‘We’re still here’: Fort Erie SPCA working to help animals amid financial pressure – St . Catharines Standard


Fort Erie SPCA Kennel Co-ordinator Carlie Howard and board member Horst Wolff inside one of the cat rooms at the agency's shelter on Jarvis Street. Fort Erie SPCA Kennel Co-ordinator Carlie Howard and board member Horst Wolff inside one of the cat rooms at the agency's shelter on Jarvis Street.

The past two years have been trying times for the Fort Erie SPCA, ranging from unsubstantiated allegations of animal cruelty to the agency no longer handling animal control duties for the town.

But manager Wendy Trombley said one message needs to be heard loud and clear.

“We’re still here, ” she said.

That’s not to say that it’s been easy. The loss of the contract with the town earlier this year punched a big hole in the agency’s finances, Trombley said.

“The town contract and licensing were 75 per cent of our revenue. It was around a $300, 000 loss approximately. ”

It also resulted in the layoff of the SPCA’s animal control officer as well as a vet tech, Trombley said, adding that more layoffs may be coming at the start of 2023.

Regardless, animals are still being cared for at the Jarvis Street shelter. Currently, there are 17 dogs housed, along with seven canines out on trial adoptions as well as 40 cats plus kittens.

A partnership with Pet Valu, which has provided the shelter with some funding has provided some relief, Trombley said and the funds from donation jars around town are good.

But the accusations of animal cruelty levelled against the organization still sting. Those allegations proved unfounded, she said. An investigation by the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) resulted in no orders against the agency. The investigation found the Fort Erie SPCA, which was established in 1954, to be complying in most areas and only made recommendations concerning euthanasia of wildlife.

PAWS inspector Mike Draper went as far to note that “the shelter looks in good condition and the animals well cared for. ”

But the negative publicity chilled donations. One donor who had made substantial donations in the past — including to help the SPCA build an addition to the shelter — withdrew an offer of a $50, 000 donation, said Don Lubberts, who until the recent municipal election, was council’s representative on the board associated with directors.

“It was rough for a time, ” he said. “We took a pretty good hit but it’s beginning to smoothen out now and it’s getting back to normal. ”

“The community has built this shelter with donations, ” Trombley added. “That’s important to Fort Erie. They should be recognized for that. They’ve always had our back. ”

Meanwhile, Horst Wolff, a new member of the board, said there is confusion among the public with the Lincoln County Humane Society now handling animal control and licensing services for the town.

“People out there are holding back and saying, where do we really go? ”

He stated members of the public needs to know the SPCA is still available to them.

“We’re still open. You’re welcome to come here. ”

Trombley, meanwhile, said the SPCA is looking at other ways to bring in revenue to keep the protection afloat.

“We’re offering a grooming service to help offset cost, ” she said.

The SPCA will also be offering pet photos with Santa on Nov. 26 from 10 a. m. to 3 p. m. at Beachcombers in Ridgeway.

The shelter also continues to accept animals through people who can no longer care for them, but without animal control authority from the town, the particular SPCA can no longer respond to calls to come out into the community.

Late last month, the SPCA was able to take in pets of a St . Catharines man and his six children who were about to become homeless after both the LCHS as well as the Niagara SPCA and Humane Society both said they could not take in the man’s dog and four cats because no space was available.

“The man was desperate. He had six children, his youngest being three years old, ” Trombley said.

The particular man’s dog — a Shih Tzu named Gizmo — and four cats are all boarding at the SPCA, Trombley said, and the kids can come in and visit all of them while the family looks for a new home.

“I couldn’t refuse something like that ever, ” Trombley said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *