New Brunswick

Dog tethering rules take a bite out of SPCA budget

The New Brunswick SPCA is struggling to enforce new dog tethering laws and may have to abandon the work without more financial help, says the executive director.

Enforcement contributed to $80K deficit last year and organization needs help, says executive director

Responding to each tethering complaint costs about $250, according to Hilary Howes, executive director of the SPCA. (Animal Rescue Coalition)

The New Brunswick SPCA is seeking financial help to deal with the enforcement costs of new dog tethering laws in the province, says the executive director.

Otherwise, the animal welfare organization may not be able to continue to police the rules that took effect in December, said Hilary Howes.

"It resulted in a deficit of over $80,000 last year," said Howes. "It wasn't all due to the tethering, but we had a general increase in complaint calls last year about neglect and abuse cases in particular."

Under the new rules, dogs can no longer be left tied outside between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. for more than 30 minutes, unless someone is outside with them and within 25 metres.

Hilary Howes, executive director of the New Brunswick SPCA, had estimated enforcement of the tethering rules would cost about $50,000 a year, but says it has pushed the organization into a deficit. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
Howes had previously estimated enforcement would cost the SPCA about $50,000 a year.

But the organization has responded to about 350 calls to date, he said.

Each tethering call costs about $250, with just under half of that subsidized by the provincial government, said Howes.

The SPCA already struggles to pay for the animals it must house and have treated, particularly in hoarding cases, he said.

"We're asking for financial assistance from the public and volunteers to help with fundraising events, those sorts of things," said Howes.

Despite the struggles, Howes does not regret lobbying for the new rules.

"While it did hurt us financially, it did a lot of good," he said.

With a potential fine of between $500 and $200,000, compliance has been almost 100 per cent, Howes said.

New Brunswick became the first province to ban the tethering of dogs 24 hours a day on Dec. 1, just months after public outrage over a Kent County dog being tethered to its snowed-in doghouse while its owner was away.

The regulatory changes came following a 28-day public consultation period, followed by an educational transition period.

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