27 May 2016

Without Help, Grande Prairie SPCA Closing Within Days

The Grande Prairie & District SPCA will be closing their doors by the end of the month, unless the City and County town councils agree to step in and help out at next week’s council session.

“The last meeting we had with the City and County has left us hopeful,” said Nell Martell, who came on board as fundraising and public relations manager for the non-profit animal shelter last December.

The shelter had an intake of around 1800 animals in 2015.

The SPCA is behind $100,000 in arrears to the Canada Revenue Agency, with a current frozen account and no ability to pay staff or continue operations. The deficit tally for the non-profit currently sits at a grand total of $250,000 – with only minimal grassroots donations chipping away.

According to the shelter’s Facebook page there has been “past mismanagement of the situation that led to the current crisis” - as written by current board president, Laurie Fisher on May 25, confirming that considerable staffing and operations cutbacks have been made since last year.

Fundraising revenues also fell drastically from $119,238 in 2014 to $43,248 last year, much of which may be attributed to the economic downturn.

Martell notes that the community has stepped up with an outpouring of support, from staff working on a volunteer-basis, to community members donating what they can, to adopting out existing shelter animals through a shelter drive – all in a time of economic uncertainty for Albertans.

“We’re down to 12 cats that need homes – that’s our greatest fear…where will these animals go without the SPCA?” said Martell, adding that while there are smaller shelters throughout the County, none would have the resources that the SPCA has, including the ability to assist with overflow from other shelters that are overcapacity; few of the smaller shelters would have the same ‘open door’ approach as a bigger centre like the SPCA would have.

The shelter’s reach extends far – and includes the expansive Grande Prairie County and reaching the B.C. border.

According to Martell, for the better part of the last decade the SPCA had the contract to run the Grande Prairie pound, as this was seen as a major cost and revenue savings to have both operations share space and resources.

The contract was not renewed last year and has been under the direction of the City since June 2015. As a result, the SPCA lost a long-time source of revenue ($531,394 in 2014); combined with mounting debt, the shelter has admitted to have gotten into “deep, deep debt.”

The hope is that the City and County will see the vital role the SPCA plays to animal rescue and rehoming for Grande Prairie and the surrounding county.

An appeal was made by the shelter board at The City of Grande Prairie community safety meeting held this week to request 75% (around $90,000) of all animal licensing revenues to help go toward the shortfall.

The shelter is also hopeful they can get the contract back to run the pound.

The Go Fund Me campaign currently sits at $15,875 – a far cry from its goal of $250,000.

Learn more on the Grande Prairie SPCA website.

By Lindsay Seewalt
Lindsay is an experienced journalist and mother of three whose heart and home is always open to a four-legged friend. With her Corgi, Angie, as household editor-in-chief, Lindsay gives back to the animal planet through the written word on anything and all ado about pets. She is passionate about topics regarding animal welfare and responsible pet ownership, which she aims to instill in both her readers and children to be compassionate animal lovers who are conscious and considerate that furry friends around the globe deserve a voice.

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