Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 18, 2013

Judge keeps restraining order in place, seeks long-term settlement between city and SPCA

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — The SPCA had threatened to discontinue non-emergency animal control services to the city because, the organization said, it was no longer in a financial position to continue "subsidizing" those services. The Lockport Road animal shelter maintains the $83,520 per year that they are paid under an existing contract, which expired at the end of 2011 but has continued on a month to month basis since then, is not sufficient to cover the costs of what the SPCA calls a "high-need dog population" in the Falls.

SPCA board President Michelle Madigan has estimated that the shelter loses about $150,000 per year under its current contract with the city. Madigan says that is "putting a tremendous financial strain" on the shelter's "very limited budget.”

The organization had proposed a new $230,000 a year contract with the city and later offered to cut that fee to $180,000 a year. The six month proposal that will go to the City Council calls for a $15,000 a month payment. 

"Once there is an extension in place, we're hoping there is a more reasonable fee for the services," SPCA board spokesperson Jennifer Pitarresi said.

The SPCA has said that it will continue to provide animal rescue and cruelty prevention services, as needed in the falls, until a new contract with the city is completed.  

Kloch also cleared the way for the city to use so-called "casino funds" to pay for SPCA services. The judge called the shelter's work "critical to economic development" in the city.

"If you have a pack of dogs roaming through Niagara Falls, people won't go to the casino or DiCamillo's or Michael's," Kloch said. "I make a finding that providing humane treatment and control of animals is an essential service like garbage collection and policing and is important to the city's economic viability."

Kloch said his findings meant that "payment for these services could come from gambling funds."

Big red number $180,000 Yearly payment sought by SPCA from Niagara Falls. The amount the city pays now is $83,520 per year.

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