SPCA facing increased requests for financial assistance from pet owners

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Due to the economic downturn, the SPCA says it is receiving a higher number of requests from pet owners seeking financial assistance to provide proper care for their pets.
The SPCA says that this year, some pet owners in Newfoundland and Labrador struggle to pay for basic care for their pets. Requests range from veterinary assistance, food and shelter to people relinquishing their pets to the SPCA due to financial circumstances.
Debbie Powers, SPCA Shelter Director in St. John's, says the rise of unregulated backyard breeders has been identified as the biggest contributor to an animal overpopulation problem.
She said backyard breeders breed unregistered animals and sell the puppies without papers for tax-free income. The SPCA received a number of complaint calls in 2008 from the public who had purchased dogs from unregistered breeders.
Powers also noted the SPCA responded recently to an anonymous complaint call about a backyard breeder in Carbonear where unregistered Yorkie puppies are sold for $1,200 each. The family keeps 14 Yorkie adult dogs that are used as breeding stock with seven of the dogs kept in a shed in the backyard.
"Under current laws, anyone can set up their own backyard breeding operation with no regulations in place governing the health of the dogs or the conditions," Powers said. "It is an easy way to make tax-free income with the public completely unaware of the condition of these puppies and the inhumane conditions under which they are bred."
Backyard breeders operate everywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador. They advertise their puppies for sale on Kijiji, the Buy and Sell magazine and on NL Classifieds online.

Changes to legislation needed

Powers said she hoped the provincial government will implement long-awaited changes to the Animal Protection Act this year. Changes to be addressed include:
• An increase in fines and penalties for persons convicted of animal cruelty and abuse;
• Prohibition orders for offenders;
• Costs for animal care borne by the SPCA be paid by the offender;
• Anyone using animals in research would have to adhere to the standards articulated by the Canadian Council on Animal Care
• Prescribing of forms for adoption and surrender of animals, and for search warrants dealing with the seizure of animals in distress and the entry into dwellings for purposes of such seizures;
• The right of unannounced inspection of premises where animals are kept for hire, sale or adoption;
• Permit immediate euthanasia where it is impracticable to seize or house animals;
• Allow for constructive de jure or purely legal seizures as opposed to actual physical seizures where appropriate;
• Prohibition against animals travelling without enclosure protection in the back of trucks, the biggest problem being dogs in the back of pickups whether tethered or un-tethered;
• The SPCA and each of its branches are separate bodies corporate similar to what exists in the Nova Scotia legislation
David Buffett, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador SPCA, says the province has not kept pace with animal protection legislation in other provinces such as British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta.
"Fines and penalties are so inadequate that they are no longer considered a deterrent," Buffett said. "We will be working with (government) to model our animal protection legislation largely after Alberta's with some modelling after Nova Scotia's legislation."

Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP)
The SPCA held a targetted fundraiser last October to establish a Spay Neuter Assistance Program for the pets of low-income owners. Proceeds from the fundraiser, private donations and a donation from the cat food manufacturer, Whiskas, will be used to subsidize the sterilization surgery for low-income pet owners. A detailed proposal was sent to all veterinary clinics on the Avalon Peninsula and the SPCA is reporting a positive response to date from many of the clinics.
Powers said the SPCA is committed to reducing shelter euthanasia.
"We want to work together with people and veterinarians to address the overpopulation of pets, which is becoming a community-wide problem," she said. "No birth is the first step to stopping the flow of so many unwanted animals."

Feral cat colonies increasing
The St. John's SPCA receives daily calls from citizens across the Avalon Peninsula who request assistance with the growing colonies of feral cats that are feeding on their properties.
The shelter does not have enough staff to respond to the high number of calls coming in from all the communities.
A female cat can go into heat at six months of age and produce up to three litters in a single year. Instead of spaying and neutering their cats, people are abandoning them in apartments, municipal dumps and in wooded areas.
The SPCA is concerned that worsening economic conditions will add to the problem of people not spaying and neutering their pets.

