City of Saskatoon to consider increase in SPCA funding

The Saskatoon SPCA said a number of items, including documents and a microchip scanned, were stolen from its emergency on-call vehicle. File / Global News

Some members of Saskatoon city council will consider a recommendation to increase funding to the Saskatoon SPCA for pound services.

The recommendation will be presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Planning, Development & Community Services at its meeting on April 12.

“The City of Saskatoon and the SPCA have had a longstanding relationship to ensure pound services — the capture and hold of stray companion animals for up to 96 hours — are available to the residents of Saskatoon,” a City press release stated.

Read more: Saskatoon SPCA animal protection void filled in Saskatchewan 2022-23 budget

The release added the SPCA is able to provide pound services and can also provide extra animal services like pet adoption, animal shelter and education programs.

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A lease agreement and Pound Services Agreement allows the SPCA to provide pound services for Saskatoon and in turn the city allows the SPCA to provide its own extra animal services out of the City-owned building on Clarence Avenue South.

After an animal is held for over 96 hours — a requirement of the Pound Services Agreement — they transition to the subsequent shelter services, which are fully funded by the SPCA.

The City says a recent review of the current funding structure for pound services delivered by the SPCA was done by City and SPCA administration.

“(The review) determined that the total amount allocated in the 2022/2023 Operating Budget for pound services is not meeting the current costs to deliver the program.”

City administration is recommending a 50-per cent increase in total funding to the SPCA for pound services in 2022 to $698,000.

According to the City, this will more accurately reflect the cost of pound services operations.

“We know that the SPCA has the experience and expertise to provide adequate animal care to animals dropped off at the pound, and an increase in funding will allow the City and the SPCA to continue this longstanding relationship to ensure pound services are available to the residents of Saskatoon,” says Lynne Lacroix, general manager of Community Services.

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Saskatoon SPCA, however, says the funding need is much higher.

“We formally requested … just over $1.1 million annually for pound services,” SPCA executive director Graham Dickson said.

“We knew we were not receiving an adequate amount for some time, but it’s gotten to the point over the last few years that it was actually putting such a significant financial strain on our organization, that we weren’t actually able to deliver programs or services for the public,” Dickson said.

Dickson said all SPCA resources have been allocated to supporting services. The SPCA approached the city about this in late 2021 and have been meeting with them regularly to figure out what the cost actually is.

“All we’re looking for is recovery of the money that we’re spending on services. $1.1 million is a lot more than the $460,000 that we’re receiving now,” Dickson said.

Dickson acknowledged the City has had to make tough decisions in the budget this year and said he’s grateful they’ve come back with a funding increase.

“Although we’re grateful to see that the city has made a recommendation for it for an increase of 50 per cent, the bottom line is that this is not enough to actually cover our costs. We’ve got some work ahead of us.”

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Dickson said as the city population size has grown, so has the number of both pets and feral cat colonies.

Read more: Emaciated dog on road to recovery after being rescued, says BC SPCA

The SPCA is seeing a larger proportion of animals coming in through bylaw enforcement and are responsible for the cost of housing and caring for the animals until they are either picked up or adopted.

The city says if the funding increase is approved, the administration will continue to work with the SPCA to find out the actual funding needed to deliver pound services for 2023.

A detailed plan and future level of funding would also be presented before the 2023 budget.


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