By Cole Parkinson
After approaching the Municipal District of Taber at the end of 2019, the Taber Lost Paws Society is hoping for a financial injection from the municipality as they get closer to the construction of their dog care facility.
In a delegation at the M.D.’s Dec. 10 meeting, no formal request was made but M.D. administration they would be bringing a Request for Decision back for council’s approval. At their May 26 meeting, the RFD was brought forward with a one-time cash donation of $50,000 for capital project construction, and monthly fees to Lost Paws, not including $35 a day, per dog, for a minimum of three days when an animal is brought in by a peace officer for holding.
Administration’s report also stated these fees can be negotiated, though administration did put $500 in the report as that is what the Town of Taber pays.
“The Town of Taber has donated the land to the Lost Paws Society and it would be built, my understanding is, on the north part of the town of Taber. Kind of within our IDP boundary,” added Kirk Hughes, CPO sergeant and director of community safety.
Administration’s report also detailed how far along financially the group was in terms of getting the facility into a construction phase.
“A budgetary cost estimate of approximately $350,000 has been received by Taber Lost Paws for a proposal to build this structure. The completed shelter would be expected to operate in excess of 20 years. In that span, at current rates, the M.D. of Taber would have spent $100,000 on utilizing a private contractor. The shelter would incur a $35 per day/per animal fee (negotiable), however, the remaining labour, including adoption, would be borne by Taber Lost Paws Society,” reads the report.
A big question from council was around the monthly cost.
“Right now, it says we spend close to $10,000 a year on the adoption process through hourly wages and dog kennelling. So, would we essentially just be paying for dog kennelling and not much hourly wages then?” asked Coun. Leavitt Howg.
“Right now, a community peace officer would locate the dog, seize the dog and from there we would hold it for roughly three days,” replied Hughes. “We have it at a boarding facility. Where things are a little different here in the M.D. compared to say the Town of Taber and the Lost Paws Society, is the peace officer program is responsible for the dog from the day we get it to the day it is adopted out. That can take 30, 60 or 90 days sometimes. So we are responsible for vet bills if the animal is injured. The investigational stuff is part of our job so we are good at that but it’s the adoption part (that is tough). Taking the dog out to people who may or may not be interested in the dog, doing all the paperwork, doing all of the background checks on people to facilitate animal rehoming and that is where we have been very lucky. There have been times where dogs have been in our care for a lot longer than I would have financially liked to be. I think that is where Lost Paws comes in because after the three-day process of having the dog in our care, we pass it over and they work on the rehoming and fostering, the vet bills and they find that forever home. That takes out our hourly wages and it gets peace officers back out on the road doing enforcement.”
As far as the estimated amount of $500 per month, Hughes also clarified he expected that amount would be less per month for the M.D.
“We have to negotiate some of the rates. The Town of Taber rates are a little different than ours as they deal with a lot more animals than we do. They also deal with cats and other domesticated animals that we don’t deal with in the M.D. as part of our bylaw. I’m suspecting that our financial contribution to Lost Paws will be similar, and just below that $10,000. For us in the M.D., we have seen the dog rates go up and we suspect they will continue to go up. I think Lost Paws (funding) will be very steady minus the $50,000 initial capital investment. Overall, in the next 20 some years, I suspect our budgetary item will be very similar year after year. I can’t necessarily say the same about the method we are currently using.”
With construction set to begin in 2021, according to administration, the M.D. still has time to find the sweet spot in terms of funding and monthly payments, if they wanted to still contribute to the facility.
Another point brought forward was around building their own dog care centre.
Coun. Brian Brewin inquired about former plans to construct their own building in Grassy Lake and whether or not that would be an option.
“I did review the previous Grassy Lake animal care facility proposal as part of my research for this RFD. What Lost Paws has done for us is they have centralized a lot of the volunteers and it takes away a lot of the costs from the M.D. So instead of us employing staff members to deal with dogs and the adoptions, the Lost Paws Society has voluntarily taken that on with very little cost because they are a non-profit volunteer organization. That is where they have the edge over on any project that we can think of,” replied Hughes.
Before committing to any agreement, council wanted a formal request for the one-time donation and to negotiate a price for their fees.
A motion to ask administration to obtain a formal request from lost paws in terms of capital investment and yearly operational fees was carried.