TAKING A REST – Red Deer and District SPCA Executive Director Tara Hellewell and rescue dog Tommy take a moment in front of the new memorial tree at the Red Deer SPCA

TAKING A REST – Red Deer and District SPCA Executive Director Tara Hellewell and rescue dog Tommy take a moment in front of the new memorial tree at the Red Deer SPCA

SPCA overloaded with animals awaiting adoption

Local facility is seeking families to provide forever homes for both dogs and cats

  • Sep. 16, 2015 3:50 p.m.

The Red Deer and District SPCA is chalked full of animals who are awaiting adoption and officials are turning to the public for help.

“We are absolutely plum full,” said Tara Hellewell, executive director of the SPCA. “We have dogs doubled up in kennels. It puts a big strain on our facility. We have animals in spaces that are necessarily set up for them. Our facility is designed for a specific number of animals, but if animals have been abandoned at our door – which has been the case – we don’t euthanize here. Because we don’t euthanize, we work off a waiting list. When we are at capacity and people drop animals off, it puts in a really bad position,” she said.

“We have animals everywhere right now – safely obviously – but we are under a lot of pressure.”

Currently, the SPCA is housing more than 50 dogs and 160 cats in care – all of who are ready to find their forever homes. “We are rarely this full. I would say in the last two years we have only been this full once,” said Hellewell.

The Red Deer and District SPCA normally sees less dogs at their facility. Hellewell said she attributes the high number of dogs at the SPCA to the Milk River seizure situation earlier this year.

“For the Milk River dogs, we had them in care for about three or four months and we didn’t really have the ability to adopt them out because we had to go through some medical issues and challenges,” said Hellewell.

“We still do have four Milk River dogs for adoption but they are special cases – two are a bonded pair and the other two require homes that are going to have a little more understanding of their needs. They cannot go to a home with kids because they are still really nervous and they will take a lot of time to get to know you – but when they do, they are amazing.”

As well, the SPCA’s overall adoption numbers are down this year by about 80 adoptions.

Hellewell said Alberta’s economy has also played a part in the large volume of animals at the SPCA.

“The economy is starting to affect people’s ability to care for their animals. Maybe they have to relocate for a job and they can’t take the animal with them. If the oilfield starts to shut down, people are going to be relocating. We are starting to feel the effects of the economy,” she said.

In addition, Hellewell added fundraising for the organization is expected to be tougher than normal this coming year – also due to the downturn in the economy.

“We are going to have to tighten our belts. We do have some money in the bank thankfully from bequests to help see us through that. Right now, we are right on target on budget and our year-end is at the end of September,” she said. “We will definitely be budgeting very cautiously for the coming year knowing that the oilfield hasn’t picked up and knowing that we are going to be seeing more animals as a result of that and less donations.”

In terms of needs from the community, Hellewell said she asks Central Albertans to consider adopting an animal.

“We have puppies from time to time but we ask that people consider adopting a pet that is a little older. We know that a lot of our dogs can’t go home with small children – and that is a challenge for us,” she said. “The advantage of adopting with the SPCA, especially with cats, is that the spay or neuter surgery is already done, they are vaccinated and they are health checked and a lot of them have had the dental work done already, which can be very expensive.”

Hellewell said the SPCA is also in need of volunteers for a variety of tasks including dog walking, stress busting, cat cuddling, helping with laundry and helping to sort through donations in the garage at the SPCA.

“Cat litter is always something that we are in need of. We spend a lot of money on cat litter – we don’t tend to get it donated.”

Meanwhile, the SPCA has a fundraising event coming up in November. ‘Raise the Woof’ will take place Nov. 21st at Westerner Park. The SPCA is also looking for sponsors for the event. “We’ve got a new format for the evening. We still have the great HBO Comedy Central comedians coming in. We also have a five-piece band that will be playing music into the night.

“We are hoping that this event will attract the corporate Christmas party. It’s a real fun night of getting together, having great music and some dancing.”

Tickets are $100 a piece or $680 for a table of eight. For more information, visit www.reddeerspca.com or call 403-342-7722.