Push to keep shelter open

A petition calling on RSPCA Victoria to keep the Castlemaine Animal Shelter open has gained more than 3400 signatures since its launch five days ago.

Petition organiser, Kathrine Seppings, was moved to action out of concern for the welfare of both domestic and wild animals and has been amazed by the growing response.

Ms Seppings said the move could see people more likely dumping found or unwanted animals rather than driving 50km to Bendigo and if delivered, were more likely to be euthanized due to the competition to rehouse animals in a given geographical area at a centre already full to capacity.

She also points to the loss of local employment for nine staff and the charity works of volunteers and people in the community donating food and goods to the centre.

The petition is aimed at the RSPCA's chief executive officer, Dr Liz Walker, and the Mount Alexander Shire Council Mayor Sharon Telford.

Ms Walker said the decision to close was in the interest of the animals' well-being and operations would be carried out in Bendigo at a newer site with veterinary

services.

The RSPCA Castlemaine animal shelter holds a special place in the heart of Castlemaine's animal lovers. It was originally built using funds of a woman Pamela Waters who left money for the centre to be built after her early death in the eighties and last year a plaque was installed commemorating Toni Patch, who gifted money in her will to support the desexing and microchipping program.

Ms Sepping said of the many comments the petition attracted each was a heartfelt prayer from people desperate to keep the centre open.

"It's been a very moving experience."

RSPCA Victoria Acting Chief Operating Officer Tegan McPherson said the generously donated original funds had never been enough to cover costs which the RSPCA had been significantly subsidising.

"Maintaining two RSPCA Animal Care Centres within a 45-minute drive of each other is no longer financially sustainable.

"RSPCA Victoria has tendered to provide animal management services to Mount Alexander Shire Council from the Bendigo site from late September. We are continuing to work with Mount Alexander Shire Council to identify programs to improve animal welfare and reduce cruelty issues in the area."

Council recently undertook a tender process for pound services and is in the process of finalising the assessment of the tender stating the RSPCA is their preferred tenderer. In their tender the RSPCA has indicated its intention to close the Castlemaine facility and provide the service from Bendigo.

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