Monday, January 25, 2010

Making it worth the effort

from this morning's Herald
SPCA may lose city pound contract
Council to hear proposal to give job to operator of a wildlife sanctuary
By PAT LEE Staff Reporter Mon. Jan 25 - 4:53 AM
Municipal staff has recommended that the city award its animal shelter contract to Hope Swinimer's Homeward Bound City Pound. (Ted Pritchard / Staff)
Halifax Regional Municipality may award its animal shelter contract to Hope Swinimer, who runs a well-known Seaforth wildlife sanctuary.
In a report that will go before council Tuesday, municipal staff will recommend that the five-year, $2.4-million contract be awarded to Ms. Swinimer and her new Homeward Bound City Pound.
For about a decade, the Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has had the contract to house and care for animals — mostly dogs and cats — that municipal animal services workers impound.
The SPCA looked after the animals at its Dartmouth shelter.
Ms. Swinimer said Sunday that she didn’t want to speak about her proposal in detail before council discusses it.
But she said her plan is to lease a Burnside Park facility to care for the animals.
"Until I get the official word, there are many things that are pending," said Ms. Swinimer, also manager of the Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital. "But our hope would be that it be right in Burnside, which would be very convenient for animal control."
She said she also hopes to operate a backup site in the country for animals that may be at the pound for longer periods.
"This is so the long-term (animals) can have a good quality of life."
She is perhaps best known as the founder of the Hope for Wildlife Society on the Eastern Shore, which rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife and releases them back into the wild.
Ms. Swinimer said it wouldn’t be appropriate to operate a facility for domestic animals alongside one for wildlife.
"It would be a huge conflict to have domestic animals near wildlife, so it’s a totally separate entity."
Ms. Swinimer said she has got employees tapped to work at the new facility once she gets the go-ahead from regional council.
"I want the pound to be a positive experience and not have a negative connotation."
Municipal staff are recommending that Homeward Bound be given a two-year contract, with the option for three one-year extensions.
The existing SPCA contract expires March 31.
The report said staff are not recommending the SPCA because the organization did not "clearly identify" in its tender application the cost of caring for the animals or the revenue generated from adoptions.
The SPCA and Homeward Bound were the only two groups in the running for the contract.
Kristin Williams, executive director of the provincial SPCA, said while her organization wishes Ms. Swinimer well with the new endeavour if she receives the contract, it is a blow to the SPCA.
"It’s disappointing," Ms. Williams said Sunday, "mostly because we feel that we were able to do more than a typical pound can do. The SPCA is not ever considered a pound. We’re first and foremost an animal welfare organization."
Ms. Williams said the animal services contract allowed SPCA workers to help many animals in distress.
"Because of the way we work, we were able to place many, many animals in loving, adoptive homes in an expeditious manner. That’s what we do. It’s what we’re very good at."
In light of the change, she said operations at the metro shelter will have to be re-evaluated, which could result in staff cuts.
‘I want the pound to be a positive experience and not have a negative connotation.’Hope Swinimer Animal activist

According to another article in today's Metro Section of the paper, HRM Council is holding an in camera session today, which as well as putting the official stamp to this will be "considering ways to handle the tens of thousands of feral cats city staff say are loose on metro’s streets"
To be perfectly honest ... for today I am much more concerned about the immediate outcome for the cats. HRM has a chance to lead the way foward for the animals, but judging from the history contained in my friend Joan's blog, there might not be a lot of room for optimism there.
That's not to say that I haven't got compassion for any of the Metro staff who very likely will be personally affected by the 'staff restructuring'. There was a lot of time and energy invested there in making improvements during the last year and a bit ... improvements that at least bettered the lot of animals during that time period.
I am not going to speculate about how this is going to affect Metro ... nor about how the new facility is going to operate. At the end of the day, I do believe this situation offers Metro the incredible opportunity to be able to reinvent itself ... and that is a gift that organizations seldom get.
At the same time, this is a wonderful opportunity for the new contractor .... starting fresh with a new facility with no history to overcome and a clean slate of possiblities.
I hear nothing but great things about the new contractor, but as a sidebar note, I do believe it would have been appropriate for HRM to have extended Metro's contract by three months to allow time for the new facility to set itself up for success, so to speak.
I've lost track of how many emails and comments I've had on the subject.... but 99% of the comments that I receive never get posted because this blog is not about ripping anything down without offering a positive alternative. If ya don't like that .... get your own blog, eh?
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. Herm Albright

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