Several rescue dogs in northwest New South Wales were reportedly put down by the local council to enforce COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The Bourke Shire Council last week euthanised the dogs to stop a shelter in Cobar, in the state’s central-west, travelling to collect them.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the killings were in line with the council’s interpretation of COVID-19 restrictions.
It believed that travelling from Cobar to the state’s north would be a breach of the statewide lockdown.
Residents in regional New South Wales are currently subject to lockdown measures, containing them to their local government area unless leaving for five essential reasons.
Cobar has been largely untouched by COVID-19, with fragments detected in wastewater samples but no cases reported.
An investigation is underway into the killings, headed by the Office of Local Government.
“OLG has been informed that the council decided to take this course of action to protect its employees and community, including vulnerable Aboriginal populations, from the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” a spokesperson said.
7NEWS.com.au has approached the Bourke Shire Council for comment.
Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst said she was told 16 dogs were killed, including a “mother dog and her puppies”.
“While there are reports the dogs were shot, our contacts have told us they were euthanised,” she wrote on Facebook.
“I’m sharing this to make it clear there is NO health order for pounds to kill all the animals – please share this so it doesn’t happen again.”
Reports of the killings have also reached an international audience.
British comedian Ricky Gervais described the council as “stupid c****” while English football legend Gary Lineker said it was “odiously absurd”.