By Kendrea Rhodes
For the past 27 years, unwanted, strayed and neglected dogs and cats have been cared for at the Hahndorf Interim Animal Shelter. And during this time, over 4200 animals have found new homes! Many features set this place apart, but the one that tugs at the heart strings is its ‘no kill’ policy. Re-homing is their goal. As the name suggests this is an interim shelter — a place where animals can be watered, fed, enjoy company, have medical treatment, vaccinations and a roof over their heads.
The cat section at the Shelter looks like a decked-out playroom with an eclectic collection of couches, comfy chairs, blankets, colourful cushions, climbing paraphernalia and toys. It looks like what could be called ‘cat heaven’ as kittens curl up together in book shelves, cats climb scratching towers and all of them enjoy regular feeding while waiting patiently for their new owners to walk through the door.
A closed off section houses the infamous Rock Cats from West Beach. These cats are not suitable for rehoming and will live out the rest of their days at the Shelter. They have been treated like all other cats at the Shelter: desexed, wormed, vaccinated, regular meals and company. As humans were the ones to abandon them at West Beach, it just seems right that humans save them too.
The dog section is a hexagon of fenced off kennels with a large, grassy play area in the centre. The dogs are out socializing as much as possible, creating a cacophony of playful dog-talk that filters through the complex. Each kennel also has a private play area. The Shelter is known for it’s rehoming policy, as far away as Cowra and Lithgow in NSW. Recently a trailer containing 17 dogs arrived from NSW: eight of them ‘death-row’ dogs, and nine puppies (from the same litter). Most of these new arrivals have already been rehomed.
The Shelter also acts as the ‘pound’ for the Mount Barker Council for stray and un-microchipped animals. If the animals remain unclaimed for a period, the Shelter takes them to the Balhannah Small Animal Vet Clinic for a checkup, desexing, worming, vaccinations and microchipping.
Sometimes you’re not able to adopt an animal, but there are so many other things you can do to help the Shelter, who rely solely on volunteers and donations from the general public. Volunteers perform crucial duties of cleaning, feeding and dog walking, maintenance and training, while donations go towards bills such as veterinary, utilities and general upkeep. Donations to assist with vet costs can made by calling the Balhannah Small Animal Vet Clinic on 8388 4686.
The manager, Robyn Page, has been a volunteer at the shelter for 18 years and is a dedicated animal lover with a noticeable affinity with all the animals, even the Rock Cats. Robyn helped founders, Sue Whelan and Dorothy Caddle, develop a service that ran for many years called PATSHELP (say ‘pats help’), where friendly cats and dogs would visit local nursing homes and hostels. Due to the high demand and responsibility placed on volunteers and animals, the program was adapted. PATSHELP now operates in reverse by accepting animals from owners who might be moving into a nursing home, retirement village, going to hospital or who have passed away.
Some of the animals available for adoption can be viewed on the Shelter’s website, www.hahndorfshelter.com.au. Visiting hours to meet dogs for possible adoption are from Thursday to Saturday, 12:30 to 2:30pm. Visiting hours to meet cats for possible adoption are on Fridays and Saturdays, 12:30 to 2:30pm. The Shelter is located at 60 Martin Road, Hahndorf and can be contacted every day after 10:30am on 8388 7514. The Shelter also offers kenneling services if you need somewhere for your pet to stay while you are away.