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WHITBY, Ont. Animal service providers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are urging area politicians to save a shared animal service program in Pickering, Ajax and Whitby, after learning politicians are considering dismantling the service.

Keeping the Pickering-Ajax-Whitby Animal Services Centre intact will offer taxpayers better quality service and cost each municipality less than going it alone, said Karen Wilson, president of CUPE Local 53, speaking on behalf of 7 workers with the program, commonly known as PAW. The workers are employed by the Town of Whitby, but under service agreements with Pickering and Ajax, they provide animal care, control and adoption services for all three municipalities.

We are dedicated workers who provide round-the-clock service to our communities seven days a week, said Wilson. We are always on call for emergencies and have been taking care of abandoned and stray animals for the past 20 years. Its unfortunate that our politicians are willing to jeopardize a quality program because they dont want to share administration costs.

The three municipalities are currently renegotiating an agreement that will allow PAW to continue its mandate to promote and develop responsible pet ownership. Under the current contract, which expires on December 31, 2005, Whitby is responsible for PAWS administrative costs, while the service budget is shared between the municipalities. Under the new proposal, Whitby is asking Pickering and Ajax to contribute $15,000 and $13,000 respectively to share administrative costs. Neither Pickering nor Ajax is willing to agree to this arrangement, and the municipalities are threatening to pull out of PAW and offer their own programs which could include contracting out the service.

The people who rely on our services are accustomed to the quality of care we provide and unfortunately it will be the animal lovers and their pets that will suffer the most, if PAW is disbanded, said Wilson. We are urging our elected representatives to show leadership and work out an agreement to save PAW for the benefit all three municipalities.


For further information, please contact:
Karen Wilson, President CUPE Local 53 - 905-925-2873
Betty Sommers, CUPE National Rep. - 905-433-4760
James Chai, CUPE Communications - 416-292-3999