SPCA finances in "dire straits"
Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 06:00 am
The Bonnyville and District SPCA has turned to town council for help claiming their financial situation is “in dire straits.”
“The Bonnyville SPCA needs help. We’re asking the Town of Bonnyville for an annual operating grant of $25,000 to help keep it open and operational in the community,” Mereline Griffith, a volunteer and advocate for the local shelter, told council April 11. “The future of your SPCA in Bonnyville is at risk.”
The local animal shelter has been running as a registered non-profit organization since July 2000. With no sustainable funding, the SPCA primarily relies on the generosity of the public through volunteer fundraising and donations.
However, with an annual cost of over $190,000 to operate the SPCA, Griffith stressed its hard for the small group to keep up with the need.
“That’s a lot of money for one little group of volunteers, and it’s amazing they’re doing it… Volunteer burnout is real, it’s happening. We all know when the volunteers burnout, the younger generation really isn’t stepping up to the plate like the old timers.”
The SPCA runs out of two buildings: one for the office and cat shelter, and the other for dogs, including outdoor kennels and a fenced yard. From April 1, 2016 to the end of March 2017, staff cared for 138 surrendered or stray dogs and 151 cats from the town and MD. Of those, 113 dogs and 67 cats were adopted, and another 14 dogs and 53 cats were transferred.
“If there’s an over abundance of animals and they’re getting crowded, a volunteer will make a day trip to Edmonton to deliver cats or dogs to the humane society there.” They don’t take dogs or cats from just any SPCA or humane society because they want them to be healthy,” noted Griffith.
From within the town alone, there were 41 stray dogs brought in by the RCMP, 21 of which were returned, and 18 cats, with eight being returned to their families.
Housing and caring for these homeless animals isn’t cheap. Basic operating costs, which includes vet services, heating, power and insurance, runs just over $50,000 per year.
“We do pay a monthly water bill. On an average month, for both buildings, we’re paying $60 to $85. With our gas and our power, we see a $900 gas bill per month in the winter,” explained shelter manager Heather Mutch, who has been with the SPCA for 11 years.
Other expenses adding to the over $190,000 annual cost are $5,300 for building and yard maintenance, and $134,700 for payroll.
Fundraising initiatives to offset the costly operations include collecting bottles, the Raise the Roof event, donations for services such as bartending or barbecues, and hosting a casino in Fort McMurray every 18 months.
When questioned about the near balanced revenue and expenses of the SPCA, Mutch noted that this year they were able to include over $45,000 from the casino – an added revenue they don't have yearly.
“We are seeking, from the Town of Bonnyville, a continuous, annual financial commitment for the service we provide to the Town of Bonnyville,” board president Bill Burnup expressed to council. “Let's try to help each other out, make sure the animals have a voice. Our services are greatly needed here in town and in the MD.”
The Bonnyville SPCA will be presenting the same ask to the MD of Bonnyville council, with the hopes of getting $50,000 between the two municipalities annually to cover operating expenses.
Town council will be revisiting the request at a future meeting.