The Saskatoon SPCA will no longer investigate animal abuse. It's unclear who will
As the city's primary animal welfare organization steps away from its role in investigating cases of animal abuse and neglect, it isn't clear who will take its place.
On Monday, the Saskatoon Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) announced it will end its enforcement role on April 1.
It will still operate its shelter, the city pound and provide adoption servies.
SPCA executive director Graham Dickson is feeling “incredibly frustrated,” and told CTV News the decision has been a long time coming.
“We’ve been underfunded for so long and the effects of that have shown. Our work isn’t as good as it could be because our employees don’t have the resources and tools to do their jobs,” Dickson said.
When announcing the change, the SPCA said it made an unsuccessful pitch last year, along with the Regina Humane Society, for provincial funding.
The SPCA’s two animal protection officers (APO’s), appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture, have been doing this work for close to 40 years without funding from the province according to Dickson.
Money comes from fundraising and donations as well as a grant from the City of Saskatoon for around $160,000 a year, which covers a small percentage of costs, Dickson said. The annual operating budget for the SPCA is around the $2 million mark. That goes to things like wages for the 25 staff members, medical expenses for animals and building operations.
APOs respond to calls from the public about animals being neglected or abused and take steps to educate the owners or in extreme cases, lay charges under the province's Animal Protection Act.
Last year the SPCA investigated 865 cases of animal abuse or neglect, according to the organization.
“At this point forward, our role will be one of advocacy and to make sure this work is done and done consistently across the province. It doesn’t matter who’s doing it, as long as it’s being upheld,” Dickson said.
Outside of Saskatoon and Regina, animal protection is handled by Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan (APSS), a non-profit that receives funding through the Ministry of Agriculture.
APSS has received $2.8 million over the past three years. The organization was incorporated in 2015 when the provincial SPCA ceased operation.
According to Don Ferguson, Executive Director of the APSS, they have 9 employees across the province who deal with issues of protection when it comes to animals such as dogs which make up half of their calls, as well as horses, cats and cattle and other species.
In the absence of animal protection in Saskatoon, Ferguson said the legislation allows for the RCMP and police to enforce animal legislation and that APSS won't be able to fill the void.
“We are not in a position to absorb other duties,” when the SPCA stops their services in Saskatoon.
Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) said its “been involved in preliminary discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture and City of Saskatoon but is not currently in a position to take on responsibility for full animal protection services"
"As it has in the past, the SPS continues to be prepared to respond to emergency issues where animals are injured, diseased, or dangerous," said in an email
Dickson said he's hopeful that another agency takes over to continue the important work.
In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Agriculture said "animal welfare remains a priority" for the provincial government.
"We are currently exploring alternative enforcement models for an equitable, consistent, and affordable service across the province," the statement said.
In its statement, the ministry pointed a failed attempt to seek additional funding from Saskatoon city council during budget deliberations last year.
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