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New Direction For SPCA

New Direction For SPCA
Committee members (from left) Amanda Millar (Co-Chair), Vivien Counsell-Mitchell, Lucinda Butcher (Treasurer), Pallawish Kumar and Seema Deo (Co-Chair) after a marathon four-hour meeting to establish an action plan. Photo: SPCA
July 29
12:25 2018

Change is definitely under way at Suva’s only animal shelter with a new Executive Committee commencing action this week. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – better known as the SPCA – is a charitable trust established 65 years ago to tackle the very difficult issue of animal welfare and community education in Fiji.

Following the SPCA’s annual general meeting held on Friday July 20, a whole new committee of nine has been instilled and has already begun its mammoth task of rejuvenating the organisation with a new approach to managing the shelter.

The new committee has split the role of President between two co-chairs to lead the team in respect of Welfare & Projects and Operations. The co-chairs are Seema Deo, a life member and past Secretary of the Executive; and Amanda Millar, a Pacific Harbour based former school teacher, business owner and long- term supporter of the SPCA and animal welfare in Fiji.

The other members of the new SPCA Executive Committee are: Dr Helene Jacot des Combes (Secretary), senior lecturer at the University of the South Pacific and dedicated cat fosterer; Lucinda Butcher (Treasurer), business woman with background in law; Andrew Powell (Public Relations and Marketing), with a graphic art, events coordination and marketing background; vet science student, Pallawish Kumar (Shelter and Administrative Support); Vivien Counsell Mitchell (Vets and Clinic Support), business woman and current trustee; and Ilana Burness (Volunteer Support), yoga instructor and long time rescuer of dogs. For the first time in many years, the SPCA will have the support of a veterinary advisor to provide guidance on vet selection and protocols. Veterinarian, Dr Sian Watson will be volunteering her time in a personal capacity towards improving SPCA’s animal welfare activities.

Seema Deo explains this shift in the leadership model: “There is an enormous amount of work to be done to restore SPCA to an operational and financially stable state and electees determined this would be best achieved through dedicated concentration on the two primary areas of the SPCA, the shelter and the clinic. We hope to foster more collaborative and open ways of working both within the organisation, and with local and even international communities.”

A big task ahead

The new committee has inherited a shelter and clinic without an operations manager or a permanent vet. There is a long waiting list for spey and neuter alone, and confidence in the organisation is at an all time low. The recent volunteer vets from Australia are about to leave and the new committee has been left with no plan in place to replace them and there are limited drugs on the shelves while the shelter is at full capacity.

The Committee has set an immediate action plan

Amanda Millar says: “Our priority right now is bringing vets on board. We are calling on veterinarians to offer their services, both locally and from overseas as the situation is extremely urgent. Apart from working to reduce the stray population through a capture and neutering programme, there is a long outstanding waiting list of 300 responsible owners wishing to spay or neuter their pets. There are several local vets who we are imploring to assist in the evenings or weekends and we are recruiting volunteer and full-time vets from overseas. Our biggest challenge is resources as there is very little money to work with.

“We are extremely grateful to the many vets who have volunteered their time to the SPCA in the past months. Without these volunteers so many more animals would have gone without proper care and left to die painfully on the streets.”

Everyone can help

The Committee intends to rebuild the membership to be more inclusive and engage members in the rejuvenation and progress of the organisation. The state of affairs in the kennels, poor drainage and general disrepair of the buildings are a priority and a working bee will take place on Saturday 4 August from 1 to 5pm for members and volunteers to commence the clean up process and repair and brighten the shelter, surgery and offices.

Members of the public of all ages are invited to contact the SPCA to tour the premises and to meet and learn about its furry residents, or to register interest in the SPCA’s programmes from the working bee on Saturday August 4, to the various forthcoming programmes, including a juniors club to walk and play with dogs, a cat café, food drives at supermarkets, an Amazing Race for corporate teams, Picnic with Pets in the Park, Paddle in Pacific Harbour, a trivia night and so on.

A team of ‘walkers and day care’ providers will also be needed during the working bee to remove some of the animals out of the shelter whilst the much needed clean up takes place.

Donations are always gratefully received and food items, newspapers, pre-loved blankets and towels and cleaning supplies are on the SPCA’s wishlist. All donations of cash and kind will be receipted and acknowledged and are tax deductible.

Source: SPCA

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