VANCOUVER SUN – April 23, 2003:Animal rights activists say SPCA out of touch: 'Discrediting other groups doesn't help animals,' Society representative counters
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
A group of animal rights activists wants to see more accountability for the B.C. branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"They're allowing less and less community representation and we feel that local involvement is imperative," Royal City Humane Society official Cheryl Rogers said at a news conference Tuesday held by the B.C. Animal Welfare Society.
She also said the SPCA has been criticized in animal welfare circles for such things as revoking memberships, abruptly closing shelters and for having a "bloated and out-of-touch bureaucracy."
However SPCA spokeswoman Lorie Chortyk rejected the group's allegations.
"There's so many things that need to be done for animals, but I think to just go around discrediting other groups with nothing to back it up doesn't help the animals," said Chortyk. "With this particular group, it saddens us by the way they operate."
Rogers was one of four animal rights activists at Tuesday's news conference who were critical of the SPCA's operations.
The groups represented also included the Langley Animal Protection Society, Citizens Yell For Accountability (composed of former SPCA volunteers and others), and Chilliwack's Concerned Citizens, also comprised of some former SPCA volunteers.
They said the provincial government could provide more accountability by appointing an administrator to take over the SPCA's books and operations until an investigation is completed.
"Though it provides government services and received more than $1 million in provincial gaming revenues last year, the SPCA with its $21-million annual budget does not fall under the more stringent Society Act," said Rogers. "The provincial Ombudsman Office does not oversee it.
"Dissatisfaction with and mistrust of the SPCA is widespread."
However, Chortyk said the society is very open and has more volunteers than ever.
She also said the government has shown unwavering support for the SPCA.
"We operate like any other charity in terms of our accountability and transparency. But we take it steps further than other charities. We have all our salary ranges posted on the Web site. And our financial information is available to any member of the public.
"In terms of bureaucracy, we have one of the smallest administrations of any of the non-profits that I know."
Chortyk said members of the B.C. Animal Welfare Society are angry because the SPCA revoked their individual memberships. "With this group of individuals we had to revoke their memberships because they operate a Web site that defames the [SPCA]. You can't be a member of a society when you are legally defaming it."