The NWT SPCA found homes for hundreds of dogs from across the territory last year. The group has announced they will turn thousands of dollars donated after the dissolution of the Hay River SPCA when a new group steps forward to take on the spay/neuter program. Jessica Davey-Quantick/ NNSL photo

Thousands of dollars donated to the NWT SPCA won’t be staying in Yellowknife.

The donation followed the dissolution of the Hay River SPCA earlier this month after the group lost the contract to manage the town’s animal shelter last summer.

The announcement that the funds raised in Hay River would be donated to the shelter in Yellowknife raised hackles on social media, prompting the NWT SPCA to post on Facebook that “being negative and cruel to our organization is uncalled for.”

NWT SPCA president Nicole Spencer told Yellowknifer she understands why people are upset.

“I guess they felt they raised the money, Hay River people raised the money for their community and now we’re gone,” she said. “But at the same time, a group donated money to us, so we have to be responsible for that money now.”

The NWT SPCA announced in a statement on Tuesday the board had met and decided to re-donate the money if and when there is a registered non-profit organization in Hay River willing to continue a spay/neuter program. Spencer said the board feels this is the fairest way to handle the situation.

“We aren’t responsible for what happened to the group in Hay River, however we did receive a lot of money from them, so of course we want to do the right thing,” she said.

The exact sum hasn’t been released but as previously reported in the Hay River Hub, the financial statements from up to March 2016 indicated the group had about $38,000 in assets, plus other potential income that could add thousands to the amount donated to the NWT SPCA.

Spencer is confident another group is waiting in the wings.

“I’m sure it’ll happen this summer and then we can work with them directly,” she said.

In a news release, the NWT SPCA encouraged whatever group forms in Hay River to look beyond their town borders to care for animals.

“We are just one group and it is difficult to help – to try to help – all of the 33 communities,” said Spencer. “So if Hay River could help … or offer programs or any support to Enterprise or Fort Providence or Fort Smith, the more communities that they can help, the better for everybody.”

According to its 2016/17 Report to Communities, the NWT SPCA found new homes for 313 animals in 2016. It took in 555 dogs, 97 cats, four rabbits, two ferrets, one finch and several gerbils from around the territory. The majority of their animal intakes, especially dogs, came from outside Yellowknife. Many of the communities across the territory do not have animal rescue organizations.

According to the report, the NWT SPCA brought in $625,000 in 2016 and had $534,271 in expenses. The majority of those funds were raised by donations and special events.