SPCA eyes pet grooming and training services

The Red Deer and District SPCA is looking at adding pet grooming and training services so it can become self-sustainable without any help from the City of Red Deer, says retiring executive director Julie McInnis.

The Red Deer and District SPCA is looking at adding pet grooming and training services so it can become self-sustainable without any help from the City of Red Deer, says retiring executive director Julie McInnis.

McInnis provided a written report to Red Deer city council on Monday, showing why the animal care and humane education centre continues to value the $100,000 it receives from the city. The city had been giving the agency $23,000 a year for many years and then in 2010, topped that up by $77,000 each year.

“It’s important for us to have predictable and sustainable funding,” said McInnis outside council chambers. “It’s difficult to move forward in the city, not knowing how our budget is going to be met.”

The SPCA’s budget is about $850,000 annually. A couple of donors significantly helped out, which has given the SPCA a slight surplus in 2011, said McInnis.

The centre is considering adding services, such as pet grooming and training services, as ways to enhance revenues.

Both Calgary and Edmonton SPCAs have “mutt washes” where dog owners can drop in and pay to use a big wash tub, McInnis said.

“It’s about giving their dog a wash after a run at Three Mile Bend,” she said, referring to the off-leash dog area in Red Deer’s Riverside industrial area.

“That’s where we see the revenue, rather than setting up appointments and grooming dogs for profit.”

It is also looking at enforcing animal protection and would hire a peace officer to do this. Alberta SPCA based in Edmonton now handles animal cruelty cases for the region.

The animal protection proposal would come as an additional cost to the City of Red Deer and would be considered by city council at a later date.

Councillor Chris Stephan said he recognizes the SPCA provides a valuable service, but he was concerned the SPCA would be competing with other pet grooming services and animal training businesses.

“And I don’t agree with that if you are using public or donated funds,” Stephan said.

McInnis responded by saying that the SPCA partners well in the community.

Before it started a veterinary clinic, it brought vet partners to the table.

“We wanted to license ourselves so we weren’t competitive,” she said.

“We always look at it as a positive relationship because for every animal that’s adopted out, it goes out to a local veterinary clinic, hopefully. And that’s between 1,000 and 1,200 animals annually that will be treated by the local veterinary community.”

The SPCA is trying to generate extra dollars in other ways. A retail store is located within the building that opened in March 2010.

Summer and spring break camps were launched this year. They have been a hit with local children, McInnis said.

Up to eight birthday parties are held every weekend as well.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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