News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.



Anonymous Donation Helps SQSPCA Exceed $100K Challenge

In Thanks, All Adoptions $23

Anonymous Donation Helps

SQSPCA Top $100K Challenge

COOPERSTOWN – With the support of a “generous” anonymous donor and community supper, the Susquehanna SPCA has surpassed the $100,000 dollar-for-dollar matching challenge, bringing the shelter $223,000 closer to the new shelter’s $5 million price tag.

An anonymous donor funded the challenge to help the Shelter Us campaign meet its goal.

“Thanks to the generosity of this anonymous donor – and to an incredibly supportive community that continues to amaze us – we are now only about $600,000 from the $5 million mark,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes.

Again, SQSPCA Saves Dogs From Lebanon
Two More Spared Euthanasia In Georgia Shelter 

 Once Again, SQSPCA

Saves Dogs From Lebanon

Acacia is one of the dogs rescued from neglect in Beirut and brought to the SQSPCA for adoption.

COOPERSTOWN – The Susquehanna Animal Shelter has once again opened its doors to dogs from Beirut, Lebanon, where the 13 animals faced violence, torture and starvation.

“We first partnered with Animals Lebanon in the winter of 2019, when LVT Sara Haddad and I traveled overseas – all expenses paid by Animals Lebanon – to bring traumatized dogs home to Otsego County,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director.

“These dogs are suffering horribly, and the circumstances are right for us to take them in and find them loving homes.”

Jane G. Duel, 82 Dec. 16, 1938 – July 14, 2020


Jane G. Duel, 82

Dec. 16, 1938 – July 14, 2020

Jane G. Duel

COOPERSTOWN – Everyone said that it was impossible to get a parking place and admission to the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Jane Goodwin Duel didn’t buy it.

She and a close friend left Warren, Vt., before dawn in her light blue VW convertible bug with the Rolls Royce hood, car festooned with international flags and packed with helium balloons.

Arriving at the Olympic checkpoints, their festive phaéton was waved through. In short order they had tickets to the women’s giant slalom and men’s figure skating, seeing Robin Cousins win the gold medal – and they picnicked on Mirror Lake in between.

Union Contractor In Dispute Over Prevailing Wage

Union Contractor In Dispute

Over Project Prevailing Wage

Ian Williams, Horseheads, right, representing the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, explains he, Mark Hopper, Wells Bridge and Bob Wilmott, Oswego, were picketing the Susquehanna Animal Shelter construction site Tuesday, July 14, to warn againsts a contractor who might not be paying the prevailing wage. (Jim Kevlin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Ian Williams didn’t call the demonstration outside of the Susquehanna SPCA building site a protest.

The Council Representative for the North Atlantic States Council of Carpenters Local 227 called his sign, an “informational banner.”

He and two other union representatives, Mark Hopper, Wells Bridge and Bob Wilmott, both from the union office in Syracuse, stood in front of the shelter site on Tuesday, July 14, holding a banner that read, “Future Site of a Labor Dispute.”

Jane G. Duel, 81, Cooperstown; Affiliated With Redpoint, NYSHA


Jane G. Duel, 81, Cooperstown;

Affiliated With Redpoint, NYSHA

Jane G. Duel

COOPERSTOWN – Jane G. Duel, 81, passed away Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at Cooperstown Center, following a long illness.

Most recently an executive assistant with Redpoint Builders, she was previously with the Susquehanna SPCA for four years, and for many years worked for the New York State Historical Association.

Arrangements are with Tillapaugh Funeral Home.  A full obituary will be forthcoming on and in next week’s Freeman’s Journal.

Carpenters’ Union Pickets New Shelter

Carpenters’ Union

Pickets New Shelter

Ian Williams, Horseheads, right, representing the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, answers reporter LIbby Cudmore’s questions this morning while manning an informational picket in front of the new Susquehanna Animal Shelter, now under construction on Route 28, Index. With Willilams are Mark Hopper, Wells Bridge, center, and Bob Wilmott, Oswego, from the union office in Syracuse. The union is seeking to ensure union labor is used throughout the project, Williams said. (Jim Kevlin/
SQSPCA Needs Volunteers To Play With Kittens

SQSPCA Needs Volunteers

To Help Socialize Kittens

COOPERSTOWN – It’s a tough job, but someone has to help these kittens learn to cuddle.

