Council in Wadena, Saskatchewan passes motion to close the town’s only animal shelter within 60 days
City council in Wadena, Saskatchewan has passed a motion to shut down the city’s only animal shelter within 60 days.
Wadena is about 200 kilometers east of Saskatoon. The animal shelter has been operating out of the back of Wadena News since 2018.
Andy Labdon, a reporter and photographer at the newspaper, has since been responsible for animal control regulations for Wadena, Rose Valley and Wynyard. He has a contract with the town of Wadena to perform animal control services.
Labdon said the news of the shelter’s closure was surprising.
“I was given 60 days notice to vacate and get rid of all animals. Which I found a little perplexing,” Labdon said. “I can’t do my job as an animal control officer because I don’t have a pound to put animals in for 24 hours, 48 hours so someone can claim them.”
Laurie Rudolph, executive director of Wadena Town Council, said Labdon had applied to expand the Wadena News building for the animal shelter.
“That’s when I referenced the zoning ordinance and it showed that a pound in a log building is not a permitted use.”
Labdon said there was no other animal shelter in his care. He currently has 12 cats and nine dogs at the facility. He said he was very disappointed with the mayor and councilors of Wadena for issuing the 60-day notice.
“I just don’t have it. I just don’t get treated like that with … the thousands of hours and thousands of dollars I put into this,” he said.
Labdon said former advisers and chief executives were complicit in Wadena News’ animal pound operation.
“They all gave me a business license. So in my eyes it’s the incompetence of the GMs and the board… in not doing due diligence and not checking the zoning. I’m a bit upset and disappointed with the lack of professionalism.”
Meanwhile, Rudolph has distanced himself from the decisions and actions of former CAOs.
“I’ve just been here the year so I can’t speak to what happened before or what previous councils have done,” she said.
Asked about the decision to enforce the bylaw after four years, Wadena Mayor Sara Sobchyshyn said “circumstances have definitely changed over the years so it has been revisited and some things have caught our eye. attention. We needed to follow our own guidelines.”
Sobchyshyn said the circumstances she was referring to concerned the Wadena News office and the state of the control center. When asked to elaborate on the condition and quality of the location, Sobchyshn said she didn’t want to comment.
In February 2021, CBC News reported that Labdon had teamed up with a local resident to move the shelter to Mozart, 36 kilometers southwest of Wadena. But on Wednesday he said the partnership was broken.
However, last week Labdon struck a deal to buy a building in Wynyard – 30 miles southwest of Wadena – which he will turn into a long-term shelter.
“There is more land. There I can have rooms outside, enclosures, enclosures. I can house more animals.”
But the location isn’t available until late 2022 due to contact worker delays, he said.
Labdon said he was going to ask council to rezone Wadena News for a shelter and pound. If that’s denied, he’ll ask for a 60-day extension.
Meanwhile, Sobchyshn said any concerns about where the animals will go and how Labdon will continue to provide animal protection services will be addressed at the July 18 board meeting, where Labdon will be a delegate.
“This contract and the service it provides to our community is very valuable, so it’s not that the council wants to shut it down for the services it provides to our residents or our animals,” Sobchyshn said.
“We’re just looking for better circumstances. And we’re ready and we want to work with them with that.”