Every year the Queens Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) gets complaints of animal abuse.
Most of these complaints get sent to the head office of the Nova Scotia SPCA where they are then investigated. The Nova Scotia SPCA will stop offering this service on April 1 if they do not get a commitment of $100,000 from the province.
The organization says it does not have the funding to continue the service. It costs around $200,000 per year to hire three full time investigators and fund their services.
The government believes the SPCA’s million-dollar budget is enough to sustain the investigation program, which is a part of the organization’s mandate. However, much of the budget is used for veterinary care, adoption services and sheltering fees.
Most of the organization’s money comes from donations, adoption fees and fundraising. The Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture gives $3,000 per year. The SPCA says it needs $100,000 from the government to continue the abuse investigations.
SPCAs across the province will be affected by the lack of investigations. Martin Hilliard, President of the Queens branch of the SPCA says that in the case of removing animals from abusive situations, investigators often accompany members of the RCMP to the scene.
“If the cruelty complaint area is suspended that’s going to have a huge effect and of course we don’t know if anyone is going to pick up the slack,” says Hilliard.
Hilliard and his partner Myles Dwyer, a board member on the Queens SPCA, occasionally attend the removal of animals in a volunteer role.
Hilliard says most abuse complaints in Queens have dogs as the focus.
“Dogs are more visible,” says Hilliard.
The complaints that often end with the removal of an animal are usually regarding leaving dogs outside all the time including during frigid weather.
Once a complaint is made to the local SPCA, Hilliard directs the complainant to phone the provincial SPCA’s cruelty hotline. After that investigating the complaint is up to the three hired investigators.
In 2011 the Nova Scotia SPCA says it investigated over 1,600 abuse complaints.