Emotional farewell for AWLQ volunteers and staff
IT WAS a tearful farewell for staff and volunteers at the Ipswich pound on Friday.
From now on the centre will be run by the RSPCA and open six days a week, with plans to open every day in the near future.
In the past month 150 animals have been transferred from Ipswich to the Gold Coast, leaving only a pair of small ponies in the yard.
For volunteer Sonja van den Ende, who has been working with AWLQ for more than four years, leaving the centre was like leaving her second home.
She won't be looking to volunteer with the RSPCA deciding instead to stick with the AWLQ, even if that means going back to working in the Op shop.
Looking back, she says her time at the pound and re-homing centre was filled with a combination of hope and heart ache.
As volunteers worked to finish cleaning the centre, AWLQ CEO Denise Bradley held back tears of her own.
It was nine years ago when AWLQ first moved into Ipswich and for the past five years it has been their job to take care of surrendered and abandoned animals.
Before the AWLQ moved to town, Ipswich City Council saved just 20 dogs and four cats over the previous 12 months.
This past financial year 1344 dogs and 1732 cats were rehomed.
"None of this would have been possible without the volunteers," an emotional Denise Bradley said.
"Before we came here the council saw its role as more leaning towards animal management with little focus on welfare.
"That's really turned around with a firm council focus on animal welfare today and I would like to think we had a lot to do with that.
"And we're thankful for that turnaround."
While the move has been disruptive, AWLQ was prepared and has been able to absorb the 150 animals from Ipswich into its Gold Coast centre.
Ms Bradley confirmed the AWLQ has no plans to open a new re-homing centre in Ipswich but will continue with its vet clinic and Op shop as normal.