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CORNER BROOK — The NL West SPCA does not have the money to train or pay an enforcement officer to patrol western Newfoundland.
Judy Mahoney, the returning president of the organization, said that is just a reality for a group striving to raise money to get into its new building on the north shore of the Bay of Islands.
The group located in Corner Brook held its annual general meeting last week, and just prior to that held a members only meeting to make some tweaks to its code of ethics, code of conduct and constitution. The organization has a new provincial Animal Health and Protection Act to abide by and conduct its business according to — the impacts of which have been long felt throughout the west coast.
The last time there was dedicated animal enforcement personnel in western Newfoundland, it was special constable Evelyn Hancock. After more than 30 years in the role, she resigned from the volunteer position in August 2011. The training of special constables by the province was put on hold as the new act and regulations were formed, and the position as it was became defunct.
Provincial veterinarian Dr. Hugh Whitney has been training enforcement officers throughout the province. Mahoney said the expense of the training and paying the salary of such an individual is too much for the local organization to take on.
“We are not in a position to fund one, and that is normally what happens,” she said. “The municipality — the city — stepped back, and we looked at the implications, the costs, and the legal aspects of everything.”
The president said animals involved in cases that go through the court system have to be kept by the groups for the duration of the process — which could be years — and the SPCA lacks the funds and space to take on the responsibility.
“As far was we know now, there is nobody in this area that has stepped up to do that,” she said. “It comes down to money and responsibility.”
Mahoney said it was a difficult time immediately following the implementation of the new act. She said there was uncertainty from everybody — animal rights groups and police in particular.
Now, without a right to enter people’s private property, she said they have been contacting the people involved in reported abuse cases. Through communication, some incidents have been resolved, she said. If not, they are reported to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary or Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate.
“We are sort of putting Band-Aids on things,” she said. “Eventually, I am hoping this area will get an enforcement officer.”