Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Shirley Brine

September 09, 2021

Every so often an individual comes along whose driving passion is to use whatever resources they have to improve the lives of animals.

Shirley Brine was one such person. The financial support this quiet achiever provided to RSPCA South Australia over more than a decade continues to benefit the 8000-plus animals that come into our care each year.

Shirley, who sadly passed away in July 2020 at the age of 86, was a very private person, not one for drawing attention to her philanthropic activities. But what guided those activities is what guides most people when they are deciding on causes to support – tangible evidence that the charity receiving the financial gift will use it to bring about the positive changes they want.

When we needed help Shirley was always there

When Shirley heard, back in 2012, that we had plans to convert the manager’s house at our Lonsdale shelter into a clinic that could accommodate the rising demand for veterinary services, she put up the funding to do it.

Likewise, when Shirley learnt that our inspectors (who spend much of their time on the road) were driving vehicles without efficient air-conditioning during SA’s scorching summer months, Shirley stepped up with the funds to fix the inspectorate’s fleet.

Our Safe Kennels program, providing emergency boarding to animals when their owners are in crisis situations, won Shirley’s approval and financial support, as did two trips by RSPCA vet teams to remote Aboriginal communities in northern SA to address animal welfare concerns.

Cats held a special place in Shirley’s heart

Shirley loved all animals, but cats held a special place in her heart. When our cat accommodation facilities desperately needed upgrading, Shirley donated funds for the construction of state-of-the-art cat condos at our Lonsdale shelter.

Named in her honour, these condos provide comfortable, enriched, climate-controlled spaces for cats while they undergo veterinary treatment or are quarantined while recovering from infectious diseases.

Our State’s cat overpopulation crisis deeply concerned Shirley. She recognised the urgent need to increase desexing rates for all cats, whether owned or strays.

With Shirley’s backing, we were able to launch a major initiative with Onkaparinga council to desex 2000 cats over two years – the largest desexing program of its kind in Australia. Our vet team is well on its way to achieving this program’s goal, with nearly 700 cats desexed and microchipped so far.

The program has been so successful that it is now being considered by other local councils as a way to address cat overpopulation in their districts – something Shirley would have been thrilled to know.

From preventing unwanted cat litters to making life more comfortable for animals housed at the Lonsdale shelter and contributing to the purchase of vital veterinary equipment such as an X-ray machine – and so much more – Shirley has been a powerful force for change.

Without the support of such big-hearted benefactors, RSPCA cannot achieve the results it does, like finding new homes for a record 5,398 animals last financial year. Both in life and since her passing, this compassionate, humble but determined woman has helped countless animals at a time in their lives when they needed that help the most.

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