The Courier, RACHEL AFFLICK; July 26, 2013
RSPCA Victoria chief executive officer Maria Mercurio met with shocked and distressed Ballarat pound staff yesterday, as the Ballarat City Council gave the animal welfare charity until September 1 to vacate the premises.
The council awarded the three-year contract for its animal shelter and pound services to Victorian Animal Aid Trust on Wednesday, ending the RSPCA’s 45-year history with the facility.
Animal Aid’s chairman and two board directors will meet with current pound staff and the council next Wednesday.
Ms Mercurio said yesterday’s meeting was the first chance for RSPCA management to discuss the failed tender with its staff and volunteers, after only being formally notified of the news at 3pm on Thursday.
She said staff were shocked and distressed to learn of the news through friends and in one case, via social media.
“We will continue to work closely with our staff members and offer to support them through this difficult period,” Ms Mercurio said.
The council voted unanimously in favour of awarding the contract to Victorian Animal Aid Trust, after the RSPCA tender did not meet the advertised tender specifications.
Ms Mercurio said the council wanted to transfer the responsibility and costs for upgrading the building, and any other ongoing capital upgrades, to the successful tenderer.
“This should be the responsibility of the landlord (council),” she said. “This is their building and they are asking the successful tenderer to take on that responsibility. The RSPCA was not willing to do that – nor should we have to.”
A spokesperson for Animal Aid said they welcomed the announcement by the Ballarat City Council and looked forward to working with the community.
“Animal Aid is dedicated to the use of volunteers and is committed to using local staff,” the spokesperson said.
The council’s city infrastructure general manager Eric Braslis said the council would work with the current and future operators to ensure there was a seamless service transition.