SPCA shake-up

Andrew Robinson
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Longtime supporters worried about changes on horizon

The Lady Dunfield Memorial Animal Shelter of the SPCA located at St. John’s International Airport. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The St. John’s SPCA has lost its executive director and shelter manager over concerns it may be taking steps towards becoming a no-kill shelter — a move at least one current board member said is not on its agenda.

Executive director Debbie Powers and shelter manager Susan Deir both resigned last month following the SPCA’s annual general meeting on Oct. 15, which Powers said was attended by many new members, including some who also have involvement with Heavenly Creatures.

Powers has volunteered with the St. John’s SPCA for 40 years, while Deir, who was in a paid position, was in her 22nd year with the organization.

“I’m devastated,” said Powers, speaking with The Telegram by phone Monday morning.

A fellow non-profit group involved in animal rescue, Heavenly Creatures operates with a no-kill policy for animals under its care.

Also leaving the SPCA are board president David Buffett, vice-president Libby Carew and past-president Kathy Hodgkinson.

Powers, Deir and Hodgkinson were also the only members with special constable status. Special constables are given authority by the Department of Natural Resources to seize animals from homes.

According to a spokeswoman for the department, new special constable appointments will not be made until new regulations under the Animal Health and Protection Act are proclaimed. She said this is expected to happen in the fall.

Powers said relations between herself and the board have been difficult over the last year.

“It’s one thing for the public to be angry with us over things that perhaps haven’t pleased them, but when your own board give (you) a little bit of a difficult time, then it’s time to go. I was accused of not wanting change.”

In the two days prior to the Oct. 15 meeting, she began to notice an uptick in new membership purchases.

“I think we recognized a lot of people there from other groups,” she said. “I would suggest Heavenly Creatures were well represented (at the meeting).”

A new board was selected, though the meeting was adjourned early to determine who amongst those in attendance were members in good standing and eligible to vote, according to current board member Lynn Cadigan, who has been involved with the St. John’s SPCA for 11 years.


Not going no-kill

Cadigan is adamant there are no radical changes on the horizon for the St. John’s SPCA.

“We would not be using the term ‘no-kill’ anywhere in our future plans. I can tell you that unequivocally. We are not changing our direction such that we’ll become a no-kill organization.”

A second meeting to conclude business relating to the annual general meeting was held Oct. 29, at which point the election of the board was completed. It will meet on Tuesday to appoint its executive.

Heavenly Creatures president Jessica Rendell said her group is not attempting to infiltrate the SPCA.

“If (Powers) is trying to claim this is some sort of hostile takeover by Heavenly Creatures of the SPCA, then nothing could be further from the truth, because we’re too busy running our own group,” she said.

Powers said she has heard complaints from some board members questioning how hard SPCA staff and volunteers have worked to place animals in homes.

“I would suggest, with all due respect, that they come and spend a few weeks at the shelter and hear the excuses (regarding) the animals that are brought in to us. Most, sadly, are surrendered animals these days. They are not strayed and abandoned animals.”

Powers said the SPCA cannot operate with a no-kill policy because there will be too many animals to look after, adding many of those it receives are not suitable for adoption.

Hodgkinson said while she can understand concerns raised over the euthanization of animals, she thinks there is a divide between those who do not want to see animals get killed yet understand the need to do so and others who outright will not tolerate having animals euthanized.

She said multiple years spent in a cage is no life for an animal.

“I think there’s sort of a philosophical difference in whether one perceives that death is the ultimate horror or whether it’s not and how animals perceive that,” she said. “I think animals live for the here and now.”

Rendell said if a group commits to taking in an animal, it should fully commit and provide whatever is necessary to help them succeed.

“We don’t believe in killing healthy animals,” she said, adding she hopes the changes at the SPCA will help improve the group and lower the number of euthanizations taking place.

She commends the work done by Powers but believes a change in leadership may serve it well in collaborating with other groups interested in animal welfare.

No matter her own feelings about how her decision to leave the SPCA plays out, Powers wishes the group nothing but the best of fortunes in future endeavours.

“They have a big role to play, and I wish them Godspeed, I really do.”

Cadigan said the loss of people like Powers and Deir is a tremendous one for the St. John’s SPCA.

“It will present challenges for us, but we are prepared to face the challenges and deal with them.”

Cadigan said the group will strive to increase adoptions and work at addressing the root causes of the over-population of pets in Newfoundland and Labrador. An interim manager is in place to keep its shelter on the RCAF Road in St. John’s open.



Organizations: The Telegram, Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, RCAF Road

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Recent comments

  • Samantha
    November 06, 2011 - 00:57

    First of all I would like to say Thank you to Debbie Powers for all her years of dedicated service to the welfare of animals in this province. It is a sad loss to see her go. Secondly, in my experience, Heavenly Creatures makes a good "poster child" for a no-kill organization, but in reality, they are more like a used-pet dealer. They charge more for purebred animals, which makes no sense at all seeing as how they claim that their first concern is finding homes for animals. They like to be in the spotlight and take every opportunity to shoot down the SPCA and Humane Services by using the term "killing" when referring to euthanasia, doing them a real injustice. They take the animals that need thousands of dollars for surgery, when that money could go to spaying/neutering dozens of animals at a time, actually helping to reduce the pet overpopulation in this province. They often "abandon" animals in their foster homes, leaving the people to either find a home for that animal themselves or eventually taking them to the SPCA, because sometimes that's the only option. And if the shelter is full, where is that animal supposed to go? Heavenly creatures only responds to a small amount of the emails and phone calls that they get. They get to take a few animals, make a big to-do about rescuing them, while leaving the SPCA and Humane Services to do the real dirty work. While there is no proven connection between HC and the events at the SPCA, it is indisputable that the misinformation spread by this group has had no small impact. No one wants to put down animals, but if there is no legislation in effect to prevent puppy mills from profiting island-wide, who do you expect to deal with the thousands of animals dropped off at the shelters? I think it would be wonderful if all the animal rescue groups could work together towards a common goal, and if the shelters had more funding, and if there were laws that prohibited backyard breeders, and so on....the reality is that for now, there are more unwanted animals than there are homes for them. I think it is more of a kindness to euthanise an animal rather than have it stay in a crowded shelter, or worse, left on the streets to fend for itself.

