Gladstone Animal Rescue Group president Judy Whicker and Team RSPCA Gladstone president Nicole Allison.
Gladstone Animal Rescue Group president Judy Whicker and Team RSPCA Gladstone president Nicole Allison. Mark Zita/Paul Braven

'Soul crushing': Council's shock change to animal welfare

GLADSTONE'S RSPCA volunteers are in shock after the announcement of the sudden closure of animal rescue group.

Animal welfare services for the region will now be provided by the Gladstone Animal Rescue Group.

Team RSPCA Gladstone president Nicole Allison said their head office had been in negotiations with Gladstone Regional Council for the past four months.

"The contract was coming up for renewal at this time of the year," Ms Allison said.

"They haven't been able to reach an agreement together."

Ms Allison said the Team RSPCA Gladstone made an application last month for the tender, under the provision it would be run independently.

"We believed Council were in support of us going independently," Ms Allison said.

But Ms Allison said they were unsuccessful.

"We've heard from both our head office and other people in town that (they were not successful)."

Ms Allison said she's heartbroken by how difficult it was for them to get an answer from the council regarding the application.

"We've been here since 2003 - I guess we expected to be treated a little bit differently throughout the process so that's been hugely disappointing," she said.

"Having an established group of 16 years and having that disappear into nothing over a decision from a few people is absolutely soul crushing and a really horrible thing for our community."

The decision has affected 200 volunteers - some who have been part of the group for more than 10 years.

Two part time staff have also been made redundant.

"Everyone's absolutely heartbroken," Ms Allison said.

Gladstone Animal Rescue Group president Judy Whicker, also the former president of the RSPCA Gladstone branch, paid tribute to the group.

"Team RSPCA has done an amazing job all these years," Ms Whicker said.

"We thank them sincerely for saving all the animals around town.

"We have a great working relationship with the RSPCA head office and we are certainly hoping to work with them."

Ms Whicker is looking forward to take on the new responsibility of animal welfare across the Gladstone region.

"We're very excited, we're only a reasonably new group - it'll be a year next week that we started off," she said.

"We are a completely local group - all of our money stays in Gladstone."

She's hoping the community will get behind the group once they take over.

Team RSPCA Gladstone is planning for the transfer of animals and equipment to other RSPCA shelters.

"We wish everyone the best of luck and hope the future of animal rescue isn't affected by this decision," Ms Allison said.

Council has been contacted for comment.