lucky, but it’s a constant reminder of the dogs still in there.
What’s your sign about?
Woman with sign: It was a long time ago but I’ll never forget. I went to the lost dogs home and saw a little white Maltese terrier and I just felt a connection. He was shaking and terrified of being in a cage. I went to the counter and said I want to adopt him and they said, “no he’s not up for adoption because he hasn’t been assessed.” So I left my number and asked to be called when he’d been assessed. I rang back on the Monday and they said he’s been put to sleep, (begins crying), the only reason was because he was scared in there, that’s why they killed him. So this is in honour of him.