Handover of Castlemaine animal shelter from RSPCA to Mount Alexander Animal Welfare in the works

People joining Mount Alexander Animal Welfare Inc. The organisation now has more than 120 paid members. Picture: MANDY MURPHY BAKER
People joining Mount Alexander Animal Welfare Inc. The organisation now has more than 120 paid members. Picture: MANDY MURPHY BAKER

Related: Animal welfare group formed in Castlemaine

The group formed in the wake of RSPCA Victoria’s announcement it would leave Castlemaine expects to take charge of the town’s animal shelter before the end of November.

Mount Alexander Animal Welfare Inc president Stephanie Miller said the organisation expected to receive the paperwork for the lease and option-to-purchase agreement by the end of this week.

The RSPCA will vacate the site on November 30 and MAAW has made an offer to lease the shelter for three years, with an option to purchase at the end of this period.

She said she received assurances from the RSPCA’s chief financial officer that the agreement would go ahead.

The RSPCA shelter in Castlemaine. Picture: ANDREA HYLANDS

The RSPCA shelter in Castlemaine. Picture: ANDREA HYLANDS

MAAW is also negotiating a pound management contract with Mount Alexander Shire Council.

But Ms Miller said no arrangements had been finalised, so the organisation was reliant on the cooperation of the RSPCA and Mount Alexander Shire to meet the shelter opening deadline of December 1.

RSPCA Victoria acting head of operations Tegan McPherson said the organisation was “highly supportive” of MAAW’s intentions to operate the animal shelter and provide welfare services in the area.

“RSPCA Victoria continues to negotiate the terms of a proposed agreement with the Mount Alexander Animal Welfare group in good faith and in confidence,” Ms McPherson said.

“We will absolutely let the wider community know when an agreement has been reached.”

Related: Family saddened by shelter closure

Ms Miller said it was anticipated that MAAW would have income from the pound management contract, and services such as boarding.

The group will also seek grants and donations, and hopes to open an op shop to support the shelter.

It plans to hold a fundraising day when the shelter re-opens.

“The lease, purchase and operation of the shelter will rely heavily on the support of the community,” Ms Miller said. 

“We are seeking sponsors and donors to work with us as partners in animal welfare in the region.”

Related: Support for RSPCA shelter grows

More than 120 people have became paid members of the organisation and a meeting this month attracted more than 100 people.

At that meeting, vice-president Tina Fratta spoke about the organisation’s plans to initiate companion pet support programs, doggy day care, an off-lead dog park, and support for the elderly and infirm who want to keep their animals with them at home.

The association says its volunteers will be trained to assist with these programs.