ACT News

RSPCA ACT financial reserves at critical levels

RSPCA ACT's financial reserves are at critical levels amid warnings it cannot make any more cuts without impacting on animals' welfare.

The charity lost more than $550,000 last financial year and chief executive Tammy Ven Dange said the organisation would continue to face financial issues until more revenue could be raised. She has asked the government for more money.

In the red: RSPCA ACT chief executive officer Tammy Ven Dange with Jett the dog.
In the red: RSPCA ACT chief executive officer Tammy Ven Dange with Jett the dog.  Photo: Jeffrey Chan

"We have cut costs as far as we can without significantly reducing the current services we provide or impacting the welfare of the animals in the shelter," Ms Ven Dange said.

Despite the economic woes, the Canberra branch reported an increase in animal lives saved.

There was a record number of kitten adoptions, which were up 11.4 per cent on the previous year. The success meant there was a 25.6 per cent drop in cats killed.

The figures also showed the highest number of adult dog adoptions over the past three years, with a 93 per cent homing and re-homing rate for dogs and puppies.

This achievement meant that 28 fewer dogs and puppies were euthanised compared with last year.

Financial documents published on Monday show RSPCA ACT lost $551,484 with an overall reduction of net assets from $1 million to $401,530 in 2013-14.

Financial losses are not new for the ACT branch, which has recorded deficits over nine of the past 12 years.

The organisation receives 15 per cent of its funding from government, and about 40 per cent of revenue comes from fundraising activities.

"The remaining 45 per cent of revenue comes through commercial activities such as the public vet clinic, cat boarding and retail, which actually jumped [in revenue] at the end," Ms Ven Dange said.

Though the RSPCA ACT is a charity based organisation, it is also legally obliged to provide services to the Canberra region such as investigating cases of alleged cruelty or neglect, operating the animal shelter and caring for wildlife.

Ms Ven Dange said the branch was in discussion with the government over funding.

"We can't just simply drop services because we're legally obliged. It is costing more than what we receive. The 15 per cent revenue is not even enough to cover the legal aspects we need to deliver," Ms Ven Dange said.

RSPCA ACT relies heavily on local community donations and fundraisers and attributes the loss of revenue partly to a down turn in the economy.

"Decreases in fundraising events have been a big factor: such as the Million Paws Walk event, where the registration was below previous years. Direct mail appeals were also lower than expected from previous years - that hurt a bit as well," Ms Ven Dange said

Ms Ven Dange hoped new plans for 2015 would attract greater community support.

"Without saying too much, we will be announcing a new event in February as well as revamping the Millions Paws Walk and the cupcake day needs refreshing," she said.

Ms Ven Dange anticipated new commercial ventures, such as the re-opening of the public vet clinic in February and proposed police animal handling training, would serve as a revenue boost next year.

"Canberra been really good to us but we really need a refresh," Ms Ven Dange said.