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REPORTING · 26th November 2013
Walter McFarlane
Maryanne Oulett, from the Humane Society came to Council to present on a request for the upcoming budget. The Humane Society currently earns $6000 a month for the animal control contract. However, with the changes in Kitimat, they are asking Council to increase the amount to $14,874.67 a month or $178,496 a year.

“It has been a difficult time trying to live within this budget that does not give us much allowance to have adequate paid staff and at a more competitive wage. It has also left us short staffed when employees are sick or on holiday leave. I find myself working the majority of the hours or as last year in order to have the funds to hire a couple more part time staff members I chose to be laid off and still continue with the scope of my duties as a volunteer,” wrote Oulett.

She stated Council she has taken a $5 an hour pay cut since returning. She stated she and her staff of 6 people are doing the equivalent work of 10 people. She stepped up to the microphone to present to Council.

“I know it seems like a very substantial amount but over the years of trying to run as very low key as we could and trying to get as many volunteers as we can possibly to run it, it makes it very difficult when you’re providing animal control and you have to have trained staff and people that are very knowledgeable and the skills that go with it,” said Oulett

She stated while Kitimat is growing, there are more animal problems and more complaints. There are more transfers, more animal bills and they are trying to fundraise for staffing wages. The public has been donating a lot of food.

She expressed the staff is burning out quickly. The staff is making minimum wage and they are worth more than they are getting paid. However, one staff member is going to be told to move from her apartment and is looking for a place where she can keep her cat and her dog.

“This is why we’re looking at this and the increased services and what we provide and if the city was taking it on with District paid employees, you’re going to be looking at far more than that on a monthly basis,” said Oulett.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated that he read the letter and stated it is not right that she has taken a pay cut. He asked what level of service the Humane Society is providing neighbouring communities and what services neighbouring communities are offering Kitimat. He was told other communities are not using the Kitimat Humane Society Services. There is a new SPCA Constable in Hazelton so she is no longer needed to travel around the region dealing with animal concerns.

Councillor Corinne Scott said she was appalled to realize that Oulett was struggling to the point where she had to take time off because there was no money and a $5 per hour pay cut to keep other staff members going. She said the increase was substantial and wanted to know if this was the bare minimum staffing requirements.

Oulett replied they could do with one less full time dog control officer because Oulett does most of the work and that way, they have a backup person with experience.

Scott wanted to know how many volunteers there were. There were about 150 volunteers but they get around 2-3 a week helping with the everyday work.

Feldhoff asked what is driving up the cost. He was told it is the cost of the animal control. “The bigger building really didn’t matter because even when we were in the smaller building, we had the same numbers. The only difference is that we are transferring out more, we keep our numbers as low as possible when they come in,” said Oulett.

She told Council kittens are shipped to Vancouver as soon as they come in where there are homes waiting for them. She expressed the workload is the same and it is maintaining everything else which is going on.

Feldhoff made a motion to forward this to budget. It was called and carried.
Again...a question that council should be asking
Comment by Larry Walker on 27th November 2013
Let's get a handle on this....have staff (not the shelter), canvas all SPCA facilities in the Pacific Northwest (Pr George to Rupert) and determine what services they offer and actual counts on dogs/cats/whatever for the last three years. What staffing levels and salaries are offered and what their operating budget and additional revenue do they receive (again using a 3 year window). And last but not least what size of buildings (and who ownes them), do they operate out of.