Animal rescue closes

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
SAFE Albany volunteer Lyn Edwards ahead of last year’s Big Kitten Cuddle.
Camera IconSAFE Albany volunteer Lyn Edwards ahead of last year’s Big Kitten Cuddle. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

The founder of Saving Animals From Euthanasia says she was “devastated” to shut down SAFE’s Albany branch because of a lack of volunteers, foster carers and funding.

SAFE Albany gave hundreds of homeless animals a new family in the past three years.

But Sue Hedley, the founder and president of SAFE, said she had to make the tough call to close the branch because they did not have the funding to employ workers.

“It is not a decision we want to make, but until we get government funds to employ staff, how it can be expected that animal rescue volunteers can keep up with the magnitude of animals that are homeless?” she said.

“I am personally devastated to have to do that.

“The magnitude of what it takes in trying to organise the logistics of keeping animals out of cages and not wasting money on cleaning up toilets and feeding — but we can’t seem to get any benefactors to embrace the model that we have got.”

Ms Hedley said she took some comfort in knowing there were other rescue groups in Albany.

She called for local, State and Federal governments to fund animal rescue organisations.

Ideally, she would have two part-time employees at each SAFE branch to support volunteers and manage the foster carers.

Albany branch manager Jodie Saringer said the team did their best with the number of volunteers they had, but it was no longer sustainable.

“In that time we managed to adopt 478 animals. I like to think that we have made a difference in that time,” she said.

“We have had some amazing volunteers and foster carers, and the support of the community has been amazing, but it isn’t enough people and unfortunately we don’t have the funds to pay people to do roles.

“A lot of our volunteers use their cars to help transport, we all work from home, and even just some of the expenses that we incur there is no capacity to get tax deductions because it is volunteering and not paid work.”

She said while the work could be demanding, it had also been rewarding.

“We have met some amazing families and heard some heartbreaking stories when they have had to re-home their animals,” she said.

“To meet so many people and have that level of involvement in their lives is rewarding.

“There were some occasions where people would become homeless or they were going overseas and couldn’t take their animals.

“We had a lot of teary moments.”

There is still hope the Albany branch could reopen one day and anyone who is interested in volunteering is encouraged to contact SAFE.

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