RSPCA South Australia's much-loved and respected chief veterinarian is retiring.
Dr Brad Ward will leave the organisation at the end of July, ending 15 years of dedicated service for the state's leading animal welfare organisation.
In announcing Dr Ward's decision, RSPCA SA chief executive Paul Stevenson reflected on the situation Dr Ward stepped into when he accepted the position as the organisation's first-ever vet in 2007.
Dr Ward now leads a team of 16 staff who provide veterinary care to between 8-9000 animals a year.
In January 2020, Dr Ward was part of the RSPCA SA team that assisted with wildlife recovery efforts on Kangaroo Island after devastating bushfires.
"It is difficult to imagine the workload and responsibility on the shoulders of one person back then, yet over his entire time at RSPCA, Brad has worked tirelessly in epitomising the resilience, commitment and concern that are such important values in caring for animals that come to us," Mr Stevenson said.
"The calibre of the vet team we have today stems from Brad's unwavering determination to deliver quality medical care to incoming animals, many of which come to us with injuries, chronic illnesses and psychological damage.
"The fact that we now rehome nine out of every 10 animals is thanks in no small part to the veterinary care they receive at our Lonsdale shelter."
Finding a new chief veterinarian is proving a challenge, with Australia experiencing a nationwide shortage of qualified vets. The position is being advertised within Australia and in the UK.
Aside from leading the vet team, the chief vet acts as lead expert witness in cases against defendants charged with breaching SA's Animal Welfare Act and advises the organisation during negotiations with government on animal related legislation.
Whoever wins the position will be joining RSPCA SA at a pivotal point in its 148-year history.
"We're just a few months away from earthworks starting at O'Halloran Hill, where our new Animal Care Campus is being built, and in 2024 our vet team will move into a brand-new, custom-built vet centre," Mr Stevenson said.
"Our current clinic at Lonsdale is well-resourced, with modern diagnostic and surgical equipment.
"Aside from being larger and purpose-built, the key difference with this new centre is the incorporation of South Australia's first wildlife hospital, operating 24/7 to support the incredible work of wildlife rescue volunteers.
"We are drawing on the experience of RSPCA Queensland, which has run a wildlife hospital for 10 years.
"The role of chief vet provides an opportunity to have a profound impact on animal care and welfare in South Australia and may hold particular appeal for professionals interested in wildlife preservation and care."
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