    • bernie budden
      February 19, 2013 - 03:45

      i know it is difficult to change legislation, but with diligence and determination, it can be done. i suggest you get enough people working petitions and present to , first of all, the pet stores who sell pets which they are buying from puppy mills and back yard breeders. many many petstores across canada have bent to this pressure. the second step is to put A LOT of pressure on government and A lot of outcry to them to stop allowing stores to take these poor little animals from those sources. Most canadian provinces have been succesful at banning this practice!! PLease call together groups, organizations, individulas, petowners, eveybody you can enlist for their help and support to acheive this important remedy. Thank you

  • bucky
    November 06, 2011 - 00:31

    I do hope people realize that, however good the intentions, fostering is not always best for the animals. If an animal is rehomed too many times it can develop crippling anxiety issues which can manifest as aggression, perceived behavioral problems or even physical illness . Animals are not people and do not deal with changes in the same ways. It should also be noted that the spca is a not for profit organization that relies on donations. Simply saying that they should be paying for the spaying and neutering is not a solution. If you really want to help the animals please donate to the spca. Even with the recent changes they are still the best resource for the animals.

  • Heather
    November 02, 2011 - 18:17

    I worked as an SPCA volunteer, and later a paid staff member for 11 years, leaving in 2003. I knew Debbie Powers, Susan Deir, and Kathy Hodgekinson personally, and I can assure you that they were extremely good at their jobs, which was to help make the world a better place for animals in need. Their hearts, brains and abilities were in the right place, and I can assure you that their loss is not a good thing for the animals of this province. It may be true that Debbie can be seen as a bit divisive and stubborn, I can assure you that she was right more often than not. Newfoundland has a deep-rooted culture of animal abuse and neglect compared to many places on the mainland that boast no-kill shelters. Until people come to grips with the fact that animals breed, they get sick, vets aren’t free, and there’s no such thing as an “outdoor dog”, Newfoundland is no place for a no-kill shelter. The only way that one has existed thus far is because other facilities have done their dirty work for them. And there is dirty work, believe me. It was heartbreaking for us to have to select healthy animals to “go to the vet” because we were full to the brim. Many times, one of us retreated to the basement to have a cry, and that includes those who resigned yesterday. To anyone who honestly believes that he or she has a better idea of how the St. John’s SPCA should be run, be warned that it is much, much harder than you think. It takes more than a good heart and the best of intentions to properly run an animal shelter. Without the years of service given by people like Debbie, Vi, Susan, Kathy, Anne… the SPCA never have survived near as long as it has. There’s no way to come up with an ideal shelter in a far-from-ideal situation.

  • Beth
    November 02, 2011 - 13:23

    I think personally that if Vet Clinics would lower there prices on spaying and neutering, than there wouldn't be as many dogs and cats getting pregnant....alot of people can't afford $300 to $500 for that surgery!! I think this is a big reason why there are so many dogs and cats out there.

    • catgal
      November 02, 2011 - 14:55

      Very true, Beth. This province has to do something to help low income families afford the cost of spaying/nutering as well as educating the public. Vet clinics are making a fortune, and animals and their families are the ones who suffer.

  • kate
    November 02, 2011 - 10:55

    The main message for this whole thing is that change is good, and necessary. There are simply too many pets in this area. So do we look at a short-term solution, euthanization, or do we look to a longer term sustainable solution: spay/neuter programs, low cost vet clinics and education. Main biggest concern with the SPCA is that their main concerns have been how to cope with rising costs of euthanization and disposal of bodies along with finding a vet to do it. Surely it is more cost effective to spay/neuter and then in the longer term, the population will be reduced. Petsmart has a spay/neuter program that organizations can apply for to build their own clinic, this is what the SPCA should be actively doing, this city needs a low cost clinic! The other thing is adoptions, how can people adopt if they cannot go to the SPCA as their opening hours are so short, and they don’t have much information about the animals online? Other SPCA clinics have a much better adoption system online, why can’t they do it here? For example, there are 3 dogs on their adoption profile right now, does that mean they only have 3 dogs for adoption? Costs are a huge issue, vet prices here are too high, in the Bahamas, I adopted a dog from the Bahamas Humane Society for $50 and this included her Spay and vaccinations. This society is amazing how they advertise, educate, and run their organisation. The St Johns SPCA needs to look wider at what is successfully being done in other places, Canada, USA and beyond and implement these successful programs into an updated approach to animal shelters and pet problems in St Johns. This city is moving forward, lets move forward with the SPCA.

