A DOG or cat goes missing, it's locked up in the pound, never to be seen again.
This is often the sentiment Leeton Shire Council's rangers have to deal with among the community, but they say it couldn't be further from the truth, especially since this is something the law does not allow for.
According to the Companion Animals Act 1998 a person who seizes an animal under the authority of this act must "cause the seized animal to be delivered as soon as possible to either its owner, to a council pound or to any approved premises".
Leeton Shire Council senior ranger Peter Skarlis said one of the primary objectives of this act was to reunite animals with their owners.
"Whether that is done by a member of the public or by council, it's still achieving the same outcome," he said.
Residents who are members of the I Live in Leeton Facebook group would notice there is usually a post every day about animals, mostly dogs, who are spotted wandering around town.
Posting on Facebook to reunite owners with their animals does help, but council also encourages rangers to be called.
Mr Skarlis reiterated to the community that nothing untoward happens when rangers are called to assist.
"People posting on Facebook obviously have a good intention and want to reunite that dog with their owner," he said.
"But the issue can be it is unknown to that person if that dog has been involved in any offences. In Leeton both our vets our approved premises so residents can also take animals to the vets if they are lost. The vets then have obligations under the Companion Animals Act to notify council.
"What we do encourage is people call the rangers. Council and the vets can scan for microchips.
"The perception we want to dispel is something bad will happen to an animal if it does end up in the pound. That's not the case."
Council is involved in an extensive re-homing program for animals in the pound who are unclaimed by their owners.
In the 2016-17 year, 89 per cent of animals in the pound were reunited with their owner or re-homed, and in 2017-18 and 2018-19 this number was 90 per cent.
Any dogs that were euthanised were proven to be responsible for dog attacks on people or animals, according to Mr Skarlis.
"We work very hard with three re-homing agencies and these days we have wonderful re-homing rates," he said.
"When you look at the break down of the numbers, about half the dogs are returned to their owners and roughly half get re-homed. The reason the re-homed dogs don't go back to their owners is because the owners do not come forward.
"The perception we want to dispel is 'the ranger took my dog, I won't get it back'. This is put out there untruthfully."
Council has many strategies is uses to to encourage people to claim their dogs from their pounds as part of its companion animals management plans.
The perception we want to dispel is something bad will happen to an animal if it does end up in the pound. That's not the case.Leeton Shire Council senior ranger Peter Skarlis
One is if a dog is is simply lost and has done nothing wrong and it comes into the pound, the owner receives no fine as the idea is to reunite the animals and owner quickly. Another misconception is "it will cost too much money to get my dog out of the pound".
"We have fees associated with the pound ...one is the pound release fee which is $35.50, by comparison to Wagga, Griffith or Narrandera, it is significantly less. In cases we have the discretion to wave this fee and we often do," Mr Skarlis said.
"Registration fees though can't be waived as that is a state statutory obligation.
"We do hold dogs for an extended period of time at no extra charge to allow people to come up with the money for that cost. I know other local councils do not (do this)."
In 2018-19, there were 330 dogs impounded, which is almost one animal per day.
Mr Skarlis encouraged residents to look after their animals and ensure they are properly restrained at all times.
What residents might not also know is rangers do more than just pick up lost animals.
"Animals are a lifelong responsibility ... it's up to you to ensure they are looked after correctly," he said.
They are also responsible for areas such as abandoned vehicles, education programs, pollution matters (air, noise, dumped rubbish etc), livestock on roads, overgrown vegetation and fire mitigation and more.