Questions about SPCA

How do we reverse this fiasco and get the SPCA back?

Filed for publication with the Mirror

Dear Mayor and Council, City of Campbell River

Re: Closure of Campbell River SPCA and tendering of services to Coastal Animal Services

The closure of the Campbell River SPCA raises many questions in my mind that I, as a taxpayer, animal owner and supporter of the SPCA, would like answered.

We have been told that it was done to save taxpayers money during the 2013 budget discussions, yet the basic math involved does not add up. The bid was only as follows:

Duties will include seize and impound animals, conduct patrols, catch and transport stray animals including dangerous dogs, investigating complaints regarding by-law violations, gathering evidence, issue tickets, provide evidence in court, if required, and provide information and assistance to the public and other organizations

There is no requirement to provide the full range of services that the SPCA provided. Why not? Who was to provide them? What happens to the animals that the SPCA and Campbell River taxpayers used to care for? Did Staff talk to the SPCA and ask them for input? If they did, what did the SPCA say? Did anyone who proposed and supported this plan figure this into the discussions?

I sat in on council meetings and heard discussions about the upgrading and replacement of the existing SPCA building because they could not handle the number of animals they cared for. I heard council talk about possible site locations and additional funding for the SPCA. Was all this information forgotten by those proposing and supporting the changes? I know several of the current council members were part of those meetings as I sat across from them during the meetings. I didn’t hear any of them speak out against this. Why was this dismissed or forgotten by staff and council during the SPCA closure talks?

Why did RFP 727 not deal with animal care and only those points above? How can the supporters say that money is being saved when the same services are not being provided? Where was the funding to come from for animal care?

Staff and council live in Campbell River so they must be aware of the tremendous community support that the SPCA receives. Free community support comes in the form of thousands of dollars in cash, care volunteers, fundraisers, donations of food, toys, bedding, cages, towels, veterinary services, blankets and just about anything needed to help distressed animals. Who is going to replace all that?

The statement has been made that the Comox Valley SPCA will attempt to offer animal care. Has anyone asked the citizens of Comox Valley how they feel about funding Campbell River pet care? Has Campbell River staff and council approached Courtenay and Comox to ask/tell them? Does council think it is fair to expect the Comox Valley SPCA deal with more than a 100 per cent increase in animals as of April 1? Can the Comox Valley SPCA physically handle this instant influx?

I have had the Campbell River SPCA help me personally in the return of two missing pets over the years. My dog escaped from our fenced yard through a hole that a neighbour had made in our fence. The dog was found, reported to the SPCA and returned home within hours. My house cat jumped from a second story window and wandered for more than two weeks. Local residents found him, called the SPCA who loaned me a humane trap. This enabled me to rescue my emaciated and almost dead pet. Who will help me and other pet owners now? Are Campbell River residents who find strayed pets now required to drive an almost 100 km return trip to Comox to  drop them off? Are owners of missing pets who want to see if is their pet has been recovered?

We have been told that our yearly dog licence fees went to support animal care at the SPCA. As this is no longer happening are we getting a refund and cancellation of the program? If not, why not?

Did anyone on staff think that this whole decision might raise problems and fall short in so many basic areas? If not, why not? If this was such a great decision why was the discussion held in-camera where taxpayers will not be told who supported canning the SPCA and leaving the city residents with no animal care facility?

As this has all be done to save taxpayers money I would like to know who much was saved from my property tax bill? How much of an increase would have been needed to support the SPCA’s continuing care of Campbell River animals?

I have left the biggest questions till last. How do we reverse this fiasco and get the SPCA back to help us care for our pets in Campbell River? And how much will it cost to fix something that was not broken in the first place? The newly-imposed status quo is not acceptable.

David Hay and Anne Hartwell

Campbell River