New Trailer a Game Changer for County Animal Rescue
By DARLA M. YOUNGS
On Thursday, July 27, the Otsego County Office of Emergency Services made a presentation to the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that marks a significant milestone in animal welfare efforts in this county.
Emergency Services Coordinator Victor Jones and two of his staff members were on hand at the SQSPCA to officially introduce shelter officials to a brand new livestock trailer for use in farm animal rescues, as well as an animal response trailer fully stocked with supplies and equipment needed for emergency rescues in general. Prior to this, the SQSPCA has been forced to rely on volunteers for assistance in transporting large animals such as horses, cows, and pigs, and has had to load and unload crates and other rescue implements in and out of the shelter’s only van, as the need arose.
“We were told Emergency Services had a surprise for us,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “We were amazed to find a brand new livestock trailer in our parking lot. Before this entirely unexpected development, while Emergency Services was able to haul a trailer for us, we were at the mercy of finding a trailer provided by a private individual.”
“Now we know we can count on Emergency Services and we don’t have to worry about the extra time and energy coordinating a trailer,” Haynes added.
Both trailers officially belong to the county and will be stored at the Public Safety Complex on County Route 33W, Jones said, for use by Emergency Services and the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office—partners in the Otsego County Animal Response Team—and the SQSPCA.
“Since my arrival to Emergency Services in September 2017, animal cruelty cases have been on the rise and so our office proposed this project to the Office of Homeland Security. Funding was approved and the purchase was made from Davis Trailer World in York,” he explained.
According to Jones, Bob Satriano, the county’s Homeland Security coordinator and health and safety officer, was the lead on the $20,000.00 grant, which was fully endorsed by the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office.
“Bob obtains all of our Homeland Security funding that benefits the county and its residents by lessening the burden of the local taxpayer,” Jones said. “Sheriff Devlin was very supportive of this project and offered his unwavering support in seeing this through.”
Jones is no stranger to the struggles faced by the SQSPCA when called to mobilize, having been a regular SQSPCA volunteer since January of 2021, when he assisted in the rescue of three pigs from deplorable living conditions on a Schenevus farm.
“The SQSPCA had posted on Facebook that they were looking for ‘Farm Friends’ help, and so I reached out, offering our personal stock trailer to assist when there was a need,” Jones recalled. “And I’m glad I did. It’s been a very rewarding volunteer role in my spare time and now it has become incorporated as a major part of our emergency services response and mitigation practices.”
Jones described his first rescue, working with SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes, Otsego County Deputy Erica Puffer and SQSPCA staff: “We were in almost waist-deep snow. I remember it was freezing cold and the wind was obnoxious.”
The pigs themselves did not make the rescue any easier, proving difficult to move and even knocking one SQSPCA staff member into a snowbank before they could be routed into the waiting trailer.
Jones has since assisted in a number of rescues, including equine cruelty cases where the SQSPCA—being without access to a trailer of its own—has been dependent upon the recruitment of volunteers with trailers or has had to pay livestock haulers in order to move the animals to safe locations.
“Having formed the Animal Cruelty Task Force in February of 2019, and working in collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office, we have developed a strong partnership with Otsego County Emergency Services as well. For years now they have been the first to answer when we needed help rescuing animals. In many cases, we could not have provided lifesaving emergency care to animals without their support,” Haynes said.
The grant for the livestock trailer was important to Jones and his staff for several reasons.
“Having firsthand knowledge that animal cruelty cases continue to rise and that humans are not the only ones to experience emergencies due to flooding and other such events, this trailer allows us the ability to also provide rescue services for our four-legged friends. I have always been fond of animals, from my 4-H days as a kid on into my adulthood,” he said.
The county’s Public Animal Welfare Services trailer, purchased with Homeland Security grant funds in 2011 and now also available to the SQSPCA for use, is fully stocked with hundreds of items necessary during an animal rescue—a generator, wire dog crates, cat carriers, dog leads, fence pliers and other tools, buckets, electrical cords, horse halters and leads, flashlights, caution tape, office supplies, and much more.
“Following the 9/11 attacks, the focus on terrorism changed the world,” Jones said in reference to the PAWS trailer. “While agro-terrorism and biological attacks were on our radar, we needed to also include animals in our planning efforts.”
“We are incredibly grateful to be in Otsego County, where folks who work in our government prove time and again, they care about animals,” Haynes said.
Perhaps thanks to Jones’ experience back in 2021, sorting boards used for moving pigs are included with the new livestock trailer.