The Cape Breton Branch of the SPCA was formed over 35 years ago. Mary Keshen, formalized the idea by placing an ad in the Cape Breton Post inviting anyone interested to meet.
The first meeting turned out approximately 40 people who were determined to get the arduous task underway.
After correspondence with the Provincial Society the group was given permission to operate under the official name of Cape Breton Branch of Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty.
After the groundwork had been laid, the group now needed a means to construct a fully operational animal shelter, thus fundraising efforts began. Everything from bake sales to tag days to memberships were undertaken, but these efforts fell short as shelter costs were escalating.
The realization that the shelter would never be opened if it depended solely on the initial fundraising ideas spawned a new effort. Phyllis Jones planned and orchestrated a door to door fundraising drive that consisted of the entire industrial area. She actually did this twice! In all she raised over $30,000 and the SPCA is forever grateful.
After a lengthy search for a suitable location, the group found a parcel of land off East Broadway that was up for tax sale. The 2 1/2 acres available was a good fit. It was the desired size, price and far enough away that it would not bother any residents with any undue animal noise.
As construction of the shelter commenced in November 1977 the Society hammered out their Constitution and its By-Laws.
On June 12, 1978 the Cape Breton Branch opened its doors for business. Its paid staff consisted of the Manager as well as an Animal Inspector. All others were volunteers. Later that year, the shelter was able to hire two kennel workers whose wages were subsidized by a government program.
In 1979, after being approached by the County of Cape Breton, the SPCA took over the duty of animal control. In 1985 the Cape Breton Regional Municipality amalgamated and SPCA now does animal control for the entire industrial Cape Breton.
Over the years the shelter developed education programs and has recently opened up the SPCA’s first Animal Veterinary Hospital which in addition to providing our animals with all their veterinary needs also allows us to work with local rescue groups and low income families ensuring affordable spay & neuter options for those most in need.
In conclusion, if the story of the Cape Breton SPCA reads like a miracle or a fairy tale which was due to many hours and dedication of volunteers, board members, auxiliary and staff to continue to help those who cannot help themselves.