It has been one month since Tamworth’s animal rescue centre, Paws for Life, formerly Heaven Can Wait Animal Shelter, opened its doors and it is already proving its worth.
“In the first few weeks we rehomed 12 dogs in that time, so that is amazing,” said Gina Vereker, Director of Liveable Communities, Tamworth Regional Council.
“Considering it hasn’t been open full-time, it has been really successful, and the community comments are all very positive and people are saying its great to see it open again.”
Tamworth Regional Council says it had no choice but to take over this vital service in 2022.
“Back in September, Kate who ran the facility amazingly, decided to take a break,” said Gina.
“Heaven Can Wait was our only local rescue for dogs, as we still have a couple that deal with cats, but nothing for dogs.”
“We do send some dogs across the state to other rescue places, but majority of our dogs went to Heaven Can Wait and without them we have no option, so we didn’t have the choice, we needed to take it over and do it ourselves, otherwise what would happen to all of those dogs that were adoptable?”
“The number of unwanted or abandoned pets is growing and people are asking ‘what are we doing about it’; that falls on Council,” said Gina.
“In terms of responsible pet ownership, which is a huge issue we are dealing with, no animal will be adopted from Tamworth unless they are desexed.”
With the cost of living on the rise, more often than we would like the family pet can be the casualty, and its facilities like Paws for Life that provide a second chance.
“People can’t afford their pets,” said Gina.
“That is very difficult for those who have to surrender their pet and it makes us all the more enthusiastic and committed to rehoming that pet.”
So where did Paws for Life come from?
“The name was voted on by the Tamworth community, we went out with three names and overwhelming everyone chose Paws for Life,” said Gina.
“We are running it as an animal rescue and boarding, as it previously was.”
The shelter went through eight months of renovations getting up to code, creating larger dog kennels and a new site office, putting safety of staff, the public and animals at the forefront of all decisions.
Since the soft opening in June the shelter has been operating with reduced hours and by appointment only, however, as of August the facility will be staffed full-time, operating every day except Sunday.
What’s the difference: Pound or Paws for Life?
Tamworth Regional Council have made it very clear the Tamworth Regional Companion Animal Centre, formerly Tamworth Regional Council Pound, is its own public service to Paws for Life.
“We have set this centre up as a not-for-profit and kept it completely separate from the pound,” said Gina.
All adoptions will come through Paws for Life, and you can adopt via phone, email or by making an appointment.
However, if you are in a position you need to surrender your pet, Paws for Life will not accept your pet, these need to be surrendered at the Tamworth Regional Companion Animal Centre.
“The animal will do their stint in the pound first to make sure they are healthy, vaccinated, desexed and have suitable behaviour to be rehomed,” said Gina.
“By the time they get over to Paws for Life we know that they don’t have any illness, health problems of the dreaded Parvo.”
“Paws for Life is a totally clean site, so when someone adopts their dog, they can be assured they have a healthy dog.”
Not Just Adoption, have you thought of Volunteering?
Volunteers have always been a backbone to running an animal shelter and Paws for Life is no different, welcoming volunteers to help give these pets a second chance.
“We have had about 50 volunteer application to start with, and we are slowly making our way through them.”
“We have been working through induction with them for Work Health and Safety and then they do a stint out at the pound so we can see how they go with dealing with animals.”
“We have about 20 people who have completed their inductions and we will start rolling them out to the shelter.”
“The volunteers are certainly going to help us manage all of the animals coming through.”
If you are interested in volunteering, please speak with Paws for Life.
More plans on the way
And Paws for Life isn’t done yet, there are bigger plan that go beyond just adoption, but further community services.
“Later in the year when it is fully up and running, we want to host community days with some microchipping, or reduce priced microchipping and vaccinations,” said Gina.
Long-term there are plans to introduce fostering opportunities for the public and their animals.
“Where we can’t rehome a dog straight away, whether there are people out there who don’t want to own a pet permanently but might be willing to foster, that could be a great opportunity to watch out for.”
Top image: Gina Vereker, Director of Liveable Communities, Tamworth Regional Council, with Clyde, at Paws for Life.
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