The council is considering building its own animal shelter amid claims that Ashton Dog Pound in Castleknock is “not fit for purpose”.

Members backed a call from Solidarity Cllr Sandra Kavanagh for a public-owned dedicated dog pound at Monday’s meeting of FCC.

Cllr Kavanagh said there had been “thousands of complaints” in recent years about the outdated Ashton facility, which serves all four Dublin local authorities.

She said on a recent visit she found the animals were being kept on cold concrete floors with little or no heating in “sub-zero conditions”.

The council will now seek permission from the Department of the Environment to establish and maintain its own shelter for strays and abandoned dogs.

An online petition calling for an independent investigation into the pound was signed by more than 18,000 people.

It claimed dogs were living in “desperate conditions often with no bedding or heating”.

The pound vehemently denied an allegation within the petition that pets who strayed and ended up in the pound were not being properly scanned for a microchip so they could be returned to their owners.

Ashton Pound is contracted through a tender process to provide a dog warden service and dog pound facility for all four Dublin authorities under the Control of Dogs Act.

In accordance with that legislation, dogs seized by wardens can be kept for five days before it becomes the property of the dog pound and can be re-homed.

A council official told Monday’s meeting the facility was inspected monthly by vets on behalf of Dublin City Council and South Dublin County Council and was “remaining within the standards”.

He added: “If we were to build this and run this ourselves, it would be significantly more expensive”.

It also emerged that the rate at which dogs are put to sleep has reduced from 50% five years ago to around 14%, with most of the animals moved on to charities for re-homing after two weeks at the pound.

Solidarity Cllr Matt Waine said the council was paying €230,000 for the services which amounted to “considerable sums of public money going into a sub-standard facility”.

Cllr Mary McCamley (Lab) said she was “absolutely appalled” at the conditions she found on a recent visit to the pound, while Cllr Tania Doyle (Ind) branded it “Victorian”.