Today, like any given day during the year, there are people doing what they can to improve the lives of others and enrich their community. Work is continually being done in every small village and every large city by people who just want to make a difference and give something of themselves. This weekend I dropped into the Curl Moncton facility to witness the turnout for an event being hosted by the Greater Moncton SPCA. The annual curling event is one of the year’s biggest fundraisers for the GMSPCA, and the folks involved in organizing and running this event are passionate about improving the lives of homeless pets in our region. As anyone who works in animal rescue will attest, the job is never done. You don’t turn off the lights and lock the doors at the end of the day. Animals are in need 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Meeting these needs requires endless amounts of work. It also requires money – lots of it! I was fortunate to get to speak with Dave Rogers (Executive Director for GMSPCA) and Nanette Pearl (Director of Animal Welfare). I thought I knew a fair bit about the SPCA, but some of the things that they shared astounded me.
The Greater Moncton SPCA is the largest shelter east of Montreal. That I knew. What I didn’t know was that it requires roughly $1,000,000 annually to operate this shelter. Of that one million dollar operating budget, only $9000 comes from government grants. The rest, nearly $1,000,000 annually, comes from public donations and fundraising initiatives. That is A LOT of money needed each and every year. Raising funds is a daunting and never-ending task. In addition to the curling event, the GMSPCA also relies on income from other annual events that they host such as the Spring Yard Sale and The Dog Jog held in the fall. I’ll take the time here to give a nod to the generous sponsors who contribute to make these special events a success: Tom Cormier & Associates – The Cooperators, Advocate Printing, Argus Hearing Centre, Vito’s, Armour Transport, Van Houtte, and Fancy Pocket.
It is hoped that a new program launched in 2016 will in time help to secure a reliable monthly income. The PAW Plan is a Pre-Authorized Withdrawal plan for donations. It is a monthly contribution that is deducted from the donor’s bank account or charged to a credit card. Tax receipts are issued for the full contribution. By knowing how much money will be coming in each month, the GMSPCA is able to plan ahead, care for more animals, and spend less on administrative costs. If you are able to contribute a small amount monthly, this could be the perfect program for you. If every person in Moncton gave $1.00 the shelter’s veterinary bills for the year would be covered. Please consider giving if you are able. Look into the PAW Plan (www.monctonspca.ca/paw-plan) if monthly giving sounds appealing, or check out the many other options available to help (www.monctonspca.ca/you-can-help).
I’m sure that most people have no idea what it costs, not only to operate a shelter facility, but also to care for the animals themselves. Here is just a sampling of costs that you might find surprising:
- During the winter, heating costs equal as much as $6,800 per month.
- The shelter goes through 200 pounds of cat litter EVERY day. Not only does the shelter have to purchase the litter, they also have to pay a waste management company to dispose of it.
- The GMSPCA needs to replace a washer and dryer every two months. They launder 100-150 blankets and sheets per day.
- The shelter uses 80 pounds of dog food per day.
- The adoption fee for a cat is $90, but on average it costs the shelter $250 to care for the cat and prepare it for adoption.
- Every day, 6-10 new animals some into the care of the GMSPCA (2,200-3,700 per year). Each of these animals requires veterinary care, food, and general care. The adoption fees do not begin to cover expenses.
- Staffing costs, insurance, building maintenance, and cost of utilities are all substantial when running a facility that must operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
There is a charity called the SPCA Foundation Fund that provides additional funds to the shelter on an as-needed basis. This charity runs Bingo two nights per week, and the profits are held and administered separately from the GMSPCA. If the financial situation becomes particularly challenging during any one period, the GMSPCA can apply to use some of these funds to cover critical expenses. Mr. Rogers describes this charity as a “second sober thought”, which ensures that only finds that are truly needed are provided. This provides a much needed security net for an organization that has such demand on its finances each and every month.
Mahatma Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” The Greater Moncton SPCA is just one of many shelters and rescues that are striving to save lives and make a difference. All that I have outlined here provides only a glimpse into what is required to run an animal shelter, but the difficult work that is tirelessly being done, speaks to the greatness of our citizens. Money will always be needed to continue the work, but without the caring of the people involved, the money would be of little value.