Mount Alexander Animal Welfare to takeover Castlemaine RSPCA shelter

The RSPCA shelter in Castlemaine. Picture: ANDREA HYLANDS
The RSPCA shelter in Castlemaine. Picture: ANDREA HYLANDS

The future of an animal shelter in Castlemaine looks certain after the volunteer group pushing for its survival inked a three-year contract with the RSPCA.

Mount Alexander Animal Welfare committee members this week signed the three-year lease for the Langslow Street shelter, beginning in December, with the option to purchase the site from the RSPCA in 2020.

The Castlemaine community rallied in support of keeping a shelter operating in the town after the RSPCA announced its decision to close the site in June.

Group president Stephanie Miller said members were ecstatic when the RSPCA agreed to their terms and it was a testament to the RSPCA’s goodwill.

“The time commitment has been huge, as has the emotional involvement,” she said of the process undertaken by members in the last three months.

“It’s only now that we have the signed lease and option to purchase that I feel certain that we will succeed.”

From December, the group anticipates to continue with all existing services currently available at the shelter.

“We will have animals available for adoption and we will take in strays and surrendered animals as usual,” Mrs Miller said.

Talks are also under way with the Mount Alexander Shire Council for the group to take over animal pound services.

RSPCA Victoria chief executive Dr Liz Walker said the organisation was looking forward to continuing conversations with the group and exploring areas of collaboration.

“RSPCA Victoria is highly supportive of the Mount Alexander Animal Welfare group’s intention to operate the Castlemaine Animal Care Centre and provide animal welfare and management services to the local community,” she said.

The welfare group has now grown to include more than 160 paid members and on November 4, will also open an opportunity shop in Barker Street.

The existing RSPCA op shop in Forest Street will be temporarily closed due to a shortage of volunteers, but the RSPCA hopes to reopen it next year.

More information about the shelter and Mount Alexander Animal Welfare can be found at https://maaw.org.au or the group’s Facebook page.

Donations will begin to be accepted for the Barker Street op shop from November 1. Contact mtalexanimalwelfare@gmail.com for more information.