Town can't afford 'Cadillac' animal services, C.B.S. mayor tells union

C.B.S. Mayor Terry French is defending cuts to the town's humane services department, saying the level of service was above and beyond what other towns offer.

CUPE's Brian Farewell says cuts will result in more animals being put down instead of adopted

C.B.S. had ended its animal adoption program and cut two full time staff at its humane services department. (Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society)

The mayor of Conception Bay South is defending cuts to the town's humane services department, saying the level of service being offered was not sustainable and went above and beyond what other municipalities offer.

"If we were a town of wealth and had lots of everything, this would be normal everyday business, but we're not in a position like that, and it's unfortunate." said Mayor Terry French.

"We thought we were offering a Cadillac service above and beyond what our neighbouring municipalities were offering."

CUPE, which represents town workers in C.B.S., is criticizing council for cutting two of four positions and for ending the animal adoption program that used to be run out of the pound.

Brian Farewell of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says cuts to the C.B.S. humane services department will result in more animals being put down. (CBC)

Union representative Brian Farewell told the St. John's Morning Show that the facility used to be open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and animals were taken for daily walks and outings.

As well, the adoption program had placed 341 animals with families over the last three years, vaccinating, de-worming and spaying/neutering them before their adoption.

CUPE says more animals will be euthanized

Farewell said the animals won't get the same level of care, and more will end up being put down.

He said 433 animals went through the humane services facility on Terra Nova Road last year, mostly dogs, that were picked up while roaming or left there by owners as a last resort.

"It was a well cared for clinic. But now those animals are going to be left from 4:30 until 8 a.m. the next morning in kennels and not let out to do their business," he said.

The town of Conception Bay South says it simply can't afford to pay for people to be walking dogs every day. (CBC)

While animals can still be adopted if they aren't claimed by their owners, they won't be spayed or neutered.

"You're going to see more animals euthanized, there's no question," Farewell said.

He also questioned why residents were not properly informed about the changes.

Not sustainable, says mayor

But French said council is facing a serious financial crunch.

He said there will still be a humane services department that will be staffed seven days a week, but it just won't have the hours and same programming as before.

"The days of just dropping off your animal because you don't want it anymore is over." 

He said people will have to bring unwanted pets to animal shelters in the region, though he stressed that it's individuals who should be responsible for their pets first and foremost.

Terry French is the mayor of Conception Bay South. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

French said the animals at the town facility will still have clean cages and food and water during the evenings. But he insists town simply can't afford to have four staff at humane services, with people getting paid to take dogs for walks when there are 240 kilometres of town roads that need repair.

"We have nine schools in our community. Many of these kids have to walk Route 60, which is the fifth busiest highway in the province, and there's no sidewalks," he said. "So obviously as a council that has to be our prioirty."

Farewell said the town recently hired two new managers, and he believes the cost of that will chew up most of the savings from a scaled-back humane services department.

With files from St. John's Morning Show