Lower South Coast SPCA responds to complaints

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LOWER SOUTH COAST SPCA MEDIA STATEMENT:

The Lower South Coast SPCA has been under fire for many issues relating to changes and staff changes as well as some of the regulations regarding the AGM Rules.

I have answered below as best I can with an explanation followed by direct quotes from the NSPCA Operations Manual. Without the NSPCA rules and regulations this SPCA stops its function as an SPCA so they must be adhered to or the SPCA will be shut down by National Council.

There is obviously a huge lack of information regarding what is happening at the SPCA and what I have been doing since being appointed. I have tried through our Facebook page to give awareness but perhaps something more along the lines of a manager’s report would be more productive.

I am the new Manager of the SPCA and of course there have been changes made, this is what I am here to do in order to improve the SPCA. I am more than qualified, with an honours degree in Zoology from Rhodes University and 12 years of management experience in Animal Husbandry.

The previous Manager was a business man and ran the Society in his own manner, however my approach is far more Animal Welfare-related and extremely stringent when it comes to Animal Welfare Standards and Prevention of Cruelty.

Change is necessary and while many don’t like change it is inevitable in the evolution and improvement of our society, just remember I have been here for 6 months and the changes will take time to become noticeable.

We have a wonderful team, and although it will change as a matter of course through the future, the new staff hired are always chosen for their ability and passion for Animal Welfare.

Since my appointment I have instituted comprehensive standard operation procedures on Kennel Management and the way the animals are looked after. There are more checks involved when it comes to Animal Welfare such as daily checklists, enrichment schedules and sick report forms all of which did not exist before my time.

I don’t think the previous management provided any form of scheduled enrichment for the animals. I have also spent a lot of time on our Lotto Application which is a lengthy process and when we applied we were the only KZN SPCA to have done so.

This grant will allow us to do outreaches in all of our areas every two weeks and includes mass sterilisations of thousands of Animals. If anyone would like to they can request a copy of our application as well as a copy of the SPCA constitution, which I quote from below in the answers to questions.

Yes we have hired new staff, a fantastic and compassionate new Vet who, although young is absolutely dedicated and does the work of 4 Vets in a busy practice by herself as well as look after all our kennel dogs and be on emergency call day and night.

We have also hired new staff, Prevention of Cruelty is our number one function and in this way we are helping many more animals than before.

I quote from our national policy again:

WHAT AN SPCA SHOULD BE DOING:

It is vitally important for Committee members to remember that SPCAs are not simply there to home cats and dogs or reunite lost pets with their owners. As noble as this is, it is a drop in the ocean to what an SPCA should be achieving which is the prevention of cruelty to animals.

This means that your SPCA staff must be ‘out there’ educating the public in the correct treatment of animals. A good point to remember is for your Society to be proactive, and not simply reactive. This means a Society pro-actively going out seeking cruelty and not simply waiting for it to knock at the SPCA door.

It is imperative that Management Committees work from an annual business plan and budget. To ensure the most effective manner in protecting those entrusted to our care, the Management Committee needs to consider where funds should be most wisely spent.

A Society should calculate the costs pertaining to housing and care of animals already in its care and proportionally dedicate the same, if not more funds, toward proactive anti cruelty campaigns and sterilisation programmes. After all, it must be remembered that those in our care have already been rescued. It is therefore imperative that we ensure our Inspectorate is effective in combating cruelty.

Sterilisation programmes are imperative for our cause. This will drastically reduce the influx of animals brought into our facility. Long-term solutions.

I am going to leave things there and answer questions below, anybody and everybody is welcome to direct further questions to me Stacey Beck on [email protected]

Questions and Answers:
AGM Requirements:
Why a National Police Clearance is Required to be on the Committee:

National Police Clearance has always been required for both staff and committee, this is not a new requirement. You may apply for your police clearance upon election to the committee. You will not be prevented from applying to be a committee member as long as you agree to apply for this clearance upon election.

Direct quote from the NSPCA Operations Manual: Although not a Rule, it would be in the SPCA’s best interests to follow Guideline 13. All new Committee members, as well as those seeking re-election, and new members of staff of SPCAs must not have a criminal record where the conviction in question relates to misconduct in regards to animals and further may not take up employment, be employed or serve on the committee of any SPCA in a position where a criminal record and a conviction relates to the type of work they will be engaged in.

