Public rally over RSPCA Katoomba shelter closure

CEO of RSPCA NSW, Steve Coleman, who made the decision to close the Katoomba shelter.

CEO of RSPCA NSW, Steve Coleman, who made the decision to close the Katoomba shelter.

 The Katoomba RSPCA shelter which is earmarked for closure.

The Katoomba RSPCA shelter which is earmarked for closure.

Up to 100 people are expected at a public meeting in the Carrington Hotel tonight to discuss the planned closure of the RSPCA shelter in Katoomba.

The meeting will be held in the hotel ballroom after the enthusiastic response scuttled initial plans to hold it in the much smaller library.

One of the organisers, life member of the RSPCA and local businessman Bob Kemnitz, said there had been 84 acceptances received via a Facebook site set up after the RSCPA announced the shelter's demise.

"It's a public meeting designed obviously to allow the public to have their say about it," he said.

He was hoping that the meeting would generate ideas about "the possibility of keeping the shelter open".

The CEO of RSPCA NSW, Steve Coleman, said he hoped to attend the meeting, providing he can change another prior engagement.

Mr Coleman announced plans to close the shelter in May, telling the shocked staff they had just six months of work before the doors were permanently shut. He said financial considerations made the decision inevitable.

Mr Coleman recently addressed the Katoomba Chamber of Commerce about his decision. He told the meeting that five years ago he had decided there would be no more RSPCA inspectors and no more shelters. He said animals were better in a home than a kennel.

He expanded on his plans to enlist volunteer foster carers who can care for animals in their own homes, giving their time rather than money via donations.

ALP candidate for the Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle, said she would be attending the meeting.

"I'm very keen to see the Katoomba shelter remain open and in community hands, as many people have suggested. For the sake of our animal friends and a caring community, I hope RSPCA NSW management listen to and work with the Blue Mountains toward a solution that's not simply about money."

The Katoomba shelter has also operated as the local pound, leaving council searching for an alternative when it closes down in November.

Mayor Mark Greenhill, who will be represented at tonight's meeting by Clr Don McGregor, said: "There is no sign that the RSPCA is going to extend their deadline. This has come to us with the same small level of warning as the rest of the community and we are searching for options that are humane. As with most residents of our community, I love animals and I am deeply concerned that we find a solution that reflects this."

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