SPCA barking up the wrong tree: St. John’s

Daniel MacEachern
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Councillors say city won’t tell people to turn stray animals loose

St. John’s city council wants to know why a woman was told the city wouldn’t take in a stray dog.

As reported by The Telegram on Tuesday, Hine Eloukkal picked up a stray dog on Columbus Drive and took him to Humane Services. The building was closed, so she went to the SPCA, where a worker told her the shelter was full, and a stray is the city’s responsibility, but that shelter wouldn’t take it either.

“She said, ‘The city tells us to tell you to cut them loose,’” said Eloukkal.

That’s not what should have happened, said Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“We’re not looking for any animals to be cut loose,” said Ellsworth. “We have a strong commitment to our animal control here at the city. The individual who spoke on behalf of the SPCA should speak on behalf of the SPCA only.”

Ellsworth said anyone can call the city’s information line, 311, and the city’s Humane Services department — open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends — will be contacted. Outside those hours, people may be asked to keep the animal overnight, he said.

“We may ask the person who found a stray animal to keep it overnight if they can, maybe in your backyard,” he said.

“The next morning, we can certainly pick the animal up. It’s not like there’s nowhere for the animal to go.”

Coun. Tom Hann said the city has never told anyone to cut an animal loose.

“I don’t know where that inclination comes from,” he said. “While the SPCA is full, we have two or three other operations that take care of pets, so in an emergency, or if you find a pet late at night, there are other groups that should be contacted, I would think.”

Hann also noted that the city provides the SPCA with an annual $25,000 grant.

“I would think, and I don’t think we have an agreement, but I would think that for that money we should have an agreement in place that says if after hours we can’t step up to the plate and rescue the animal, then maybe the SPCA needs to make some kind of accommodation,” he said.

“I know they were full, but I’m sure if you looked hard enough you could find accommodation for another animal.”



Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Humane Services department

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Recent comments

  • Anna
    September 07, 2014 - 09:19

    What a gutless bunch this council is. Instead of thanking the SPCA which is mostly run by dedicated volunteers, they try to place the blame on them for the city not doing it's job. The fact that we don't have a 24/7 hotline for strays is the fault of the city. Hann couldn't even get the amount of donation right, $10,000 instead of $25,000. They couldn't even accommodate the SPCA for a thrift store, it had to locate in Mount Pearl. This city would be in quite the mess regarding animals being tossed out by their owners if not for the SPCA, Beagle Paws and Heavenly Creatures. Instead of making it easier for people to license their animals, they have to nickle and dime everyone to death and charge $15 instead of providing it as a free service. I feel Mr. Hann owes the SPCA an apology which I expect they won't get as he always opens his mouth before he knows the facts.

  • Charmaine
    September 04, 2014 - 08:30

    I picked up two beagles in the east end last summer (2013). Called 311 and the person there told me to bring them back to where I found them and to let them go cause they will probably find their way home. So YES the city DOES tell people to let them go.

  • Chico
    September 04, 2014 - 06:16

    I contacted both the SPCA and Heavenly Creatures a few days ago by email to ask for help with a mother cat and her kittens living in back woods behind my house, neither agency has responded. The courtesy of responding to our calls, emails etc. would be an asset, I can understand if the shelters are full but have the courtesy of responding and at least help with options as to how to capture these animals before they have more kittens. After this week, I really can understand why people drop of unwanted and stray animals in the dead of night and leave them on SPCA doorsteps. What's the use to call or email them if you don't get a response. I have supported both of these organizations for years and have on occasion fostered for them, but if either of these shelters want donations and people to keep supporting them, they are going about it the wrong way. I will find a way to capture these cats, I am unable to keep them or foster them, I have 3 animals at home to support, but I will not let these animals continue to roam and procreate in my back yard, and furthermore watch them suffer in the freezing cold during the winter months. I love animals and do not want to see them put to sleep but Euthanasia is better than suffering. Its time these organizations step up to the plate if they want continued support from people like me.

  • violet
    September 03, 2014 - 13:14

    Ha... not the first time this has happened.last year i called about a cat that i had found very sick was right after a snow storm. i called the 311 number who then told me to call the VET..i called the VET the city person said to call..only for the VET to tell me that without permission from the HUMANE SOCIETY's permission that I'D HAVE TO PAY FOR THE MEDICAL FEE.......Me the person who found the nearly dead cat on the side of the road..so i then called 311 back who then told me...and NOT TO HAPPILY EITHER..to bring it to their facility on HIGGINS LINE...to go there and have to POUND ON THE DOOR IN THE FREEZING COLD WITH THIS SICK CAT....I was pounding for at least 20 minutes .i then called 311 back and asked them to please tell whom ever was in the building to open the Darn door...more pounding and finally someone let me in and informed me that they were FULL TO CAPACITY...but they did take the cat...FINALLY...THEN THE CITY WONDERS WHY PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO GET INVOLVED ...SAD SAD ...THE CITY SHOULD OFFER TO EVERY RESIDENT NO MATTER HOW MUCH MONEY THEY HAVE TO FIXED BOTH CATS AND DOGS ...ONCE A MONTH FOR A FEE OF $40. OR $50..THEN WE WOULD NOT BE OVER RUN WITH KITTENS AND PUPPIES EVERY WHERE ...OTHER CITIES DO IT ...TORONTO ESPECIALLY and they have way more residents then NFLD ....SHAME ON CITY HALL...dear god you actually have to submitt your tax return to prove your income...sad ...look at all the money they waste on medical fees to look after sick and injured animals ....SMARTEN UP ..CITY HALL AND HELP EVERYONE OUT SO EVERYONE WHETHER RICH OR POOR CAN AFFORD TO HAVE THEIR ANIMAL FIXED.....

  • Privateeye1
    September 03, 2014 - 09:54

    I forgot to ask if the stray was returned to its owner and if was in good health? Thank you for the answer if it is available.

  • Privateeye1
    September 03, 2014 - 04:05

    I do not in any way refute the comments of the city councillors or the SPCA for that matter,I think everyone would agree that the optics of the stray pet has come across very poorly in the media and good work in pet rescue is the only loser in this case.That is a shame as a good and necessary service is now under a cloud of suspicion. Money will soon be the big issue here and not the pet rescue program. I once again ask the telegram to give a complete overview of the SPCAand City pound operations and I feel they will be found not lacking in the care and service they provide. We can all make a mistake or an error in judgement but the focus must always got to improving any volunteer or city sponsored program as this rescue work is a must in St.John's and other areas of the province. My one sincere hope is not to see a public backlash against the pet rescue progams we have and indeed to see more folks come forward to assist in helping to sustain them and help them. Thank you to those who care for pets and many other worthy causes in this city.