OTSEGO — Hundreds gathered outside the Susquehanna SPCA’s new facility in Cooperstown for a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday, July 17, which they say would help better service the needs of animals who are homeless and in need of caring adoptees.
In spite of the humidity — one young woman apparently fainted during remarks from State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Maryland — the crowd was lively and enthusiastic, some bringing their own dogs to the ceremony.
Stacie Haynes, who as executive director has been at the forefront of this whole project, told the crowd this has been her “dream job” and joked she “hasn’t been home since.”
“I’m a dreamer and optimistic by nature,” Haynes said, but never imagined she’d be “standing on a multi-million dollar campus.”
Haynes thanked the “Shelter Us” capital campaign, which was largely responsible for raising the money necessary to build and open the facility, calling them an “all-star group.”
The Shelter Us Capital Campaign was able to secure a grant from the New York State Animal Capital Fund from the Department of Agriculture and Markets in order to move the facility to state Route 28 near Cooperstown.
ONEONTA — City Hall was packed with more than 50 people Wednesday, July 14, as four women received the Trailblazer Award, two for 2020 and two for 2021, for being “pillars of support” in the community.
The women who received the award were Stacie Haynes of the Susquehanna SPCA, former Oneonta Mayor Kim Muller, Oneonta High School teacher Cathy Lynch and City Judge Lucy Bernier.
Mayor Gary Herzig presented the awards.
Haynes thanked everybody in the room for the “very meaningful honor.”
“One way we can really bring people together is with animals,” Haynes said. “This really is an honor and I’m so grateful.”
Herzig said Muller was the “true definition of a trailblazer” and said when visiting state legislators, “they just want to know how Kim’s doing.”
He also called Muller a pioneer in environmental issues. “This was before being an environmentalist was cool.”
“It’ll come as no surprise that being a trailblazer is hard,” Muller said. She said being a trailblazer required a “tenacity and willingness to take risks.”
Muller said she was the youngest woman at the time to serve on the county board. She said some of the men would caucus in the men’s bathroom, so one day she decided to follow them in. Her story drew cheers from the crowd.
She called being mayor, “incredibly rewarding. It was an adventure and it was fun.”
Lynch founded the Students Against Destructive Decisions at Oneonta High School and Herzig said she “exemplifies everything we want in a teacher and person who looks after our young people.” She was also founder of the Sunshine Committee and sent valentines to every senior during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lynch said she was happy to be a part of the group of women who had won the award. “I don’t really think I fit in there, but I try,” Lynch said. “I’ve been very lucky because Oneonta is my home.”
Bernier said she was “very honored” and “very humbled to receive” the award and also “a little embarrassed. I don’t think I deserve it.” She said “leveling the playing field” has “been my emphasis” regardless of race or legal representation.
“I don’t know if I succeeded but that’s what I try to do,” she said. “If you forget someone’s humanity, it’s like they’re moving through some machine. … I don’t want to be a part of that.”
Bernier she she believes women working the frontlines during COVID, whether nurses or grocery workers, were “unsung heroes.”
“I accept this award for them as well,” Bernier said.
The names of those who won will be written on a plaque in city hall to remain indefinitely.
For instance, Lladro porcelain art figurines, imported from Spain since 1953 for adoring U.S. fans, can bring several hundred dollars, according to Sara Lucas, manager of SQSPCA’s “New Leash On Life” Thrift Shop.
For a relative song, you can pick up almost mint Gucci and Coach handbags – and Jimmy Choo’s, which new can retail for more than $2,000.
And from time to time, knock-out paintings are available and snapped up. But that’s not the whole story.
The thrift shop, which temporarily closed its doors last Friday, April 2, also has everyday clothes, pots, pans, glassware, suitcases, desks … you name it.
Temporarily, for two reasons: One, Lucas will shortly be launching a virtual thrift shop using Facebook Marketplace. Check the SQSPCA’s web site, and keep on shopping.
Two, when the SQSPCA’s new Susquehanna Animal Shelter opens in late spring or early summer on Route 28 at Index, a half-mile north of the current shelter, a larger and more streamlined thrift shop will open in the building next door.