Municipalities need to help
Many municipalities across Newfoundland and Labrador have no animal control service with the responsibility for animal care falling on the SPCA.
In 2008, the St. John's SPCA responded to 400 calls of neglect and assistance with stray and injured animals across the Avalon Peninsula. All travel costs and veterinary bills are covered by the SPCA's fundraising resources.
"The SPCA cannot be an animal control service for so many towns and municipalities," Powers said. "The time has come for the municipalities to accept responsibility for running their communities and provide basic animal control.
"Sadly, there are dogs in all our communities that live a miserable existence at the end of a short chain where they are forgotten. Better animal control by-laws can address this serious problem by requiring that owners provide optimal levels of care for their animals."
At a time when the SPCA is faced with higher veterinary bills, 2008 also marked the end of Sobeys and Dominion's grocery store tape program which accounted for $18,000 in bottom-line fundraising.
The St. John's SPCA statistics for the year ending Dec. 31, 2008 are:

Total animals: 2264

Dogs - 470 total (Stray 174; Abandoned 15; Owners brought in 250; Seized 31; Adopted 399; Euthanized 71).
Cats - 1418 total (Stray 480; Abandoned 226; Owners brought in 684; Seized 28; Adopted 662; Euthanized 756).
Other animals - Total: 26.
Animals helped outside shelter - Total: 350

Report animal cruelty and suspected animal abuse to the St. John's SPCA at 709-726-0301, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477) or the City of St. John's Humane Services or the Police.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador SPCA, Sell magazine, Canadian Council on Animal Care Sobeys Crime Stoppers Humane Services

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia Carbonear Avalon Peninsula Alberta British Columbia

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • Nancy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    SPCA must be friends of the vets in this province. No mentioned of the hgh prices being charge at the local vets, plus some of there charges are no more than extracting more money from the pet owners, that only benefits the vet's pocketbook. If the vet prices were regulated in basic animal care, there would be no need for new regulations onto the pet owners because most people would be able to afford the vet care. A bonus would be, the SPCA would now be able to take care of more urgent business.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I believe CBC's Marketplace had a episode on last year about the outrageous prices Vets charge. NFLD Vets apparently was the worst offenders, particaularly as it related to the cost of pet medications. Also keep in mind that drug price sfor pets are not regulated in Canada. Here's a tip get the Rx filled at your local pharmacy rather than the Vet's drug dispensary.

  • Geri
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Animal protection legislation is useless if it isn't enforced. I'm involved with an animal rescue organization in BC which also is contracted to run the city shelter. We see many cases of animal cruelty. In fact two Shepherds were found in a shed that was on the site of a former grow-op. These animals had been locked up without food or water. One dog had died a short time before discovery while the other was emaciated and weighed just 23 lbs. I could give many examples.

    We are a no-kill organization and are fortunate enough to work with a vet who provides his services to us at very reasonable rates. What he loses by not charging the exorbitant rates for medicines and services, he makes up in volume, and repeat clients. Every animal coming into our shelters for adoption or fostering is altered immediately, no exceptions. I recognize that vets do incur huge student loans and cost to set up their clinics, however perhaps even some of their services could be provided at low cost through a rescue group. Low-income individuals can access these rates only through the rescue group.

    Back-yard breeders or puppy-mills are a problem everwhere. Those wanting to breed should be registered and licensed. All cities need laws/bylaws stating that pets have to be spayed/neutered. This might not end the problem however it may deter some.

  • Jesse
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    @ so mad. The SPCA WANTS to have a low cost spayed and neutering program in place, they are trying to get one. And if they had the space and resources to have a no kill animal shelter then they would. Maybe if so many people didn't abandon or mistreat their animals the SPCA would be able to have a no kill shelter. I wonder if you even read this article before posting your comments...you said: The SPCA needs to stop euthanizing animals, start spaying and neutering them and give them free to loving families Considering you just said the high cost of spaying and neutering animals yourself how do you expect the SPCA to be able to afford to do all this, how much money do you think the organization has?