“We currently have 28 feral or unsocialized kittens on-site, with more arriving daily,” said Stacie Haynes, Executive Director. “Our new ‘Feral to Friendly’ program is designed to give volunteers the opportunity to meet and help socialize these kittens, and also to lighten the load for staff as the shelter enters its busiest season.”

Touched By Disabled Cat Intern Returns, Brings ‘Ocean’ Home

Touched By Disabled

Cat, Intern Returns,

Brings ‘Ocean’ Home

He Takes Little Wheelchair With Him

By DARLA YOUNGS • Susquehanna Animal Shelter

Lucia Lopez was reunited with “Ocean” on May 24. She returned with him to Queens. (SQSPCA photo)

HARTWICK SEMINARY –  On Sunday, May 24, Lucia Lopez made the 384-mile round trip from Maspeth, Queens, to the Susquehanna Animal Shelter here to adopt Ocean, a two-year-old male cat unable to stand or walk since birth due to a neurological disorder.

Ocean had been at the animal shelter, located at 4841 State Route 28, since February. His friendly personality and ability to move around quickly and even climb in spite of his impairment had made him a favorite of the SQSPCA staff.

Lopez is no stranger to the SQSPCA. A recent graduate of the SUNY-Cobleskill Animal Science program, she had interned at the shelter for several months last year.

Puppies On Parade!

Puppies On Parade!

SPCA Brings Smiles, Dogs To Chestnut Park

Stacie Haynes, Susquehanna SPCA executive director, holds up Bronx to say hello to the staff and residents Chestnut Park Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Oneonta as part of a dog parade around the facility this morning. Chestnut Park currently has 71 residents who have been unable to receive visitors for nearly two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This was great for everyone — the animals, our staff, and the people here,” said Haynes. “We’ve all been cooped up too long, and just to see all the smiles was wonderful.” (Michael Forster Rothbart/
Worcester Dog Saved With SQSPCA Emergency Fund

SPCA Rescues Worcester Dog

After Life-Threatening Infection

Cabela and her puppies, resting in their Worcester home following an emergency surgery, paid for by the Susquehanna SPCA’s Emergency Medical Fund.

COOPERSTOWN – Cabela, a new mom with seven puppies at home, was so sick she couldn’t eat and wouldn’t nurse her pups.

Her owner, Donna Robinson, Worcester, reached out to Stacie Haynes, executive director, Susquehanna SPCA, for assistance, after Cabela was rushed to Heritage Veterinary Clinic for emergency spay surgery.  SQSPCA staff picked up mom and puppies and, at Heritage, Cabela was diagnosed with pyometra, a life-threatening infection in the uterus.

Work Starts Tomorrow On New Animal Shelter

Work Starts Tomorrow

On New Animal Shelter

Susquehanna SPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes a few minutes ago examines the site of the new animal shelter on Route 28, Index, next to St. Mary’s Cemetery, where construction is scheduled to begin tomorrow. The state is allowing construction generally to begin May 15, but the shelter has been ruled an “essential service,” allowing it to get started on the new structure. The $5 million “Shelter Us” fund drive continues to move toward its completion. (Jim Kevlin/
SQSPCA Animal Shelter Prepares For Challenges

SQSPCA Animal Shelter

Prepares For Challenges

If Owners Must Abandon Pets,

Pet Food, Kennel Space Ready

SQSPCA Director Stacie Haynes sorts through pet food donations that are pouring in at the Susquehanna Animal Shelter. (Jim Kevlin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Stacie Haynes, executive director, Susquehanna SPCA, doesn’t want anyone’s pet to go hungry during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have a very well-stocked pet food pantry,” she said. “People can call or email us ( and tell us what they need, and we will leave it out front with a note for them to pick up.”

