SPCA trying to get votes in contest to win $150K

Saint John's SPCA Animal Rescue is once again appealing for the public's help, this time in the form of contest votes.

The shelter is one of the contenders for this year's Aviva Community Fund, with the chance to win up to $150,000 to help pull it out of a tough financial situation.

With 80 cats currently living at the shelter, the facility is full.

The group is paying to feed, house, vaccinate, and in some cases medicate each animal.

It's financially unsustainable, but shelter manager Kathy Illingworth said she hopes that a plan to offer Saint John pet owners an inexpensive spay and neuter program could lower the charity's costs.

But that plan requires start up cash.

"We will not see as many animals having to come into the shelter, because we will have something that is accessible for people," she said.

"I'm of the belief that if it means keeping your cat or giving your cat up, if we were to offer a spay and neuter program, most people — depending on their circumstances — would have that animal altered."

The program is similar to one at the Oromocto SPCA, which led to a drop in the number of stray animals coming in to that shelter.

The proposed program would provide the operation and vaccines at a discounted price with the goal of controlling the stray cat and dog population.

Last month the group's board said the shelter would have to close for good unless it could raise $200,000.

The shelter is halfway to that goal, after signing a new animal control contract with the city and selling some surplus real estate.

But in the longer term, board president Melody McElman said finding money to set up new sources of revenue is essential to the group's survival.

"We can do it through education, through dog obedience classes, it also helps make our pets much more adoptable," said McElman.

"We can offer these classes for a fee, we could offer dog grooming, and we could also offer other classes. We have the space now in our new building to bring in a revenue stream so that we're not relying on adoptions. You can't make money from adopting animals."

McElman said she is hoping to see those votes turn into money when the contest ends in January.

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