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Keep RSPCA Castlemaine Animal Shelter Open

This petition had 4,280 supporters


A RSPCA decision to close their Castlemaine Animal Shelter and move the service to Bendigo will greatly increase levels of suffering by animals in the region, including wildlife, and place more pressure on services already pushed to capacity.

Castlemaine and surrounds needs a shelter to help reduce animal cruelty; to reduce the impact of abandoned and wandering domestic animals in the bush on struggling wildlife populations; to help with infrastructure to professionally manage stray animals, their care and rehousing; and local governance and oversight of these issues.

The loss of the RSPCA Castlemaine Animal Shelter in Langslow Street will mean loss of local employment for nine staff and volunteers, an appreciated community in the animal welfare sector and a vital service to the welfare of animals in Mount Alexander Shire.

We appeal to RSPCA’s chief executive officer, Dr Liz Walker, to keep the Castlemaine Animal Shelter open. In the Bendigo Advertiser (9/6/17), Ms Walker said that the decision to close was in the interest of the animals’ wellbeing. The Bendigo site is newer and has veterinary services.

‘RSPCA Victoria is working to ensure that we can sustainably provide the best possible welfare outcomes to every animal in our care, while also improving our ability to prevent cruelty and neglect through community programs,’ Dr Walker said.

It is clear the RSPCA will not be providing the best possible welfare outcomes to every animal in the Castlemaine district if the shelter is closed. The existing Bendigo shelter is not a substitute for the needs of animals in and around Castlemaine and can never be. The costs to animal welfare and the Castlemaine community outweigh any benefits of closure.

Concentrating larger numbers of animals in larger centres as it appears the RSPCA in Victoria intend is also likely to mean that fewer animals are rehomed because of logistical reasons and higher levels of competition for animals to find a home in a given geographical area. That most likely means more animals will be euthanased.

Under the system that exists in tandem with the RSPCA Castlemaine Animal Shelter, the Mount Alexander Shire council provids cat traps. When caught, the cats are delivered locally to the shelter. The Mount Alexander Shire dog and cat pound is currently located at the RSPCA facility in Castlemaine. It is most unlikely that residents are going to deliver injured, trapped or lost animals to Bendigo. The closure of the Castlemaine service could mean pet owners dump or destroy the animals rather than transporting them to Bendigo for surrender and care.

The RSPCA plays an important role in the immediate region, educating the public and shifting attitudes in relation to the way in which animals are treated. The direct presence of the RSPCA has a meaningful impact on the level of cruelty dished out to animals in the region.

The RSPCA Castlemaine animal shelter was built by funds raised through the efforts of local volunteers in Midland Animal Welfare, including Animal Aid, and a trust fund created in the memory of Pamela Waters who cared deeply about animal welfare issues. Its main purpose was to help and to improve systems, capacity and governance in relation to animal welfare in the immediate region surrounding Castlemaine.

The RSPCA took over the activities of Midland Animal Welfare in 1995 because the RSPCA recognised that the region surrounding Castlemaine needed greater capacity to manage local animal welfare issues. It was the wish of the RSPCA to engage itself in the region and in doing so took over the regional funding stream from local volunteers and the donation from the Pamela Waters Trust as a contribution to constructing the shelter. The RSPCA Castlemaine Animal Shelter, because of its success, formed the basis of significant funding from government, to create additional RCPCA shelters in Victoria.

The RSPCA Castlemaine Animal Shelter, its staff and volunteers, have been dealing with the growing animal welfare issues in a professional manner. They have helped to develop the capacity of local people, their training, their knowledge and their skills and has strengthened its community of volunteers.

The real benefit of the RSPCA is in its physical presence, delivering services in relation to animal welfare in ways that no other organisations in Australia have the capacity to deliver. The RSPCA need to strengthen its presence in regional Victoria, not reduce it.

The donation to the RSPCA from the Pamela Water’s trust was purpose specific; the funds were donated to create a long-term regional benefit to the shire by constructing the animal shelter. Moving Pamela’s plaque from the building to another location does not resolve this problem in any way as the donation becomes meaningless. We remain unclear about what is now going to happen to an expensively built, specific purpose building? Is the intention to pass it back to a local animal welfare group?



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