Bendigo’s council will run its own animal shelter services after the RSPCA tried to drive up charges during negotiations over long-standing arrangements.
The City of Greater Bendigo expects “significant” upfront set-up costs in July when it takes over the contract for pound and animal services.
It will be the first time the council has run the services in more than 20 years, safe and healthy environments manager Caroline Grylls said.
She expected extra money to be spent on establishing the service, including for compliance, accommodation and staff recruitment.
The RSPCA had wanted to negotiate a deal allowing it to recover all the money it spent on services in Bendigo, something head of operations Tegan McPherson said was not currently happening.
“These changes ensure the sustainability of our organisation so that we can continue to invest in ending cruelty to all animals from now into the future,” she said.
Ms Grylls would not be drawn on the exact amounts the RSPCA requested during negotiations, but said the sum would be “significantly higher” than the amount the council currently paid.
The RSPCA was the only organisation with the capacity to provide services of the scale required in Bendigo, the council believed, making running the service itself the only other option.
The city was not yet sure how much it would save each year, Ms Grylls said, though it would likely spend more than what it currently paid.
The decision had been made in part after comparisons with other regional councils.
There was a “growing trend” to bring shelter services in-house, Ms Grylls said, including at the City of Ballarat and the Shire of Campaspe.
However, she said there would be limited, if any, changes to services.
Ms McPherson said the RSPCA would still have a presence in Bendigo. Its animal inspectorate would service the area and its op shop would remain.
Ms McPherson said her organisation would still work collaboratively with council to support animal welfare.
She acknowledged it would be a difficult time for people who had worked with RSPCA Victoria.
“On behalf of RSPCA Victoria I want to take this opportunity to thank all the dedicated staff, volunteers and members of the Bendigo community who have supported our animal care centre over many years of operation.” she said.
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