Owners of euthanised Gisborne dog Sarge want bolt guns banned

3:16 pm on 29 September 2023
Sarge the dog

Gisborne dog Sarge was put down in error last Friday by district council staff. Now his owners are calling for an end to the controversial method by which he was killed. Photo: Supplied

The owners of a dog mistakenly put down by Gisborne District Council staff are calling for an end to the controversial killing method used on their pet.

New information on the state of the dog - Sarge - has also been revealed, with the owners saying they are struggling to come to terms with what happened.

Last Friday, a Gisborne animal control officer said they found Sarge on the street, and tried to return him to his registered address.

But with the owners not at home, he was then taken to the pound.

Later in the day, Sarge was mistakenly put down by a bolt gun in what is understood to be a case of mistaken identity.

In a statement today, the Council said it had settled the matter with the owners, but were releasing no details.

Family pet Sarge was taken to the Gisborne pound after he was found wandering.

The Labrador-ridgeback cross was euthanised later that day in a case of mistaken identify.

The council officer responsible has resigned.

The council says Sarge's owners and whanau acknowledge the outpouring of grief and support from the community.

His owners, whose names have been given as Piri and Logan, are now calling for an end to the use of bolt guns across Aotearoa - a controversial method opposed by the SPCA.

"We are struggling to come to terms with what happened to him at the pound where after just a matter of hours he was brutally put down by a dog ranger using a bolt gun and returned to us in a cable-tied rubbish sack," they said.

"There was rubbish in the sack - bits of plastic and dog roll - with our beloved Sarge.

"It was beyond heartbreaking."

Sarge's owners said their dog was "clearly terrified" in his final moments and was returned to them in a foetal position.

It was a harrowing end for an animal they described as being a loved member of the community.

"He was a rescue pup who was given to us by close whānau because we don't and can't have children.

"We have so many precious memories from our seven years with him."

Sarge the dog.

Sarge’s owners, Piri and Logan, say their dog was given to them as a rescue pup by whānau because they were unable to have children. Photo: Supplied

In addition to banning bolt guns, Piri and Logan are calling on the council to leave calling cards with multiple points of contact when an animal is taken, and to assign euthanising to a third party who can conduct it humanely.

Local Democracy Reporting has raised the issue of bolt guns with the council twice this week, but has not received a response on their continued use.

There also remains confusion over the circumstances surrounding how Sarge ended up at the pound.

The dog's owners say he was taken from their property, but the council maintains he was found on the street.

The council is now undertaking an independent inquiry to understand what happened from the moment the dog was picked up.

- Additional reporting by RNZ

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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