  • Annoyed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    I was very interested to find out that the SPCA was offering a new program called SNAP . I know for a fact that there is another animal organization in this province, based in St. John's that is specifically for spaying and neutering and one of there programs they have been offering for several years is called SNAP . All the animal organizations in this province do such great work and it really upsets me to see that a big organization like the SPCA would go out and be so childish, for lack of a better word STEAL another organizations program name. Is there nothing else you could think of?
    Ruff-Spots Animal Welfare Foundation has been offering spay/neuter programs for 6 years now. For such a small group of people they do amazing work, and at their last fundraiser announced that they had fixed over 260 animals to date. After 6 years of Ruff-Spots doing great work for this province, the SPCA is going to finally get a clue and get to the root of the problem. So instead of giving credit where deserved, they would rather just take credit themselves.
    Check out the original SNAP program at:
    www.ruffspots.com

  • So Mad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    The SPCA makes me so mad. They need to have a low cost spay and neutering program put in place for anyone who needs it. It cost me $300 to spay my dog and $180 for my cat, most people can not afford this, but they are still good pet owner. As for call the SPCA or crime stoppers, I have personally made complaints to Crime Stoppers about a person beating their animal to death, they told me they were not going to pursue it because they didnt feel they could prove it since the person had disposed of the body. This person now has another animal and it is being mistreated. The SPCA needs to stop euthanizing animals, start spaying and neutering them and give them free to loving families. They can still raise money through community functions. I know if I though they were a reputable organization I would donate more then I currently do.

  • R
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    3 years that the SPCA has been waiting for Minister Dunderdale's office to meet about the Animal Protection Act? It is high time the Department of Natural Resouces revises the legislation. Ontario just updated their legislation and Newfoundland is in the dark ages. $50 for a fine - that's a joke.

  • To So Mad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    If you feel an animal is being mistreated or know that it is and don't want to contact the SPCA, then please contact Heavenly Creatures or another animal rescue. Maybe they and you can still help this abuse stop. It's the least that you can do if you care and have given up on the SPCA.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    I find it astonishing that people pay hundred of dollars for pets when there are perfectly good unwanted pets available at humane shelters. Many people have then notion that purchased pedigrees are better than mutts from the rescue groups, or, that theres some sort of problem with rescue pets. Pedigrees, by definition, are inbred animals often resulting in amplified genetic distortions. Unwanted pets often end up at shelters because their owners were: (A) irresponsible, (B) didnt know how to take care / train the animal (C) simply cast them aside like old clothes

    I have two dogs and two cats; all of them came from rescue organizations. I couldnt be happier. . Bottom line, if youre not committed to owning the animal, do the world and favor and buy a pet rock instead.

  • Nancy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    SPCA must be friends of the vets in this province. No mentioned of the hgh prices being charge at the local vets, plus some of there charges are no more than extracting more money from the pet owners, that only benefits the vet's pocketbook. If the vet prices were regulated in basic animal care, there would be no need for new regulations onto the pet owners because most people would be able to afford the vet care. A bonus would be, the SPCA would now be able to take care of more urgent business.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    I believe CBC's Marketplace had a episode on last year about the outrageous prices Vets charge. NFLD Vets apparently was the worst offenders, particaularly as it related to the cost of pet medications. Also keep in mind that drug price sfor pets are not regulated in Canada. Here's a tip get the Rx filled at your local pharmacy rather than the Vet's drug dispensary.

  • Geri
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Animal protection legislation is useless if it isn't enforced. I'm involved with an animal rescue organization in BC which also is contracted to run the city shelter. We see many cases of animal cruelty. In fact two Shepherds were found in a shed that was on the site of a former grow-op. These animals had been locked up without food or water. One dog had died a short time before discovery while the other was emaciated and weighed just 23 lbs. I could give many examples.

