Doubts over SPCA services overhaul

Shirlene Steel
Shirlene Steel
Doubts are being raised by former SPCA volunteers and staff following its overhaul of services in Central Otago, which has upset local helpers.

However, the animal charity remains confident it has adequate facilities at its new Alexandra home.

Last month, the SPCA announced it was closing its centre in Alexandra and partnering with Vetlife because of poor quarantine facilities in the town. Less than a week later, Central Otago services manager Shirlene Steel had handed in her resignation, saying it was an ‘‘insult’’ to the region.

She expressed concerns when speaking to the Otago Daily Times.

‘‘I know for a fact Vetlife doesn’t have a very large area to house the amount of animals that will be needing to come in,’’ she said.

This followed a statement she issued last month.

‘‘The volunteers have given an enormous amount of their time and money to ensure that the SPCA had a presence in Central Otago.

‘‘The SPCA has never directly made any substantial contribution to improve or upgrade any of the facilities that were used.’’

A sign on the door of the SPCA’s op-shop in Limerick St says it was closed as volunteers had resigned following the resignation of Ms Steel.

The charity could not confirm the number of volunteers who had left as ‘‘the volunteer base across SPCA fluctuated and was often seasonal’’.

SPCA spokeswoman Jessie Gilchirst said two co-ordinators had resigned in the region over the past six months.

Former volunteer Louise Joyce told the ODT she had written a letter to SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen expressing her concerns as to whether Vetlife had the facilities or dedicated staff to care for the ‘‘countless litters of kittens and puppies’’.

Ms Gilchrist did not confirm if Ms Midgen had received the correspondence, but said she was happy to speak to Ms Joyce about her concerns.

When asked how many animals Vetlife had taken in on behalf of the SPCA since last month’s announcement, she said she did not have access to numbers.

The SPCA is advertising for an operations co-ordinator in Central Otago who will work with the clinic and pick up sick or injured animals.

Ms Gilchrist said the op-shop would reopen this month — ‘‘all going to plan’’— once a co-ordinator had been appointed.

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