Saskatchewan Examiner

The Saskatoon SPCA may have a new contract with the city to address ‘financial strain’

To address 'financial strain,' the Saskatoon SPCA may have a new contract

Key Takeaways:

  • Graham Dickson is optimistic that the group will reach an agreement with the City of Saskatoon to run the pound by July.
  • Dickson joined the SPCA in March 2020 to overhaul operations that had been stalled for nearly a year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The number of animals inherited by the pound has risen in lockstep with the city’s expansion, from 729 in 2001 to 1,334 last year.

Executive director of the Saskatoon SPCA, Graham Dickson, is hopeful that the organization will be able to reach a deal with the City of Saskatoon to run the city’s pound by July.

“I think there’s a shared recognition that we need a new contract before that one expires,” Dickson told CTV News. “But we just couldn’t weather that same kind of financial strain for a further year and a half.”

The current pound contract will run out on December 31, 2023.

In a previous funding request to the city, the SPCA claimed that the pound is losing $1.16 million. The city council approved a $200,000 increase in funding for 2022, bringing the total to just under $700,000.

“To its credit, the city’s budgeting cycle did not coincide with ours. We had not previously informed them of this. So I understand that this caught a lot of people off guard. And also have to say that I am grateful for what the city has done for us in this regard, “Dickson remarked.

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Dickson joined the SPCA in March 2020 to overhaul operations, which the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed for nearly a year and a half.

The group realized it was underfunded by the third quarter of 2021 and informed the city.

The SPCA has previously depleted its reserves by about $430,000 to stay afloat. It now separates its pound operations from adoption and educational operations in its financial statements.

The count of animals the pound has inherited has increased in tandem with the city’s growth, from 729 in 2001 to 1,334 last year. Bylaw enforcement now handles almost all of their intakes. The city only pays for the animals’ care for four days; they become the SPCA’s property and responsibility.

According to Dickson, this is on top of inflation and higher veterinary care standards. Making an animal healthy enough to adopt can cost anywhere from $200 to over $1,000.

To address 'financial strain,' the Saskatoon SPCA may have a new contract
To address ‘financial strain,’ the Saskatoon SPCA may have a new contract. Image from CTV News

“I believe that most people are unaware of how much effort is required to care for these animals. We’ll have 100 animals in the shelter at any given time. Every time our staff cleans a kennel, they must use a new pair of gloves to prevent the spread of disease. 

Every day, a kennel must be cleaned, and a health check must be performed every day. Many animals require specialized food and medication, “Dickson remarked.

“It’s a lot of work, and it’s very structured in terms of what’s required. It’s all about healthcare. It is not a task that volunteers can complete. Professionals with extensive training and experience must carry it out.”

To save money, the SPCA no longer provides proactive, upstream solutions to Saskatoon’s stray animal problem — and, according to the SPCA’s request to the council, the population of stray and feral cats in Saskatoon has “exploded” in their absence.

In addition, the SPCA, which had been providing animal protection services for about 40 years, stopped doing so on April 1 to save money. The Ministry of Agriculture granted the SPCA a license to have two peace officers on staff to enforce the Animal Protection Act. Still, Dickson claims the ministry never provided “a penny” in funding.

Last year, the SPCA requested $650,000 from the province to continue its work, but it was denied, according to Dickson.

Source: CTV News

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