  • Pet Lover
    November 01, 2011 - 22:38

    In my opinion the St. John's SPCA needed a change and to move forward for the sake of the animals, not for personal gratification or notoriety. Several years ago our personal experience with the SPCA did not leave us with a good impression, which caused us to lose all respect for the group. We applied to adopt a dog and were told at the time they didn't see a problem with the adoption, but they (SPCA) needed to check the information we supplied and to call back in a day or 2. Also, no one else had requested this animal, therefore we were first on the adoption list. However, when I called a few days later, I was informed that we were second on the list and if the other party didn't want the dog; we could adopt it. When asked how we became 2nd and that we were told no one else was interested in this dog; we could not get an answer from the SPCA staff. Several days later, (just before they closed for the day), I received a call from the SPCA stating the other party changed their mind and we could adopt the dog; I informed the young lady that we were at work and unable to leave at this time, but would be at the shelter first thing in the morning. I was very shocked and will never forget the response I received from this person; she informed me that we had to pick up the dog today; if we couldn't pick it up today we couldn't adopt it; as they had no room. When asked what difference one more night made, considering the poor animal had been there for weeks or longer...I couldn't get a logical answer, just that it was policy and the animal would go to someone else. The explanation given, etc. left us with a sour taste for this group and questioning how interested they really were in helping the animals in their care. Some have commented that they are the most backward of the SPCA shelters in the province.....we would have to agree. Due to our experience we decided to foster an abandoned 10 yr old unspayed dog from Heavenly Creatures: we later adopted this beautiful Senior girl; thanks to HC this dog has a new lease on life. We do not take sides, but believe it is very unfair to blame groups such as HC, Beagle Paws, Humane Services and other SPCAs because of the way St. John's SPCA didn't want to move forward or were afraid of change.

  • germaine
    November 01, 2011 - 20:48

    Often times change is good for any organization. Familiarity does breed contempt. I respect Ms. Powers for her good work over the years, however, I think the SPCA has been too quick to euthanize. Much too quick. So a board turnover is right at this time. There are outlets and solutions out there for these animals, social media for one. Times are changing here in NL, people's thinking regarding the welfare and care of animals is changing for the good. I'm more inclined now to donate to the SPCA as I know there'll be more thought and consideration going into animal welfare. New blood and ideas are a good thing.

  • germaine
    November 01, 2011 - 20:37

    Often times change is good for any organization. Familiarity does breed contempt. I respect Ms. Powers for her good work over the years, however, I think the SPCA has been too quick to euthanize. Much too quick. So a board turnover is right at this time. There are outlets and solutions out there for these animals, social media for one. Times are changing here in NL, people's thinking regarding the welfare and care of animals is changing for the good. I'm more inclined now to donate to the SPCA as I know there'll be more thought and consideration going into animal welfare. New blood and ideas are a good thing.

    November 01, 2011 - 20:14

    For all those people who want to say negative comments about the spca .... There are just as many with Negative comments for HC .. I personally have been in contact with both threw out the past 4 to 5 years getting help with different animal related rescues and concerns ... But this i will say without the SPCA this would have never been possible .. My only question is "NO KILL" well what happens when everyone is full and there's no foster homes and no where for them too go... They get discarded , tossed to fend for themselves, starve to death and die . I would love to save them ALL but to be realistic and as a good friend and animal lover of mine would say "there are worst things than death " .. And in regards to the two members who have resigned I never personally meet two people who helped and did as much as they did ... They did it for the animals because they cared and weren't in it for themselves and self gain .. I support them 110% and without them now im afraid the situation will only get worst !!!

    November 01, 2011 - 20:11

    For all those people who want to say negative comments about the spca .... There are just as many with Negative comments for HC .. I personally have been in contact with both threw out the past 4 to 5 years getting help with different animal related rescues and concerns ... But this i will say without the SPCA this would have never been possible .. My only question is "NO KILL" well what happens when everyone is full and there's no foster homes and no where for them too go... They get discarded , tossed to fend for themselves, starve to death and die . I would love to save them ALL but to be realistic and as a good friend and animal lover of mine would say "there are worst things than death " .. And in regards to the two members who have resigned I never personally meet two people who helped and did as much as they did ... They did it for the animals because they cared and weren't in it for themselves and self gain .. I support them 110% and without them now im afraid the situation will only get worst !!!

  • Peggy
    November 01, 2011 - 18:31

    I stand CORRECTED regarding Heavenly Creatures. Obviously, I certainly did not have all the true facts.

  • Mike Pike
    November 01, 2011 - 15:42

    Wow!! This is by far the most responses I've ever seen for an on-line article on the telegram.com. If people were only half as passionate about real issues that affect...oh I don't know.... PEOPLE!!

    • Mel
      November 02, 2011 - 10:47

      mike - someone has to speak up about these issues, these poor animals have no voice to speak up for themselves! it is sad when you see the spca put down kittens just because one in the bunch is sneezing... or has runny eyes! the other article posted says they have put down 65% of their animals.. that is just insane!!! like tracy said set up a foster system! there are alot of people out there that will help! and mike if you dont think this is a real issue how about you go to the vet hospital and watch a kennel full of kitten be put down for no reason... you look into their eyes and hear their cries then tell me this is not a real issue!!

    • catgal
      November 02, 2011 - 15:05

      To Realistic: It is highly unlikely that the situation at the SPCA will get any worse...I am often on the fence about no kill myself, but the reality is the SPCA in St. John's was doing an awful job. 65% of their animals being euthanized...not good enough. If they are adament about no-kill, they have to do a better job at keeping their shelter open longer, adopting a foster program, etc. And to clarify for you, of the two people who resigned, one of them was a paid employee, so she did have some, as you put it, "self gain".

