The cost of no-kill

Justin Crann
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MJHS first proposal double Prince Albert SPCA contract

Moose Jaw's taxpayers may have been left on the hook for a humane society philosophy.

Jewel is one of the many cats housed at the Moose Jaw Humane Society. She has been at the shelter for four weeks.

"The city has to pay for every idea, inefficiency and employee they have," said Matt Noble, Moose Jaw's city manager. "The city has to pay all of those costs, and they keep the money they raise from people like you and me (in donations)."

Noble met with the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Wednesday to discuss the Moose Jaw Humane Society's (MJHS) contract proposal, the city's counter-proposal, and the humane society's response. 

The Times-Herald has seen the correspondence through the city relating to these negotiations.

As has been reported, the MJHS initially requested $386,053 from the city for pound-keeping services. 

That offer sat on the back burner until October, when Noble — who had just recently taken on his position as city manager — suggested a contract to the tune of $200,000.

City administration is not authorized to make formal offers, Noble told the Times-Herald, but the $200,000 figure was one "we would be willing to support" when bringing forward the proposal to council.

The MJHS declined, instead responding with an offer of $329,000, with five per cent annual increases. That contract would eclipse the organization's initial offer in value in its fourth year.

Noble said he took issue with the contract because of its valuation of certain services, and the city declined the offer.

The contract requested 5,400 days of kennelling at a rate of $22 per night, which would equate to 1,080 five-day stays. But according to documents Noble presented, the humane society only handles 959 animals that are the city's responsibility per year.

Surrenders are not considered the city's responsibility.

By comparison, the Prince Albert SPCA (PASPCA) handles a similar number of animals, according to Debbie Lehner, its executive director.

"We handle 400 to 500 dogs per year, and probably about the same in cats," she said. "In total, we handle anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 animals a year. But it fluctuates."

According to Prince Albert's 2013 General Budget, the contract with the PASPCA is valued at $190,000. 

That amount would solely cover what Lehner said the organization spends on wages.

"The biggest chunk in any organization would be wages. There's no getting around that," she said.

According to Lehner, the PASPCA typically budgets between $180,000 and $195,000 for wages alone, "dependent on whether people are taking vacation."

The PASPCA employs five full-time kennel attendants, two administrative staff, a director of operations and one part-time student kennel attendant, for a total of nine employees.

By contrast, the MJHS employs four full-time kennel attendants, five part-time kennel attendants, an administrative assistant, an executive director and a part-time fundraising co-ordinator, according to Kristyn McEwen, the shelter's executive director.

The PASPCA is not a no-kill shelter, meaning it does euthanize.

The MJHS requested $83,000 for medical expenses in lieu of euthanizing their animals.

"We're cool with that, because we already pay it," Noble said. "We pay them a lot of money so that they don't have to euthanize. 

"Whether that policy has to exist or not, we compensate them for it," he said.

You can follow Justin Crann on Twitter or like him on Facebook.

Organizations: Moose Jaw Humane Society, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw Times-Herald

Geographic location: Moose Jaw

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Recent comments

  • susan
    December 19, 2013 - 19:28

    I am confused. When I go to Saskatchewan Rescue organization website it say Prince Albert is a no kill. "In the last 2 years we have turned the shelter into a NON-euthanizing shelter, unless of course the animal shows un-warranted human aggression" but the article above says the opposite??

  • Justin
    December 19, 2013 - 11:24

    Wait, what? I'm confused. The cost of no-kill? Is the MJHS a no-kill shelter? That isn't actually mentioned in the story. It's sort of insinuated at the end. Medical expenses in lieu of euthanasia? So is that $83k used EXCLUSIVELY on life-saving medical care that allows animals to avoid being put down? Do non-no-kill shelters not provide ANY medical attention, then? If MJHS is no-kill (or even if it's not), how does this story help us compare it to the PASPCA - there's no breakdown here at all. So the MJHS was asking for more than the PASPCA gets... but then the PASPCA more-or-less says that their contract only covers salary? So is the PASCPA better at fund-raising? Where do they get money for food, capital, etc? Is the FTE comparison supposed to tell us that the MJHS is over-staffed? We don't know how many hours those part-time staff work or what the salaries of any of these positions are. This is just a bunch of numbers with maddeningly limited context thrown together with some incendiary quotes from one side of the debate. On the MJHS website, they repeatedly refer to capital issues - their infrastructure, maintenance, etc. There's no reference anywhere to that - just Noble's dismissive statements. Is there a case to be made that the MJHS's building is in need of repairs/better maintenance and maybe that's why they require more funding than the PASPCA? If not, let's say so - maybe the numbers CAN be compared after all, then. The MJHS's offer was "put on the backburner" until October - when was it submitted? That's not mentioned here. Let's be clear: I, like most people, am perfectly capable of looking at a comparison of numbers and coming to some sort of conclusion, but this is... honestly, this is a mess. Between this and the "misinformation" story, it really seems that the Times Herald is trying to balance something out here, but with snippets of information that haven't been assembled into anything useful at all. Incredibly frustrating.

    • del
      December 19, 2013 - 21:05

      whats at issue here is the city doesnt want to help one cent toward utility costs for the mjhs. living in the bubble as they do they think the 2007 costs are the same as today(which they are not).. if there was a round circle then the city would tell you theres corners somewhere to which they constantly try to cut.. end of story.. the smart people leave when they have finally had enough. print everyones opinions not just the ones your mandated to. always amazes me how most of you there are so scared to stand up to city hall.. woosys