Eganville -- Bonnechere Valley is out of the dog pound business.
“We were losing money every year,” Councillor Brent Patrick noted last Tuesday during a committee meeting of council.
The decision was not an entirely unexpected one following the departure last year of two partners in the venture which is hosted by the township with contributions from as many as seven neighbours at one point. Council made the move to shut down the pound following a discussion held during a closed session last month.
On Tuesday, CAO Annette Gilchrist told council after sending notices to all the remaining partners, only one partner had responded so far.
“We did notify our partners about the closing of the pound facility as of October 1,” she said.
In discussing the closure, council agreed the decision was made because of the economic challenges of running the pound.
“We’ve had some issues with the dog pound for years,” noted Mayor Jennifer Murphy. “It requires a few upgrades and we are due to be inspected.”
“The outside runs which had been constructed with wood posts now need iron posts,” Councillor Merv Buckwald explained.
As far back as 2019, council was told about the pending need for some major upgrades at the pound while at the same time the service was seeing deficits of around $6,000 a year.
Issues at the facility began in 2017 when the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs issued an order stating the outdoor runs which had been built to standard in 2006 were no longer acceptable. This increased staff time then because the dogs had to be taken for walks instead of being able to use the outdoor runs, so the costs went up for the pound.
The pound was created following the closure in 2006 of a kennel in Pembroke which provided pound services for area municipalities. With BV acting as the host municipality, other municipalities paid a monthly fee and the system worked well for many years. As costs increased, partners were asked for an increase as well. Various municipalities have left the partnership during the 16 years it was in existence and the recent departure of two municipalities placed council in the position of looking at the costs and seeing what was feasible.
A report last fall showed the cost of the shelter, less the 25 percent for animal control, was $31,250. The total revenue following the departure of one additional partner was $28,140, council was told at the time. As a result, council decided to increase the monthly fee to $400 a month.
Mayor Murphy said as council had deliberated the future of the pound recently they were also facing additional costs, including dealing with the water situation at the location and a possible need for new outdoor runs. Even before these upgrades, the pound was already in the red, she added.
“It does lose quite a bit of money,” she noted.
If council had opted to increase the fees even more, there was the possibility additional partners would have left, the mayor said.
The loss of the two partners, increased cost for the other partners and the need for upgrades made council take a hard look at the pound and make their decision to close it.
Mayor Murphy said staff have done a wonderful job in taking care of the pound.
“We understand how much work Tammy (Roesner) has done there,” she said.
Closing the pound was not an easy decision, she said.
“Apparently it is the cleanest pound in the Ottawa Valley,” she added.
Councillor Tim Schison said it made more sense to enter an agreement with someone else to take care of the dogs.
“We are improving the bank account for Bonnechere Valley and still providing the service,” he said.
Ms. Gilchrist said they have been talking with the animal control officer about a transition of her role.
“We are still picking up the animals,” she said.
Council is in the process of entering an agreement with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) for services out of the Pembroke location. A draft agreement has been prepared.
The remaining partners were Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, Madawaska Valley, South Algonquin, Whitewater Region, Laurentian Valley, Pikwakanagan and Admaston/Bromley.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader