Ingleside shelter closure - update
Thank you to everyone for your interest in our Ingleside shelter. Unfortunately the AWL NSW Board has had to make the difficult decision to close the shelter permanently, for the longer term sustainability of the organisation. We know that this has been distressing for many, and want to reassure you that the decision to close the site was not made lightly. We remain committed to our mission to promote the welfare of animals in NSW through our shelter, foster care and branch networks.
- Ingleside shelter was built 20 years ago in 1997
- The Septic system was installed in 2001 – 16 years ago
- A Development Application would have been required to repair the site, which could have taken up to 18 months to be processed, and the site was uninhabitable in the meantime.
- The last investment at Ingleside ($750k) was four years ago in 2013, from a bequest that specified that the legacy was to fund a cattery at Ingleside. At that stage we understand that the Board was unaware the site was due to be rezoned as residential or would have these issues occur.
- Although AWL NSW is a not-for-profit organisation, we do need to be sustainable to continue to meet our mission. Unfortunately Ingleside was operating at a significant loss which meant the site was not sustainable for the long term. Based on current financial projections, the shelter was forecast to be operating at a loss of more than $3m by 2022.
- Although we knew that there were issues with the waste water treatment system as early as 2015, the Board at the time was not in agreement that this was a priority.
- Following notification from the council in June 2017, AWL NSW sought the advice of an independent assessor from an environmental and engineering consultancy service. We were provided with an on-site Waste Water Management report (which is the intellectual property of the consultants, so unable to be released by AWL NSW).
- The key findings in the report were instrumental in the Board’s decision to close the shelter. They included advice that the site is subject to excessive water run-on with little run-off due to the surrounding landforms, resulting in serious erosion and drainage problems.
- Significant deterioration meant that the cost of bringing the infrastructure up to compliance was going to cost in excess of $600k.
- The non-compliance issues meant that we had to make this decision sooner rather than later.
- Employees were personally advised by the CEO and COO as soon as the seriousness of the problem was identified, when the shelter was temporarily closed. Staff were all provided with special leave or the option to work from one of our other shelters while further investigations were being made.
- Employees were advised of any updates during this time, as information came to hand.
- Immediately following the Board’s decision, the CEO personally notified employees of the permanent closure, with a psychologist in attendance and available for immediate support.
- Regrettably the closure of the site meant that positions of the staff employed at Ingleside were made redundant. These payments were made promptly.
- Employees were provided with outplacement assistance and the offer of ongoing psychological support through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – still available for former employees to access.
- We were very sorry to lose valuable members of the AWL NSW team, with a combination of many years of experience, and wish them all the best in the future.
- No animals from Ingleside have been euthanased due to space issues. We held half price and discounted adoption fees to move as many animals as possible into their new homes, and have managed to accommodate any others.
- All healthy, treatable animals were moved to our West Hoxton or Kemps Creek shelters, fostered through our network of foster carers, adopted to new owners, or returned to their owners (boarders).
- AWL NSW is governed by the Companion Animals Act and therefore not an impound facility. Stray animals come under local government legislation. AWL NSW Shelters and Branches are therefore not authorised to take in stray animals.
- The future of the Ingleside site will continue to be an important part of our strategic plan, but there are no immediate plans to sell the site to developers.
- AWL NSW is investing significantly in our Kemps Creek shelter, including upgrading the vet clinic with a new isolation ward and surgical equipment; building a new state-of-the-art cattery; and creating a new dog walking track for our shelter animals. We have also recently expanded our Inspectorate team to enable us to save even more abused, neglected and abandoned animals every day.