The completion this spring of SPCA Dunedin’s new $1.7 million centre will bring a grin bigger than a Cheshire cat’s to the face of staff and volunteers who have tolerated a dilapdated facility for years.
SPCA Dunedin centre manager Sophie McSkimming, who is also its Otago-Southland area manager, says the need for a purpose-built facility was desperate.
Every year around 2000 animals are lovingly cared for at the centre on it’s 11-hectare site at Opoho, northeast Dunedin. It’s buildings had been patched up for years to the point that some were in a dilapidated state and parts were unsafe and condemned.
“The centre was becoming derelict, “ Sophie says. “Parts were closed off due to health and safety and we were struggling to control disease,” she says.
The terrible state of the buildings also meant rodent control was problematic, especially as there are large amounts of animal food stored on site.
In addition to large numbers of cats and dogs, the centre’s staff care for many types of animals including anything from birds and hedgehogs to horses and pigs.
“It put a lot of pressure on us when we had a facility that was sub-standard because we were really struggling to look after all those animals and to keep them warm.”
“We deal with the injured souls of the animal society. Animals that are unwanted, neglected or abandoned.
“We give them a new start and find them permanent new homes and we are so thankful to all our amazing volunteers and supporters that make our job achievable.”
The two-level, 222 square metre centre was
designed by John McKenzie Architecture and is being built by Stevenson and Williams, both Dunedin firms.
Stevenson and Williams have completed many high profile projects in and around Dunedin, including Momona Airport’s new international terminal and AgResearch’s campus buildings at Invermay.
Construction was undertaken in two stages: The first and most urgent stage was an arrivals area, where animals are triaged before they progress through the animal care centre.
This building will also house a first-floor education room, where the SPCA will develop its work with children, at-risk youth and other community groups.
“This space will be very important to us; it is here we will proactively strive to achieve our fundamental goals, through the prevention of abuse and the development of positive community values,” sasy Sophie.
Stage two will upgrade the existing cat and dog isolation areas which will enable containment and treatment of disease effectively, saving maximum possible lives. The dog isolation area will have a heated floor.
Sophie says that the Otago community has donated extremely generously to the project with major funding coming from Otago Community Trust, The Lion Foundation, Ray Atkinson and the Marjory Barclay trust.
The community’s support and passion for the project, along with media publicity resulted in the full amount being raised in just eight months.
Although John Mackenzie was engaged professionally for the centre’s design, he has also been an avid supporter and has project-managed construction free of charge.
“The goal was to increase the efficiency and reduce all of the issues they had caused by failing old buildings,” John says.
The centre’s three main areas had different requirements, but all needed to be light, bright, clean and warm, he says.
With their experience and knowledge of what was needed, staff provided valuable input into the design, always with the animals’ needs first in mind. “It is quite a tight site so we needed to utilise it as well as possible.”
The design and construction of the centre was a wonderful project to be involved in and the absolute dedication of the SPCA’s staff and volunteers is incredible, he says.
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