Waikato SPCA shuts its doors following financial issues

By Danielle Nicholson

Waikato SPCA has today shut its doors following financial woes.  Photo / Danielle Nicholson
Waikato SPCA has today shut its doors following financial woes. Photo / Danielle Nicholson

Waikato SPCA announced on Friday that it will close its doors.

A post on the Waikato SPCA's Facebook page stated that on Tuesday, the Waikato SPCA committee had made "the extremely difficult decision to close the Centre to the public for the foreseeable future".

The centre has faced financial challenges, which saw the Waikato branch slip from a $24,000 surplus in the 2014 financial year to a $390,000 deficit in the space of a year.

In September, RNZSPCA then chief executive Ric Odom told Hamilton News that despite the Waikato branch's financial woes that its doors would not be shut.

He said at the time that it would remains autonomous but that the national office had created a plan with "fairly drastic actions" to get the centre back on track.

Those actions included redundancies, reducing the level of veterinary services that the Waikato SPCA paid for, with more bills passed onto owners and reducing the kind of animals accepted into the shelter, but Mr Odom said all core service such as animal inspectors and rehoming would continue.

"The public probably won't see a huge difference," he said at the time.

The Waikato SPCA said on Facebook: "As a charity with limited resources that is almost completely reliant on donations, we have come to the stage where we simply don't have the staff or resources to deal with and provide specialist care to the animals who need us.

"To our wonderful Waikato community - please be assured that we are doing everything possible to ensure that basic animal welfare services and the SPCA Inspectorate will continue here. Our focus right now and in the future will remain the welfare of the animals in the community."

Council assisting following closure

Hamilton City Council is preparing to help fill a gap in animal care following the closure of the Waikato SPCA.

The care of cats and other animals (those that aren't dogs) is beyond the scope of the core responsibility of the Council's Animal Education and Control team, but the team is preparing to receive other animals in a limited capacity.

Council is working with New Lives Rescue, a local animal rescue organisation, to help make it easy for the community during this transition.

"We recommend anyone with a cat or other animal talks to a local rescue organisation or another SPCA before coming to the Council for support with their animal. We understand this can be a difficult time and we're doing what we can to help so please be patient while we work through this," said Susan Stanford, Animal Education and Control manager.

"The Waikato SPCA closure will impact the Council as we will require extra staffing, training, animal food and equipment related to preparing to care for cats and other animals."

Recently the area at Animal Education and Control's Ellis St office, where the Waikato SPCA was located before it moved to new Te Rapa premises earlier this year, has been upgraded to host dogs up for adoption. The cattery the SPCA used will be upgraded next week to give us space to host a limited number of cats.

Stanford said Council was still working to find out what obligations it has under the law, what it can accommodate and what the cost implications will be.

Following the centre closure, there is now no organisation in the Waikato that is authorised under the Welfare Act 1999 to carry out duties related to animal welfare outside of the inspectorate arm of SPCA.

Hamilton City Council will apply to become an authorised organisation as a precautionary measure, although this is a process and will take some time before this is completed (if approved). Legally, only authorised organisations can accept stray cats into their care.

- Hamilton News

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