The University of Melbourne proposes to close its U-Vet Animal Hospital in Werribee, which could result in the loss of 80 jobs.
Duncan Maskell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, announced the proposal in an email to all employees on Tuesday.
In order to operate the Werribee hospital facility, which has been open since 1999, the university will engage a commercial veterinary business. It is expected that they will shut down operations in the new year.
“The University is also exploring the potential for a third-party commercial veterinary business to operate from the Werribee hospital facility in the future. However, any decision on this is subject to the outcome of the consultation on the University’s proposal regarding U-Vet,” Maskell said in an email to staff.
Pet owners in Melbourne’s west who have relied on the hospital’s health services have criticized the decision.
Josh Segrave, Animal Justice Party candidate for Werribee said “Animal care is in crisis, and the last thing Werribee needs is our only emergency hospital closing its doors. Tragically this latest decision won’t be the last when it comes to animal services not meeting community needs.”
The National Tertiary Education Union’s University of Melbourne branch secretary, David Gonzalez said, “The Werribee Animal Hospital had already been subject to $10 million in cuts by the University of Melbourne in 2021 which resulted in the closure of pet emergency services and dozens of staff redundancies. Those cuts saw an outpouring of community support for the hospital and staff with over 4,000 people signing a change.org petition to try and stop them”
“It’s especially devastating for our members and colleagues to learn about the proposed sale of the U-Vet hospital. Western suburbs residents have relied on the hospital’s services for their beloved pets and animals for many years and may now be abandoned by the University of Melbourne.”
In addition to reduced opening hours due to inability to fill staff rosters, the university has faced a significant fall in revenue over several years.
There will be no change to the Equine Centre at Werribee, which remains a separate specialty practice.