Call to delay RSPCA closure: local branch

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The RSPCA's Blue Mountains branch has called on head office to reconsider closing the Katoomba animal shelter, or at least delaying its closure for 12 months.

At the regular monthly meeting of the branch on Saturday, members complained about the lack of consultation about the closure and also raised concerns about the welfare of animals in the Mountains.

The CEO of RSPCA NSW, Steve Coleman, who addressed the meeting, said he shared members' concerns but maintained that money would have to be sourced from outside the RSPCA to keep the shelter open.

He also said RSPCA NSW would continue meeting with the Blue Mountains council regarding the future of the shelter site.

A spokesman for the branch told the Gazette members had expressed doubts about whether a replacement foster care system for surrendered animals could be established before the proposed closure date in November.

"The branch unanimously supported a motion that the RSPCA NSW reconsider its decision and enable the continuance of the Katoomba shelter for another 12 months for further examination," the spokesman said.

"A motion was also passed also asking that RSPCA NSW reviews its advertising marketing in the light of Mr Coleman's comments that there will be a drop in donations in the coming years."

Earlier, the mayor, Mark Greenhill, told the Gazette he had held talks with the RSPCA about alternative arrangements for running a pound for stray animals.

"I have opened dialogue with the RSPCA. We have had a constructive discussion.

"Council is required by law to provide a dog pound and the withdrawal of the RSPCA presents a challenge for us," he said.

"So on that basis we are having discussions with them about how we may be able to help each other."

Some of the Mountains vet clinics have lent their voices to the growing community support for the shelter to be retained. Melanie Thompson, practice manager and co-owner of Springwood Vet Clinic, said she was "shocked" at the news.

"We are hoping we can turn the decision around. It's a much needed thing in the Mountains and we are quite upset about it.

"It seems such a shame after all the hard work that has gone into it over the years. We are keen to do whatever we can to raise attention about it."

And petitions calling on the RSCPA to reverse its decision have been popping up all over the Mountains.

At Hazelbrook newsagency, owner Suzanne Morrow said she had gathered more than five pages of signatures in just four days.

She said customers were happy to sign.

"Everyone that we've spoken to has been very passionate and hopes that it makes a difference."

"I used to board my dog up at the RSPCA and we have an RSPCA moneybox on the counter. We're really keen to see it remain open."

There were also petitions at the Wentworth Falls newsagency/post office, at the bar at Wentworth Falls Country Club, in Katoomba's veterinary clinic, Hazelbrook doctors surgery, Blackheath pharmacy and the Altitude Deli in Blackheath.

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