According to Kevin Maurice, President of the Alberta Pound and Rescue Centre (APARC), last year's reclaim rate for dogs that had been brought to APARC dropped slightly.
During his presentation to the city council on Tuesday, February 21, when he presented a 2022 year-end review of APARC, Maurice said that the overall reclaim rate for dogs was 81 per cent, whereas cats had a 24 per cent reclaim rate.
"We're actually hovering around the last five years running average for animal shelter care across Canada. [It's] a little bit lower this year on dogs, which is unfortunate because we've usually prided ourselves on having a higher reclaim rate," he said. "But I think we found that with the pandemic a couple of years ago, we had no animals in the building and I think we're starting to see a lot of those animals return."
However, he did underline that when it comes to euthanizations, no animal in APARC's care has been euthanized due to not being reclaimed, adding that APARC's intention is not to keep the animals forever, but instead to transfer them to other shelters, including their sister shelter in Medicine Hat.
He said that the three factors that would influence a veterinarian to make the difficult decision for euthanization would be that the animal is gravely injured or has a communicable disease, or the animal's persistent behavioural issues are not possible to be rectified or dealt with and pose a danger to the public.
Maurice also showed the council the breakdown of costs for running the facility. While salaries and wages amount to nearly 50 per cent of the budget, a quarter of the budget goes toward building fees. He noted that since APARC moved into an older building, two failures of the heating system were a large expense for the organization.
"The salaries and wages take up obviously our biggest proportion, but caring for anywhere between 40 and 60 dogs and having them 24 hours a day in a building really requires a lot of a lot of personal time; you're talking 30 to 60 meals twice a day, as well as cleaning not only the building but cleaning each of the kennels," he said. "It really does take a lot of effort that goes into it. We have six staff and they do a great job."
As part of the yearend review, APARC is looking towards 2023 and beyond, including adapting to the ever-changing economic conditions and continuing to try and find ways to help pet owners who are struggling financially with assistance. Maurice said something that he is hoping to propel forward is more opportunities for microchipping, as he believes if animals are microchipped, the chances of the pet being reclaimed by their owner are significantly higher.
"We'd like to run a microchip program at least once probably this summer. We'd work with a local veterinarian and people can just come in and chip their animal and the chips cost about $12 to $13."
There are also hopes to have a similar program encouraging pet owners to license their dogs as well as plans to introduce a low-cost spay/neuter program.
"This is a program we run for the city of Medicine Hat, and they provide funds and we operate with the vet; we have extremely low rates the vets committed to, and we're able to provide hundreds of low-cost spay and neuters per year," he said.
APARC, a charitable organization was established in 2016 and has two locations: Medicine Hat and Airdrie. they provide pound and rescue services to 87,989 people across 13,196 square kilometres in the City of Medicine Hat, Cypress County, and the City of Airdrie.
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