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Niagara Falls extends contract with SPCA for six months

NIAGARA FALLS – City lawmakers have approved a six-month contract extension with the Niagara County SPCA.

The City Council on Wednesday voted, 4-1, to approve a deal for the remainder of the year under which the city will more than double its monthly payment to the agency for dog control and sheltering services.

The move will give the city time to evaluate its options for how it may proceed starting next year and beyond, officials said.

In a written statement issued Thursday, Mayor Paul A. Dyster said the city believes the “very substantial increase” in costs for the city “is the result of improvements at the facility moving in the direction of a “no kill philosophy.”

Shelters with such philosophies aim to perform no unnecessary euthanasia.

However, the language in the contract extension contains no explicit mention of an adherence by the SPCA to such a philosophy, Dyster said.

“Moving forward, we will insist on incorporating assurances about operation of a ‘no kill’ facility into any future long-term contract renewal with the SPCA,” Dyster said, “and we will continue over the next six months to explore other options for provision of sheltering services currently provided by SPCA.”

Earlier this month, the SPCA announced it was cutting off dog control services after contract talks broke down.

The city then sought and obtained a restraining order, which blocked the agency from putting a halt to its services in the Falls.

Under the terms of the new deal, the city will pay $15,000 per month, up from the $6,960 a month it had been paying.

“The rate of the expired contract did not keep pace with the times, the costs of the various animal services the shelter provides or the ‘no kill’ initiative we have undertaken as a core part of our mission,” SPCA Treasurer David A. Urban said in a written statement.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. helped hammer out the deal between the two sides by last week, though at the time Dyster said the city would need more financial detail from the SPCA before the contract extension would be submitted to the Council.

A meeting between city and SPCA officials was held late Tuesday afternoon to go over financial figures from the agency.

The SPCA has said it was losing $150,000 a year under its previous contract with the Falls.

The city sought the court order to block services from being cut because it had no dog control officer or alternative kennel arrangements.

Councilwoman Kristen M. Grandinetti cast the sole vote against the contract extension.

“I felt that the SPCA had strong-armed us in requesting that much more additional money,” Grandinetti said Thursday.

In their written statement, SPCA officials said the six-month agreement allows both sides time to continue talks.

“This vote of the Council provides a short-term contract that moves toward a more reasonable fee for the services our community shelter provides to the citizens of Niagara Falls,” Board President Michelle D. Madigan said, “although it still does not reflect the true total costs.”