BV closes dog pound
Eganville – The Bonnechere Valley dog pound will be closing after losing money for several years and a recent report showing there were only about six dogs passing through the doors in the last year.
Following a few weeks of deliberation after an in-depth report was presented last month, council voted unanimously last Tuesday to close the dog shelter at the end of April. The pound has been in operation since 2007.
Mayor Jennifer Murphy said as an introduction to the discussion she had wanted council to deliberate on the issue after By-law Enforcement Officer Darryl Wagner presented the report in February which recommended the closure of the shelter.
“I thought we could take it home and think about what we are doing in a thoughtful manner,” she said during a committee meeting of council.
“We will probably get pushback either way,” she noted.
Last year the previous council had decided to close the shelter and then were met with public outcry and a 23-page petition asking for the shelter to be kept open. Council responded by giving a six-month extension with the plan to look at operations again in February and make a decision.
As council deliberated on a final notice of closure last Tuesday afternoon, Councillor Brent Patrick said looking at the report, it was clear there were issues with continuing to operate the pound.
“It was costing us a significant amount of money in my opinion and I think it could be operated a lot better and that is why I think the OSPCA arrangement is a lot better. It is 24-hour care,” he said.
There was a miniscule amount of dogs coming to the pound, he noted.
“I support the closure as well,” said Councillor John Epps.
Six months ago when he wasn’t on council he did not have a good understanding of the issue but the report presented recently and the article in a recent issue of the Leader answered a lot of questions for people, he said. As well, having a tour of the operation made it clear to him “a good enough job wasn’t being done.”
Councillor Tracey Sanderson said she took a special interest in the topic last fall when she heard how long one of the dogs had been in the shelter. The dog, which was named “Buddy” has since found a new place to stay.
“I think people misunderstood when this petition came out, I think people thought it was cats and dogs and not just dogs,” she said.
The shelter does not meet the health and safety needs of animals, she said.
“SPCA does a fantastic job of taking care of animals,” she said.
The animals need to see a vet and this can be provided through them with the arrangements the OSPCA has in place, she added.
Councillor Merv Buckwald also supported the closure.
“I was shocked at five dogs a year,” he said.
When looking at the upgrades required, it doesn’t make sense to keep the pound open, he stressed.
“I’m glad we took a couple of weeks to reflect on Darryl’s report,” Mayor Murphy concluded. “I think that report was very well done and very well researched.”
The report was a necessary step in the decision making, she said.
“The six months was very important to have those hard numbers of how many dogs we had,” she said.
Visiting the pound recently as a council it was clear it did not meet the needs of the animals, Coun. Sanderson said.
Mayor Murphy asked about the $9,000 cost savings mentioned in the report, stating she thought the number would be closer to $15,000. CAO Annette Gilchrist explained the $9,000 reflects current numbers but losses were greater in the past.
“It depends on the hours we give to the staff person,” she said.
The $9,000 figure was with about two hours a day, but the cost could increase with more hours and other requirements, like running water.
“We did increase our fees $50 a month for each township,” Mrs. Gilchrist added.
There are now five partners left with the pound agreement and they will have to be notified. They were aware there were discussions about closing the pound, she added.
“They have already been notified because we were going to close it and we extended it,” she said.
The current plan is to close the shelter at the end of April and partners will be notified of the final decision of council.
The sign at the shelter will also be removed so no one will think they can drop a dog off there.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader