The Australian Office of Local Government in New South Wales has launched an investigation following reports the new COVID-19 lockdown resulted in the shooting of rescue dogs to prevent volunteers from leaving their homes.

A new report published by the Sydney Herald claimed the Bourke Shire Council deliberately killed rescue dogs to stick to the current COVID-19 restrictions and stop volunteers from going out to pick up the animals.

The council’s interpretation of the rule made them believe they helped stop the spread of the virus in Australia by keeping volunteers from interacting with one another

The Office of Local Government has launched an investigation into the matter to determine whether animal cruelty laws were violated.

“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 for the agency said in a statement.

Local advocates were also concerned about the shooting and slammed the council’s decision to gun down the rescue pups. 

“We are deeply distressed and completely appalled by this callous dog shooting and we totally reject council’s unacceptable justifications that this killing was apparently undertaken as part of a COVID-safe plan,” said Lisa Ryan, an animal liberation campaigner.

While the Bourke Shire Council believes shooting the dogs followed COVID-19 guidelines, those close to the matter told TMZ that the government already issued rules to advise pounds on how to conduct business while adhering to safety restrictions amid the pandemic.