The RSPCA may not be the Hunter's impound operator in the near future with three councils calling for expressions of interest to run their animal management services.
Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Cessnock councils, who currently use the Hunter RSPCA for impounding, are seeking expressions of interest to fulfill parts or all of the various animal management services required by local government organisations.
It comes after The Newcastle Herald reported in August that RSPCA NSW was in discussion with the councils about the future of the region's council animal management services contract.
A spokesperson for RSPCA NSW said it "will be considering whether it participates in the public expression of interest to continue with animal management services".
The spokesperson said there were no plans to cease operating the Hunter Shelter and Veterinary Hospital at Rutherford.
The Herald also reported in August that Dog Rescue Newcastle was interested in taking up the contract, but president Sue Barker said this week that now wasn't the right time for them to do so.
"We're not in a position to do anything yet," she said. "Maybe in another six months.
"We've been looking to buy a boarding kennel, but we haven't found one yet. We haven't found anything suitable.
"To build one from scratch would take 12 months."
Lake Macquarie and Maitland council's contracts with the RSPCA both end in the middle of next year. Cessnock has contractual arrangements in place until December 2022.
A spokesperson for Lake Macquarie City Council said the RSPCA was considering how its business can support animal welfare needs and as a result, council decided to initiate a review of how it conducts impounding services.
"The expression of interest is designed to provide Hunter councils with an understanding of what animal management providers are available to fulfil parts, or all of, the various animal management services required by local government organisations," the spokesperson said.
Maitland Council's development and compliance manager Cindy Littlewood said the councils were trying to understand the offerings available in the market.
"The EOI is open to any provider, whether you can address a single service or multiple parts of the service," she said.
A Cessnock Council spokesperson said the council would investigate and consider all relevant options in relation to the impounding of animals prior to its contract ending.
"The RSCPA is welcome to put in an EOI as per our procurement process," the spokesperson said.