The Elephant in the Room

from the Cape Breton Post

Two bidders for CBRM dog control contract

Published on June 19, 2012

SYDNEY — Two bids have been received after a tender call for enforcement of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s dog bylaw.

Bids were made by the Nova Scotia SPCA and a new company, Cape Breton Dog Control Services.

The bids were opened last week and Rick Fraser, manager of inspections and bylaws, said the bids will now be reviewed by staff to determine the best offer.

He said a final decision could come within 30 days.

The bid for Cape Breton Dog Control Services lists Janet Confiant as the main contact. However, when contacted by the Cape Breton Post, Confiant said she was not in a position to speak for the company since her role in the bid is to assume the management and administrative functions for the new company if it is the successful bidder. The new company is not yet listed with the provincial Joint Registry of Stocks.

Meanwhile, there remains no deal in place between the Nova Scotia SPCA and the Cape Breton Humane Society, which formerly operated the Sydney animal shelter.

The two sides were in Supreme Court earlier this year where a judge awarded interim control of the shelter to the SPCA. Both sides have been attempting to negotiate a final deal since the interim order was issued. One issue to be resolved is control over the shelter on East Broadway Street.

Well then!   One cannot help but be smitten with a sense of deja vu!    Were we not standing at a similar crossroad a couple of years ago?   Homeward Bound City Pound was an untried and untested entity whose sole asset was the reputation of its founder.

There was no facility built before submitting the bid.    Nor was the business registered.  The bid was based on projections and plans without any proven track record in the Animal Control Sheltering field.

There was a bold new spirit of optimism that echoed the wonderful transformation at Metro that had only been possible once the disgraced president and shelter manager were gone.

So it was a big fat surprise to everyone when the bid was bid was awarded to the new kid on the block … Homeward Bound City Pound!

Is this new situation in Cape Breton the same?   Not even close!   Admittedly there are some similarities on the surface.   The new bid is competing with the SPCA Branch that has held the contract for years.   There is no facility or business registration.   All this mystery of course only fuels speculation that somehow the dismissed shelter manager and disbanded board are sliding their feet back under the table at the CBRM Council.

That is where the similarities stop!    In a sense, the society / aka the Cape Breton Branch is essentially the new kids on the block.   All that horrible old history with the Animal Control sheltering contract can be laid squarely at the door of the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board.

Society policies had been ignored!   Spectacular batches of Cape Breton Fudge had been served up to the society instead of honest statistics and bookkeeping!   When the society regained control of the Sydney shelter,  somehow even the mythical bank balance had magically vanished !

The short version of course is that during the last few months, a new Branch has risen from the ashes …. one that now can now honestly claim to have strong engagement and support from the local community.

Then of course there is the elephant in the room … that will hopefully not escape the attention of the CBRM Council.   When Homeward Bound City Pound took over the contract, there was (to be polite) a bit of a learning curve.

Now, relationships have been established with some rescues … helped as much by compassion as by the practical fact that all adoptables are altered, vetted and vaccinated before being transferred.

In this relationship based world, where animal rescuers can readily remember old history, not all rescues have developed relationships with the pound.   Some chose not to be involved.  Others were never asked.   More importantly, to this date, to the best of my knowledge, the pound has never reached out and established any sort of relationship with the society.

It is no secret that society has had to help the Cape Breton Branch move in a more pawsitive direction.   Hampered by both an empty bank account and a Council reluctant to release  any AC funds, provincial resources were needed to turn things around.

More importantly has been the impact of being able to transfer adoptables from the Cape Breton Branch to other branches in the Society.   Without this life saving ‘release valve’, the new branch would only be able to offer safe sanctuary to a few, instead of being able to claim better bragging rights for genuine Live Release Rates.

Given the volume of intake in CBRM, any new bidder for the CBRM AC Contract could not hope to match those Live Release Rate numbers.   Even the largest of shelters will quickly fill up if adoptions do not keep pace with intake.

At the end of the day …. that elephant is the difference!  Will the new for profit contractor stipulate that all adoptables will be altered, vetted and vaccinated before being transferred to any non profit organization?    Otherwise, if there is no possibility of a relationship with the society,  any pound located so far off the beaten path for adopters will soon be shopping for another horrible home-made gas chamber!

This whole situation is so shrouded in mystery that it would pure speculation to suggest that the ‘new’ bidder is in any way related to the dismissed shelter manager, the disbanded board or even the reinvented Cape Breton Humane Society.    After all, before the game changing 2011 Shelter Audit, the ‘old guard’ had done such a splendid job of irritating folks that there was already letters to the editor talk that a new bidder was needed, eh?

What time is it?  Right here, right now, no matter who the mystery bidder is …..it is time for concerned animal loving,  taxpaying voters in CBRM to attend every council meeting …. and of course in between times to regularly express their views on this subject to  their Councillors and Mayor.   Animals cannot speak for themselves, eh?   The way ahead for the animals can only ever be paved by strong voter feedback!

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