The animal shelter in Sydney has made huge improvements since the SPCA took over the branch, says the provincial director of animal care for the Nova Scotia SPCA.    

The organization took over the branch nearly two years ago, following a nasty court battle with the local humane society.

In 2011, the Sydney animal shelter was criticized for bad smells, overcrowding, alleged animal mistreatment, a lack of protocols for cleaning and a haphazard system for examining sick animals.    

But provincial SPCA director Sandra Flemming’s latest audit gives the SPCA-controlled shelter a glowing review.       

“All the animals looked great, and they were very relaxed. It was a wonderful visit,” said

sydney spca

The SPCA is working to update the building and add space for more animals. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Flemming has been inspecting the Cape Breton branch for five years.

In her review last month, she said everything at the shelter has improved significantly — from cleanliness, to animal control, to finances.

“And I have to say the shelter is the best it's ever looked. When I was there last ... I was very very pleased with all the care being put into the building and the animals,” she said.

Jeff Dursi took over as manager in February. He said the shelter is finally turning a corner and he's pleased the audit validates their progress

“We have come a very, very long way in nine months. So it was rewarding to see that effort recognized on paper,” he said.

Dursi said the shelter has nearly paid off a $60,000 debt. He said it still faces some significant challenges and has had to cut some staff as a cost-saving measure.

He said the SPCA is working to update the building and add space for more animals, but Dursi said the positive review will help the shelter raise more money and win back public support.