Tough reality behind SAFE Broome no barking matter

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A SAFE Broome puppy.
Camera IconA SAFE Broome puppy. Credit: Abby Murray Photography

Broome’s only animal welfare group, which saves an average of three dogs and cats from being put down each day, is still yet to receive one cent in funding.

Five volunteers are running the Broome branch of Saving Animals From Euthanasia, a not-for-profit organisation rescuing impounded dogs and fostering them back to health until permanent homes are found.

In the past eight weeks, a total of 70 impounded dogs and 66 cats were saved by SAFE, in a town the organisation believes is plagued with animal neglect and mistreatment. The group scrapes by on donations and money from fundraising events and is held together by helpers who find time between day jobs and families.

With no RSPCA representation in WA north of Geraldton, all funds are put towards vet bills and flight costs to transport pets to Perth when necessary.

SAFE Broome branch co-ordinator Suzie Pilling said it was becoming unviable to run the organisation. “We need a premises to work from — we cannot recruit and build the team we need to run this organisation without a base,” she said. “We also need funding for at least one full-time and one part-time paid member.

“If you include all our organisational volunteers in Broome and our foster carers currently looking after animals, it will add up to 665 hours per week — the work of 16 full-time people.

“We currently receive no funding from State or local government, yet we have saved 136 animals in just two months.”

Ms Pilling said SAFE was in the process of formally asking the Shire of Broome for help, but was not optimistic, as the group had struggled to obtain as much as a free tip pass to clear out a storage shed temporarily used for operations. Shire chief executive Sam Mastrolembo said workers had invited SAFE to submit a formal funding application, but it was yet to be received.

“Animal welfare is in the first instance a matter for the RSPCA — Shire rangers do assist the RSPCA in performing investigations on their behalf upon request,” he said. “Additionally, the Shire does offer a sterilisation subsidy of 50 per cent to concession card holders.”

Mr Mastrolembo said the Shire provided funding to community and not-for-profit organisations through the Community Annual Matched Sponsorship round, which was due to open this week.

After requesting three tip passes on December 10, SAFE were allocated them last Thursday, on the same day the Shire responded to queries from the Broome Advertiser.

RSPCA WA chairwoman Lynne Bradshaw said last September the organisation shared the same concerns about animal welfare in the north as SAFE, but could not address them because of a lack of resources. A RSPCA spokesperson last week said the stance had since not changed.

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