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SPCA battles budget shortfalls

Red Deer and District SPCA is working hard to say goodbye to deficit budgets starting this month by trying to raise $100,000 before the new year from public and corporate donors.

The SPCA’s 2012-13 budget, which ended Sept. 30, ran a $78,000 deficit.

To cover the shortfall, the SPCA had to use up its savings.

“We’re not making operating budget at all, so in a way it is a crisis. The need is growing from the community, but the support we’re receiving in terms of donations isn’t enough to support the operating budget,” said Tara Hellewell, SPCA executive director, on Thursday.

“We don’t want to live month-to-month, paycheque-to-paycheque anymore. The community is depending on us. We’re a very vital service to them.”

The organization intends to boost fundraising by 30 per cent to increase its 2013-14 operational budget by $200,000 to $1.2 million. It hopes to raise a total of $500,000 in donations.

She said there’s been a 30 per cent increase in the number of animals coming to the shelter, as well as a 30 per cent increase in adoptions, so care costs have increased.

About 500 pets were adopted last year.

A full-time fund development co-ordinator was recently hired to work on their fundraising goal.

“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to tip the scales from a deficit position to at least that break-even point,” Hellewell said.

She said December is always the strongest fundraising month for the SPCA. Last December, $80,000 was raised — the most ever.

Luckily, Red Deerians are eager to help pets in need, she said.

“We have 500 active volunteers. The only other organization in the city that has that many volunteers or more is the hospital.”

The SPCA is overcapacity with about 140 animals: about 45 dogs and the rest cats.

“With snow coming so early this year we’ve had non-stop people coming with injured animals, and cats especially. This cold snap is not good for the cat community at all.”

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