City gives pound contract to private company instead of SPCA

Campbell River council has awarded its pound contract to Coastal Animal Control but will continue to work with the SPCA

City council has awarded its animal pound contract to Coastal Animal Control instead of the BC SPCA, although the city is still negotiating with the society to provide animal welfare services.

At its Tuesday meeting, council voted to give the city’s pound services contract to Coastal for a five-year term – $25,000 in each of the first three years, with a two per cent increase in year four and in year five.

Coun. Larry Samson was opposed.

But while the city has taken the animal pound contract away from the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), council does not want to take the SPCA out of the picture.

Coun. Andy Adams put forward a motion, which was approved by council, to direct city staff to continue to work with the BC SPCA to reach a deal that could bring the society back to Campbell River.

“It’s interesting to note, in the April 17th edition of the newspaper, there’s an ad from the BC SPCA saluting all of its volunteers for National Volunteer Week,” Adams said, acknowledging the ad he ripped out of the paper.

“It says – and I read from the ad – ‘The BC SPCA is a non-profit organization funded by public donations. Our mission is to prevent cruelty and to promote the welfare of animals through a wide range of services including cruelty investigations, emergency rescue and treatment, sheltering and adoption of homeless and abused animals, humane education, advocacy, farm animal welfare, spay/neuter programs, and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.’ And I think that’s exactly what we’d like to see the SPCA do in this region. I think staff have worked hard with the BC SPCA and representatives of the community (Cyriel DeBruyne and veterinarian Helen Kwong) to make that happen.”

The BC SPCA, in a message posted on its website, said its meeting with city council last week was constructive and “all parties were in agreement that every effort should be made to ensure the SPCA is able to stay in Campbell River. We are working on proposals now.”

According to Kwong, the SPCA sent a revised offer to the city last Friday, which was less than the original $95,000 it was asking the city for to provide shelter and animal welfare services.

The SPCA said it costs $400,000 to operate the shelter and has been subsidizing its Campbell River branch as it loses $10,000 in operations in each year.

Kwong is urging the community to take action and will be launching a fundraiser May 1, Go Loonie for the SPCA, to raise funds to help the SPCA return to Campbell River.

Council, in a decision made in-camera (closed to the media and the public), has agreed to match funds raised in the community up to $10,000.

The contest involves fundraising challenges among teams, businesses, and individuals to see who can raise the most money for the SPCA.

Kwong said the community needs to raise as much as it can because “there will likely be a shortfall in funds between what is offered (from the city) and proposed.

It is up to our community to make the difference, and hopefully the SPCA will not be in this position next year,” Kwong added.

She stressed that if the SPCA is not able to restart its operations in the community, the city is headed for an explosion of feral cats.

“Our SPCA housed approximately 1,100 pets each year, of which 800 of those pets were cats,” Kwong said. “As well, any animal welfare issues cannot be addressed efficiently in our community.”

The contest is expected to kick-off on the steps of city hall May 1 at noon, with Acting Mayor Samson proclaiming May SPCA month.

The contest ends May 31 and all donations must be dropped off at Scotia Bank. All participants in the contest must register by calling the Merecroft Veterinary Clinic at 250-287-2007.