A Christmas appeal is hoped to help the Ballarat Animal Shelter support the city's four-legged residents, but also help local volunteer rescue agencies and community groups care for their animals over the festive season.
The shelter cares for more than 2000 animals each year, not just dogs and cats, but also guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens and even goats.
Animal services coordinator Clare Douglas-Haynes said the shelters two appeals each year, at Christmas and Easter, went a long way to support the shelter and other community groups.
"It started off just as us trying to get some treats in, maybe some nice food for Christmas Day for our animals and we got such a great response. We get things like peanut butter, sardines, tuna, stuff that we don't get for the animals, treats, toys, we ended up getting so much stuff that we're able to share it with some of our local community organisations," she said.
"We support organisations like the Soup Bus, we support organisations like Uniting, lots of other ones that come across and ask if we can help them out, some in-home care so if people are struggling, we're able to support them as well. The appeal has actually been really great and just gets bigger and bigger each year."
Ms Douglas-Haynes said the shelter was a lot more than just an animal pound.
"We work really closely with the schools, we do a lot of training education and all of that as well, we have work experience students all the time as well as volunteer programs," she said.
"We do a lot of emergency boarding as well, so it's nice that the community can bring their animals here if they need to. And coming into fire season, we've always got to be there because we know a lot of people won't leave their homes if they can't bring their animals, so we try and organise that and there's just no way the council could just fund all this without the donations."
Deputy mayor Amy Johnson said the appeal would also help families with animals that struggled during the pandemic.
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"It's not just for us and also that it's for families that are struggling. During COVID, a lot of people were saying 'not only are we doing it tough, we don't have enough food for our animals as well', so it's going out to the community as well," she said.
Cr Johnson said in the lead-up to next year's state and federal elections, council would be lobbying for funding for a purpose-built animal shelter and replace the currently outdated shelter which is based out of a former abattoir.
"A lot of the animals can be quite stressed in this environment because it's not an ideal environment for them to be in, so we'll be lobbying the state and federal government really strongly to build a regional facility that will service not only the Ballarat community, but the surrounding areas as well," she said.
"We have a really high rate of pet ownership in Ballarat. We've got 14,000 registered dogs, 8000 registered cats and, in addition to that, there'd be many unregistered animals as well, and the animal shelter not only deals with dogs and cats, there's a whole range of other animals that are cared for here in addition to that.
"We have incredible staff at the animal shelter working under quite tough conditions and thank them for all the wonderful work they do."
...what we could do with a new facility is huge.Animal services coordinator Clare Douglas-Haynes
Ms Douglas-Haynes said the shelter was leading the state in animal care, despite being in an outdated facility.
"We recently just won the most outstanding council shelter in Australia, which is fantastic, and that's based on all the initiatives that we do. I don't think they have even seen the facility and I think they would be more impressed by the fact that we're running it out of such an old facility too," she said.
"The staff here put in 110 per cent all the time. These are less than ideal working conditions. It's okay now but in winter, this place is freezing and in summer, it is way too hot. We don't have any normal sunlight in most of the areas, but what we do here as part of the community and what we could do with a new facility is huge.
"We've set a lot of standards for a lot of local governments within Victoria and we want to do more in this space."
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