Financial struggles impacting ability to continue volunteer needle cleanup work: Founder of 'Needle Dogs Moncton'
A Moncton man who has been voluntarily cleaning needles off the streets says he won't be able to continue his work for much longer without financial help from the city.
Richard Hyslop is the founder of 'Needle Dogs Moncton' – a community group which has been cleaning needles off Moncton streets for the past 11 years.
"People in the community have asked us to step up and do this, so we did," said Hyslop.
A recent GoFundMe page created by Hyslop says the community-based group, which includes Hyslop and his seven dogs, has cleaned up over 140,000 needles off the streets.
Hyslop says all funds from the GoFundMe page will go towards gear for dogs, non-puncture gloves, sharp containers, biohazard pails, and their "needle mobile" to help bring their services to different communities.
"There has never been funding of any type, other than private and out-of-pocket donations, so our funds are not being taken, there just are no funds," said Kevin Chinn, a volunteer with the community group.
According to the city of Moncton, they've never received a formal request for a grant from 'Needle Dogs Moncton.'
The city does however fund needle awareness –a different volunteer group that educates people on how to safely dispose of needles and offers to pick them up.
Debby Warren is the executive director of Ensemble Moncton, which offers a harm reduction site.
She says New Brunswick has the second highest injection drug-using population per capita in this country – leaving them just behind British Columbia.
In order to address the issue, Warren says a community effort would be required.
"The city, the downtown Moncton, the needle awareness group, and ourselves, you know, we just work collaboratively... we can't work in isolation. We have to work collectively to address the issue," said Warren.