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A “proven leader” in animal welfare has taken the reigns of Geelong’s main pound after years of financial losses.

Geelong Animal Welfare Society (GAWS) this announced the appointment of Helen Cocks as chief executive officer to replace Adrian Buckley, who held the job for two and a half years.

Ms Cocks was formerly executive manager of animal services at RSPCA Victoria, GAWS said.

She had managed 18 council pound contracts, two major veterinary clinics and RSPCA’s Inspectorate, which included prosecutions of animal cruelty cases.

Her work prior to the RSPCA included high-ranking positions in the Victorian health sector, including director of Greater Dandenong Community Health Services.

GAWS president Maria Mercurio welcomed the appointment.

“Helen brings excellent management and animal welfare skills to the CEO role and the directors look forward to her leading GAWS into the future,” .

“Helen has a proven record of delivering outstanding animal welfare outcomes and management of large teams, complex processes and significant budgets. She will be a passionate advocate for GAWS and under her leadership GAWS will continue to move forward in key areas such as responsible pet ownership, animal welfare vet services, community engagement regarding the importance of de-sexing and other priority areas.

“This appointment is an exciting new chapter for GAWS and we look forward to benefitting from Helen’s wealth of knowledge and experience as GAWS continues to develop and deliver shelter, pound and vet clinic care to the community.”

GAWS last annual report showed the charity on the cusp of emerging from several years of losses.

GAWS finished around $800,000 in the red in 2015 but halved its losses the following year before posting a $20,000 deficit in 2017.

The society’s revenue, including donations, more than doubled last year, increasing $1.8 million on 2016.

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