Delivery options are also available for those who may not have transportation, Haynes added.

The Susquehanna Animal Shelter has held adoption events and expanded its fostering program to open up kennels in the event of an onslaught.

Donations are left to sit for a minimum of 72 hours, she said, and are handled with gloves in order to avoid spreading germs.

The pantry was part of the emergency preparedness plan put together by consultant Barbara Carr in early March.
“She said that this was about to become an issue and that we not only needed to be ready for it, but we needed to be leaders,” she said. “So we put together an emergency preparedness plan.”

Included in that plan were stockpiling six months of supplies and hosting an adoption event in order to empty out the kennels and cages. “It was extremely successful,” she said. “We wanted to clear out those cages in case people get sick, we can offer emergency boarding.”

Adoptions are still ongoing, but the shelter is only open by appointment on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

And with many people working from home, she said that there has been an outpouring of offers to foster animals. “We’ve had more fosters than ever before,” she said. “And normally, we don’t have people foster younger animals because they get adopted quicker, but because we have such limited hours, we are letting people foster them.”

Ten puppies recently came to the shelter, and all are with families. “We’ve seen that it’s actually a really good thing,” she said. “The foster families are able to socialize, house-train and get them used to a leash, so when they are adopted, their chances of success in a home is that much better.”

They’ve also taken things digital, moving their New Leash on Life thrift store and their annual Cider Run 5K online.
“We’ve had a virtual accompaniment to the race in the past, especially with people who couldn’t come that weekend, but still wanted to participate” she said. “So it wasn’t that hard to transition to an all-virtual race.”

Virtual run participants are invited to share videos and photos of their experience throughout the day on the Cider Run Facebook page, and the Cider Run committee will announce winners in various categories, including farthest run, most scenic route, participants with the most dogs and more, on Monday, April 27.

“It can be as serious or as silly as you want it to be,” she said.

SQSPCA Awarded $266K In Annual ‘Save-A-Life’ Campaign

SQSPCA Awarded $266K At

Annual ‘Save-A-Life’ Campaign

Staffworks founder Anita Vitullo, center, presents Stacie Haynes, left, executive director of the Susquehanna SPCA, with a check for more than $266,000, raised through Staffworks annual Save-A-Life campaign, at an awards ceremony held in Utica this afternoon. At left is Alexis Izzo, SQSPCA communications director. Vituallo pledged to match the first $10,000 a shelter raised, with an additional $10,000 for every additional $100,000 raised, up to $20,000. In all, the SQSPCA received $30,000 from Staffworks, raising $236,000 from donors.
‘Shelter Us’ Campaign Up Goal To $5 Million


‘Shelter Us’ Campaign

Ups Goal To $5 Million

One of the most recent artist’s rendering of the new Susquehanna Animal Shelter, to be built on Route 28 near Phoenix Mills Road., Index.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – It hasn’t been easy, but in the year since the Susquehanna SPCA launched its “Shelter Us” capital campaign to build a new animal shelter, more than $3.2 million has been donated towards the project.

“We’ve had a lot of support, and we’re so grateful,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director. “But it’s always challenging. We’re trying to raise money for our capital campaign, but also we need to raise funds for our annual operations, keeping the lights and heat on and the animals fed.”

Although the SQSPCA’s original goal was $2 million, additions to the planned project have pushed the fundraising goal to $5 million.

Debate Renewed On Funding Animal Shelter

Debate Renewed On

Funding Animal Shelter

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

INDEX – It all began with a helpful conversation, and erupted while the SQSPCA was doing what it does best: saving Zoe, who chewed off her leg to stop the pain of a tumor.

The spark: one word, “unilateral.” The issue: Is Otsego County funding the shelter to minimum standards?

Richard Sternberg, a Susquehanna SPCA supporter, Cooperstown village trustee, retired surgeon and MIT graduate, stopped by the animal shelter on Route 28 for a conversation with SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes.

Sternberg’s “a master mathematician,” said Haynes. “He helped me calculate the actual cost.”

