OUT ON A LIMB: Why did we have to go through all this?

The community was plunged into all this anguish when the SPCA suddenly announced it was going to pull out

It’s great news that the SPCA is up and running again in Campbell River.

But, I have to say I’m still confused about this whole thing. Why did we go through all this?

The community was plunged into all this anguish when the SPCA suddenly announced it was going to pull out of Campbell River because it had lost the city’s animal control services contract.

The emotionally-charged issue prompted animal lovers in this community to take up the banner and lead a charge to reinstate the SPCA. People responded as they always do in Campbell River and $50,000 was raised from the community. Add the city’s promise of $10,000 and the SPCA is now back in business.

A shelter will be leased and the local branch will resume its adoption and education programs. Coastal Animal Control will continue to deliver the contracted animal control work – the dirty work of animal bylaw enforcement. The SPCA will do the community service work. So the situation in Campbell River will be much like it is in most communities on the Island.

But it took $400,000 a year to run the pound, the SPCA has said. The community has raised $50,000 – a one-time fund. That $50,000 was enough to prompt the SPCA to continue to operate a shelter.

So, again, I have to ask, why did the SPCA pull out in the first place after it lost the contract? It said it operated at a deficit but most SPCA operations run at a deficit. The SPCA services in the Lower Mainland, Victoria and Kelowna run at a surplus and those surpluses subsidize operations in the smaller communities in the province.

That’s the way it was before the Campbell River contract was lost and that’s the  way it will continue, except now they’ve divested themselves of the enforcement role. So, what is different?

Why did the SPCA suddenly pack up its operation and lay off its employees on a few days notice only to start up again after the community made it very clear it did not want them to leave?

Was it spite? Did somebody at the SPCA have a hissy fit and say “Well, fine then” and pull the plug on the Campbell River operation? SPCA CEO Craig Daniell told a meeting Thursday that the organization never intended to completely abandon Campbell River. Sure looked like it.  City council took a lot of heat for its decision to go with the lowest bid. This is the council that’s taken heat for being spendthrift tax hikers.

The $50,000 that was raised is an amazing community effort and a testament to the generosity of the community and the effort of the fundraising organizers, particularly Dr. Helen Kwong. But that $50,000 is a one-time thing. Or are we going to have to do this every year? It cost $400,000 to operate the shelter every year. Obviously, the SPCA is going to subsidize it like it did before and will continue to do.