Build new pound - former council ranger's plea

Former Yass Valley Council compliance ranger Sarah Barnes at home with her cat Jay Jay and dog Murphy. Photo: Hannah Sparks
Former Yass Valley Council compliance ranger Sarah Barnes at home with her cat Jay Jay and dog Murphy. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Yass Valley Council's compliance ranger of five years, Sarah Barnes, has resigned.

The council has someone temporarily in the position and will be recruiting shortly.

Mrs Barnes said she achieved almost everything she wanted to in the role but had hoped to work on the new animal pound, which current councillors agreed in August 2017 to plan.

"It's something we need to do to keep current with the care standards for impounded animals," she said.

Mrs Barnes said a new pound could also host community programs.

"It's really good for the animals to be handled and seen by lots of people," she said.

"We've seen stories in the US of kids reading to cats; that's something I would have loved to have seen. We've also worked with Valmar Support Services in the past."

The former ranger's other plea was for Yass Valley residents to install secure dog runs to stop roaming dogs.

Farmers shouldn't have to be worried.

"We have more roaming dogs in rural residential areas, such as Murrumbateman, Sutton and Gundaroo - in those areas where they have that 1.2 metres wire fencing - than in the main town centre of Yass. That's because that style of fencing is designed to keep in stock, not dogs," Mrs Barnes said.

"A lot of people say to me that their dog has never got out, but they've probably never had enough of a temptation to."

Mrs Barnes said dog attacks on stock were still high in the Yass Valley and "devastating" to drought-affected farmers.

"It's heartbreaking to farmers because most of them have been destocking over the past two to three years to their essential breeding stock - what they need to recover if and when the drought breaks - and it's costing them thousands of dollars to feed them," she said.

"If a dog gets in and kills a portion of their stock, the compensation they can get is the value of the animal at the time, it doesn't take into account the feed or that it's only a third of their stock left," Mrs Barnes said.

"Farmers shouldn't have to be worried. It's 100 per cent preventable and so much cheaper to build a dog run than the fines or compensation after a dog attack."

Owners of dogs that attack stock are also liable to pay a $1320 fine under the Companion Animals Act 1998.

Mrs Barnes joined Yass Valley Council seven years ago as a parks project officer and became compliance ranger two years later.

She was responsible for designing Yass Dog Park and has helped re-home 253 dogs and cats from the pound.

Mrs Barnes said she has always loved animals.

"For as long as I can remember, I've owned pets. I was one of those kids who used to bring injured lizards, or a butterfly, or an injured kitten I'd found on the street home.

"When I applied for the job my husband said, the number one rule was that I couldn't bring home animals from the pound. I've stuck to that rule, but not because I haven't been tempted."

Mrs Barnes said she always tried to be fair to the community as compliance ranger, focusing on education and voluntary instead of forced compliance.

"People are more willing to uptake changes in behaviour if you're prepared to explain why you're doing things the way you're doing them and giving them the opportunity to succeed first," she said.

Mrs Barnes said she's loved getting to know the community and explore parts of the Yass Valley most wouldn't know existed.

Perhaps, her most memorable story on the job will be the time she tried to collect a roaming Anatolian Shepherd crossbred weighing about 48 kilograms.

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: The moment Yass Valley Council compliance ranger Sarah Barnes tried to move a roaming Anatolian Shepherd crossbred weighing about 48 kilograms. Photo: supplied

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: The moment Yass Valley Council compliance ranger Sarah Barnes tried to move a roaming Anatolian Shepherd crossbred weighing about 48 kilograms. Photo: supplied

"I went and clipped the lead on him and he decided to lie down. He would not walk, he didn't want to go home or get in the ranger vehicle. And he thought he was hilarious. He had his tongue out and was looking at me as if to say, what are you going to do now?" Mrs Barnes said.

"In the end, we scanned his chip, found the owner and asked them to come and get him. It was very funny."

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