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Dire times for Animal Protection League

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The Swan Valley Animal Protection League (SVAPL) is a charitable organization that has been in operation since 1987. During these 30 years, the group has made positive impacts in the Swan Valley area, serving an approximate 70 mile radius. Their mission has been to protect, shelter and promote adoption of homeless or unwanted animals, to promote spay and neutering to reduce overpopulation, as well as, provide education about responsible pet ownership.
However, these services may unfortunately, come to an end.
Now assisting, on average, 150 animals per year, the group was required to hire an employee to help maintain the growing organization and keep up with the care of the animals.
A couple years ago, Lisa Scales was hired for the position, and the shelter and animals have all profited greatly.
“We were really struggling to get volunteers out to keep the shelter running, and have lost some key volunteers over the years,” said SVAPL Vice-President Holly Urban. “Lisa is amazing and the things she’s done have benefitted the organization and have definitely made a difference. However, we now have the expense of an employee.
“The cost of running this shelter compared to other shelters in Manitoba is minimal. We’re definitely on a shoe string budget. We’ve cut a lot of expenses and tried to get different grants to improve things here, which has worked to a degree, but it’s not funding the ongoing daily expenses.”
Having an employee to maintain the property and animal intake has cut back on a lot of the overhead in itself. Scales has taken training so she can administer animals their booster shots. She has also helped in the maintenance and management of the shelter,which was added expenses in the past. As the shelter manager, her list of duties are pages long. This ranges from the many duties involved in animal care, to training volunteers, the adoption of animals, and responding to the numerous calls and messages SVAPL receives each day, and the list goes on.
“We’re at the point now where we realize that you can’t have one without the other,” said Scales. “We need the employee that’s going to be here taking care of everything, because if you don’t have that you won’t have a functioning shelter.
“Even if you had volunteers that are here everyday, they are not consistently here seven days a week, so they might not notice a difference in an animal.”
Cats can become ill very quickly and usually can fall to their demise within 24 to 48 hours. Scales noted that the volunteer base isn’t steady enough to have the animals observed on a daily basis.
“We have our volunteer base that comes out, but the commitment isn’t there to give Lisa even one or two days off a week sometimes,” said Urban.
The organization has been struggling with financial issues for some time now. However, after a meeting held on Dec. 20, they realize how dire this situation has become.
“We’ve actually gone to organizations for help,” said Urban. “We’ve gone to various service clubs and municipalities, both at the G5 and through individually attending council meetings to ask for support. What we were looking for was an annual contribution as SVAPL provides a service to the community and we felt that our municipalities could help support that.”
Today, the SVAPL receives some financial support from only two municipalities.
“We’ve drained every avenue possible we could; Provincial, Federal, Municipal, and local fundraising,” said Urban. “The community is our biggest supporter but, unfortunately, donations vary year to year.”
Without further aide, the SVAPL will be forced to close their doors in four to five months time.
“We will have no choice because we’ll have no money,” said Scales. “We need the public to realize that. We’re out of all other options, except for one, and that’s what we’re working on right now.
The group has their eye on the business community to try a model that works for many other organizations of their type – corporate sponsorship.
“We are not the only shelter that faces these issues,” said Urban. “We’re hoping we can get something in place where we receive annual funding so we can continue to operate in a sustainable manner.”
There are various sponsorship levels offered which all demonstrate dedication to the SVAPL’s mission. Packages will start at a Bronze level, for as little as $500, and will grow up to a Platinum level with $5,000 and above being donated. All sponsors will receive their company name or logo on SVAPL’s website, recognition on facebook, as well as at the SVAPL’s annual banquet, and a charitable tax receipt.
The SVAPL’s Facebook site has become a place that the community not only uses to find a new furry family member, but looks to for advice on a daily basis.
Urban says that they are so well known they have become the default when people are seeking advice, have found strays or have lost their own animal.
“Unfortunately, if we didn’t exist then the community would see a problem,” said Scales. “There would be more strays, with nowhere to put them. This group has invested 30 years into animal care and education and it could be undone in a short period of time.”
“We need to prepare for if we can’t find funding,” said Urban. “There are animals in our care that will need a home, whether this be a foster home or reaching out to other shelters. There is work involved in shutting down the shelter. This will involve time and coordination.”
Exhausted from their attempts to find support, Scales and Urban remain optimistic for the future.
“We just need help to help everyone else,” said Scales. “You can’t save everyone, but you can try to save as many as you can.”
Urban feels as though there have been many road blocks making it difficult to continue on because you can only ask for so much support from the community.
“It’s silly to think that 12 corporate sponsors at the Platinum level would solve all of our problems,” concluded Urban.
“We need the bigger dogs to step up,” added Scales. “We appreciate the volunteers and the donated supplies. We appreciate everything. Every little bit helps but, at this point, the foundation of everything relies solely on the finances and we just don’t have them.”
The SVAPL’s intentions are to publish their group’s financial reports following their AGM in mid January and start asking businesses immediately for their support.
“Four months goes by very quickly,” said Scales. “We need some immediate help to know that we can continue to operate.”
If you would like to donate any amount to the SVAPL, you can contact them by email to svapl2010@hotmail.com, or by telephone to 1·888·212·6385.
With your help, the organization can remain open and operational for many years to come and the number of wagging tails and purring hums will continue to grow with time.

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Jakki Lumax
REPORTER
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