As recently as early 2015, euthanasia figures for Greater Shepparton City Council’s animal shelter still needed work.
Around this time, the volume of animals being euthanased was reported as higher than other similar-sized councils, was the subject of criticism from animal welfare advocates and described by the council itself as being to high.
The reality is, even then, the council had come a long way.
Ten years ago a whopping 50 per cent of dogs and 90 per cent of cats that entered the animal shelter were euthanased.
These figures are far from exclusively the fault of the animal shelter.
Plenty is out of their hands, including where disease prevention and dangerous animals are concerned.
But practices clearly needed improvement.
So, the council mounted something of an overhaul to practices in its latest four-year action plan for the shelter, which guides the strategic direction for operational practices.
It is particularly pleasing to see is the comfort, welfare and value of animals being put front and centre as a priority in the plan.
And perhaps most vitally, euthanasia rates not being associated overpopulation.
The plan has clearly paid dividends.
The euthanasia figure for dogs is now down to 10 per cent, having dropped as low as eight in recent times.
The number for cats has improved even further, now down to about 40 per cent.
Incidentally, the volume of animals successfully rehoused has also crept up progressively as these changes to practices have been under way.
Certainly no-one believes the job is done, least of all those working behind the scenes at the animal shelter.
But ensuring these essential concerns are addressed now allows the shelter to move forward, focussing more on areas it can be aspirational, not dwelling on fixing operational performance concerns.
Concerns like education around responsible pet ownership, registration and making even greater strategic efforts at rehousing animals.
The stark improvement is a particularly good story for the council.
And it’s a particularly good look for an area of the council’s operation that has garnered criticism in the past.
Those behind the steady improvement, strategic change in direction and the successful delivery of this plan deserve a pat on the back.