At the end of June 9 out of 11 members of the Yarmouth SPCA's Board suddenly resigned - because they disagreed with the direction that the Provincial Board of the SPCA was trying to take them - and they were saying things like they didn't agree with the new "governance model" that was being presented to them, that money they raised at their own branch was going to have be sent to Provincial - and then sent back to them before it could be spent - basically that the Provincial Board has become a very tough task master and very onerous and on their backs all the time.
At the same time - the Provincial Board has suspended the president of the Pictou Branch -
Ms. Garland seems to have the same problem as the folks in Yarmouth - but she's got a couple extra complaints about what Provincial is trying to impose upon her shelter in Pictou - like oh my dog - horror of horrors! Continuing to adopt out animals over the holidays!
"She said they asked them to change adoption papers, requested the shelter’s hours of operation be extended and are dictating how things are run at the shelter.
Garland said the Pictou County shelter was asked to renovate its building after an audit was conducted, and is doing so now. They have been asked to open on Good Friday and near Christmas for adoptions.
“That is not the day to adopt animals,” said Garland. “It’s a last-minute thought for people to get an animal for Easter and it comes back the next week."
In April when I went to the SPCA's AGM - I knew something was up. When the Executive Director was talking about what their plans were for the coming year - she was talking about what they were going to be doing with the different branches around the province - and it really sounded to me that what she was planning on doing - (and let's face it - I'm going to use the term "she" from now on - because it's Kristen Williams who runs the NS SPCA now, and not the Provincial Board or anyone else, and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that - because I personally think that what's going in, for the most part is fabulous) - was to strip all the branches of any meaningful power that they had - they were going to lose any voting power that they had at Provincial Board meetings almost immediately after the AGM - that was the only thing members voted on at the AGM - an "endorsement to reduce board size and composition" - as well as "an edorsement to accept new directors between elections" - thereby nullifying the reaons for ever having an AGM or voting members in one fell swoop.
So what is happening in the NS SPCA? Is it good, or is it bad?
First I will say what I think is happening. The person who is the Executive Director - Kristin Williams, who is a super brilliant individual - is trying to take the NS SPCA into the 21st century.
She is trying to build the organization into one that she envisions it - if you go and read their Strategic Plan for 2011 - 2013 - it's all there.
Kristin has not hidden anything that she wants to do.
She has many goals that are between 3 and 5 years that include strengthening and changing the governence of the branches of the SPCA across the province;
- To making Nova Scotia a no-kill province through the development of pet retention programs, trap-neuter release, low cost spay-neuter, etc.
It's a 3 page document and well worth the read - it's at http://www.spcans.ca/about/documents/StrategicPlan2011.pdf and you should go check it out - especially page 3 where she talks about the "No Kill Equation" and she says that part of it is -
10. Pro-active owner redemptions - One of the most overlooked areas for reducing killing in most animal control shelters are lost animal reclaims. Shifting from a passive to a more proactive approach has proven to have a significant impact on lifesaving and allow shelters to return a large percentage of lost animals to their families.
When Bill Bruce came here to talk about animal control that was one of the things that blew me away about his city - the fact that they go so far to reunite lost pets with their owners - they consider animals LOST, not STRAY.
So why is everyone at the branch level so pissed off with the Provincial branch? It's about control - the Provincial branch is taking away control - and I actually think that you are going to see the district boards around the province disappearing - they are definitely not going to have a seat on the Provincial board in the near future I don't think.
Also - the SPCA is getting out of the Animal Control game as well, which I think is fabulous - I have said tons of times that animal control should be a function of the municipality or town - and never contracted out - not to an SPCA, or a private company - so I am blissfully happy that finally the SPCA agrees with me - it has been brought up at the last 2 SPCA board meetings. So we'll see what happens with that.
So long story short - can a bunch of pencil pushers in Halifax run a charity all across Nova Scotia?
Today they put out a press release asking for volunteers to help run the SPCA down in Yarmouth. At the end of the day they still need bodies on the ground to run the organization.
My biggest fear is that all of these reforms, all of these paradigm changes are being handled and managed by one fantasmagoric dynamo of one person - Kristin Williams - and there is no one else on earth like her.
What if some company in Ontario sees what she's doing here and offers her a $150,000 job starting in 2 weeks? How could she refuse that?
And where would that leave the NS SPCA? Who could possibly fill the shoes that she's been wearing and that she created?
I am quite sure that the organization would crumble almost immediaitely. That is my worry. I hope it doesn't happen.
I don't know that there's anyone in Nova Scotia who understands the "Carver Model" who'd be willing to fill her shoes and take the shit, and implement what needs to be done, and do 50 other tasks in a day - and have 20 other fires going.
So is the NS SPCA imploding? Not if everybody would follow the company line.
But when you have volunteers who've been there for 28 years and think they have everything figured out - that is a really hard objection to overcome. I don't envy anyone that.
But I do love that there is someone trying to move the NS SPCA organiztion into the 21st century - their strategic plan is a thing of beauty, the fact that Kristin gets out there and goes and speaks to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, and the different town's Councils about their bylaws - and how the SPCA can help them - and that they've realize that their organization was created to shelter animals, not impound them - is all amazing.
But that's airy-fairy - and you have the staff and volunteers who are collecting bottles, having barbecues to raise $50 - so that the kittens they're fostering can get their vaccinations - and they don't understand why that money has to take such a long trip.
So I guess we'll see how it all shakes out in the wash. I hope it's the animals who win out in the end.
Don't be hatin'