Shelter opening draws large crowd

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 03/02/2014
Southland SPCA special guest Hayley Crimp

READY FOR BUSINESS: Southland SPCA special guest Hayley Crimp and Animal Ark co-chairperson Karen Sturman at the official opening of the new $1.9m purpose-built SPCA facility near Clifton.

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Almost 1500 people converged on the new SPCA shelter for its official opening.

"Wonderful," "can't believe it" and "amazing" were just some of the comments made by the large crowd during the official opening on Saturday.

Construction started on the new $1.9m purpose-built shelter, built beside the old premises on Harewood Rd, in May.

Southland SPCA chairperson Rachel Hucklebridge said she was "blown away" by how many people turned up to celebrate the opening.

The road was backed up and people were parked in paddocks, she said.

"It was huge. It blew us all away."

The opening started at 10.30am on Saturday with a guided tour and speeches from Gore Mayor and Community Trust of Southland chairman Tracy Hicks, Invercargill Licensing Trust board member Suzanne Prentice, special guest Hayley Crimp and SPCA representatives Ric Odom and Iain Torrance.

Hayley Crimp cut the ribbon on behalf of Invercargill philanthropist Louis Crimp.

A large rock memorial for the late Andrea Morrow, who dedicated more than 25 years' to the Southland committee, was unveiled at the front door of the shelter, Ms Hucklebridge said.

At noon the doors opened to the public and tour guides took hundreds of people through the new shelter.

Throughout the day all eight dogs in the shelter had names put on them for adoption, she said.

The move was "very exciting".

Animal Ark co-chairperson Karen Sturman said the facility was an asset all Southlanders could be proud of.

The new building features state-of-the-art facilities including a reception area specifically design for assessing incoming animals, an ambulance bay, operating theatre, isolation and quarantine facilities as well as an education/training room.

"The number of animals relinquished to the SPCA is increasing substantially every year," Ms Sturman said.

"Capacity at the new facility has doubled and we now also have additional room to handle emergency situations that were not available previously."

The SPCA will also open a pet crematorium and cemetery as part of a move to become more self-sufficient and to meet demand in the region.

Former Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Richard Hay has been employed as its operations manager.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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