Official Opening Of RSPCA SA’s New Home

“Much more than just a place to house animals” says RSPCA SA CEO

The culmination of a seven-year quest to find RSPCA South Australia a new home will be celebrated today in an official opening ceremony attended by Acting Premier Susan Close (whose ministerial portfolio includes animal welfare) and SA Governor Frances Adamson.

RSPCA SA CEO Marcus Gehrig described this week’s completion of the new animal care campus at O’Halloran Hill as the realisation of a long-held vision for the organisation’s future.

“We knew our Lonsdale shelter was well past its use-by date, and that rebuilding it and remaining within that industrial zone was not where our future belonged,” Mr Gehrig said.

“So in 2018 we began looking for an alternate site, and before long we could see that somewhere within the soon-to-be established Glenthorne National Park would be ideal – it ticked all the boxes.”

In November 2021, the State Government announced the relocation of the organisation’s Lonsdale shelter and Stepney headquarters to seven hectares on the north-west corner of South and Majors Roads. Earthworks began on the site a year later.

Rising costs of materials and labour saw the original budget increase to $28m, and last month RSPCA SA turned to the community to help finish the build.

“We really have had the most incredible support from people and companies right across the state, giving up their time and donating funds, goods and services,” Mr Gehrig said.

“This includes Carole Stone, our foundation donor whose generosity got us over the line to complete this campus, with our builder – Cook Build – almost ready to hand over the keys.

“And here we are at last, with animals settled in and finding homes and our staff and volunteers enjoying all the benefits of a facility that’s been purpose-built to facilitate best-practice care of animals.”

Aside from animal accommodation, the campus has the Brad Ward Veterinary Clinic (named after RSPCA SA’s first-ever vet) and SA’s first dedicated wildlife hospital, which will open in coming months.

The state-of-the-art centre also has facilities to enable its use as an education hub, building on the organisation’s work within the community to prevent animal cruelty and neglect through education. The centre is now also the home base for RSPCA SA’s rescue team as well as the Inspectorate, with its seven inspectors who enforce SA’s Animal Welfare Act and investigate more than 4000 reports of cruelty and neglect each year.

“This is much more than just a place to house animals,” Mr Gehrig said.

“This is South Australia’s first integrated animal care campus and a legacy for future generations.

“Next year we celebrate 150 years since the RSPCA first began helping animals in this state, and community expectations around how animals are treated and cared for have evolved enormously since 1875…..we expect certain standards and protection not just pets, but for farm animals and wildlife too.

“The building of this campus is testament to the priority most of us give to animals and their welfare, and we are proud to be part of such a compassionate and kind community who have helped bring us to this very happy celebration happening today.”

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