    • Catsputin
      November 02, 2011 - 21:17

      Mike, Just because we're passionate about this issue doesn't mean that we're not concerned about people issues too!

  • Tracy
    November 01, 2011 - 14:54

    I currently live in a place where the SPCA is a no-kill shelter and it works quite well. The animals stay there until they find a home, the only downside is a waiting list to get animals in there. I think the waiting list is worth saving some wonderful animals lives that just need a little longer to find that special home. I am also a volunteer and foster for an animal rescue that operates without a facility and by use of foster homes. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and one of the hardest. The work required to do this is more then a lot of people will ever know. Before you throw insults at either of these rescues in the article, step up and volunteer and see what is about first. Until you walk in these generous volunteers shoes, you have no right to voice your opinion on what you do not know.

  • Concerned Animal Lover
    November 01, 2011 - 13:40

    Peggy, you don't have all the facts of what you are talking about. Yes, HC has a waiting list. Why don't they help the SPCA by taking their animals? BECAUSE THE SPCA DOESN'T ALLOW IT! HC takes in animals that need THOUSANDS of dollars worth of surgery, would these animals be deemed adoptable by the SPCA? No. They take in problem dogs that are hyperactive, not house-trained, not leash trained, bad with cats, not great with other dogs and get them the help they need by putting them in dog-experienced foster homes or enrolling them in training classes with local trainers. HC has also placed senior dogs. You do not know what you are talking about. This issue should not be about HC and I'm confused as to why they are being dragged through the mud for mis-information being put out there by Debbie Powers. The St. John's SPCA never said they were adopting a no-kill policy. They are just trying to lower their euthanasia rates by implementing policies that increase adoptions. Some of the Board members didn't agree with that and have quit. That in itself should say something about the way the SPCA has been run in the past. End of story.

    • Cat
      November 01, 2011 - 21:38

      Dear concerned animal lover Thank you for putting this information out there! I am witness to what you say. People who are criticizing HC know very little to nothing about them. I have been in awe of the work that HC does for its animals for years! Those who have left the SPCA are generating this BS in an attempt to save face.

  • Kent
    November 01, 2011 - 13:21

    The problem of neglected and unwanted animals begins long before the SPCA or other like-minded groups get involved... We are living in a throw-away society. The latest bull$shit excuse for giving up a pet these days is the old allergy excuse. I would have more respect for these people if they admitted that they just didn't want the animal anymore.

  • Friend of animals & all shelters
    November 01, 2011 - 13:13

    There is a lot of good re SPCA, Heavenly Creatures, Beagle Paws, Humane Services – and of course some detractors. (from a person who has had contact with all). All people in these organizations love animals & all have to do difficult things. Heavenly Creatures – next to impossible to get a pet placed with them (even a strayed animal that a person has found) – largely because their foster families are full – there aren’t as many adoptions as one would like. (as others have stated - every pet is not considered equal & HC will just not take some even very adoptable pets). Sometimes people have to hang around a long time for a scheduled appt & of course, there is always the dynamic of having to get a foster family to bring an animal to meet the prospective adoptive family. HC relies on volunteers for almost everything – transport, food for animals Generally very difficult to get HC to return phone calls – including from people who have adopted from them before – even re adopting another pet (they sometimes have ideal situation they are looking for for certain pets – some purebreds, etc.) I have known excellent families who have called & left messages / e-mails for them – I can’t imagine why. Of course this turns people off. They do take on high profile cases – injured animals – esp by cruelty & have to raise a lot of $’s for extremely high cost operations, etc. Beagle Paws does this to a much lesser degree – SPCA & Humane Services – probably not at all. HC has had fundamental differences w the way the SPCA operates for many years – euthanasia percentages, hours of operation, phone system – including paying for after hrs answer telephone. HC has wanted to build a no kill shelter for years – one that is much nicer than cages. Yet, Humane Services & SPCA have to take all animals. SPCA – I believe that HC’s concerns w office hrs, phones, etc. are valid. Sadly due to the number of animals being born, many are ending up in shelters & the euthanasia rate is much higher than anyone would like. While Ms. Powers indicates that “sadly, are surrendered animals these days. They are not strayed and abandoned animals” – I think that in reality it is much better to take a pet to an animal shelter than just release it to the elements or keep it confined without care. There was a limited City of St. John’s program in the last few years that provided subsidized or free spaying for extremely limited numbers of animals. That was a step in the right direction. All shelters require people adopting pets to sign a contract that they spay or neuter their animals when they reach a certain age or within a certain time period. I believe that this cost should be added to the adoption fee & that the person get the spaying fee refunded when they can provide proof of spaying or neutering. (i.e.: prevent animals from breeding - & this is impt for male & female animals). Heavenly Creatures & Beagle Paws adoption program is fabulous – you carefully pick an animal & with their agreement – you can foster it to see if it works out. While I personally have adopted animals, the decision is extremely difficult to take on an animal & possibly find out it is just not a right fit – for instance if the animal is not using a litter box or has other bad habits. But, having the option for a short time foster might give you a wonderful pet – that you wouldn’t have taken a chance with otherwise. It would do the SCPA well to have a fostering program – so animals don’t have to be held in cages for a long time. + the SPCA having longer hours would obviously help. I am not a beagle owner – but I have had absolutely wonderful experience when I have supported & interacted w the people at Beagle Paws – for instance, they promote having individuals or families coming by to take dogs for a walk or for longer times – ideal for people who cannot commit to a pet – but want to help. I don’t know exactly who is behind getting a lot of new people w new ideas on the board of the SPCA . I do know that caring people have tried to make changes at the SPCA from both within or outside & that they were frustrated with the SPCA not doing so. My opinion (with the huge # of memberships in a few days before the AGM, is that this takeover of the board was orchestrated) & I believe that certainly some people w ties to HC & other no kill shelters were involved. It is a pity that this is essentially arguments between people who all want the best for animals – given the limitations of space, finances, etc. My heart goes out to the SPCA people (& St. John’s Humane Services) & animal services in other jurisdictions who have dedicated their lives to this difficult work & to those at Heavenly Creatures Beagle Paws. I think that steps really need to be taken to spay & neuter pets – so these shelters are not overrun w pets & everyone: pet owners, the city & the shelters (through having prospective pet owners paying for needles & spaying up front & getting a rebate of those portion of the fees when they / their vet provide proof of those services. Essentially sterilization would be the biggest gift to the animals we as a society have & would result in far few unwanted pets in the future.

