SPCA has announced the permanent closure of its Waipukurau shelter.
The organisation says it will be entering into a vet partnership with a local clinic to ensure animals in the region remain cared for.
The facility temporarily closed its doors at the beginning of May, due to staff shortages. Despite extensive efforts to find an appropriate part-time centre team lead, including multiple job advertisements, a suitable candidate was not found, said SPCA area manager Bruce Wills.
"This prompted further discussions around the future of the centre and, after looking at the national SPCA strategy, it was established the centre was no longer financially viable.
"With so few animals coming through the centre, the cost of keeping it running was unsustainable for the charity, which relies on donations to operate its 32 centres nationwide," Wills said.
Between May 2021 and May 2022, the Waipukurau shelter's incoming numbers of animals were 40 per cent down on the previous year.
Wills said factors contributing to this include desexing campaigns that have been undertaken in the area in the past two years, which will continue in the community.
Wills says the organisation's full range of services will continue to be available through a new partnership with Vet Services Waipukurau.
"Animals across the Waipukurau region will be better cared for through this new partnership, with Vet Services providing extended opening hours and emergency care when required. Animals can then be transported from the vet clinic to SPCA's Hastings Centre, where they can receive the best possible care."
Wills said SPCA was hiring a full-time field officer to help service the community. This will enhance SPCA's ability to attend emergencies, assist with community desexing, and provide assistance to the inspectorate team when it comes to welfare concerns.
"As a charity, we have a responsibility to use the donations entrusted to us by generous members of the public to deliver the best possible outcomes for the animals we care for – across New Zealand.
"We cannot rationalise the cost of keeping the Waipukurau Centre open when we have a national network that can serve the animals in this region, and the money it would have taken to bring the centre up to standard could be better spent elsewhere."
SPCA's Waipukurau Centre was open with limited hours before the pandemic and SPCA says it had "rudimentary infrastructures in place".
Wills said the SPCA felt the animals in the region would be better served in larger centres such as Hastings, where the facilities are better resourced to meet the welfare needs of animals, which is SPCA's main priority.
"We'd like to thank the Central Hawke's Bay community for their hard work and dedication to the centre over the years, and understand that community members will be saddened by the closure. But we'd like to reassure them that SPCA still very much services the Central Hawke's Bay area and will be caring for the animals."
The land and assets were handed over to SPCA in 2017 by the Central Hawke's Bay Committee as part of the move to having one SPCA across New Zealand.
The Waipukurau SPCA Op Shop will remain open, with all proceeds going towards the ongoing needs of animals in SPCA centres locally and across New Zealand.
SPCA is planning to hold a meeting with the Central Hawke's Bay community regarding the centre's closure.