The Hay River SPCA is in the initial stages of an initiative to create more dog boarding kennels in the community.
Lesli Ward, the president of the SPCA, explained the boarding kennels would be added to the dog pound/animal shelter currently run by the SPCA on town property.
Ward explained the idea is to create revenue for the SPCA which would help make it self-sufficient.
“We usually get about $40,000 for wages, and what we’re trying to do is cover that position,” she said, referring to the annual financial support from the town. “Basically, the dogs that have homes, they’ll help the dogs that don’t have homes. It makes sense to me.”
The SPCA administers the money, and oversees the pound/shelter manager position – two people sharing a total of 40 hours over seven days.
The idea of kennels would also insulate the SPCA from any future cuts in town spending.
“You know that when they’re looking at cuts and you’re a non-profit organization, you could be on the cutting board,” said Ward.
She noted the idea of boarding kennels is not new, and was in the business plan when the SPCA and the town entered into the management arrangement for the pound/shelter four or five years ago.
“We really want to become self-sufficient,” she said. “We don’t want to become a burden.”
The SPCA has already begun to gather some of the needed infrastructure, has the unofficial backing of town council and has obtained letters of support from the two other dog kennels.
The proposed boarding kennels would be able to handle five or six dogs, depending on the final design, and perhaps some cats.
Northern Transportation Company Ltd. has donated a 20×8-foot shipping container to the SPCA to accommodate the new kennels, and other companies are also offering support.
Ward said five kennels can be built into the shipping container, which would be reworked to have a cement floor and holes in the side for indoor/outdoor runs for the dogs.
“It won’t look like this when it’s done,” she said referring to the shipping container now sitting on the pound/shelter property.
“It’s nothing fancy,” she added. “It’s just going to be clean and safe, and people are going to be assured that their animals are going to be looked after.”
There is as yet no estimated cost for the project.
“I would hope that we can get started in the springtime,” said Ward, noting she has been told the work can be done in a week.
That means the SPCA will still be looking for its usual funding in the town’s upcoming budget.
The idea of new kennels was recently presented to Hay River town council, which requested the SPCA obtain letters of support from the other two operators of kennels.
“They contacted the two primary kennels that are operating in the town and received letters of support from them to provide a third facility,” said David Steele, the town’s senior administrative officer, at the council meeting on Oct. 14.
“One of them did point out that they wanted to ensure that the prices remain the same, so the SPCA wasn’t undercutting existing businesses.”
At the Oct. 14 meeting, Mayor Andrew Cassidy said the idea would still have to come back to council for formal ratification.
However, councillors did not express any objection to the idea.
Ward is planning to leave Hay River soon, and the new president of the SPCA will be Allan Cunningham as of Nov. 1.