Max, top photo, awaits a snack from Susquehanna Animal Shelter staffer Allison Hungerford this afternoon as, duded up with a tie, he relaxed in SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes’ office at the Hartwick Seminar facility. Meanwhile, to dramatize Max’s plight, Haynes, inset right, spent the day in Max’s cage. He’s been in the shelter 444 days, the longest of any of the residents there. Today, the 5-year-old pit bull spent 444 minutes – 7 hours and 24 minutes – in the executive director’s office, and she in his kennel. The shelter has been focused on getting its charges adopted as soon as possible. While Max received treats, Stacie read a book and tried to ignore her barking neighbors. To adopt a dog or cat, click here. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
HARTWICK SEMINARY – Max, a long-time shelter resident, will move into SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes office this coming Wednesday, and Hayne will move into his cage for a day.
The idea is to drive home to the public – and Stacie – what an extended stay means for shelter dogs, and the importance of adopting shelter dogs as quickly as possible.
“March 3 marks Max’s 444th day here at our shelter,” explained Haynes. “Max has been living in a kennel for over a year, with no comfy couch, no home or human to call his own, and an ever-changing parade of complete strangers judging both him and his behavior. Before that, he was in a different shelter for about four months.”
COOPERSTOWN – From now until the end of the year, when you get a good deal at the Susquehanna SPCA Thrift Store, you’ll be helping the shelter reach their $100,000 goal in the annual “Save a Life” campaign.
“You can donate $50, or you can go shopping with it,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director. “It’s a really exciting way to donate.”
The annual Staffworks campaign, which raises funds for regional shelters and animal care facilities, offers to match the first $10,000, then $1,000 for every additional $5,000, with an extra $2,000 when a shelter reaches $100,000.
COOPERSTOWN – At the Susquehanna SPCA’s new shelter, not only will you be able to see the difference, you’ll be able to smell it too.
“Dogs communicate through smell,” said Andrew Schuster, principal architect with Ashley McGraw, Syracuse. “To keep stress levels down, every dog will have a separately ‘exhausted’ kennel to ensure odor privacy, so that you don’t have a lot of barking.”
The new shelter is rapidly rising on the new campus on Route 28, across from Kevin’s Royal Ford.
“When I walked in there, I almost cried,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director. “To be able to see something tangible after all these efforts and all their support – in some ways, it’s hard to believe!”
Ground-breaking was in August 2019, and completion is on track for late April.
“There have been some delays on the supply side due to COVID,” said Haynes. “But where they can’t work on one project, they work on another.”
Walls have been put up and trusses have been placed on both the shelter and the thrift store; the elaborate plumbing network was installed before the slab was poured. Each pen has its own drainage system for easy cleaning and waste removal. Drains are also in place
for surgical sinks, laundry and bathrooms.
“It’s a challenge to approach this building in designing it for animals,” said Schuster. “Most building codes are designed for people, so trying to determine, for instance, where to place toilet fixtures, is a bit of a challenge!”
Schuster, whose firm specializes in sustainable buildings, said he paid special attention to insulation and air tightness to minimize mold and prioritize air circulation and quality.
“Normally, HVAC is a third of the cost of a project,” said Rick Bliss, project manager for William H. Lane Construction’s Cooperstown office. “But with this building, it’s half our cost.”
“It will be a very healthy place to visit,” said Haynes. “Especially during a pandemic.”
In addition to the reduction in odor, the pens will also be two-part, separated by a “doggie door.”
“This gives dogs an opportunity to relieve themselves someplace other than their living space,” said Haynes.
In the event that the shelter takes in multiple animals at a time – for instance, Haynes says, a dog hoarding case – the doors can be closed, dividing the kennel in two.
The room will also have windows to let in natural light, with the lower sill high enough so dogs can’t see any squirrels that may go running past.
“That will also cut down on barking,” said Schuster.
The SQSPCA set a $5 million goal in its “Shelter Us” campaign, and so far, has raised $4.6 million towards the goal.
“The idea is to enter our new building without debt so that we have more resources to put towards our animals,” said Haynes. “Having a mortgage and having to allocate some of our budget: That is Plan B.”
The closure of the thrift store at the height of the pandemic put a strain on the budget, but Haynes said she was touched by the ongoing contributions to their fundraising efforts.
COOPERSTOWN – Brian Shapiro, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, has a strict warning for anyone who might be thinking about buying from a puppy mill.
“Underneath the cuteness, there is cruelty,” he said.