    • toots
      November 01, 2011 - 14:02

      Well said! It's easy to criticize from behind a computer... BUT the work these people do is amazing. It's difficult & to dedict your life to it, on either side is challenging. But at the end of the day, working TOGETHER to help the animals is the most important thing. Animals are disposable to a lot of people and society needs a wake up call to realize just how much harm we've done! Educating, low cost spay/neutuer programs, a no kill shelter, proper assessments of animals to determine the ones who are beyond help, etc are all steps in the right direction. We ALL need to take a little more responsibility! I personally think "breeders" --- and I say this loosely --- should have to be registered... While many breeders are responsible - a lot are backyard breeders... They sell to anyone who comes along with the cash and many (even the purebreds!) end up in shelters :( There is so much we need to fix it's almost overwhelming when you think about it all, BUT each step forward is in the right direction!

  • sherry
    November 01, 2011 - 12:49

    I can see both sides of this issue. As a cat owner I hate the thought of ANY cat or dog being put down but there comes a time when reality must be faced, not all rescue animals can be rehabilitated so unfortunately they have to be put down. I am greatful for the groups who try to have those that can be adopted adopted. We got a 1year ols cat through our vet, she helped my dad have a wonderful last few months. She is now my treasue, and has helped me through the loss of my 18 year old cat. I am glad my vet and the rescue group(NOT SPCA) worked so closely together. When I have to find a new cat this is the way I will go.

  • Anna
    November 01, 2011 - 12:45

    I gave a big donation to the SPCA yesterday. Had I known about Debbie Powers, I would have never done so. I have great respect for Debbie and all the work she has done for the SPCA over the years. These people who think that keeping dogs and cats in cages forever is going to help the animal are crazy. Ms Rendall is living in a dream world. Fostering animals is not going to happen to all those animals bought to the SPCA. What you will see is many animals fostered out, not neutered and left to roam. Surely someone with 40 years experience has to count for something.

  • JT
    November 01, 2011 - 12:09

    There would not be such a burden on shelters if the humans were not so dam selfish, stupid and cruel. How many people buy a cute pup or kitten for their kid for christmas, and once the novelty wears off, throw the unfortunate pet out to fend for itself. Then you have people breeding their pets to make a quick buck, selling the animals to people who are not fit to own a pet, it's digusting. We don't have an animal problem, we have a people problem.

  • Nancy
    November 01, 2011 - 11:27

    I welcome everyone here who supports a kill policy to go to your local SPCA, look at all the animals, play with them, run their heads, let them lick you and love you. Then I want you to pick out the first one to die. THAT is what you are supporting. Unless you can do this, DO NOT support a kill policy. Because choosing death is exactly what you are doing.

  • Peggy
    November 01, 2011 - 11:26

    Nancy, If there is a waiting list at Heavenly Creatures, why don't they simplify that by taking some of the burden off the SPCA by taking more of their animals? WHY? Because as one of the Volunteers mentioned , Heavenly Creatures will take only animals that they know are/or eventually will be, adoptable. That way, they also can stick to their policy of No-Kill. Heavenly Creatures are a great organization, but not for the "unadobtable" animals, who may still have a few years left.

    • Sally
      November 01, 2011 - 12:59

      PEGGY - Heavenly Creatures does not only take in the adoptable animals. They take in older animals, timid animals, animals who need much training before they can be adopted, animals with broken legs, injured eyes, missing ears, infections, in need of surgery...etc. They take in the very sick and pay for any and all vet care needed. The SPCA is reluctant to work with Heavenly Creatures in terms of transferring animals. The SPCA will not transfer animals from the shelter to the foster care of Heavenly Creatures, for whatever reason.

    • Nancy
      November 01, 2011 - 15:13

      I agree with you Peggy. I believe all animals should be given a chance - regardless of age. Beagle Paws provides foster homes and permanent homes to dogs of all ages. It is definately a poilicy that should be incorporated across the board. I wish so badly all of these organizations worked together and incorporated policies that work for everyone and the animals.

  • KristaB
    November 01, 2011 - 11:07

    Corner B'y Tom, read the other posts before giving your opinion, otherwise you sound quite ignorant. Heavenly Creatures doesn't operate a shelter, it's a foster based program so 'having a place big enough' is not the issue. They operate out of the founder's home because they have no need to do otherwise, it would only waste money that would go toward animal care. As for being a 'money grab,' if you know about non profit organizations you would realize that they are just that - no profit. They are highly regulated and monitored, there's no money grabbing going on.

