Dozens of people with their four-legged friends attended the Fredericton SPCA’s first Pet Pawlooza on Saturday.
Rows of booths filled the space, advertising everything from dog grooming to bunny toys to animal paintings.
There was even a spot for dogs to get photos with Santa Claus.
Taylor Hawkins attended the event with her dog.
“We don’t really have a whole lot of events that you can bring your dog to, so it was just something we thought would be cool to come out and see,” she said.
But it was about more than holiday pictures and dog treats.
In a letter sent to donors, the organization said it only has funds to stay open about two more months.
“It’s our goal to keep in operations,” Annette James, the executive director, said.
She estimated the not-for-profit has a deficit of about $320,000 for 2023.
She said the society has been receiving more pets with complex needs throughout the past few years, which result in longer, expensive stays. Along with rising medical expenses for pets, the costs have taken a toll.
For example, surgeries to fix the hips of a young lab mix named Alexis will cost about $5,000.
“That’s a lot of coinage for anyone to be able to afford, certainly a shelter,” James said, adding that the dog’s recently completed one hip surgery, with another to go.
“Every animal deserves a voice, and we want to be an organization that continues to speak up for them.”
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The Pawlooza’s entrance fee was by donation, and the SPCA had a lottery at the event to raise funds.
James said the organization hopes to raise $15,000 from Saturday’s event. From there, the short-term goal is to remain open, and the long-term plan is to consider partnerships to make their operation more sustainable.
Part of that is asking the city for more funding. The city of Fredericton gives the shelter $42,000 a year. James said it’s not enough, as running the shelter costs about $65,000 a month.
“When the bank account is empty, the bank account is empty,” she said. If that happens, the Fredericton SPCA will shut its doors.
She said staff are doing everything they can to avoid shutting down, but they have to prepare for the possibility the organization will close. If the animal shelter was to cease operations, James said staff would make sure every animal currently with the Fredericton SPCA had a forever home.
Despite the concerns, seeing the crowds on Saturday was encouraging for her.
“To see people coming out and joining us today and coming together as a community, absolutely, it’s heartwarming,” James said.
And she had a message to share.
“If we all do our little bit, we can make a big difference,” she said.
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