Wairarapa risks losing Wellington SPCA

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Wellington SPCA chief executive Steve Glassey. PHOTO/FILE
Wellington SPCA chief executive Steve Glassey. PHOTO/FILE

Wellington SPCA could abandon Wairarapa within months if community funding does not increase.

This is the message from Wellington SPCA chief executive Steve Glassey, who has been administrating Wairarapa SPCA since January this year, under a one-year agreement.

He said there was a clause in the contract where, mid-year, Wellington SPCA could review their involvement with Wairarapa.

"If it's not financially viable we can withdraw our support from the area, which would mean the Wairarapa would have no SPCA."

Mr Glassey said walking away was not the desirable outcome and it was "a shame" the Wairarapa community had not met funding expectations held by Wellington when they decided to step in.

"We feel we have been doing our part with the inspectorate services and additional microchipping and off-site adoptions but we're not getting the support, which is really putting our presence in the area at risk."

Mr Glassey said Wairarapa was being charged only for inspectorate services and financial administration, and Wellington SPCA has fronted the costs for Wairarapa's off-site adoptions and micro-chipping events.

In the first six weeks of Wellington SPCA's presence in Wairarapa they investigated 42 animal welfare complaints.

Wellington funding for Wairarapa's SPCA could dry up

They rehomed 14 animals through new off-site adoption events and 63 Wairarapa animals were microchipped in partnership with local vets.

The establishment of a new Emergency Reserve for after hours complaints is also under way.

Mr Glassey said, to date, three community grant applications for the charity had been declined by Wairarapa funding bodies.

He said Wairarapa SPCA had also received no funding from local government.

"So far we are running at a significant deficit in providing these enforcement services let alone the other work that has been going on."

He said people seemed to be under the impression the Wairarapa SPCA would operate as it used to with an animal shelter, following Wellington's intervention.

But the Wellington SPCA's primary role in Wairarapa, he said, was to investigate cruelty complaints and enforce the Animal Welfare Act, as opposed to taking in unwanted animals.

Despite this, however, 100 Wairarapa animals have been driven over the Rimutaka Hill and taken into care at Wellington's shelter since the takeover.

Mr Glassey felt the SPCA was being taken for granted, saying "the community need to take a good hard look and ask do they want the SPCA presence in their area".

"Though we have great emotional support, this needs to be matched financially, otherwise there is the real risk Wairarapa will have no SPCA and other organisations like the police, Animal Control and MPI will have to step back in to fill the void."

The money coming in for the Wairarapa SPCA -- predominantly through the SPCA Op Shop on Chapel St -- was "definitely not" meeting the costs required for the services being provided.

"We haven't got the money coming in from Wairarapa so we're essentially living off the minimal reserves Wairarapa has to offer, which isn't very much," Mr Glassey said.

"The op shop appears to be going well and it's probably the saving grace for us."

Mr Glassey is now asking the community to "step up".

"There's some individuals who are really helping us out but we need the balance of the community to do the same."

Donations must be tagged for the Wairarapa area and can be made online at www.wellingtonspca.org.nz, emailed to funds@wellingtonspca.org.nz, or call (04) 389 7387.

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