  • Fluffy
    November 01, 2011 - 10:55

    I've dealt with the SPCA in an adoption situation, and I fostered for Heavenly Creatures. We got a wonderful dog from the SPCA a number of years ago, and had a very positive experience during the adoptionprocess. We signed an agreement to prove that we had the dog spayed after we got her, and I feel like they asked the right questions prior to releasing the animal to us. The adoption fee made sense, and we ended up with a very loyal pet for many years. While fostering for Heavenly Creatures we were offered to have expenses (ie. food, etc) covered for the pets. However I will say this, if I hadn't actively looked to place the pets with people I knew, I would likely still have them. Heavenly Creatures ends up with a large number of cats and dogs in their care, and there are only so many places for them to go. I know of a person who volunteers with them and she has MANY cats, some of which she inherited by fostering, and they never got adopted. I see the beauty of both shelters, but I do understand that the SPCA can only handle so many little critters. There are very tough decisions to be made at times, but someone really DOES have to take that stand. At least until we can get a mandatory spay/neuter program, or a government sponsored program.

  • kristaB
    November 01, 2011 - 10:42

    The point here is that the St. John's SPCA needs to become more progressive and that has been recognized and dealt with. Of course at this point no kill is not an option, given the space limitations of the shelter and a transformation like that cannot happen over night. But opening the lines of communication with other shelters and rescues would be a step in the right direction. Humane services has done this and Heavenly Creatures even fundraised for them at times (for animals in need of surgery, etc.), they also send animals to rescue groups voluntarily to be fostered if they have been at the shelter for too long. A lot of things need to change, especially the high cost of spaying/neutering for low income families, but any step in the right direction is a good one. And Hunter, I do see where you're coming from, but sadly I think rescue and shelter workers have seen far too many dogs abused in the name of hunting by ignorant owners so they have become hyper sensitive, even to people like you who are actually doing your dogs a favor by giving them the opportunity to do the 'work' they were bred for.

  • Corner B'y Tom
    November 01, 2011 - 10:34

    It's obvious to me that Heavenly Creatures wants to take over the SPCA because they do not have the finances or place big enough to take in any more pets. I'm hearing they operate out of an apartment in the downtown. Does Jessica Rendell director of Heavenly Creatures also live off the donations then? And how come now they are making this a big issue now? Power grab if you ask me.

    • Nancy
      November 01, 2011 - 11:19

      I'm sorry to advise you Tom that your facts are wrong. Heavenly Creatures is sustained by a group of dedicated individuals. Animals are not kept at an on-site building. They are actually all placed in foster homes. If you actually educate yourself on their website and FB page, you would know that money raised is to pay for various vet bills so that the animals are not destroyed. Also, all foster homes have all necessary supplies given to them (ie: food, toys, etc.) by HC. Finally, this is not a "power grab". The unfortunate history is that HC has been promoting a "no-kill" policy for years with the SPCA and this is not the first time this issue has arose. It's just the first time it's been made public. We all need to work together and not put down one group or another.

    • Rod Lyver
      November 01, 2011 - 12:00

      What an idiotic ill informed comment. You have no idea of what you speak. The only obvious thing here is your complete lack of facts.

  • hunter
    November 01, 2011 - 10:22

    The SPCA has no choice but to selectively put down some animals. To be a complete no kill shelter is a hard thing as there are just way too many unwanted animals out there. I have always owned dogs and a few years ago looked into rescuing a dog ( I will not say where too). Now a little history is I am an avid hunter ( weekends and I take holidays in the fall). All my dogs are house pets first and hunting dogs second. I truly enjoy spending a day on the barrens or in the woods with my dogs and they enjoy it as much or more than I do. My dogs are kept in the house in the night time and have a clean dog run and warm houses they are in during the day time and also access to my heated detached garage. I was however turned down for adoption of a dog a couple years ago as I indicated on my application I would be using the dog for hunting. I fully explained the situation and even offered someone to visit my house to see how the dogs live. I have a very well loved lab and english setter that sleep on dog beds in our bedroom every night and eat the best of dog food on the market. I think that some of these organizations associate hunting dogs as mistreated and abused and have tarred everyone with the same brush. Some of these dogs do not make great house dogs if they are not used for the purpose they were breed for and many develop depression and act out if they are not given a purpose in life. These dogs then are considered non-adoptable and would spend the rest of their lives in a cage, which I assure you is not what a dog wants to do.

    • toots
      November 01, 2011 - 13:52

      I agree that hunters often get a bad rep... I grew up with dogs as hunting dogs; they were pets first though! Unfortunately there are SO many people in NL that still have "old" attitudes and ideas of hunting dogs... keeping them hungry, no affection, etc or makes them not want to hunt :( Obviously not everyone is this way, but some dogs spend a very miserable existence living in a very small kennell or chained on... never getting any attention or care :( This is what people remember and see. I purchased a pure bred lab a few years ago - she's a queen, not a hunter as I don't hunt, but the first place I applied to (breeder) denied my application saying that my dog couldn't be left alone for 8 hours a day while I was working. I can't be angry at them... at least they care where their animals are going and what kind of life they have. Too many breeders see the $ signs and couldn't care less what happens to them. As it turns out, my dog comes to work with me... every organization & breeder, etc will sometimes overlook people that would provide amazing homes. I think everything works out in the end as you end up with the animals you're meant to have!