Applying “cost accounting” to the shelter’s expenses, Sternberg determined some $70,000 of the shelter’s $719,499.01 budget in 2018 had been spent responding to requests for assistance from county government, primarily from sheriff’s department and through calls fielded by 911.

By determining what’s spent where, cost accounting helps managers operate companies or organizations more efficiently.

“I never had these numbers,” said Haynes. “I could not believe how much it was.”

Sternberg shared his findings with the county Board of Representatives Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the public hearing on its $120 million proposed budget for 2020, and said the SQSPCA planned to “unilaterally” impose a fee schedule as of Jan. 1.

Haynes praised Sternberg’s efforts to help the shelter, as did board chair Gaylord Dillingham. But, he said, “It came across as somewhat adversarial.” Haynes is the SQSPCA’s contact with the county board, and will continue to be, he said.

Sternberg didn’t return a call or a text placed to get his perspective.

Before the cost-accounting exercise, Haynes said she assessed the sheriff’s department a $40 flat fee.

But, she added, the county board has put $5,000 a year for the past few years in the sheriff’s budget for shelter services. Now, with Sternberg’s financial data, she can assess the true costs.

In an interview, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr., who serves with Haynes on PETS, the county’s recently formed animal-welfare task force, said he met with her in recent days, and accepts “she has not charged us in cases where she probably should have.”

Moving forward, he said, he expects the SQSPCA will present an itemized bill reflecting the true costs of its services. The sheriff’s department will then pay the bills until the $5,000 runs out, then will ask the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee for an additional, non-budgeted “emergency” allocation.

The total amount, averaging the last three years, could be as low as $40,000 a year, said Haynes. The $70,000 reflected two big 2018 cases – 103 animals found deserted on a Garrattsville farm in April, and 56 Lhasa Apsos surrendered by a Milford woman in November – as well as a heightened public awareness of the shelter’s services that resulted.

“The welfare of animals is both our priorities,” said Devlin.

County Board chair David Bliss, R-Cooperstown, agreed “the board wants to take care of its responsibilities,” but he said there are complications.

For one, the state Comptroller’s Office frowns on using the “emergency” definition repeatedly for the same expense over the course of a budget year.

And if the county board decides it needs to contract services to handle abused or abandoned animals that are seized – or dangerous ones – it would have to go out to bid, and other shelters or veterinarians might win the contract.

In some instances, said Bliss, a former longtime Town of Middlefield supervisor, towns, which are required to appoint animal control officers, might set up less-costly temporary shelters of their own.

(Bliss said an article in last week’s newspaper on the budget hearing misreported his intent: He didn’t decline to talk to Sternberg, but offered to meet with him after the hearing to discuss the issue.)

For her part, Haynes said the SQSPCA, which is on track to raise more than $3 million in its “Shelter Us” capital campaign for a state-of-the-art animal shelter in Index, needs more operating revenue to cover the services it provides day-to-day.

Delaware County allocates $88,000 a year to help support its two shelters, and Schoharie allocates $75,000, she said. The SQSPCA has been asking this county board for $40,000.

In her effort to obtain funding, Haynes said, she’s been directed to four different county board committees, so jurisdiction is unclear. “The county always says, ‘This is a town issue’,” she continued. “This is not a town issue.”

There are two related provisions in the state’s Agricultural & Markets Law, the governing statute, she said.

Article 26 prohibits town animal control officers from handling cruelty cases. Article 7 requires police departments to do so; sometimes, state police or local police departments respond, but mostly it’s the county Sheriff’s Department or referrals directly to the shelter from the county’s 911 Center.

“County 911 will call me, after hours: ‘We have a deputy at x location, and we need to seize two dogs and three cats.’ The staff comes in on overtime. There’s mileage to round them up,” Haynes said. “We bring them back to the shelter, and we hold them” until the legal process involving seized animals runs its course.

Still, Haynes and her staff love animals, and that puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to hard-nose bargaining.

“We have a moral obligation to do what we do,” said Haynes. “We’re never going to stop doing what we’re doing.”

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