    We are a no-kill organization and are fortunate enough to work with a vet who provides his services to us at very reasonable rates. What he loses by not charging the exorbitant rates for medicines and services, he makes up in volume, and repeat clients. Every animal coming into our shelters for adoption or fostering is altered immediately, no exceptions. I recognize that vets do incur huge student loans and cost to set up their clinics, however perhaps even some of their services could be provided at low cost through a rescue group. Low-income individuals can access these rates only through the rescue group.

    Back-yard breeders or puppy-mills are a problem everwhere. Those wanting to breed should be registered and licensed. All cities need laws/bylaws stating that pets have to be spayed/neutered. This might not end the problem however it may deter some.

  • Jesse
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    @ so mad. The SPCA WANTS to have a low cost spayed and neutering program in place, they are trying to get one. And if they had the space and resources to have a no kill animal shelter then they would. Maybe if so many people didn't abandon or mistreat their animals the SPCA would be able to have a no kill shelter. I wonder if you even read this article before posting your comments...you said: The SPCA needs to stop euthanizing animals, start spaying and neutering them and give them free to loving families Considering you just said the high cost of spaying and neutering animals yourself how do you expect the SPCA to be able to afford to do all this, how much money do you think the organization has?

  • Annoyed
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    I was very interested to find out that the SPCA was offering a new program called SNAP . I know for a fact that there is another animal organization in this province, based in St. John's that is specifically for spaying and neutering and one of there programs they have been offering for several years is called SNAP . All the animal organizations in this province do such great work and it really upsets me to see that a big organization like the SPCA would go out and be so childish, for lack of a better word STEAL another organizations program name. Is there nothing else you could think of?
    Ruff-Spots Animal Welfare Foundation has been offering spay/neuter programs for 6 years now. For such a small group of people they do amazing work, and at their last fundraiser announced that they had fixed over 260 animals to date. After 6 years of Ruff-Spots doing great work for this province, the SPCA is going to finally get a clue and get to the root of the problem. So instead of giving credit where deserved, they would rather just take credit themselves.
    Check out the original SNAP program at:
    www.ruffspots.com

  • So Mad
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    The SPCA makes me so mad. They need to have a low cost spay and neutering program put in place for anyone who needs it. It cost me $300 to spay my dog and $180 for my cat, most people can not afford this, but they are still good pet owner. As for call the SPCA or crime stoppers, I have personally made complaints to Crime Stoppers about a person beating their animal to death, they told me they were not going to pursue it because they didnt feel they could prove it since the person had disposed of the body. This person now has another animal and it is being mistreated. The SPCA needs to stop euthanizing animals, start spaying and neutering them and give them free to loving families. They can still raise money through community functions. I know if I though they were a reputable organization I would donate more then I currently do.

  • R
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    3 years that the SPCA has been waiting for Minister Dunderdale's office to meet about the Animal Protection Act? It is high time the Department of Natural Resouces revises the legislation. Ontario just updated their legislation and Newfoundland is in the dark ages. $50 for a fine - that's a joke.

  • To So Mad
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    If you feel an animal is being mistreated or know that it is and don't want to contact the SPCA, then please contact Heavenly Creatures or another animal rescue. Maybe they and you can still help this abuse stop. It's the least that you can do if you care and have given up on the SPCA.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    I find it astonishing that people pay hundred of dollars for pets when there are perfectly good unwanted pets available at humane shelters. Many people have then notion that purchased pedigrees are better than mutts from the rescue groups, or, that theres some sort of problem with rescue pets. Pedigrees, by definition, are inbred animals often resulting in amplified genetic distortions. Unwanted pets often end up at shelters because their owners were: (A) irresponsible, (B) didnt know how to take care / train the animal (C) simply cast them aside like old clothes

    I have two dogs and two cats; all of them came from rescue organizations. I couldnt be happier. . Bottom line, if youre not committed to owning the animal, do the world and favor and buy a pet rock instead.