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The Saint John SPCA has cut its executive director's position as it struggles with recent budget cuts. (CBC)

The cash-strapped Saint John SPCA is getting rid of its executive director’s position as a way to keep its doors open.

The animal shelter has been in trouble since the city slashed its funding in half this spring.

The shelter also recently moved into a larger location on Bayside Drive.

Melody McElman, the president of the SPCA’s board of directors, said cutting the executive director’s position was strictly a financial decision.

"By dropping that position we can keep our building open, certainly not have to look at any layoffs, further layoffs at this time," McElman said.

The animal shelter employs 15 people.

McElman wouldn't divulge how much the job cut will save the SPCA.

Kari Poore, the outgoing executive director, declined to be interviewed.

'We experienced a cash-flow problem'

McElman said there are several factors why the shelter couldn't afford to keep the executive director’s position.

"The economy and the over population of pets in this city, the fact that we did not have our city contract formalized and a number of other mitigating factors, we experienced a cash-flow problem," she said.

As well, McElman said veterinarian costs have "gone through the ceiling."

The news of the budget cut came as a surprise to some of the shelter's volunteers.

Tina Standing operates a pet grooming clinic out of her home in the city's north end and has been a long-time volunteer and former board member with the Saint John SPCA.

She said she was surprised at the move to drop the shelter's executive director.

"Where it seems to be going right now is it seems there won't be a shelter. Perhaps if we don't get funds in there and a stream of revenue, we won't have a shelter," she said.

The SPCA was one of several agencies that faced cutbacks in Saint John’s 2012 budget.

In 2011, the SPCA received $160,000 from Saint John and it still posted a $50,000 deficit. The agency had asked for a $200,000 contract, instead it received $80,000 in funding in 2012.

The city and the SPCA approved a new contract in May that confirmed the $80,000 budget and had the city pay $18,000 to tear down the animal rescue league’s former building on Taylor Avenue.