Paws Express signals new era
ITS cargo was as precious as the journey it symbolised.
A diesel locomotive carrying about 40 animals from the RSPCA's Fairfield Shelter pulled into Wacol station yesterday morning as part of a historic move to the new Animal Care Campus headquarters.
The "Paws Express" was bursting not only with animals but excited and hard-working volunteers, dignitaries and media as it cruised into the station.
A media scrum and members of the public engulfed the stars of the moment, but the furry favourites were on their best behaviour.
Dogs and puppies, cats and kittens, guinea pigs, a duck, a goat and even a turtle will be among the first animals to occupy the $26 million shelter.
Their eagerness to see their new home was palpable as hundreds of feet padded the road with anticipation of what was in store.
RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said among the improvements would be a 70% increase in capacity in the vet surgery.
"This gives us a significant increase in capability for the number of animals we can treat at any one time," Mr Beatty said.
RSPCA veterinary surgeon of 14 years, Rosemary Miller, was on the platform as the train arrived.
She said having X-ray and laboratory services would be the best assets at the new shelter. It would also include a wildlife hospital, educational facilities and space for 700 animals.
"It's the IKEA for the dog world here," Dr Miller said.
RSPCA CEO Mark Townend said the rest of the animals would be moved today in preparation for the official opening tomorrow.
"Most of the animals will move on Monday but we thought a symbolic move by a heritage train would highlight the end of one era and the beginning of another," Mr Townend said, as the Fairfield shelter closed after 90 years.
"Queensland Rail also redecorated Wacol Station to illustrate the fact that it's now the new home of the RSPCA."
The decorations included 10 RSPCA-based murals and three colourful animal sculptures installed around the train station.
Some animals, such as horses and livestock, will be transferred at a later date.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Transport Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk attended.