Why a Property Inspection required for a Committee Member:

A property inspection is absolutely mandatory for new committee members upon election, imagine if you elected a committee member without knowing they are a backyard breeder or any other of the multitude of possible animal welfare issues. It is concerning to note that some of our members don’t understand the importance of a property check.

Directly Quoted from The NSPCA Operations Manual:
Rule 2.13 was promulgated in 2012, making it a requirement for the premises of any new staff or committee members to be inspected by the Society to ensure that the welfare of any animals on the premises is not being compromised. NSPCA Inspectors are also permitted to inspect the premises of SPCA staff and committee members and those concerned should welcome this and not be offended. Members of the Management Committee should always set an example for their staff and members of the public.

It is also important for members of your SPCA Committee to attend Regional Meetings. These meetings give people from different Societies the opportunity to exchange ideas and have the chance to brainstorm. It is also an opportunity to realise that your SPCA is not the only one experiencing problems and that you are not alone. Working together as a team makes the region and neighbouring SPCAs stronger than working independently.

It is important that as a member of the Committee you are aware that all SPCAs are governed by an Act of Parliament and that the SPCA Act 169 of 1993 is a law. It must be remembered that you too, as a Committee member, are bound by this Act.

Why has the AGM been moved to a Tuesday evening when less people will attend. Surely Saturday is the best day for maximum attendance?

Many people work on a Saturday too (anyone in retail, the SPCA, doctors, pharmacists, vets and many more). A Tuesday Evening should realistically allow for maximum attendance. Also the Venue was kindly offered to us on this date and time and there is no valid reason why this is not a good time.

Why is it mandatory to assist for a minimum of 6 hours per week? This will prove difficult for working people and also people with families and will most likely eliminate them. Only retired members will then be eligible for election!

The reason for this request is that we would like potential committee members to understand what kind of involvement it takes to be a part of the SPCA Committee. All our current committee members work, except for our long standing Secretary Shirley Elliott who has been with the SPCA for many years. All of these working committee members make time for the SPCA when they can, including walking dogs on Sundays.

Our committee sets the example for the community and if prospective committee members find just a few hours a week too much then one questions if they really have time for the SPCA and the Welfare of the Animals. Being on the SPCA Committee is not just a meeting once a month and I am sure you will all agree that being able to give these few hours a week is important if we want this SPCA to be the best it can be.

Direct quote from the NSPCA Operations Manual: Each person on the SPCA Committee should be working towards a common goal – the prevention of cruelty to animals. It obviously takes commitment and a fair amount of free time to be on an SPCA Committee. If you do not feel that you can fully commit yourself to participate in achieving the aims and objectives of the SPCA, then it may be better to wait until you feel that you can. Further, if you cannot live with what it entails to be on a Committee, or if you are annoyed or offended by any of our issues, then we honestly feel that you have no place on either a Committee, or even at an SPCA.

Cost of attending the Committee Training Course. It was stated in the requirements that new Committee members must pay for their own Committee Training Course. We apologise that this statement is incorrect, the SPCA will pay for the Committee to attend this course however, due to the heavy financial burden this places on the society, our current committee has all paid for their course to try alleviate the cost to the SPCA and we would hope our new committee members would be able to do the same but if not the SPCA will pay for their course.

Can you also please clarify what the deadline is for annual membership to be paid so that members are eligible to vote at the AGM? I think I must have missed the public announcement.

I think your criteria needs to be amended and you definitely need to clarify further or the public will think there is a hidden agenda. It looks like you are blatantly trying to restrict any new members from applying!
Membership application closes 1 week before the AGM so please you are all welcome to become a member before the AGM.

