SPCA is quickly going brokeArticle by Hannah Norton. Northern Advocate 30.1.15
Whangarei SPCA chief inspector and manager Francine Shields says the centre may have to shut in two years if it cannot raise funds. Photo / Tania Whyte
Whangarei SPCA is in dire financial straits and will have to close in two years if something doesn't change.
The centre is losing $30,000 a month, and if it continues at this rate the money it is surviving on - capital from an investment made 12 years ago - will run out, meaning it will have to close its doors, Whangarei SPCA chief inspector and manager Francine Shields said. "If we don't start getting funds, we will be in serious trouble."
She is urging people to get behind the centre - which covers animal welfare in both Whangarei and Dargaville districts and costs $1.4 million a year to run - and donate. She has released a breakdown of some of the centre's monthly costs to the Northern Advocate, to show where the money has been going.
Vet care costs the centre between $27,000 and $53,000 a month, and includes the costs of operations such as desexing.
Full time Whangarei SPCA vet Kristy Macdonald is on much lower pay than vets around the country and does it because she wants to help animals, Ms Shields said.
Running the rescue vehicles costs between $1700 and $3700 a month, telephone bills are between $1500 and $2400, the after hours call centre costs between $250 and $380, and power is between $990 and $1200 a month.
Each month rates cost $360, animals' food is over $400, rubbish is $790 and insurance is $750. There are also 26 staff who are predominantly on minimum wage, Ms Shields said.
The centre has applied to the Whangarei District Council's community funding rounds, as well as requested a reduction in rates and rubbish costs, but to no avail.
The SPCA is also a non-government funded organisation, despite having a law-enforcement role in animal welfare.
Twelve years ago the centre first started running at a loss, but then received a $1 million bequest, which was then "wisely" invested in shares and other investments, Ms Shields said. Since then, returns on the investment have kept the centre afloat. But in recent years, the centre's deficit has eaten into the capital and Ms Shields said in two years it will be gone. One Whangarei SPCA inspector did not want to even replace her worn and torn uniform, Ms Shields said.
A big problem was also people just using the SPCA as a way to avoid paying private vet costs. "But our job is welfare, so we will not turn away an animal who needs our care."
To donate, visit whangareispca.org.nz and press 'How to help' or phone 09 438 9161.