The SPCA will return to Campbell River, the society’s chief executive officer announced to a delighted crowd gathered in the former Movie Gallery building Thursday evening.
Craig Daniell, the SPCA’s CEO, revealed the news to nearly a hundred people at a public meeting in which Daniell praised Campbell River for its passion for animals.
“I’m pleased to announce we will be returning to Campbell River and we will be returning within the next two months,” Daniell said. “If all goes well, we hope to have the doors open by the end of July.”
Daniell said the SPCA is in the process of finalizing a new location. What is certain is that the shelter will run out of a building that the SPCA will lease, likely for two to three years.
Daniell said the SPCA will continue to care for animals, facilitate adoptions, conduct cruelty investigations, continue and increase its educational programs and continue the spaying and neutering program. Daniell said the SPCA hopes to come to an arrangement with Coastal Animal Control, which runs the city’s dog pound, to take in impounded dogs.
Daniell said the SPCA accepts it will more than likely continue to face an operating deficit each year (common with most SPCA shelters) – the SPCA has offered the city $80,000 to run its animal welfare services and Daniell said it costs the SPCA $400,000 to run the shelter each year.
It was that deficit, which was compounded when the city awarded the city’s animal enforcement and pound services contract to Coastal Animal Control, that prompted the SPCA to pull its operations out of Campbell River over the Easter weekend.
But strong opposition by the public and rallies on the lawn of City Hall were enough to make the SPCA take another look and come up with a way to make it work in Campbell River.
Daniell said the SPCA never intended to abandon Campbell River.
“At no time did we even contemplate that we wouldn’t have a presence here,” Daniell said. “We’ve been here for a long time and we hope to be here even longer. We are certainly committed to being in Campbell River.”
Daniell said he was humbled by the support of Campbell Riverites and was overwhelmed by the way the community got behind the Go Loonie to Support the SPCA fundraiser during the month of March.
Dr. Helen Kwong, the driving force behind the fundraising challenge, was on hand at the public meeting to present Daniell with a cheque from the Go Loonie fundraiser. The crowd was silent with anticipation as Kwong, grinning from ear to ear, revealed a large cardboard cheque for $50,000. Dogwood Pet Mart owner Greg Janicki, the top fundraiser at nearly $7,000, was honoured with a carved loonie. An emotional Janicki said the way the community banded together for the SPCA is why he’s proud to live in Campbell River.
The city topped up the community’s donations with $10,000 of its own to fulfil its commitment to match what the community raised, up to a maximum of $10,000.
Daniell said he couldn’t recall ever seeing a community get behind the SPCA the way Campbell River has.
“Firstly, it’s a pretty humbling experience to stand before you this evening and receive a cheque like that which I think represents the incredible passion and dedication the residents of Campbell River have for animal welfare,” Daniell said. “It’s rare to see a community come out to support animal welfare the way Campbell River has done. Thank you doesn’t quite seem enough.”
Daniell said he hopes to see the community continue to rally.
“We are committed to having a staffing group in our new facility but I want to stress the importance of volunteering in any facility we operate in,” Daniell said. “The most important message I’d like to leave with you tonight is to please consider volunteering in a new facility, whether through dog walking, cat or dog fostering, cat cuddling, if you can assist in humane education programs, or if you can assist in driving animals to their vet appointments.”
Daniell also welcomed donations to the SPCA’s Campbell River building fund – money set aside to go towards building a brand-new shelter, owned and operated by the SPCA. The account currently has around $60,000 in it and Daniell said to build a new shelter in Campbell River would cost $2-3 million to build, plus $1.5 million to purchase the land. Anyone who would like to donate to the fund can make a cheque out to Campbell River Building Fund and drop it off at Scotia Bank, where the account is set up. Coun. Andy Adams, who attended last week’s public meeting, suggested the city merge an account former Mayor Roger MacDonell set up to go towards a new shelter with the SPCA’s building fund.