  • Bleeding Heart
    November 01, 2011 - 09:45

    I have had only one experience with the SPCA, and it wasn't a good one. Several years ago, I lived downtown in St. John's. A beautiful white cat started sleeping on the back step of my apartment. I was not allowed to have pets in my apartment, so I called the SPCA with my story. I don't think they believed me. They wouldn't take the cat, stating they only took strays. Luckily, it was summer, so I put a comfortable bed on the back step for the cat. I moved that fall and took the cat with me. I could not afford to take this cat to the vet when needed, and eventually had her put to sleep (at my expense) which just broke my heart. I lost all repect for the SPCA that day.

  • Concerned Animal Lover
    November 01, 2011 - 09:34

    Wayne, you are mis-informed about Heavenly Creatures. If you don't know what you are talking about it is probably best you not give your opinion. Animals in Heavenly Creatures care do not spend ANY time locked in a crate! They are all in foster homes throughout the city and surrounding areas. They have full rein of these homes and it will remain that way until they are adopted into their forever homes. No-Kill doesn't mean that the animals are living in filth. There is no over-crowding in dirty shelters. Animals that are healthy and deemed adoptable are not needlessly euthanized. What everyone should be dwelling on is how expensive it is to spay/neuter your pets... that's the cause of the over-population problem - that and the lack of education. Animal Welfare should not be about Kill vs No-Kill. We should all be working together, all groups with all their differing views, to protect our animals.

  • Denise Critch
    November 01, 2011 - 09:31

    While in an ideal world no kill would be an excellent solution but realistically there are not enough homes out there! I have had several people contact me and say that the no kill shelters have either not taken their animal because of lack of room or have not even had the decency to return some people's calls! What becomes of these animals, probably result in dumping! I would love to see all animal's lives saved but sometimes there are worse things than death! I also agree with an earlier statement that it begins with education on neutering! We also need some funding or for some cooperation form the vets on this!

  • Nancy
    November 01, 2011 - 09:15

    People should know the truth of this matter. That certain members of the SPCA have hated and have attempted to make life very difficult for Heavenly Creatures over the last several years. A no kill policy does not acutally mean animals will live in cages of the rest of thier lives - it means that animals will be placed in foster homes until a permanent one comes along. I think the two members who have put in their notice are being very selfish and not taking the animals into consideration. They are just trying to prove a point because they don't want things to change. I've been involved with rescuing animals for many years and I speak the truth. We need the SPCA, The Humane Socity, Beagle Paws and Heavenly Creatures to all work together - not against one another. Untimately all these organizations are working towards the same goal - to save animals. Lets just make things better for all groups, and especially the ones directly affected, the animals.

  • Nancy
    November 01, 2011 - 09:07

    It is quiet obvious that the general population is not aware of the Heavenly Creatures or Beagle Paws successful foster home programs. In actuality, Heavenly Creatures have rescued numerous animals from the SPCA from being destroyed and have successfully placed them in either foster homes or permanent homes. It is from my understanding that there is actually a waiting list to obtain an animal from Heavenly Creatures. There is always, ALWAYS an alternative to needlessly killing another being, whether it be animal or human. I ask that everyone educate themselves on these options instead of taking the easy way out with the lethal injection. Knowledge is power - and can actually save lives in this instance.

  • Concerned Animal Lover
    November 01, 2011 - 08:34

    I think what Debbie Powers has said in this and other articles these past two days is a misrepresentation of what is actually fact. The SPCA is not going to be "no-kill" they are just trying to adopt as many animals as possible. What is so very wrong with that? Up till now, with Mrs. Powers at the reins, the SPCA has been killing over 60% of YOUNG and HEALTHY animals. Not just the old and sick. She has also painted a very negative picture of No-Kill rescue groups. Not every no-kill group house their animals in a filthy facility like Debbie has implied. Foster programs work and the animals are kept in warm and comfortable homes until they are adopted. Not every animal can be saved but we should at least try to aim for saving all we can. Some animals are not adoptable and although the decision is a hard one and not taken lightly, no-kill groups like Heavenly Creatures will NOT place these animals in adoptive homes if the behaviour is known before hand. The decision is always made with public safety taking precedent. It is time for the St. John's SPCA to evolve. Debbie has done what she can for the SPCA and it is now time for a new progressive system to take her place. I'm looking forward to the positive changes that are undoubtedly going to be put in place this coming year. Now all we need is the Government to stop procrastinating and get the new Animal Health and Protection Act put into place.

  • SPCA supporter
    November 01, 2011 - 08:20

    Let's not lose sight of the animals in all this. I spoke to the need for new legislation for updated animal laws at the PC conference in Gander 2 years ago. Let's hope this new law rolls out soon. Meanwhile, get out and support the SPCA at this Saturday's sale!

  • wayne
    November 01, 2011 - 08:17

    The radicals have won another victory. The SPCA and Ms.Powers have done wonderful service for decades with a handfull of volunteers. To all of you who trumpet the "no kill" cause, think about the alternative. Animals living in crates for years crowded together. I have fostered dogs for years and I know that I will stop all support to the SPCA if they adopt this policy. Groups like Heavenly Creatures have good intentions but misguided ideas. They will spend thousands of dollars on vet care for a sick or wounded animal that will spend the rest of its days locked in a crate. The animal care facilities at the various municipalities will now be a better alternative than the SPCA.

