Woman with dog in shelter yard

Projects & Works

Upgrades and temperament testing: Animal Shelter update

Published: 08 Jul 2022 3:00pm

The $70,000 upgrade for the Glenfield Road Animal Shelter has recently been completed, with the installation of new concrete exercise yards, shade sails and a boom gate.

Regulatory Services Coordinator Julie McPhail said the upgrade had transformed a previously unused grassy area into a useable space.

“Now we can have five dogs out exercising at the same time instead of three, which is what we were restricted to before the upgrade,” Ms McPhail said.

“Concreting the yards gives us much better disease control against things like parvovirus, which can survive in soil for long periods of time. If any of our dogs come down with anything, it’s now much easier for us to disinfect the yards, ensuring everyone stays healthy.”

Woman with dog in new shelter exercise yard

The newly installed shade sails will help keep the dogs cooler in the summer months.

“During summer, we only have our dogs out exercising in the morning before it gets too warm, and it’s great to have the shade sails up to give them that little bit of extra protection,” Ms McPhail said.

Recent donations to the shelter enabled the team to get some ‘boredom busters’ to keep their charges happy and entertained while staff are busy cleaning the dogs’ sleeping areas.

“We’ve just purchased an agility set up, including a tunnel and hoop, so we’ve got more interactive play equipment and toys for the dogs,” Ms McPhail said.

“We also spend a lot of time playing with the dogs and, in particular, temperament testing them.”

Woman with dog in new shelter exercise yard
PAW OF APPROVAL: Wolfie and Regulatory Services Coordinator Julie McPhail check out the new concrete exercise yards at the Glenfield Road Animal Shelter.

To gauge how well dogs will relate with each other, the shelter team introduces new arrivals to other dogs in a controlled environment.

“We introduce them to each other on a lead, male to female, male to male and female to female, and right away you usually know if they’re going to be fine with either gender,” Ms McPhail said.

The team also assess whether the dogs are safe to be around people.

“We run our hands over them, play with ears, their paws, give their tail a soft little tug; if you don’t get a reaction, it’s generally a good sign,” Ms McPhail said.

“We also give them a bowl of food and we have this long plastic arm, so we don’t get bitten, which we wave in their face while they’re eating to see if we get a reaction.

“We certainly don’t recommend you do this to any dog, but it’s important for us to know whether a dog is going to be safe to have in a home environment where things like that might happen.”

While the Glenfield Road Animal Shelter team assess the animals in their care, occasionally at risk of bites and scratches themselves, Ms McPhail said it was an important part of the job.

Glenfield Road Animal Shelter sign

“We do all these things to make sure that the dogs going out into the community have the best start,” Ms McPhail said.

“We all have our little quirks, and it’s important that we can tell any new potential owner that the dog they’re considering is great with other dogs, or perhaps prefers female dogs, for example.

“Dogs that need a bit more time, for example those that are particularly timid or a bit reactive, we try to get them into a rescue group, so they can have a bit more TLC and one-on-one before they’re rehomed into our community.

“The dogs may have had a rough start to life, but we want to do everything we can to make sure the next chapter of their life, and that of their new family, is a safe and happy one.”

The $70,000 Glenfield Road Animal Shelter upgrades were funded by additional income received from dog and cat registrations during the 2021/22 financial year.

For more information about pets and animals, visit wagga.nsw.gov.au/animals