The Taree Volunteer Branch of the RSPCA actively works in our area to prevent cruelty to animals great and small by ensuring they are cared for and protected. Ahead of the “Million Paws Walk” being held on May 19 at Taree Showground, we spoke with Sandy Brooks, President of Taree and District Branch of the RSPCA, to find out more about this wonderful organisation.
What’s the background of the Taree Volunteer Branch of the RSPCA – when and how did it kick off here in the area?
RSPCA NSW commenced in July 1875 – 144 years ago. The RSPCA Taree and District Branch was started in about 1979/80 by a local group of concerned animal lovers and has been meeting every month (except January) in Taree since then.
What typical activities are you involved in on a regular basis?
We run a subsidised rate desexing program all year round, with a special reduced rate in June each year. We offer free microchipping for cats and dogs when they are desexed through our program. To help pay for these programs, we run raffles on a regular basis to raise much needed funds, as well as community-based stalls around the local district to sell RSPCA merchandise.
We provide emergency pet food to concession card holders and local welfare organisations for their clients.
Twice a year we hold a combined microchipping day with Animal Welfare League, where we offer subsidised microchipping for pets – the next one is on 4th May at Taree Pet Barn. We attend local primary and high schools to provide education on responsible pet ownership and animal care. Our branch also provides veterinary care assistance through a voucher system for eligible participants.
Tell us about the Million Paws Walk – when is it scheduled, how does the Taree Volunteer Branch of the RSPCA support it, and how and why did it come into existence?
The Million Paws Walk started in Queensland in 1994, when a group of animal lovers got together and decided to meet to promote animal welfare. It’s now an event that’s held Australia-wide in May each year. This year it is being held on 19th May at the Taree Showground. Registrations will be open from 9am, and the walk around the race track starts at 10am, with judging events commencing soon after the walk is completed. This is a major annual fundraising event for the Taree branch, and we encourage all animal lovers to attend with their family pet. There will be a variety of stalls present, including the Rural Fire Service, Taree Veterinary Hospital, Reptile Dysfunction and RSPCA merchandise stalls, plus food and drinks.
Can you give us some information about the Saxby Park Agility Course you’re involved in? What is the background to this?
Saxby Park in Stevenson Street, Taree, has been a Council designated leash-free park for many years. About 10 years ago, the Taree branch decided to fence this park, and with Council permission granted, fundraising began in earnest to allow this to happen. Many thousands of dollars later, the road and part of the side boundary were fenced, followed a few years ago by further fencing at the back of the park, so as to prevent more adventurous dogs from accessing Brown’s Creek.
The next improvement was to fence off a small area, to allow smaller dogs refuge when larger dogs were using the park. We are currently in the planning stages for the building of an agility course within the park for use by dogs of all sizes – we will need to raise much more money before it can come to fruition.
Highs and lows of being involved in the RSPCA?
Our RSPCA Branch strives to reduce the number of unwanted kittens and puppies in the Taree district, as well as to provide a helping hand to any animals that are at risk of harm. This of course can bring joy, as well as heartache, depending on the circumstances.
The lows are that we are limited in the support we can give locally, as we do not have a shelter to take in animals, and we are often restricted by financial constraints. Not many people realise that RSPCA NSW only receives 2% of its funding from the government – all the other funds are provided by community members.
How can our readers support the Taree Volunteer Branch of the RSPCA?
Come to our meetings and find out what we do and how you can help us raise funds for the care of animals in our area, and to also go ahead with the building of the Agility Course at Saxby Park.
How can our readers get in touch with you?
By email: email@example.com – or by phone on 6552 7177.
Interview: Ingrid Bayer.