Masterton SPCA cash crisis forces push on fee

By Trevor Quinn

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A funding crisis at the Wairarapa SPCA has led to fears animals may be drowned or shot because their owners don't want to pay a surrender fee.

The SPCA is enforcing the fee for owners who surrender animals they no longer want, but said there were fears that may lead to them being dumped or killed.

"Sometimes there's a fear that people won't pay a fee and will dump the animal instead. They end up here anyway and I just hope people's consciences are clear," said Wairarapa SPCA manager Val Ball.

On average, the Wairarapa SPCA take in more than 1500 animals per year.

Mrs Ball said it cost $180,000 last year to run the SPCA branch, but only $80,000 was received in funding from the national body. Donations or other funding must fill the $100,000 shortfall.

To add to the money crisis, this year's SPCA national appeal, which usually raises $6000 locally, wasn't run in Wairarapa due to "difficulties", Mrs Ball said.

The surrender fee applies to owners who give up their pets. A donation request is also being made to every person who brings in a stray animal. Mrs Ball said some who are asked for a donation respond that they will "take it home and shoot it".

"There are too many animals being born for us to be able to deal with all of them," Mrs Ball said.

"We have people coming in here all the time and they say, 'We've just had a litter [of kittens] and when we say we don't have room for them they say, 'Don't worry we'll just dump them'."

The surrender fee varies at each SPCA centre, but RSPCA North Island regional manager Lloyd Warren said about $20 could be expected for surrendering a cat.

The funding challenges facing Wairarapa SPCA and centres across the country was a big worry.

"It's not just Wairarapa, it's a huge concern for all our centres," Mr Warren said.

"It's hard times for all, it's not just our own organisation either, there are many well-respected organisations in the country who are struggling and we're just one of them."

Mr Warren said he had met with Mrs Ball in recent months to discuss the financial challenges and the establishment of an op shop to sell second-hand goods could help.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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