Eganstown volunteer helps save Castlemaine animal shelter

An Eganstown volunteer is one of a group of animal lovers who have committed to taking over operation of the former RSPCA animal shelter in Castlemaine. 

Bev Hardenberg said she was excited to help keep the shelter running after the RSPCA announced in June it would close the current shelter and relocate all animals to Bendigo. 

Ms Hardenberg is a committee member of Mt Alexander Animal Welfare (MAAW), a volunteer group who signed a three-year contract with the RSPCA to lease the shelter, with the option to purchase the site from the RSPCA in 2020. 

She said she was upset when she heard of the RSPCA’s plans to close the animal shelter. 

“I have had a very long connection with the RSPCA over 11 years working for them and then about 10 years of doing voluntary work up here for them,” Ms Hardenberg said. 

“I must admit I couldn’t believe it when I heard they were going to walk away from the shelter. It is a lovely shelter and a very caring shelter.” 

MAAW anticipate continuing all existing services at the shelter from December. 

“It means an enormous lot to me to know that there is a shelter,” Ms Hardenberg said.

“I am now talking about for the community over there plus the people here that I know have very strong feelings for the shelter. I think it is just so important.

“The thing that worried us greatly was with the RSCPA deciding to leave Castlemaine it would mean that animals from the Castlemaine area would all go to the shelter at Bendigo. We were very concerned that there would be a lot of people who either didn’t have the means to take an animal over to Bendigo or even go and see if their own lost animal was at Bendigo.

“And I have had lots of friends (from Hepburn) who won’t go into Ballarat but they do go to Castlemaine and they have bought animals there and have found it a wonderful place to go to.”

The group’s new opportunity shop opened in Castlemaine on Saturday.

MAAW plans to run the shelter from December 2. The group has 161 paid members.