RSPCA ACT may soon have a new home away from its ageing facility after the ACT Government announced a planning study into the long-term plan for upgraded facilities for the charity.
The shelter in Weston Creek has been home to the RSPCA since 1966, but the 45-year-old facility has been struggling to keep up with the growing responsibility.
The ACT Government said its planning study will assess options to upgrade the current site or relocate to a purpose-built facility in a different location, which includes potentially co-locating the RSPCA and Domestic Animal Services.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr visited the RSPCA ACT a month ago to look at the facilities and chat with CEO Michelle Robertson about the RSPCA’s plans and vision for the future.
Mr Barr said the $300,000 funding package will solve an array of short term issues for the organisation while also looking to the future of the charity.
“We recognise the importance of that immediate investment in facilities so this facility will be as good as it possibly can be given available resources,” he said. “More resources and a purpose-built facility in the medium term will allow the RSPCA to provide an even better service.
“Each year funding is provided to the RSPCA and I am pleased that this year we are able to provide additional funding for the RSPCA to continue to meet its demanding workload and further enhance its level of service.
“We want to ensure they are best equipped to continue caring and finding homes for thousands of animals each year.”
The funding will also provide new and modernised kennel facilities and a dental x-ray machine to boost animal management and welfare services with new equipment to better resource the shelter.
Minister for City Services Chris Steel said the funding will ensure the territory’s animals continue to be cared for in a comfortable and safe environment.
He said that Domestic Animal Services also has an ageing facility and the government is looking at whether there is a potential benefit of having both services co-located.
“We will look at all options, whether that is a new facility in separate locations for both organisations or whether that is co-location,” he said.
“We need to look at how many animals we need to cater for in the ACT with a population of 500,000 compared to 425,000 at the moment. The ACT Government is currently undertaking a pet census to get a better understanding of how many animals and what type of animals people have in our community and that will help us inform the planning work.”
RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson said the volume and species of animals had outgrown the current facility.
“In our last financial year, we had 3,300 animals come through the RSPCA,” she said. “At this present moment, we have 208 animals of all different species in our care.
“To successfully continue our mission – to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection – the current facilities must be modernised to ensure that the animals and their humans requiring the RSPCA ACT’s services are able to be cared for.
“The current facilities are restrictive. We achieve great outcomes but that is despite our facilities. If we have the facilities that we need, we can achieve even greater outcomes.
“Every week we have animals on the surrender list. Every week we get phone calls for emergency boarding and we wish we could help every single animal and every single human that requires our help but we are simply not able to at this stage.”