Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 12, 2013

Smith recommends town increase payments to SPCA

Staff reports
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — SPCA of Niagara has asked the Town of Lockport to pay more for dog sheltering services, and Supervisor Marc Smith says it should.

A tentative three-year contract, hammered out Thursday between Smith and SPCA officials, would raise the town’s annual fee for dog services to $13,210 this year, from $9,700 last year. The rate would increase by 2 percent a year in 2014 and 2015.

The town’s last contract with SPCA expired in December 2012. The parties have been working on a month-to-month basis ever since while the agreement was renegotiated.

Smith said he will recommend to the town board that it approve the new pact to ensure the town is paying its “fair share” to the SPCA. Past shelter management issues were worked out after a dog- and cat euthanasia scandal broke in early 2012, the shelter is now no-kill and it’s “doing a wonderful job for the town,” he added.

SPCA sought a rate increase to reflect the true cost of dog sheltering services for the town and its residents, Smith said. In 2012, the agency spent about $13,200 caring for 35 stray, seized or surrendered dogs in the town, per the terms of its agreement with the municipality.

The 2013 proposed rate, $13,210, won’t cover costs incurred by the SPCA when it cared for 64 pomeranians that were seized from a home-based breeder in town this past spring, Smith observed.

The town-SPCA contract negotiating session was scheduled well in advance of Thursday, when SPCA announced it’s terminating dog control services in the City of Niagara Falls amid stalled negotiations over a new contract to replace one that expired in 2011. In that year, the city’s annual fee was $83,520, but the true cost of SPCA services was more than $170,000, shelter Director Amy Lewis said in a press statement. The agency spent $230,000 caring for, and gave 40 percent of its shelter space and 70 percent of its total resources over to, abandoned and ailing animals from Niagara Falls last year, she added.

Smith said the SPCA agreed to a contract provision stating it will keep the town abreast of its residents’ annual dog sheltering/service utilization rates, so that both parties know, going into 2016 negotiations, the true cost of services consumed by townspeople. Utilization rates reflect all of the expenses that SPCA incurs, from board and veterinary to administrative and insurance costs, while caring for seized or surrendered animals.