Shapiro was on hand for the Susquehanna SPCA’s announcement of the PAWS – Puppy Mill Awareness With Shelters – initiative, which seeks to educate people about the harm that puppy mills do to animals and consumers.
“Right here in Otsego County and throughout this region, we have active puppy mills,” said Stacie Haynes, SQSPCA executive director. “Puppy mills that operate their business in a cruel and inhumane way. Puppy mills that have already been shut down and continue to operate. Puppy mills that put on a façade with unsuspecting consumers who believe they are buying from a responsible dealer.”
She is aware of four operating in the county. “We have plenty of responsible breeders,” she said, “And we stand with them in this fight.”
A puppy mill, as Shapiro defined it, was any breeding operation “where an animal is treated like a widget coming off a machine.”
“These are dogs that languish in sub-par conditions,” he said. “A puppy mill is only there to make money.”
“I get calls from people all the time who got a puppy from ‘X’ and now their animal is sick with parvo,” a gastro-intestinal disease, said Libby Post, executive director of the state Animal Protection Federation.
“They can pay thousands of dollars in cash, but parvo is deadly in puppies, so that isn’t a guarantee. They may have to put the animal to sleep, which is heartbreaking.”
The major goal of PAWS, Haynes said, is educating the public on how to determine if someone is a reputable breeder or a puppy mill.
“A responsible breeder will encourage you to visit and see where the puppy was born and raised,” she said. “Responsible breeders will not keep dogs in crowded spaces or cages. The dogs will be in clean, roomy, comfortable areas.”
The SQSPCA – as well as the Delaware Valley Humane Society, the Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley, the Catskill Humane Society and Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans – will all have PAWS resources on their websites to assist the public in making the right choice.
“Shelters should be a resource even if you’re not getting a dog from us,” she said. “You can call us up and say that you found a breeder, and we can give you those questions to ask so that you know you’re not buying from a puppy mill.”
In addition to education, PAWS will work with policymakers to strengthen Ag and Markets law and get more funding for inspectors to help shut puppy mills down.
“When people run for office, the question they should be asked is, ‘how do you feel about these issues?’” said Post. “It’s a bipartisan issue, and we need every elected official to know that people will not vote for them if they don’t care about companion animals.”
Greg Forester, a resident of Herkimer County, expressed worry that Amish puppy mills, which he said used “brokers” to sell their puppies, would skirt the laws.
“We don’t have cause to go into the barns, but I’ve found them suspended in cages,” he said.
“When Pennsylvania shut down puppy mills, the Amish moved them up here,” said Post.
“We support changes to the law,” said Shapiro. “At the end of the day, there are no brokers if people aren’t buying from a puppy mill. There is no reason, in 2020, to support a puppy mill.”
Libby Post, executive director of the NYS Animal Protection Federation, decries puppy mills, in part, as “hoodwinking consumers” by selling sick dogs. Post was accompanied by, from left, Brian Shapiro, NYS director, Humane Society, Stacie Haynes, executive director, SQSPCA, Melinda McTaggart, Animal Shelter of Schoharie County and other regional shelters in forming the “PAWS (Puppy Mill Awareness W/Shelters) Before You Pay” initiative, which will encourage buyers to reach out to shelters for resources on responsible breeders and avoiding puppy mills. At right, Dr. Joan Puritz, the retired veterinarian who worked with the SQSPCA to care for their animals, gives her support for the initiative. as September is Puppy Mill Awareness Month, the PAWS initiative seeks to also encourage lawmakers to enact stricter restrictions on breeders in order to protect animals and consumers alike. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
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.
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.”
In his daily e-mailed NYS Coronarivus Update, Governor Cuomo yesterday chose the Susquehanna SPCA’s socially distanced dog parade Tuesday at Chestnut Park Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, in Oneonta, as his daily “Deep Breath Moment.” In top photo, Kathy Chicorelli, a SQSPCA employee, holds up a yellow lab, to the delight of a resident. Inset left, even at rest, Roscoe, a 5-year-old bloodhound, excites the interest of Chestnut Park staff and residents. “This was great for everyone – the animals, our staff, and the people here,” said Stacie Haynes, SQSPCA. “We’ve all been cooped up too long, and just to see all the smiles was wonderful.” (Michael Forster Rothbart photos for AllOTSEGO.com)