NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - Following a scathing and highly critical 2012 report chronicling inhumane euthanasia practices at the Niagara County SPCA, Officials have been working hard to turn things around, with a new board and new leadership.
But starting Monday, an important service is being dropped, and it may mean more stray dogs roam in Niagara Falls. The SPCA says they're no longer offering animal control for the city - because they cannot afford to.
For the past year, SPCA Director Amy Lewis has been telling the City of Niagara Falls that the shelter needs more money.
"The furthest back contract we were able to find was from 2009 for the amount of $86,000 a year and we're still being paid that rate," Lewis said.
She says the cost to provide dog control service to the city now reaches $230,000 a year. On Wednesday night, the SPCA Board voted to stop all non-emergency animal control services to the city. Sick, injured, and neglected dogs will still be picked up.
"It constitutes 40 percent of our total intake of dogs so that's an incredible percentage and when the costs are not covering the expenses it's a real problem for our shelter," Lewis said. "We rely very heavily on the money that comes from these contracts and when that money is not covering the costs to actually execute those, it's an issue for us."
But Mayor Paul Dyster says, given the Niagara County SPCA's rocky past, the City Council needs to see extensive documentation to be certain the cost increase is justified.
"What they gave us as a cost summary is about two-thirds of one page. We were looking for much more detailed records that we assume they have about the number of dogs that were picked up, how long they were kept in the shelter, what treatments were given to those dogs that were picked up," Dyster explained.
The mayor says the City Council assumed there would be increased costs as the shelter became no-kill.
Dyster argued, "We haven't said no to any particular number. We've said we can't possibly agree to such a huge increase without it being documented in a very specific way."
The mayor says he's filed an action in court to prevent the SPCA from suspending services until a contract can be worked out or they find an alternative for animal control service. He expects to hear back from the judge on Friday.
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