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New shelter marks ‘pet project’ milestone


New shelter marks ‘pet project’ milestone

The generosity of the Sunshine Coast community now allows refuge service to house hundreds of extra dogs a year. WORDS: Caitlin Zerafa.

The region’s longest-running animal shelter will have the capacity to rescue more dogs, thanks to the generosity of the Sunshine Coast community.

Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge Society (SCARS) began dreaming about a “new digs for its dogs” in 2017 and after the shelter’s 40th anniversary in 2019 put the wheels in motion.

On February 12, the day of its 45th anniversary, SCARS officially opened what it calls The Shelter the Sunny Coast Built.

SCARS patron Penny Brischke says the entire refuge is overwhelmed at the result, which will allow the shelter to temporarily house an extra 200 dogs every year.

“It blows my mind,” she says.

“We’ve waited five years to get this off the ground and to be able to open it is just overwhelming for all of us.

“We’re so grateful to the whole Sunshine Coast community and the business community who supported us to make this a reality.

“To have ended up with those business contributing nearly $150,000 in savings in the construction period is amazing.

“They are the heroes of this project.”

Ms Brischke says that when the Tanawha-based refuge began fundraising in 2019, 17 local businesses and individuals sponsored a pen. with many others donating money, time, supplies and labour to the project.

She says after delays due to supplies and weather, having the opening coincide with the 45-year anniversary was extra special.

“That makes us the longest-running animal rescue on the Sunshine Coast,” she says. “We’re very proud of that.

“In those 45 years, we’ve save 20,000 dogs and already this year, in the first four weeks of the year, brought in 130 dogs and dogs.

“We’ve worked out that the average stay for our dogs is six weeks … this is creating a capacity for us to rescue about 200 dogs a year on top of our older pens that are out the back.”

The new shelter, which was a renovation on the original building, has 19 purpose-built pens to home rescue dogs waiting to be adopted.

“It will make the dogs we are looking after much more comfortable,” Ms Brischke says.

“There will be much less noise and much less stimulation.

“Our old pens, being 45 years old, were quite decrepit and no longer suitable or safe to hold dogs in.

“This upgrade was necessary for us and wouldn’t be possible without those who helped.”

Ms Brischke says that while the new shelter is exciting, 2024 is shaping up to be the busiest year for SCARS as the cost of living and housing crisis continue to see animals surrendered.

She is calling on anyone looking to bring an animal home to consider a rescue dog.

For more information on how to adopt the animals, visit

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