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Think Local

When Animal Welfare League (AWL) NSW closed its Ingleside shelter after 20 years of rescuing and rehoming animals, there was an outcry.

Despite the organisation investing $750,000 into the shelter for a new cattery in 2013, it announced its sudden closure in July, blaming multiple compliance issues relating to waste water management and building codes.

A statement from the AWL reads, "Unfortunately, the AWL NSW Board has had to make the difficult decision to close the shelter permanently for the longer-term sustainability of the organisation.

"We know this has been very distressing for many, and the league want to reassure you the decision to close the site was not made lightly.

"Ingleside was operating at a significant loss, which meant the site was not sustainable for the long term. Based on current financial projections, the shelter was forecast to be operating at a loss of more than $3 million by 2022. "We remain committed to our mission to promote the welfare of animals in NSW through our shelter, foster care and branch networks."

But with developers snapping up large parcels of land for millions of dollars around the vicinity, locals are sceptical, claiming it's more about the dollars than animal welfare.

This includes Pittwater local Geoff Cutler, who states, "There must be some serious incompetence somewhere if they [AWL] spent all that money and now say its unusable..."

Animals residing at Ingleside have been relocated to other shelters, including AWL centres at Kemps Creek and West Hoxton, but Pittwater residents say the closure of the shelter leaves a huge gap in the Northern Beaches animal rescue community and the greater region.

As a result, animal lovers and some of the Ingleside centre's former staff have launched a campaign called 'Save Our Shelter' to establish a new animal care facility that will rescue animals in the area.

Peninsula local Savannah Baker says, "The Ingleside shelter has rehomed thousands of animals, employed staff and given opportunities for people to volunteer, foster and be part of an amazing community.

"Without a local shelter, animals that end up dumped or lost won't be microchipped, de-sexed or responsibly rehomed. Some will become feral, others a danger on the roads, and many will become cold, hungry and hurt.

"It's an extremely sad tale and a situation I never thought I would see in our community."

Tim Crossman, who worked as a team leader at Ingleside for two years prior to the closure, is one of the people leading the Save Our Shelter campaign, which has no affiliation to local, state or federal governments or other organisations.

"Our two main objectives are to raise awareness of the need for an animal rehoming facility in the region, and raise enough money to open one," he explains.

"This campaign aims to set up a not-for-profit organisation, which will not only save the lives of unwanted, homeless and stray animals but also provide the community with a much-needed service." The group has launched a GoFundMe campaign with a $500,000 target to raise funds for the new independent rescue shelter in the area.

"At our previous shelter we rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed thousands of animals.

"Anyone who lives on the Northern Beaches will already know there are so few animal shelters here," he says, "and now with the biggest one in the entire region shut down, we truly fear for all the animals who will be left without a safe place of refuge.

"Our focus right now is to ensure animals in the area have a safe place to go and a place in which they can find a new home. If AWL will not stand up and help these animals, then someone has to.

"Generous animal lovers have been donating in drove - from a few dollars up to larger amounts such as $500 - and the group is appealing for people to help them find a location and for corporate sponsorship. For more details or to donate to the Save Our Shelter campaign, visit www.saveourshelter.


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