IN NEED – Tara Hellewell

SPCA turns to public for financial help

About $100,000 is urgently needed in the month of December

  • Dec. 4, 2013 4:13 p.m.

The Red Deer and District SPCA is in desperate need of financial support from the community this holiday season.

Tara Hellewell, executive director at the SPCA, said the organization needs to raise $100,000 in the month of December to break even.

“Our fiscal budget year runs until the end of September and we had a $75,000 deficit this year. It is always a struggle to try and bring in enough revenue to support all of the programs we offer. Especially since moving into the new building – it’s a very expensive facility to maintain,” she said. “We operate on close to $1 million annually and this year we’ve increased that by $200,000.”

Since moving into the new facility in 2010, Hellewell said operational costs have increased by 60%, but so has the number of adoptions annually as well.

She added the SPCA is making a greater impact in the community as their adoptions were up 30% this past year. This year well over 550 animals have been adopted from the SPCA so far, this is compared to 200 adoptions annually before the organization moved to the new facility.

“We do have adoption fees that are linked to those adoptions but by no means do they cover anywhere close to what it costs to run the adoption program,” she said.

Although the increase in adoptions is good news, Hellewell said the SPCA has also seen a 30% increase in animals coming into the facility as well. “So our costs increase significantly. It’s always a revolving door.

“We’re not depending on these adoption fees and user fees from some of our programs to cover our costs – it is not covering our costs. We still need the support of the community through donations to help operate, to keep the doors open and to keep the power on,” she said.

Due to the increase in animals being adopted out and coming into the shelter, Hellewell added staff hours needed to be increased to meet the demand.

“We haven’t had a fundraiser for our organization for over three years. I have been managing that for the last two and as an executive director it’s already a very big job and there just isn’t enough time,” she said. “It’s always the thing that gets left, but it’s the most important part.”

To help with this, the SPCA has recently hired a new fund development coordinator.

“We will be reaching out even further into the community in 2014, but I also feel that the programs and community support that we are offering is such that we can look to the community to help us – we are more than just about animals.”

Another reason the SPCA is feeling added pressure is because of the over population of cats.

“It is putting a significant strain on our resources and we are not able to keep up with the number of cats that need safe shelter and we are having to turn people away – we have no choice,” said Hellewell. “At any point in time we have 130 cats in the shelter.”

Adding to the financial strain is the fact that the SPCA has to repay a $1 million loan from the City of Red Deer. The money was used to help build the organization’s new facility.

“We need to work on paying that off. We do still have some liabilities out there that cost every year.”

Meanwhile, Hellewell said she is hoping the Central Alberta community will open their wallets this holiday season and donate to the SPCA.

“We hope that the community will be generous this Christmas because December is the biggest month in terms of donations,” she said. “Last year we raised over $80,000 in the month of December.

“While a lot of people want to bring us gifts and items and things for the shelter, financial donations are by far the best gift for us right now. It is always appreciated, but monetary donations are needed.”

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