Yesterday it was announced that the NS SPCA lost the pound contract with the HRM, and a company called "Homeward Bound City Pound" was the successful bidder.
Everyone always has their own spin to every story - the SPCA has theirs, I'm sure that the HRM has theirs, "Homeward Bound" will have their own - and I have mine.
I'll give the SPCA's theirs first.
In their press release they say -
The SPCA is disappointed by this news, as it means that abandoned and stray animals will be at greater risk for euthanasia and less comprehensive care.
That's a highly subjective statement as far as I'm concerned. They don't know how the next company is going to treat the animals coming into their care. We all know that the current SPCA hasn't treated animals all that well in past years - killing Celtic Pets dogs for seemingly reasons other than what they said they did it for. And before 2002 they were still using a gas machine to kill dogs here in Halifax - killing over 50% of the animals that came through their doors - and only in the last several months have they stopped using a gas machine at their Cape Breton branch.
The new company that is taking over has named their president as being Hope Swinamer - who is one of those stainless people in the local humane community - owner and operator of the "Hope for Wildlife" rehabilitation and education centre over on the Eastern Shore. So her organization is going to be coming in with quite a bit of built in good will.
The other things said in the SPCA press release were just as highly subjective - as if their organization is the only one who could take care of the long term behavioural, physical, and medical needs of animals coming into their care from Animal Control - simply because they are an SPCA it seems. I don't buy it. I don't buy their spin.
And here is my spin.
It is my opinion that shelters should shelter. SPCA's should not have pound contracts. Period. It puts them in conflicts of interest. They are supposed to be advocating for animals, and when they are taking money from governments that are taking animals from people - they cannot advocate for those people and their animals. It is wrong.
As well - pounds should be places where any and all animals can be surrendered - and a shelter the size of the Dartmouth SPCA will never be able to fulfill the needs of the HRM as an open admission shelter - especially since it has recently turned itself into the Provincial shelter for the NS SPCA.
So we are definitely at a major crossroads for the NS SPCA. I think the organization is looking at this as a major defeat - but I personally see this as a fabulous opportunity. It is a chance for the organization to become what it was meant to be.
An organization dedicated to enforcing the animal cruelty and prevention act here in Nova Scotia - protecting the animals here from being harmed, providing advocacy for animals, working to bring all the branches together under the umbrella of the Provincial office so that everybody is operating on their own anymore and doing whatever the hell they feel like - but working as one cohesive unit - with the same policies and procedures throughout - having the Dartmouth shelter being the main shelter where animals from across the province come when they require shelter - and adopting them out from there.
I think setting up their low cost spay and neuter clinic is needed more than ever to generate income and they should do it whether the city kicks in funds or not - they now have some space at the Dartmouth shelter that's being vacated by Animal Control and can do some renovations - and they can hire some shelter staff to do some very intense short term fundraising to accomplish that.
And I think that it will be really important for all the rescue community to work together in the coming months so that we can help the new Animal Control facility be a success - if the new company is owned by a positive person such as Hope Swinimer - hopefully the organization will be open to working with local rescues when animals come into their facility - which will make their life a lot easier - they can just turn animals directly over to them - saving a lot of lives in the process.
One thing in the City's document was slightly troubling though - and it had to do with the fact that the successful bidder had a better plan with what it was going to do with animals that had to be kept on a long term basis - and I'm assuming that this means that the City is planning on continuing to keep animals for long periods while it pursues cases through the court system - trying to kill the dogs and their owners try to keep their animals alive. That is not a good thing to hear. I would hope that the City instead would be trying to work on legislation that has time limits on court cases so that the cases work their way through the system faster and justice is meted out quicker - thus saving pain, money, and a dog's very short life. That is too bad to hear.
If you're interested in reading why I don't think that SPCA's should have pound contracts - there's a whole philosophy behind it - and guess what, Nathan Winograd - and the beginning of the whole No Kill Movement is involved. It's in a post I wrote back in 2006. You can read it at - http://dogkisser.blogspot.com/2006/03/temperament-test-rant.html