Saint John council has given final approval to the city's new contract with the SPCA Animal Rescue.

The $80,000-per-year contract will see the SPCA handle dog control and emergency services for cats that are injured or near death.

Under the contract, the SPCA will get to keep the money it collects from dog licences, expected to be between $5,000 and $10,000 annually.

Council was told if every dog in the city was licenced it would generate an estimated $170,000 a year, but the city lacks the authority to enforce the rule.

That angers councillor Ray Strowbridge.

"It bothers me that our bylaw enforcement officers can't go out and lay down the law," he said. "No wonder the dog licencing is so low, there's no repercussions to it. But that's a failure of the bigger system, not us."

The SPCA agreement will last five years.

Earlier this summer, the president of the SPCA had said the shelter might be forced to close.

The animal shelter has been in trouble since the city slashed its funding in half in March. The shelter also recently moved into a larger location on Bayside Drive.

The SPCA was one of several agencies that faced cutbacks in Saint John’s 2012 budget, a budget that eliminated $9 million in services across the board.

In 2011, the SPCA received $160,000 from Saint John and still posted a $50,000 deficit.

This year the agency asked for a $200,000 contract; instead it received $80,000 in a new contract in May, for dog control only. The city also paid $18,000 to tear down the animal rescue league’s former building on Taylor Avenue.