By Kim Parnell
For the past two years, Kelly Richards has volunteered at the Hervey Bay Animal Refuge in office administration and is also the Treasurer. The refuge has been open since 1977 and takes surrendered or unwanted animals and finds them new homes.
Kelly says. “Contrary to the assumption that all pets at the refuge are unwanted, many find themselves here due to unfortunate circumstances that prevent their owners from continuing to care for them. Despite the heart-wrenching situations they encounter, the volunteers at the refuge always strive towards a positive outcome.”
About fifteen volunteers help with the day-to-day running of the refuge and at the time of writing this article, the refuge had seven dogs and nine cats up for adoption.
The Nikenbah Markets serve as the primary fundraiser, with all proceeds going to the refuge.
The Hervey Bay Animal Refuge is entirely independent and is not affiliated with the local council. It operates as a non-profit organisation, with all animals housed on-site and a live-in caretaker ensuring their well-being. However, maintaining a refuge for animals involves substantial costs, and the refuge is continually grateful for any donations that come their way.
In her role as Treasurer, Kelly Richards emphasizes the financial challenges the refuge faces. Rising living costs have resulted in fewer donations. Donation bins at Eli Waters Woolworths and Coles Pialba, along with donation tins scattered across the region, offer opportunities for the community to contribute. So, next time you go shopping consider buying a few extra tins or packets of wet or dry food and dropping them in the bins.
The animals at the Hervey Bay Animal Refuge have ample space to roam and socialise once the gates are closed at the end of the day. The emphasis on both emotional and physical well-being is evident in the daily cleaning routines, twice-daily walks for dogs, and opportunities for cats to roam freely in a homely cattery.
A great success story highlights the emotional and psychological struggles many animals endure. Kelly explains that upon arrival, Rocco, a timid dog, resisted efforts to socialise and adapt to the refuge environment. He just didn’t come out of his shell and stayed in the corner shaking. One day a lady walked in and knew that Rocco was the dog for her, adopted him, picked him up, and carried him out to the car. She sent us an update a few weeks later and he was running and jumping in a dam on a farm and looked so happy. It gave me goosebumps.
Kelly and the team get some great feedback and updates on the progress of the dogs and cats when they settle into their new homes which makes it all worthwhile and reminds them why they do what they do.
Collaboration with an Eli Waters vet ensures that all surrendered animals are vet-checked by the owner first before the animal is accepted into the refuge. They also receive their vaccinations, microchipping, and desexing before adoption.
Kelly advises us that buying a pet for someone else as a Christmas present is never a good idea. She urges you to do your research first and remember that the cute little puppy, depending on breed, could grow into a big dog. Also, let the person you are buying for come with you as quite often the dog is the one that does the choosing. Owning a pet is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.
To find out more about The Hervey Bay Animal Refuge, including opening hours, head to Facebook at www.facebook.com/HBAnimalRefuge.
Their Facebook page is regularly updated with the beautiful faces of the cats and dogs who are waiting for their forever home.