This was taken from Independent Federal Candidate Mark Aldridge's site 17th March 2013
When Moorook started it was originally with the support of the local council to overcome issues with the dumping of unwanted dogs and varied reports of the illegal shooting of stray animals by the council’s dog catchers.
The council all those years ago approved the Shelter for a maximum of 27 or 37 animals dependent on who I have spoken to at the council “Loxton/Waikerie” From then on the Shelter was run and financed by Lola, and from the beginning not only was Lola doing a huge service to needy animals, but also to the local community and the local councils themselves, who regularly dropped of animals for her to care for.
Up until only a few months ago, the District council continued to drop of strayed and dumped animals, although I had to remind them with receipted proof, because the mayor and the CEO appear to have forgotten this fact. A receipt from the council has clearly recorded drop off’s to Lola on a regular basis of up to 12 dogs at any one time.
At this stage we must note that expecting a single person to carry on such works without financial support from the council, is part and parcel of the very issue at hand.
On or about January 2013 it appears the councils position had changed and declaring several complaints were received from nameless residents, whatever be the case, the council now indeed supported an investigation by the RSPCA.
The day chosen for the first visit was not so ideal as Lola had been away the day before, which of course resulted in more mess than any another day of the week. In this case one must remember 2 issues, the first being that it should only be about the condition and treatment of the animals, and being a native sanctuary owner, mess outside the area of the enclosures always comes second to the needs of the animals themselves.
The next visit was scheduled for Wednesday the 13th, so I asked that the date be changed to the 14th so I could get back from Canberra where I was exposing a major issue with out electoral system.
Up until this first visit, the RSPCA were regularly invited to attend, and had never had issue with either the treatment or the enclosures of the animals.
On the day of the first Council assisted RSPCA visits, it appears they not only outnumbered Lola they exerted undue pressure to take at least some animals, as if such actions were compulsory, 8 animals 7 dogs and one kitten were taken in the most based on age and past injuries, 4 dogs were ordered to be taken for Vet inspection, of which all 4 passed with flying colours.
Three of the seized animals were put down, based on old age and not health concerns, ie; eyesight, ages and other general issues relating to dogs of their age group. The kitten had only arrived the day before sick and was in quarantine, a standard procedure The other animals are reported as being under vet care, yet no problems have been reported.
I will request their official return over this weekend. It appears in this case a happy animal, which is only suffering age related issues does not meet RSPCA requirements, so let’s keep the RSPCA out of our retirement villages.
Today Thursday the 14 March, I returned from Canberra to support and ensure the RSPCA and Council were more respectful of both Lola’s rights and the future of the animals.
I had to remind them immediately of the land owners rights, and asked a few questions of them as to ascertain their understanding of Lolas and the animals actual natural rights. It appears this resulted in them refusing to answer my questions lol.
I accompanied them on their examination of the animals, and all passed with flying colours, the only one they questioned was a dog who had come in with skin issues, it had already passed vet checks and the week earlier the RSPCA ordered another vet check, with the same results, in fact the vets had no Idea why Lola had taken it to them, so they appears to lack understanding of how a shelter works, and in fact the treating of medical issues, a very serious concern for those enduring RSPCA visits.
After negotiations with the RSPCA the orders on Moorook are such;
1. All animals must be allowed 30 minutes exercise which can simply mean access to the exercise yards.....done, and they always have had.
2. We must tidy up some enclosures for loose wire and the like, this is simple and only applies to a minority of enclosures
3. All Kennels/pens must have concrete bases to allow for easy cleaning. So not a lot of work it would seem
no more animals can or will be taken, the result of having a little knowledge on side ;)
A working bee will be required to address these immediate issues and a general clean up of the surrounding areas would be my suggestion and has been adopted and being sorted as we speak.
A few tonnes of rubble and a few man hours will see us near up to scratch.
The big issue is the Local council corporation. They are making me work hard on amicable endeavours to move forward, so let me explain, in the past few years councils appear to think they are a form of government, and this is not the case. They write bi-laws and development plans without necessarily having the experience to do so, so the last issue we face is addressing the increase of animals allowed to remain on the property.
I am working with the CEO on this issue, and will play hard ball if required including legal actions if the need arises. Although I am preferring to opt for a better working relationship. We need approval of council, approval of a development application and also with that a heap of red tape relating to any upgrades, but leave that to me. I will work my way around that.
Until then we can clean up, raise money, get ready for concrete work and drainage, and locating loving homes for the Shelters stunning animals (nearly snatched a couple myself)
I have already put a submission to council, which will be addressed tomorrow morning, 15/3/13 and I will get a report in the arvo, then by Monday I should have an ideal of how easy or timely this issue will entail.
I will write to the RSPCA for return of the animals they have in their care, and report back to you all when I have a solid answer.
Leave the politics and media to me, and you guys get back to worrying about Lola and the Animals, I will continue to work with the media and look forward to sorting all this out as quickly as possible, in the mean time, let’s hope every decision is in the best interests and the welfare of the animals.
You can help, phone the council (08 85848000)and let them know you support Moorook, phone radio talk back and ensure this info is in the public arena, and email or call the RSPCA and ask when the remaining animals will be returned.
I assume the Today Tonight expose will be put to air this coming Monday, again I will advise one and all of the exact date it will go to air, and I am using that date as a dead line to try and promote a unified way forward between all parties involved.
Mark Aldridge Independent for Wakefield, and owner of Willow Wood Sanctuary