Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From Gambit


SPCA declines 2011 animal control contract


The Louisiana Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) decided not to submit its proposal for the city’s $1.7 million animal control contract for 2011, ending its 60-year partnership with the city.

“After consideration, the board decided it would be a disservice to the citizens and animals of Orleans Parish,” says SPCA communications director Katherine LeBlanc, who added that the $1.7 million would not sufficiently provide for the city’s animals in need, and the organization feels the city is able to create an alternative. “We can’t do it for $1.7 million, but someone can,” she says.

The SPCA has worked to improve the lives of animals and eliminate animal homelessness, neglect and abuse in New Orleans and surrounding areas since 1888. Though it’s ending its animal control contract with the city, the organization will continue other services like its outreach programs and mobile clinics, though it still isn’t sure what its budget will look like for 2011.

“Our central mission is advancing the welfare of the animals in this region,” said SPCA board president Sally Knight in a Dec. 15 statement “While we have a great sense of accomplishment and pride in the services we have provided the city over the past 60 years, we could not responsibly continue to perform animal control at the proposed amount.”

On Dec. 1, Ana Zorrilla, president and CEO of the SPCA, announced, “We were pleased to see that New Orleans City Council recognized the need for more funding for animal control services. While it is not the entire amount we proposed we are committed to providing animal control to the city of New Orleans and we will be working with the city to determine what services we can provide for $1.7 million.”

The organization was scheduled to submit a budget proposal to Mayor Mitch Landrieu by Friday, Dec. 17. Board members met Dec. 15 to assemble the proposal within the $1.7 million budget, but instead declined to move forward with a budget plan and end its animal control contract with the city. Landrieu press secretary Ryan Berni says the mayor's office was unaware of the SPCA's plans to withdraw.

The SPCA needs an operating budget of $4.5 million for a full year’s worth of services, including animal control (which accounts for $3 million of the budget), according to Zorrilla. In past years, the SPCA has been forced to cut services before the year’s end, resulting in NOPD’s absorption of emergency animal control services.

The money ran out Oct. 1, 2010, based on a contract arranged in former Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration. A similar contract for 2009 ended Nov. 30, 2009, and the SPCA’s services didn’t resume until the following year. The current contract expires Dec. 31, 2010.

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