In order to vote for committee of the SPCA please see the below rules as directly quoted from the NSPCA Operations Manual:
4.3 All subscriptions shall become due on 1 April in any year, and shall be regarded as being in arrear if they are not paid within three months of that date. The membership list shall be closed seven (7) days prior to the Annual General Meeting, and shall be re-opened after the Annual General Meeting;
VOTING
8.1 Each member entitled to attend and vote at the meeting shall have 1 (one) vote.
8.2 At any general meeting voting shall be decided on a show of hands unless a poll be requested, when it shall be taken in such manner and at such time as determined by the Chairman, or the person presiding at the meeting. Only members enrolled 3 months prior to a meeting and in good standing shall be entitled to vote.
8.3 8.3 When any ballot is necessary two scrutineers shall be elected by the members present to oversee the voting and count the votes.
8.4 8.4 No member shall be entitled to a vote by proxy.
8.5 8.5 Any member in arrears with any payment (referred to in 4.10) due to the Society shall be disqualified from voting.
8.6 8.6 Save where otherwise provided, all decisions shall require a simple majority vote. In the event of an equality of votes the Chairman, or in his absence the person presiding at the meeting shall have a casting vote in addition to his deliberative vote.
What does it mean to be in good standing?
4.6 No member of the governing body or staff of a Society shall be a member, agent, employee, official or representative of another animal welfare organisation, body or committee, interim, temporary or otherwise, or an organisation, body or committee, interim, temporary or otherwise, whose principles, aims, objectives, or general policy do not accord with those of the NSPCA and/or which has a function which may affect or have an impact upon the welfare of animals, unless previously approved in writing by the Board, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld;
4.9 Should there be any domestic dispute or disagreement within the Society which cannot be reconciled by the Management Committee then a minimum of 3 members may request that the matter shall be submitted to the NSPCA for arbitration. The decision of the National Council shall be binding;
4.12 It is a condition of membership that members are deemed to be aware of and to be bound to this Constitution, the Rules of the NSPCA and any amendments thereto.

Why a financial background check is required to be on the committee:

This is important because committee members are actively involved in fundraising and obviously the administration and spending of the organisations funds and a financial background check will allow us to be sure all committee members are not under sequestration or liquidation and will responsibly administer the societies funds.

Direct Quote from the Non Profit Organisations ACT 71 of 1997: for the Safeguard of Public Trust NPO Governance leadership, staff and volunteers have a special obligation to lead by example to safeguard and advance the integrity and reputation of all organisations that depend on voluntary support and public trust to avoid even the appearance of impropriety and to take whatever actions are necessary to correct or prevent the inappropriate conduct of others.

Not nice to be singled out because of ignorant fools that are only in their positions for a salary and not the welfare of the animals.

It is unkind comments like this that make what is already a hard job even harder. Nobody works at the SPCA for the pay, or we would all be working at Woolworths or the Bank. We do this because Animal Welfare is our passion. Very few people can cope with the emotional strain of this job, and it requires professional councelling to do what we do. I can guarantee that many people complaining about the SPCA would never be able to handle this job and the horrific things we see, and over and above that I don’t see anybody working at the SPCA for free, especially those complaining that we earn a living to do this work full time. If anyone is willing to or can afford to come work at the SPCA for free without Salary then please the SPCA is waiting for you with a big welcome. Alternatively please as a member of the SPCA apply to be voted onto the committee at our AGM on the 9 of July.

Staff Issues:
Why did Shasheeka Nundlall leave?

Shasheeka has Volunteered at the SPCA on and off for a number of years but not for 16 years continuously she left for a long time.

When I was appointed in October 2018 I asked Shasheeka if she would like to be our Enrichment Officer which she refused. I later on in January also asked her a second time, this time with a position offer as an Animal Welfare Officer and once again she refused. Both times without giving reason. Shasheeka has always been treated kindly here although she is not a team player and has a difficult personality, she does not get along with any of the Kennel Staff, Management, Clinic or Inspectorate.

However I always looked at Shasheeka’s ability and passion for the Animals as a reason for her to stay regardless of any personality clash or even staff management issues. Shasheeka has not been asked to leave or chased away from the SPCA. She asked to take some time off to take a job as a House Sitter which we agreed to without any issue. She has of her own accord decided not to return although she actually has not yet notified us we have just gathered as such from Facebook.

She was indeed asked to fill in her Volunteer Forms as they are required from all Volunteers old and new. There is a dispute between Shasheeka and another staff member because she says she handed the forms in and they were lost, the other staff member disputes this and says they were taken off her desk.

I just asked Shasheeka if she would mind filling in the forms again and she agreed that when she got back from her house sitting job that she would and I said that would be fine. Her complaint to National Council is summary is a staff dispute that should be handled internally.’

Conclusion:

Please, if there are any further questions or information needed (I may have left something out unintentionally) you can email me directly on [email protected], you WILL get a reply. Social Media is such a huge platform we cannot guarantee we will see all of the questions and comments and will end up responding repeatedly to the same questions.

We will try answer more where we can and endeavour to provide as much transparency as needed. Please also note the Financial Statements are available for Public review, the SPCA constitution and any other relevant information needed.

Thank you
Stacey Beck
Senior Supervisor
Lower South Coast SPCA

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