Wednesday, August 06, 2008

LAPS - High Time For A Reality Check?

Langley Times letter to the Editor of August 6th, 2008: ' The mandate of LAPS is “to promote the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of companion animals in Langley." ... This was clearly not the case when I called. ....On July 25 I called Langley Animal Protection Society to report a mother cat and kittens at the side of the road at 216 Street and 88 Avenue. I asked LAPS to come and rescue them and was told that they do not pick up cats, only dogs. .....

.....If I caught the kittens, I asked, could I bring them into the shelter? No, the shelter was at capacity for kittens. The receptionist told me to leave them there. Wouldn’t that lead to more kittens in the future, I asked. I told her that I would catch the kittens and bring them in. She said they would turn me away. ' - excerpts of letter by Dana Bis of Walnut Grove
The Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) which lobbied and took over the former SPCA contract for it's community animal protection for Langley was an excellent choice by the Township Council at that time a mere 4 or 5 years ago. So what happened to the LAPS since? This Editor's alarm bells have silently been chiming for quite a while because of all of the following below listed concerns about LAPS in the last couple of years. Today's letter from Dana Bis above has finally broken this Editor's back and begs many questions that need answers. Let's look at the concerns this Editor has:
  1. Two years ago the LAPS's Board lobbied for and got the Township of Langley to fork up $1.5 million for a replacement building after Township Taxpayers paid for an existing kennel property and facilities for in excess of $600,000.00 as well as installing sewer upgrades. One of the arguments were that better digs were required to attract and retain volunteers.

  2. Between July 2007 & January 2008 the Laps Board asked for just under $1,000,000.00 more for their new building due to cost overruns and expenses in addition to the initial $1.5 million for a new grand total of now about $2,500,000.00 and the Township Council approved and funded this increase. This is about a 75% cost overrun! Actually this is old hat and nothing new for the existing Township council because they seem to approve all manners of cost overruns in all facets of township spending! It's the business norm of the Mayor Alberts council club of "Good Ole boy's"

  3. At the January 2008 Council meeting where the LAPS Board sought the extra money they also revealed to council that LAPS now employed and had a payroll of 11 people IN ADDITION to all the volunteers that were initially to be the real backbone workhorses of LAPS when first presented to council only a short 4 or 5 years previously. Just a few years ago LAPS only had two employees I believe. In fact on their website there are three positions advertised for LAPS employees right at this moment. This really shocked this Editor to the core in January. I remember clearly the arguments about replacing the professional paid employees of the SPCA contractor with LAPS because their volunteers would care much better for Langley's animal protection than the paid and then very controversially expensive and gold plated SPCA operation that the council was contracting to before changing to LAPS at that time.

  4. This Editor also understands that the price of dog licenses have now doubled as well since LAPS took over. These funds go to help fund LAPS operations.

  5. This Editor also understands that the cost of adopting a pet at LAPs is now about $250.00. Again it used to be $125.00in the previous years. These funds also go to help fund LAPS operations.
Patti Dale, was the visionary out in front volunteer that spearheaded the drive to replace the SPCA originally. She along with the purely volunteer driven group of local women were clearly very energetic & a dedicated group of volunteers who demonstrated their strong animal advocacy focus & vision again only 4 or 5 years ago was . I still remember their passionate appeal to have the Township council replace the then very controversial SPCA organization. Sadly Patti passed away at far too young an age a couple of years ago.

The final concern that this Editor has is that I no longer see ANY of this original group of volunteers in evidence when reporting to Township Council. In fact at the January 2008 appeal for more funding none of the original women were anywhere to be seen or heard. Where have they all gone? And why?

I'm sure there will be lots of flak for this Editor's observations but given my festering concerns previous and especially now the letter from Dana Bis of Walnut Grove, questions must now finally be asked and answers must be given. Have we simply replaced the previous professional and gold plated Langley animal protection contractor with another one that is now starting to morph into an SPCA bureaucratic professional and gold plated clone? I certainly hope not. So don't shoot the messenger. I'm just asking the questions that the local newspaper Editor's should be raising too, but won't. Should we be concerned given all the above? And if not why not? Just very concerned and asking the questions. The final question is; when is LAPS's contract with the Township up for renewal and why should it not be out for public tender or for request for proposals?

To be fair this Editor is very aware of a lot of great things that LAPS now does like dog walking and especially the jailed prisoner inmate programs where they loan dogs to prisons for training and essentially provide inmate and even pet companionship. I'm sure they do many other innovative and wonderful things as well. Kudos. But as the messenger here, I sure hope that they never lose track of the core services and respective costs, checks and balances that the taxpayers and all Langley animal owners and lovers expect. Just another little reality check spurred on by this Editor. Where all others will certainly fear to tread, no doubt! In the meantime, keep up the fine work & programs LAPs and be ever wary and vigilant of the temptations of excess similar to your predecessors! And most especially those of your sponsors, the Township of Langley "Good Ole boy's Club" Council! LOL.

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