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Town of St. Paul considering increased support for animal shelter

While no decision has been made, the Town of St. Paul met with representatives from the St. Paul Animal Shelter on Nov. 16 regarding an increased need for space at the shelter.

ST. PAUL - The St. Paul Animal Shelter could be getting a boost in financial support from the Town of St. Paul after Director of Municipal Enforcement Trevor Kotowich stated the only other option - other than increasing support to the animal shelter - would be for the Town to create its own animal pound to deal with animals at large.

During a Nov. 16 Committee of the Whole meeting, representatives from the St. Paul Animal Shelter were in attendance to explain the non-profit's operations and the impacts that having more cages for cats and dogs, specifically for animals brought in by the Town bylaw officer, would have.

Kotowich noted that a recent incident occurred where the Town came in possession of a dog, and a "makeshift" pound had to be created to help contain the animal. The situation was not ideal, stated Kotowich. 

"That's not our area of expertise," said Kotowich, referring to task of caring for animals. He noted that if the animal shelter's capacity isn't increased, then the municipality would need its own pound, which would include infrastructure and staff. Kotowich noted that the Town simply doesn't have the resources to care for animals up to the standard required by the provincial government.

Kotowich then turned the floor over to shelter board members Anna Leskiw and Cheryl Mailloux.

Mailloux presented a survey of other communities and how municipalities support animal shelters. In Bonnyville, for example, the Town supports the SPCA to the tune of $50,000, while in Lac La Biche County the humane society is supported with $150,000 annually. Other communities saw a variety of amounts and different ways of doing things, reported Mailloux.

The current state of the St. Paul Animal Shelter includes seven dogs, along with a 10 puppies due to one of the dogs having puppies at the shelter. The shelter is also at capacity and has over a dozen cats in its care.

"We just need more staff... and we don't have money for that," said Mailloux.

In a bid to ensure healthy animals are adopted out - along with spaying and neutering the animals - the shelter does have high veterinarian bills to pay. One change that has been made is that the shelter's paid employee has now been trained to do microchips for animals. This reduces vet bills for the shelter, but also has opened the door to charge residents $40/microchip for pets.

The Town of St. Paul's new Animal Control Bylaw states that if a pet is spayed or neutered, along with being microchipped, then the fee to register the animal is waived.

"It's actually brought in quite a few people," said Leskiw.

During discussions, it was clarified and affirmed by both the shelter board members and Town of St. Paul staff that the shelter and municipality are "no-kill" and do not euthanize animals that come into their care. When the Town bylaw officer brings an animal to the shelter, it is turned over to the animal shelter after three days if it is not claimed, and the process to get the animal ready for adoption begins.

With increased support from the Town, the shelter is willing to get more cages for cats and dogs that would specifically be available to the Town of St. Paul. There is however a cost to purchasing more cages, and increased costs for food, along with more work for staff at the shelter.

Ideally, the shelter would like to hire an additional part-time staff member if the capacity is increased. 

Coun. Nathan Taylor thanked the animal shelter representatives for stopping by, adding that his own daughter has volunteered at the shelter and the experience was good for her mental health. He noted that while a $50,000 contribution in Bonnyville does seem reasonable, the tax base in the Town of St. Paul is very different than the tax base in Bonnyville. 

Taylor affirmed that he is in support of funding the shelter, but it will be a matter of what the Town of St. Paul can afford. 

"The work you are doing is great," said Taylor, adding, "What is your ask?"

Leskiw noted that $50,000 would be a great contirbution, and would cover the costs of a part-time staff member, food, and other needed equipment. The shelter also hopes that adding the additional staff would allow for more marketing to take place and ideally, more animals to be adopted quicker.

"It's basically what you guys can help us out with," said Leskiw. The request, however, would be for an annual, predictable amount of money.

No decision regarding the request was made on Thursday night.

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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