Town of Hay River takes over SPCA following animal rights dispute
The organization will now be called the Hay River Animal Shelter
A long-simmering dispute between the Hay River SPCA and the Town of Hay River, mostly over how to handle people who mistreat animals, has ended with the SPCA handing the animal shelter over to the town.
"We're there to kind of work with the people," says Hay River Mayor Brad Mapes, who supports the town's more conciliatory approach, which includes issuing letters and fines.
The SPCA, on the other hand, wants to see those pets taken from the owners — something Mapes says doesn't work.
"If you're going in and aggressively telling them that you're going to remove an animal, and take it away from them, that doesn't work."
The situation came to a head in July, when a dog needed medical treatment for a cyst or tumour on its neck.
"The owner said he would not spend more than it costs for a bullet," remembers SPCA president Heather Clark Foubert.
But protective services director Ross Potter says he'd been speaking with the pet owner, and saw veterinary bills for treatment the dog had received.
That doesn't sit well with Clark Foubert, who thinks Potter is being deceived, citing the fact that the operation would have cost thousands of dollars — money she doesn't think the owner would have spent.
"We were frustrated and flabbergasted as well as heart-broken about the dog," Clark Foubert wrote in a Facebook post announcing the SPCA had decided the town would take over the shelter.
"It suffered needlessly while the town did nothing."
That post garnered hundreds of shares and comments, many condemning the town.
"I read a few of the comments," says Mapes. "It's tough to swallow that I'm an animal hater, or that council is an animal hater."
The town, which is the owner of the main animal shelter building, pays for the operation of the shelter as well as $50,000 towards salaries.
Starting August 31 the shelter will be contracted out to new management made up of former SPCA employees.
The organization will be called the Hay River Animal Shelter, rather than the SPCA.
Mapes says the shelter will continue to adopt out animals or send them to other shelters, rather than euthanize any animals.