    • Concerned Animal Lover
      November 01, 2011 - 09:37

      Wayne, you are mis-informed about Heavenly Creatures. If you don't know what you are talking about it is probably best you not give your opinion. Animals in Heavenly Creatures care do not spend ANY time locked in a crate! They are all in foster homes throughout the city and surrounding areas. They have full rein of these homes and it will remain that way until they are adopted into their forever homes. No-Kill doesn't mean that the animals are living in filth. There is no over-crowding in dirty shelters. Animals that are healthy and deemed adoptable are not needlessly euthanized. What everyone should be dwelling on is how expensive it is to spay/neuter your pets... that's the cause of the over-population problem - that and the lack of education. Animal Welfare should not be about Kill vs No-Kill. We should all be working together, all groups with all their differing views, to protect our animals.

    • J
      November 01, 2011 - 10:09

      Ms. Powers has had it in for Heavenly Creatures since the very beginning. From my understanding, there were people at the meeting that have been volunteering with Heavenly Creatures, Beagle Paws, and other SPCA's from across the country. After seeing the way the St. John's SPCA has been run, those people are shocked and appauled... that should tell you something. Ms. Powers has an archaic approach to animal welfare - in that, kill them, and you don't have to deal with them - when there are many options available, Ms. Powers is just unwilling to let anyone else have any input. It was time for her to leave the organization 10 years ago. Animal welfare should focus on helping animals find homes, this is something the SPCA had completed lost sight of. I personally have high hopes for the new board and the direction it should have. Hopefully, they learn to work with other groups and SPCA's and implement some of the new strategies they've successfully adopted.

    • Cat
      November 01, 2011 - 21:07

      Wayne, are you personally acquainted with instances where animals have received costly medical treatment only to be "locked in a crate" for months like you and others here have implied? I think not!!! Get your facts straight!

    • catgal
      November 02, 2011 - 15:17

      Wayne, my son. go do a bit of research before you make such ridiculous comments. #1: Ms Powers worked with much more than a "handful" of volunteers. #2: The St. John's SPCA has SEVEN paid employees. #3: I have been a supporter of all the local animal org's for years, including HC and let me tell you this--when the sick and wounded animals come out of the vet, they only stay in a crate long enough to get to their foster or forever home. Get a clue before you blab your own misguided ideas about what HC is.

  • CB
    November 01, 2011 - 08:01

    I think a change is in order at this shelter in terms of management. My husband and I went there in search of a dog this summer and didn't have a very good experience at all. The hours made it very difficult for us to go view the animals, and when we asked about giving a donation, nobody ever got back to us (I tried several times). We had much better luck with humane services and the rescue groups who gave us the impression that they actually cared about what they were doing. Maybe the staff at the SPCA has just seen too much and have become discouraged, but hopefully this change will breathe new life into things there.

    • anon
      November 01, 2011 - 10:12

      I had a similar experience at the SPCA. I didnt feel good about going there, and I certainly didnt feel good about the attitude of those working there. I have since adopted from Heavenly Creatures and wish the SPCA all the best in moving forward. Hopefully there will be many improvements in their future.

  • KristaB
    November 01, 2011 - 07:54

    While I don't think that 100% no kill is possible, I can say from personal experience that there was a serious resistance to change at the SPCA in St. John's. It was/is the most backward of the SPCA shelters in the province, resisting offers from other rescue groups to help take animals and foster. It is a very 'old school' shelter. I think a change will do them good.

    • Wendy Clarke
      November 01, 2011 - 10:20

      Well said Krista......it's been well known for years and I am delighted to see the possiblity for change at the shelter! www.voiceforcanines.net

  • Wanda
    November 01, 2011 - 07:52

    This is an extremely sensitive dilemma. While I cannot bear the thoughts of helpless animals being euthanized, in reality, what choice does the SPCA have? If some dogs and cats are not adoptable, probably due to age, size, temperment, or health, unfortunately they cannot be kept at the SPCA facilities indefinitely. The public can help by having their pets spayed or neutered. If you cannot love them unconditionally, or afford the expenses and proper care associated with having a pet, don't get one in the first place. I am not condoning euthanizing of animals; it breaks my heart; but we have to face the unfortunate sad facts of the reality of such a situation. I'm sure that the staff at the SPCA feel extremely overwhelmed with grieve and sadness each time an animal has to be put to sleep due to circumstances beyond their control. Heavenly Creatures do not have a small fraction of animals that the SPCA does. Maybe to give the SPCA some much needed help, people should start bringing unwanted or neglected animals to Heavenly Creatures. Then they would truly understand what SPCA employees and volunteers are going through. Does anyone really think for one second that the SPCA wants to make a final deciwsion to euthanize a helpless animal?

  • BI
    November 01, 2011 - 07:39

    I think all of the shelters should be no kill!! These people are quitting so they can get public support for killing these animals. It isn't their fault.

    • Volunteer
      November 01, 2011 - 08:27

      Well if that's what you think then you are obviously, naive, uneducated, ignorant or all of the above. The next time you have a 8 year old dog that doesn't get along with other animals and you try to get a no-kill shelter to take him You will see very quickly how that works. The no kill rescues in this province will take animals that are easily adoptable and/or money animals. There is only so much these rescues can do and people and rescues need to stop being so judgmental and start realizing these groups all have the same goal. A crazy thought but maybe working together or at least not fighting every step of the way might get some things accomplished.

  • Charlene Sudbrink
    November 01, 2011 - 07:36

    The root cause of the over-population, leading to tremendous abuse cases in our province, is the lack of EDUCATION, and the lack of free or very low cost spay/neuter clinics. These clinics are available in other provinces and countries, why not ours???? Wow!!!! , not open to gradual change and new ideas that have been adopted all over the world through vast research and implimentation?