The RSPCA will permanently remain at its Weston headquarters, three years after the ACT government announced land and millions of dollars for a new facility at Symonston.
The charity's ACT chief executive Tammy Ven Dange, who took over in early 2014, said she still could not understand how it had intended to fund the proposed move to a co-located site with the government's Domestic Animal Services.
"I don't know how as an organisation that probably had just over $1 million in reserves, we could say yes to something [costing us] around $10m-$15m," she said.
"There's still a gap in information I can't find."
Ms Ven Dange said she asked "everyone" to put a hold on the plans when she was appointed, and, on directions from her board, then went to the Land Development Agency last November to ask whether they could stay until at least the end of their lease in 2046.
The cheapest cost estimates for the Symonston build were $26 million, she said. Economic Development Minister Andrew Barr announced the setting aside of the land at Narrabundah Lane, south of Red Hill, in August 2013, together with a government commitment of "north of $10 million".
LDA chief executive David Dawes recently said the government had no intention to force a move, and the RSPCA was entitled to stay put until 2046.
"While the government has no short-term plans to develop the RSPCA site, the north Weston site is zoned for future residential development and is a key development area for the ACT," he said.
"Due to a change in management at the RSPCA and a subsequent change in its immediate priorities, this option has not been progressed."
Transport and City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris confirmed there was no government intention to force an RSPCA move, despite widespread acknowledgment the current facility needed an upgrade, but said if the charity's position changed the government would "continue to work with them on an alternative [site]".
The RSPCA ACT president at the time of the 2013 announcement, Sue Gage - now retired - said she always felt it was better for the animal welfare body to remain at Weston, but the government had removed that choice.
"Financially we were never going to be able to do it properly, but at that point we were told by the ACT government we had no choice, we had to move, because they wanted our land for redevelopment," she said.
Mr Dawes disputed Ms Gage's statement, saying discussions with the body on a potential relocation had been ongoing since 2007, "but any decision to move from its Weston site has always been a matter for the RSPCA".
Ms Gage said "more realistic negotiations" with the government for extra funds would have had to occur to allow the RSPCA to move and continue its services.
Ms Ven Dange said retaining the well-known, accessible location was critical to the charity's finances, with about 40 per cent of its income coming from commercial services including the vet clinic, boarding facility and dog training.
"So if we move to a place where there's no people, and it's hard to get to, how are we going to keep that commercial revenue coming through the door?"
Ms Fitzharris said it was her intention to settle a longer-term recurrent funding agreement with the RSPCA next year, after Ms Ven Dange criticised the length of the 12-month deals given by TAMS for each of the past three years.
Ms Ven Dange said the RSPCA would deliver an above-budget surplus for 2015-16, after a net surplus of nearly $290,000 the year before. Net assets were $682,865 as of June 2015.