By JAYMIE L. WHITE – with files from Ryan King
PORT AUX BASQUES – After months of back and forth between a local animal group and Council, it looks like the Town will soon be home to a new shelter. Peggy Savery from ‘For the Love of Paws’ animal rescue group said the volunteers have worked tirelessly to get a suitable shelter location in Port Aux Basques.
“It’s taken numerous meetings with the town, numerous emails, formulating a business plan. It’s been a lot of hard work. It hasn’t been anything other than that – really hard work.”
The group plans on making the shelter available to any animal that needs help.
“We have a soft spot for all animals, so we are not going to just be a cat shelter. Anybody that reaches out to us for support or help with any animal, we’re certainly not going to turn them away,” said Savery. “Our goal is to work with the town to help educate. All we want is to help animals and educate people and support them in any way we can.”
Savery said that people can get the wrong idea about a shelter and finances they have access to.
“We are a shelter and there’s that misconception that we have a lot of money, but we struggle and we’re working very hard. We have a dedicated crew of volunteers and we’ve created a board of directors and we do function quite well together. Hopefully all of our hard work will pay off in the end, not just for us but the town as well,” said Savery.
Velda Tapp of ‘In Memory of Shadow’ had previously tried to establish a shelter in Port Aux Basques but was unsuccessful. A temporary shelter was provided by the town, but eventually the Shadow group were asked to vacate, which proved stressful.
“We didn’t have time to wait,” explained Tapp. “We were in a position where we were already at the fish plant, and it belonged to the Town Council and in June they gave us notice that we had three months to get out. What could we do in three months? We had nowhere to go.”
Tapp bears no ill will to ‘For the Love of Paws’ and anticipates their success.
“I wish them well. I can’t wait for them to actually put their building up and start a rescue and see what rescue work is all about,” said Tapp.
Tapp says her group is experiencing its own success a few minutes down the coast.
“We’re thankful for what the Town of Port Aux Basques did for us. They gave us a temporary shelter, and we’re very happy in Margaree. The people are amazing down here. They are very proud to have a rescue in their community, and they’re very good to us,” said Tapp. “If they (Port aux Basques Council) gave me a piece of land tomorrow I would still stay where I am.”
Port Aux Basques town manager Leon MacIsaac said that having In Memory of Shadow leave their temporary shelter site was an unfortunate occurrence, but that there were conflicts that couldn’t be avoided if the group remained there.
“The Town could not provide any extension beyond that date due to conflicts with the municipal plan and development regulations. As well, it conflicted with the Town’s plans to expand business opportunities within the industrial building,” explained MacIsaac.
MacIsaac also noted that the group had requested an alternate location within Port Aux Basques, but that shelter was unable to be placed within that land use zone under the Town’s development regulations. Regarding the For the Love of Paws shelter, MacIsaac said Council has approved sourcing a parcel of land; however, conflicts with existing land use zones need to be ruled out first.
“The Commercial Land Use Zone in Grand Bay West does provide allowances for the development of an animal shelter,” said MacIsaac. “Council passed a motion at Tuesday’s meeting that it would provide support for donation of a parcel of land, however, a location has not been determined to date.”
There have been complaints from residents regarding rodent problems throughout the town, and even on social media it has been suggested that stray cats might be a solution for the problem. MacIsaac does not agree.
“Individual property owners are responsible for their own rodent control. I do not expect that a new animal shelter will have an impact on rodent problems within the Town,” said MacIsaac. “The shelter will provide a safe haven for strays until they hopefully find a new home.”