Pet shelters forced to cut back

Donations down, bills stacking up

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Two animal shelters in the province have shut their doors and another faces an uncertain future, an outcome blamed in part on dwindling donor dollars and fewer Manitobans taking in unwanted pets.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/01/2011 (4237 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two animal shelters in the province have shut their doors and another faces an uncertain future, an outcome blamed in part on dwindling donor dollars and fewer Manitobans taking in unwanted pets.

D’Arcy’s A.R.C. is no longer accepting new animals, faced with a full shelter and roughly $10,000 in unpaid bills.

“2010 was the worst we’ve ever had with donations, adoptions and extra cash flow to get us through,” said owner D’Arcy Johnston. “It didn’t happen this year.”

JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Sugar (above) is getting cross-eyed looking for someone to come along and provide a home. The cat is currently at D’Arcy’s A.R.C. shelter.

Johnston said the no-kill shelter is behind on bills, including a $2,400 hydro and $7,500 vet bill. Adoptions netted roughly $50,000 last year, down from a typical $90,000 to $100,000, he said.

Johnston doesn’t plan to close, but is cutting back services for now in a bid to last the year. As for callers with unwanted animals, “right now I’m telling them to send them to 510 Main St.,” he said, referring to the city hall address. “The city has a huge problem. They’ve not addressed it.”

The Steinbach Humane Society recently shut its doors and is seeking donations to cover an unpaid $3,900 vet bill. The Pas and Area Humane Society stopped taking animals in December and will likely stay open just a couple months longer to find new homes for the remaining animals.

Board president Avery Ascher in The Pas says the group struggled with chronic volunteer shortages, a lack of sustainable funding and limited board expertise on running a shelter. Ironically, legislation aimed at protecting animals also contributed to that shelter’s demise after the society realized its building wasn’t up to snuff under the recently revised Animal Care Act. It was improperly insulated in some places and lacking space for a quarantine area for sick animals, among other issues.

Ascher said she’s optimistic about a new shelter, currently in its early stages, getting underway in The Pas.

The Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) saw cat adoptions drop 16 per cent last year as of the end of November, CEO Bill McDonald said. December numbers were not available.

Cat euthanasia was up 29 per cent in the same time frame. The WHS euthanizes thousands of cats annually due to lack of space, medical or behavioural issues, or at the owner’s request. Dogs are also euthanized, but in much lower numbers and never due to space limitations, McDonald said.

Some shelter owners think the drop in donations and adoptions is due to Manitobans curbing overall spending. “I think the economic times have really started to impact people,” said Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter executive director Carla Martinelli-Irvine, who said her shelter felt the pinch last year.

Johnston said small, no-kill shelters struggle to stay open without civic or provincial funding. He also suspects there are just too many animals on the market. “Everybody has a cat,” he said, adding the city might look at reviewing its bylaw limiting pet numbers.

Volunteer burnout is an issue for many cash-strapped shelters, said McDonald, adding his group has 135 paid employees and 700 volunteers. And pets are easier to come by with the help of the Internet, he said.

The Thompson Humane Society is holding its own, said board president Oswald Sawh, but doesn’t rely on donations. About 80 per cent of the group’s revenue comes from fees for services.

 

lindsey.wiebe@freepress.mb.ca

Seeking shelter

 

Winnipeg Humane Society, by the numbers:

2,353: cats euthanized last year, excluding December

2,127: cats adopted in same time period

193: dogs euthanized

1,042: dogs adopted

$5.3 million: 2011 operating budget

135: full- and part-time employees at the WHS

700: volunteers at the shelter

40,000: volunteer hours logged last year

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