A Castlemaine community group’s pet project has ended in success with the Mount Alexander Animal Welfare group buying the town’s former RSPCA animal shelter.
After just 13 months of fundraising, volunteer work and planning, MAAW officially bought the site yesterday, nearly two years ahead of schedule.
The group took over lease on the shelter in December, 2017, with an option to purchase it within three years.
“We're incredibly proud of what we have done but we want to make sure we are sustainable as well,” MAAW president Tania Butterworth said.
Funding for the running of the Castlemaine shelter will be raised from sources including the MAAW Op Shop in Johnstone Street, which has tripled in size since it opened and also added the Pause for MAAW cafe.
MAAW has also cared for more than 400 animals in the past 13 months.
“The shelter has income from Mount Alexander Shire's pound services, but that isn't enough to sustain us or plan for a future,” Ms Butterworth said.
“This op shop does. This brings in an income where we can buy the shelter, like we've done. We can (look at the future).
“It means we’re not limited by (one) income from the shire. By having other income streams we are far more sustainable. The more income we get, the more secure the shelter's future is.”
The City of Greater Bendigo recently announced it would take over animal welfare services in the city from the RSPCA.
MAAW was founded in July, 2017, when the RSPCA announced it was withdrawing its services from Castlemaine and moving them to Bendigo.
“It was the fact the RSPCA left that prompted us to form,” Ms Butterworth said. “Then out of the blue people came out of the woodwork to help.
“(Being able to purchase the shelter) has been achieved thanks to leadership, drive and the power of community.
“The RSPCA has been good and done their bit but, to me, this is what progressive animal welfare is all about now.
“A lot more people are getting far more involved in causes like this.”
As MAAW plans for its future, they are also applying for multiple grants.
“We're looking long term and planning three to five years ahead,” Ms Butterworth said. “The whole idea of buying the shelter is that we are not going anywhere.
“We have been around for 13 months and (already) achieved this. So we're aiming big. It's always about opportunity.”
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.