Saint John struggles with strays

Some Saint John area residents are wondering what the city is going to do about stray dogs and cats now that the SPCA-Animal Rescue has stopped providing animal control services.

City seeking animal control service that's affordable and safe

The Saint John bylaw enforcement office is busy fielding calls about stray dogs and cats now that the SPCA-Animal Rescue stopped providing animal control for the city.

Earlier this month, SPCA officials said they could no longer afford to offer the service after city council slashed the non-profit organization’s budget in half to $80,000 as part of overall budget cuts.

That has some residents like Allen Rodgers wondering what is being done to fill the void.

Rodgers said a cat and three kittens recently showed up on his son’s front lawn, so Rodgers took them to the SPCA.

The SPCA-Animal Rescue stopped providing animal control services for Saint John earlier this month. (CBC)

But staff said they wouldn’t take them and told him to call the city, he said.

"So we called animal control, and they told me to take them to the Animal Rescue League.

They wouldn't take them, so..."

SPCA officials refused to comment on the issue.

The city is currently handling all calls about animal control and animal licences, said spokeswoman Nancy Moar.

"We continue to seek a solution that will provide animal control services that are fiscally responsible and will address public safety concerns for the community," she said in an emailed statement.

Since March 1, the city has taken 11 calls, four of which were violations of the animal control by-law, said Moar.

Two of those were reported to the Saint John Police Force and the other two, which did not involve public safety, were recorded, she said.

Rodgers said his situation worked out. He went public and calls came in from people wanting to adopt the strays.

But something needs to be done to stop similar situations from happening to other people, he said.

"The two parties need to get together and decide what they're going to do. If the Animal Rescue League ain't gonna do the job, then they better look for another organization that will do the job."

The SPCA usually receives between 10 and 15 calls a day about strays or nuisance animals, officials have said.

It provides food, shelter, and medical services to more than 100 animals.

Last year the SPCA received $160,000 from the city. That went toward keeping a vehicle on the road to respond to calls, plus medical care, food and shelter for the strays.

But the operating costs fell short by $50,000. So, this year the SPCA had asked for an increase - a contract worth $200,000.

On Feb. 1, council passed the 2012 budget, which cut $9 million in services across the board. Animal control was one of those services.

SPCA executive director Kari Poore previously told CBC News she was worried about an increase in the population of stray animals, particularly at this time of year.

"I’m really, really concerned for the animals," she had said. "We took great pride in making sure these animals were taken care of."