Ground Broken, And $2M Raised, For New Shelter


Ground Broken,

And $2M Raised,

For New Shelter

With Success, ‘Shelter Us’ Finds $3M

Will Be Needed, And Sets New Target

Turning golden shovels at today’s noontime groundbreaking on the new Susquehanna SPCA animal shelter on Route 28 at Index are, from left, “Shelter Us” committee member Anne Laing, benefactress Ann Vitullo, benefactress Jane Forbes Clark, “Shelter Us” campaign chair Gaylord Dillingham and shelter Executive Director Stacie Hayes. Behind them, from left, are volunteer Sue Leonard, and board members Peter Gould, Kathy Clarkson and Corey Moffat. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Better Exchange Thrift Store Manager Sara Lucas sets up panels showing artist’s renderings of the prospective animal shelter, on view for the first time today.

INDEX – There was plenty of good news, high spirits and benefactors aplenty at today’s groundbreaking on the new Susquehanna SPCA shelter on Route 28.  Plus a new goal to strive for.

First, it was announced the $250,000 matching grant from Staffworks President Anita Vitullo has been met, contributing $500,000 total to the $2 million original goal.

Second, it was announced the $2 million goal has been met, but also that an expanding vision has required a new goal — $3 million – with four years to meet the new target.

“We’re here to do it once and to do it right,” Susquehanna SPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes declared in announcing the new goal to an upbeat and applauding crowd.

Since the original goal was set, Haynes told benefactors under the tent at a pre-groundbreaking reception, the “Shelter Us” committee concluded the shelter had to be moved from the flood plain where it is now located – and that is periodically flooded – to a higher spot.

“We have outgrown our facility,” she said, and the former motorcycle repair shop, the 102-year-old organization’s home for the past 30 years, “is no longer meeting our needs.”

That required purchase of the former Judith Brown CPA offices south of Cooperstown, just north of the Centers Healthcare nursing home turnoff, and the house next door, and demolition of both buildings.

The new site, which will accommodate the shelter and its thrift shop – it generates $90,000 a year toward shelter operations – keeps the facility on Route 28, between Oneonta and Cooperstown and thus convenient and front of mind to thousands of daily commuters.

In remarks that introduced Haynes, “Shelter Us” campaign chair Gaylord Dillingham credited “those of you in this room” and many other donors with the success to date, concluding, “There is going to be a hard number, and it’s going to be a hard number to reach.”

Haynes urged people who haven’t donated to do so, and people who have donated to consider doing so again.  Pledges may be made over four years, and the pledges enable bridge loans to keep construction on track, she said.

Benefactress Anita Vitullo, the Staffworks president, ticks off seven reasons she gave “Shelter Us” a $250,000 matching grant, including Susquehanna SPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes, right.

But Anita Vitullo’s remarks suggested the components of success – she ticked off seven, including “the kind and good people” at today’s event and other donors – make eventual success inevitable, regardless of the higher goal.

Vitullo, whose Utica-based placement agency operates an office in Oneonta and is helping animal shelters regionally through the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, credited Haynes’ “dynamic leadership” with her participation in the local effort.

“”She sought me ought and did a good job convincing me,” said the philanthropist.  “You just can’t say no to Stacie.”

Vitullo likes the Susquehanna SPCA’s can-do attitude.  Even when the shelter’s full, no animal is turned away.  And there’s “no expiration date” on placing the residents.

Seeking to learn and apply best practices, the shelter contracted with Barbara Carr, cutting-edge former director of Erie County Animal Shelter, serving the Buffalo area, and foremost consultant nationwide on these matters, to advise it.

The sizeable revenues from the thrift shop further reassured her.  “You’re trying to supplement some of your own giving,” she said.  “Bravo for you.”

Haynes collaboration with Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. and District Attorney John Muehl on creating the Otsego County Animal Cruelty Task Force further impressed Vitullo.

Finally,  not only Haynes but the people around her – the board members, staff and volunteers — further impressed her.  “An organization is only as good as its people,” she said.



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