The Niagara County SPCA has made the decision to cease non-emergency animal control services to the City of Niagara Falls, effective July 15.
Director Amy Lewis says the shelter was taking a substantial financial loss based on its last contract with the city, which expired at the end of 2011. Lewis says the shelter's board made the unanimous decision after nearly a year of unsuccessful negotiations with the city, talks that began last August.
"Here it is July and we've been unable to come to any kind of contract that works for both parties. The shelter had to come to the decision that we can't continue to lose money through our dog control contract with the City of Niagara Falls," Lewis says.
The SPCA has been providing control services under an expired contract for more than a year and a half. Lewis says the Lockport Road operation could no longer endure the financial losses it was absorbing, in a contract where the city paid just over $83,500.
"Back in 2011 it was costing the Niagara County SPCA approximately $170,00 to provide animal control services to Niagara Falls. That figure went up in 2012 because we were treating considerably more animals from the city. It sat somewhere around $230,000," Lewis says.
Lewis says she's not sure what the city's next step will be and whether the Dyster administration will re-open negotiations with the shelter. She says it is the responsibility of a municipality to provide control services and there are public health issues at play.
"The majority of the animals that we see from Niagara Falls are not vaccinated for rabies, they don't receive vet care. To have these animals wandering, it could certainly be a really big concern," Lewis says.
"It's something that happens consistently. We get calls seven days a week, 24 hours a day. So it's definitely something that can't be put on the back burner."
Lewis says the SPCA will continue to provide rescue and cruelty prevention services to sick, injured, and abused domestic animals in city limits.