Retired Judge Bids Farewell to Lonsdale Shelter He Founded

RSPCA SA's Lonsdale shelter closes TODAY - final adoptions discounted

RSPCA SA's Lonsdale shelter will close to the public for the last time today, and CEO Marcus Gehrig will be there to welcome a retired district court judge who was instrumental in building the facility more than 40 years ago.

Kingsley Newman, who celebrated his 88th birthday this month, was the organisation's chairman for six years, from 1982 to 1988. By the time Mr Newman took on the role, the Lonsdale land had been bought, kennels had been built and the facility was being used to accommodate and rehome stray and unwanted dogs, following the closure of the Lost Dogs Home on Belair Rd at Torrens Park.

By 1984 the shelter needed upgrading and expansion to accommodate other species, so Mr Newman successfully applied to the federal government for a Commonwealth Employment Project grant.

"Prime Minister Bob Hawke was giving a lot of money away under the scheme to create jobs, and we got a terrific builder who had sadly gone bankrupt due to the tough economic times," Mr Newman recalled.

"The first building we got on the site was an old transportable someone gave us - I had volunteers helping to take off the roof so it could go under powerlines while in transit, and they helped paint it too."

Asked how he felt, now that the Lonsdale shelter he helped to build was closing, Mr Newman was full of enthusiasm for the move.

"I'm proud of what we built back then, and it's served animals and the South Australian community well, but animal welfare has come a long way in the decades since it opened and it's definitely time RSPCA moved to a better and more prominent home."

Mr Gehrig said he was delighted that Mr Newman - who was there when the facility first opened - could be there again for this historic day.

"We're closing a huge chapter in RSPCA's 149-year history in South Australia, and Kingsley Newman was a key figure in this organisation's development through those first years at Lonsdale," Mr Gehrig said.

"Having him here today is an absolute joy."

To celebrate the Lonsdale shelter's last day and to help as many animals as possible find homes ahead of next week's relocation, all adoption fees will be halved today. The shelter will open at 10am and close to the public for the last time at 4pm. The new animal care campus, located on the north-west corner of South and Majors Roads at O'Halloran Hill, will open to the public at 10am on Monday 6 May.

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