Back when I spent a year studying in Australia, I escaped the hustle and bustle of inner Sydney once a week to go volunteer at the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home (SDCH). Not only was this lively and friendly shelter a fantastic place for me to spend my free time, it remains one of the best run animal rescues I’ve had the chance to volunteer at.
The SDCH is the only shelter in Sydney that places no time limits on animals in their care. Every single animal brought to the home is cared for and rehomed, no matter how long it takes. However, the Home itself is now running out of time.
For 70 years, SDCH has been taking in stray and abandoned pets from around the city, offering them a safe haven and a chance at a new life. During that time, it has cared for over 200,000 animals. But the privately owned land they have been leasing has been slated for redevelopment and this life-saving organization is now facing the very real prospect of being evicted with just four weeks notice.
This would leave thousands of animals vulnerable and left to fend for themselves alone on the streets.
A Vital Resource for the City and its Unwanted Animals
Since opening in 1946, the shelter has rescued more than 3,000 animals per year, providing veterinary treatment, food, socialization and care for dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals. During my time there, SDCH even took in an injured goose who had been attacked while waddling in his park’s pond.
Recently, the closure of several other shelters around the city has put even more pressure and responsibility on SDCH to care for a growing number of unwanted animals. Claire Garth, the General Manager of the Home tells One Green Planet that “demand for our services is only increasing,” adding that “there is a growing community expectation when it comes to animal welfare” with the public increasingly eager for animals in council pounds to get a second chance at life.
A Real Home to the Animals
I’ve seen firsthand what great work SDCH does, and it is one of the friendliest, most relaxed yet best organized shelters I’ve visited. Everything from the board where dogs are sorted according to dog walker expertise, to the time taken to suitably pair the animals up so that they don’t languish alone while waiting to be rehomed, illustrates the strong efforts made by staff and volunteers to provide the very best standard of care for animals in need. In fact, the sheer number of dedicated volunteers — some of which have been donating their time and energy for years — attests to the organization’s value and the community’s appreciation of the great work it does.
Not only is it a safe sanctuary for animals, it is also a wonderful resource for potential adopters, evidenced by the relatively quick turnover I witnessed during my time there — thanks to its great reputation and effective management, it takes the SDCH an average of just three weeks to rehome its animals — and by the shelter’s walls being plastered with messages from grateful adopters, thanking the organization for pairing them up with their perfect pet.
Arthur the 12-year old greyhound and his new family
Further messages of thanks have been sent to the organization during what is now their time of need. For instance, Sean Badenhorst writes “my beautiful dog, Roma, came from Sydney Dogs and Cats Home – and what a gift she has been,” and urges people to help because “more abandoned pets need the opportunity to find loving homes” and Alex Brenton, who adopted three cats from SDCH, details how the shelter provided plenty of free surgical care for them. These are just two of the thousands of people who have banded together to incite government and donator support for Sydney Dogs and Cats Home.
What You Can Do
Sydney Dogs and Cats Home has contacted the State government several times over the past year, but no decisive action has yet been taken to save the Home. Consequently, SDCH has started a petition, urging the Premier of New South Wales Mike Baird to assist the organization in obtaining a parcel of crown land to build a new animal shelter on. So far the petition has gathered over 13,000 signatures, but more voices are needed to ensure their urgent request is heeded.
Ms. Garth explains that SDCH not only needs to find a suitable piece of land, they also need to raise enough funds to build a new shelter for their animals. Donations are desperately needed to help cover relocation costs, and to build suitable holding facilities for the animals.
All image source: Sydney Dogs and Cats Home/Facebook