RSPCA Leeds, Wakefield and District branch’s new £1.5 million animal centre in East Ardsley opens to the public next week, after over 10 years in the planning.
The centre will care for and rehabilitate animals rescued from cruelty and neglect by RSPCA officers in West Yorkshire. The branch aims to find permanent, loving home for these animals in their local area.
Branch manager Caroline Lewis-Jones said: “The number of people convicted of animal cruelty after RSPCA prosecutions was the highest in the country here again last year (93), and the number of complaints investigated by RSPCA officers in West Yorkshire (8,440) was second only to Greater London (12,202).
“We hope our new animal centre will be a symbol of the community’s commitment to combat animal cruelty and be a safe haven for local animals in need.”
The grand opening of the centre, on Moor Knoll Lane, will take place on Saturday 27 June.
It’s over 10 years since the branch’s old centre on Cavendish Street, off Kirkstall Road, closed in 2004.
The old site was around 40 years old and needed upgrading to comply with licensing regulations, and when student flats were given the go-ahead to be built next door it meant dogs could no longer be housed there, so the branch decided to sell to the council.
“Although the branch’s welfare work very much continued out of MyPetStop in Tingley, it was as though we disappeared from the public’s view,” said Caroline.
“Finding the right location was really difficult, and there have been lots and lots of ups and downs along the way, which is why it’s taken so long. It has been worth it though. The new state of the art centre doesn’t leave people in any doubt where they are when they visit and we could not be more excited to start getting animal-lovers through the doors.”
The new centre has the capacity to house 15 dogs, 30 cats and, when completed, up to 12 small furries like rabbits and guinea pigs. There are isolation facilities, a vet suite, an indoor dog arena for training and play and outside exercise areas, a shop and visitor centre.
The first animals have been in the centre for about six weeks, including Angel (pictured above in one of the outdoor exercise areas), and potential new owners are being invited to visit animals at the centre by appointment. From 27 June, the doors will be open between 10-4 every day except Wednesdays, when viewings are between 11-3.
Caroline said: “Leeds boxer Josh ‘The Warrior’ Warrington, whose family adopted a St Bernard dog called Dexter from us last year, is doing us the honour of cutting the ribbon at midday, for which we’re very grateful, and we’ve invited the people who have helped us get to this point to say thank you, then from 1pm we would like to welcome the public to come along and celebrate with us too.”