Swift Current SPCA fundraising in order to keep shelter doors open

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Swift Current SPCA Board Chairperson Graham Parsons, SPCA Board Fundraising Chairperson Melanie Weinbender and SPCA Board Communications chairperson Susan McLaughlinwere on hand as Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer presented the SPCA with the first campaign donation for the $14 for 2014 Campaign.

The Swift Current SPCA has launched a major community wide fundraising initiative to generate money to strengthen their financial position and maintain the current level of services at their Animal Shelter.

With expenses exceeding income over four of the past five years, the SPCA board is aiming to raise $50,000 this year in order to avoid cuts to the Shelter's operational hours.

"Our expenses have just rocketed in the last few years. It costs approximately $700 a day to operate the Shelter, which is no small amount of money. And with the increase in utility costs, payroll, feed costs…the expenses are rocketing up and donations, unfortunately, haven't kept pace with that," Swift Current SPCA Board Chairperson Graham Parsons said during the launch of their $14 for 2014 Campaign on Thursday.

"We're asking for $14 because it ties in nicely with 2014, but absolutely any amount of money is appreciated. It all helps. Every penny gets spent on the Shelter operations," Parsons said. "So we're hoping that people will come on board."

The SPCA Animal Shelter has had an impact on nearly 900 animals between 2011 and 2013, finding homes for over 600 cats and almost 300 dogs. The Shelter is almost always full of lost, unwanted or abandoned animals, and the SPCA has been challenged by the fact that operational costs at the Shelter have almost doubled over the past five years.

"We had a lengthy Board meeting at the end of 2013 and looked at ways to cut costs as well as generate more revenue," Parsons stated in a press release. "Staffing levels are already at a minimum. Reducing our opening hours is not a great option because it limits public exposure to the animals. This defeats the purpose of find each animal its forever home."

The SPCA's 15 member Board of Directors is continuing to take aim at holding the line on expenses, but they are turning to a series of fundraising initiatives to help strengthen their future.

"It's important to realize that the shelter operation doesn't receive any provincial or federal funding. Everything's raised locally. We receive a proportion of our income, approximately 20 per cent from the city, to run the Pound. But 80 per cent of our operation is dependent on donations from the community, and that's quite a lot."

The $14 for 2014 Campaign will be distributing donation envelopes throughout Swift Current and area, with Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer kicking off the campaign on Jan. 30 by making the first campaign donation.

Parsons also noted that the Swift Current SPCA is aiming to improve their public relations profile in the Region.

"I think it's one of those situations where a lot of households in the area are probably not 100 per cent sure exactly what we do and how valuable the service is to the community, because if we're not there then there is no where for the animals to go basically. And we just need to reach out to these people a bit more, and that's partly the reason for the campaign."

Swift Current's Animal Shelter has a reach beyond the city boundaries, as they not only receive strays and overflow animals from surrounding communities that do not have their own Shelters, but a number of cats and dogs are adopted by families in surrounding communities and municipalities.

The SPCA is also hoping to generate awareness and funds during a SPCA Radiothon in the spring, and they are holding their Kitty Cat Walk and Adoption Fair at the Swift Current Mall on March 22.

In addition to these fundraisers, the SPCA has unveiled initiatives where people can support the Animal Shelter via the following methods:

- taking your recyclables to SARCAN and asking that the proceeds go to the SPCA;

- purchasing a 50/50 tickets from the SPCA booth at Frontier Days;

- purchasing a table at the SPCA Fall Gala;

- donating at any time to a Snoopy Box in businesses throughout the community;

- making a donation throughout their website spcaswiftcurrent.com

The Swift Current SPCA is also hoping to secure a series of long-term corporate sponsors in order to improve their long term viability. At current the only guaranteed funding they receive is funding from the City of Swift Current which covers Pound Services and contributes to their Spay/Neuter program.

Their largest single fundraising initiative remains the SPCA Used Bookstore at 37 - 1st Ave. N.E. There is a large selection of used books available, with prices at least 50 per cent off the cover price and many for less than $1. During the year they are hoping more people donate books to support their fundraising, and they can attract more visitors and volunteers.

"The Bookstore is a great little source of revenue for us. We're obviously always looking for ways to improve the income from that, but we're very appreciative of the volunteers and supporters of the Bookstore," Parsons said.

THe Swift Current SPCA was formed in 1971, and they opened their first Animal Shelter in 1977.

Organizations: Swift Current SPCA

Geographic location: Swift Current

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