By Barb McKay
A lack of available funds has led to the closure of the Bruce-Grey branch of the Ontario SPCA.
Brad Dewar, spokesperson for the OSPCA, said the animal welfare organization made the decision to close the branch as of March 1.
“The OSPCA is a non-profit organization,” he said. “We receive funding from donors but no government funding. Looking at our budget this year we made the decision to close the Bruce-Grey branch.”
Dewar said the Bruce-Grey branch does not have an animal shelter. Staff investigates an average of 400 calls per year, mainly pertaining to allegations of animal abuse. Going forward, Dewar said, calls concerning animal neglect and abuse will be handled by local police services and OPP detachments within the two counties, a scenario that is not uncommon.
“There are many areas of the province where the OSPCA doesn’t have a presence,” he said.
The South Bruce OPP, which services Kincardine, is also responsible for servicing Huron-Kinloss Township, Brockton, Arran-Elderslie Township and South Bruce with six staff sergeants and 55 constables. At a Kincardine council meeting last Wednesday, detachment commander Insp. Scott Smith said more than 30 per cent of incidents that officers respond to are related to things like false alarms, 911 hang-ups and animal complaints. Those are incidents he’d like to see reduced because they use up resources.
South Bruce OPP community services officer, Const. Kevin Martin, told The Independent, that there is legislation in place at municipal, provincial and federal levels that deal with a variety of animal-related offences.
“All the pieces of legislation are at our disposal,” he said.
He said he gives credit to organizations like the OSPCA who are experienced in dealing with incidents related to animals - it’s a hard job.
“We will take calls as they come in,” Martin said. “They will be prioritized based on the jeopardy of the animal. Each case will be assessed based on the urgency of the situation.”
Dewar said that while the branch is closing OSPCA services can still be retained by municipalities.
“The OSPCA has left the doors open to municipalities to provide services, but it would be at a cost,” he said. “A number of municipalities have approached us and we’ll look into it and go from there.”