$3m benefactor Frank Samways is a dog’s – and the Lost Dogs Home’s – best friend

The Age; Carolyn Webb; July 29, 2011

A BIG-HEARTED businessman has left Melbourne’s Lost Dogs Home $3 million – the largest bequest in its 100-year history.

Staff at the animal shelter described the donor, Frank Samways, as a man so empathetic for abandoned pets that he wouldn’t enter the animal shelter in Gracie Street, North Melbourne.

The home’s managing director, Graeme Smith, said Mr Samways, ”a charming, charismatic person”, used to attend donor functions in the home’s courtyard. ”But [he] never set foot inside the shelter because he thought it would be too disturbing for him. He didn’t want to see any dog or cat incarcerated.”

A lifelong owner of Jack Russell terriers, Mr Samways ”had a wonderful love of animals”.

Mr Samways, of Strathmore, a single man with no children, was a furniture factory owner. Before he died, aged 82, three years ago, he confided to Dr Smith that the home would be a beneficiary in his will. But Dr Smith said the $3 million figure revealed by the executor had floored him.

”He’d said ‘I’m worth a bit’, but he didn’t indicate to me how much.”

The home has used the funds to buy a factory, 50 metres from the Gracie Street complex, to be converted into its new private vet clinic. It will be named after Mr Samways.

Last week the City of Melbourne approved plans for the clinic, which will be three times the size of the current one, with a car park, five consulting rooms, two operating theatres and a waiting room.

The present vet clinic in Gracie Street raises $1 million in income each year. Dr Smith said the new one’s larger size and longer opening hours should bring in increased income to save pets’ lives.

He said it had a ”beautiful” position overlooking a fenced dog park that would attract customers. The old vet clinic would be turned into a cat and dog adoption centre.

The home, founded by a group of animal lovers in 1911, gets no government funding. However, Dr Smith revealed that in the past year – apart from Mr Samways’s gift – it had received more than $6 million in bequests and donations.

The windfalls have led to a frenzy of development including a $2 million sick and injured animal shelter and a $2 million training and education centre.

And in January the home opened its Lost Cats Home, with 150 cat ”condos” – glass-fronted, heated cubicles with shelves. Each has an ”en suite” – cats jump through a hole from the sleeping cubicle to a space with their litter trays.

Dr Smith said that when he started as the home’s manager in 1986 ”it was a financial basket case” facing imminent closure.

But higher standards and public profile, not to mention donors such as Mr Samways, had made the future more secure.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/executive-style/3m-benefactor-frank-samways-is-a-dogs–and-the-lost-dogs-homes–best-friend-20110728-1i2dz.html#ixzz1TvnfRJQo

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3 Comments

Filed under Victoria

3 responses to “$3m benefactor Frank Samways is a dog’s – and the Lost Dogs Home’s – best friend

  1. companionanimalnews

    From The Age 01 May 2011:
    “Activist Mike Bailey, who runs the Stop the Clock campaign aimed at preventing impounded dogs and cats from being routinely killed after 28 days, asked why the Lost Dogs Home was bidding for more council contracts when it knew it could not find homes for the thousands of animals it already had.
    The home killed 85.8 per cent (10,352) of the 12072 cats and 26.2 per cent (3242) of the 12,354 dogs it received at its main shelters at North Melbourne and Cranbourne in 2009-10.”
    I hope the new developments enable the Lost Dogs Home ongoing income to be allocated towards ultimately lowering its kill rate (notwithstanding the recent abolition of the 28-day rule in Victoria).
    My greatest respect to Mr Samways and the other benefactors for such generous donations. Rest in peace.

  2. companionanimalnews

    Some readers’ comments:
    “I just gasped in horror when I read this. Lost Dogs Home has the most shocking killing statistics. When I think of the struggling smaller rescue groups who practically pauperise themselves saving dogs, I just want to cry.
    When is there going to be a decent expose of this ghastly place? They already have millions of dollars just sitting doing nothing and everyday their killing rates continue to climb.
    OMG what a tragedy.”

    “Ive made provision in my will for same. I read one of the blogs saying he should have given it to a childrens home. Sorry but the animals deserve it more. Until humans realise that animals have a place on this planet and deserve respect and dignity these defenceless creatures will have no where to go when they lose their novelty. Pets are for life not a passsing fad. the govenment should pass laws that prevent backyard puppy farming and indiscriminate breeding purely for profit. You are dealing with lives not commodities. IThe government should make it a criminal act that thoughless and selfish people buy animals and then abandon them when it no longer suits their lifestyle.”

  3. selwyn marock

    One of the Good Guys.

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