By Marcus Uhe
The RSPCA are assuring owners of cemetery plots at their Peninsula Animal Care Centre that no changes will take place to the pet cemetery until a more detailed update on the process and timeframes is provided to those affected by the upcoming extension.
Chief Executive of RSPCA Victoria Dr Liz Walker said the organisation plans to remove the cemetery and re-purpose the land where it current lies, in order to extend their facilities and services for animals at their Peninsula site, on the back of growing animal welfare needs.
“We plan to create a new memorial site at RSPCA Peninsula that will commemorate the lives of the pets buried there that we hope will be a place of solace and reflection,” Dr Walker said.
“While it is difficult, this decision has been made so that we can service the community with animal care and protection well into the future.
“While we don’t have a design for the new memorial yet, we want it to be a physical place of reflection on site at RSPCA Peninsula.”
Dr Walker said the condition of the current 20-year-old cemetery has “deteriorated greatly” and many of the current leases on the plots have expired.
However those with pets buried in the cemetery are “more than welcome” to visit the site and collect their pet’s plaque or special items on their grave, or organise to have them sent to their home.
Plot owners were contacted by multiple methods as part of a three-month consultation process in 2021, with “very little negative feedback” on the plan from affected owners received, according to Dr Walker.
“RSPCA Victoria made the decision to move forward with the plan and communicated this with plot owners,” Dr Walker said.
“However, as many of these plots were laid over 20 years ago, it is likely some of the impacted individuals have moved addresses and may not be aware of the changes.
“Our plan is to engage experts to guide us on the process of carefully and respectfully relocating pets to the new memorial site.
“We recently invested in the services of a company that used a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to provide us the information that we need to move forward.”
Timing of the works has not been determined but Dr Walker said it was unlikely they would commence until the midway point or end of 2023 at the earliest.
Those who believe they have been affected and have not heard from the RSPCA are encouraged to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 03 9224 2222.