by Mac Olsen
It’s not the outcome that I would want, especially when the care of injured, abandoned and seized animals is at stake, but the Grande Prairie and District SPCA should go out of business given its history of financial mismanagement.
This SPCA has $250,000 in debt. It includes $120,000 in payroll taxes due to the Canada Revenue Agency, as well as $130,000 for veterinarian services and utilities. And that excludes its $447,000 mortgage.
According to a report by the Daily Herald Tribune in Grande Prairie on May 31, this SPCA’s debt began to accumulate in 2011, and there were other issues, including the lack of a proper business plan.
In May, the board of directors pleaded with the City of Grande Prairie for $120,000 and the County of Grande Prairie for $80,000.
But Mayor Bill Given “is concerned it would set a precedent if the city just gave money to a non-profit that found itself in debt and it would minimize the hard work of other non-profits that strive to keep themselves afloat,” the report adds.
Neither the city nor the county should give that organization one red cent. Instead, the SPCA should fold and its financial matters handled in court.
There are concerns and consequences for my proposal, I agree. I don’t want to see any workers lose their jobs or animals left in limbo.
But if the current SPCA’s finances were mismanaged that badly, then I can’t see how the current board of directors can be trusted to handle things differently with a bailout.
What’s to say the current organization won’t be in the same situation in six months to a year?
No, the current SPCA should fold and a new one established with strong oversight. Any fundraising required should be handled by an outside, arms-length organization.
Other organizations such as In the Woods Animal Rescue in Marie Reine and the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society may be burdened with more animals and costs while a new SPCA is established in Grande Prairie. But I would rather see them have that responsibility than the current SPCA in Grande Prairie.
Organizations like In the Woods Animal Rescue and the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society do outstanding work with the animals in their care. Once a month, I take donated supplies to In the Woods Animal Rescue and get photos of the dogs and cats for Spotlight. Other individuals, organizations and businesses do their part as well.
The need for organizations like the Society for the Prevention of Cruely to Animals is always there. It is well that we have them as the interim providers of care for animals that would unnecessarily suffer and/or die.
But with that responsibility of care goes the responsibility of sound financial management.
When that responsibility has been abused and hidden from view, then those entrusted with it should be removed from their positions of authority and the organization should fold. In this case, the Grande Prairie and District SPCA should go out of business and a new one should take its place.