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)
In Thanks, All Adoptions $23
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.
Two More Spared Euthanasia In Georgia Shelter
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)
HARTWICK SEMINARY – Due to social-distancing strictures, the county Health Department cancelled its regular rabies clinics this past week.
Susquehanna Animal Shelter Executive Director Stacie Haynes stepped up: She proposed that the SQSPCA fill the gap, and the DOH agreed.
If Owners Must Abandon Pets,
Pet Food, Kennel Space Ready
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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.
ONEONTA – Former Mayor Kim Muller and Susquehanna SPCA executive director Stacie Haynes were announced as the winners of the 2020 Trailblazer Awards, Mayor Gary Herzig announced this evening.
The annual awards, given in honor of Women’s History Month (March), the Woman Trailblazer Award recognizes a woman in the Oneonta area who has enhanced the visibility and importance of women through her employment, volunteering and community engagement.
Animal Legal Defense Fund Singles
Out Local Director For List Of Best
HARTWICK SEMINARY – Stacie Haynes, Susquehanna Animal Shelter executive director, has been named one of America’s Top 10 Animal Defenders by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, based in San Francisco for serving on “the front lines of enforcing animal protection laws.”
These animal protection heroes will be honored this week, National Justice for Animals Week.
Here’s is the citation: “Stacie Haynes serves as the executive director of the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA). In February 2019, Stacie worked with her local district attorney and county sheriff to form the Otsego County Animal Cruelty Task Force.
Dog Fighting Suspected
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
SIDNEY – Erin Insinga, shelter director, Delaware Valley Humane Society, described the scene of a rescue in Franklin as “like something out of a horror film.”
“I have never seen animals in such conditions of pain, torture and neglect,” she said through tears. “These dogs were stacked like pieces of furniture in a dark room.”
Cages were soaked with vomit, urine and feces. 19 dogs – 17 pit bulls and two German shepherds, ranging from 9 weeks to six years old – were emaciated, dehydrated and covered with wounds old and new.
“Based on what we saw and what our veterinarians said in their exams, we believe these animals were the victims of dog fighting,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director, Susquehanna SPCA.
$3.3M Raised To $5m+ Goal
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Stacie Haynes couldn’t believe the size of the check Staffworks founder Anita Vitullo handed her.
“I just about fell out of my chair,” the Susquehanna SPCA executive director said. “Last year we got $95,000 and I was nervous that we wouldn’t beat that!”
The Save-a-Life campaign offers shelters a matching donation of up to $10,000, and this year, Vitullo added some extra incentives – an extra $10,000 for every $100,000 raised, with a maximum of $20,000.
In all, the animal shelter raised $236,420, making it eligible to receive a total $30,000.
“People care so much and they really stepped up,” she said. “We had three ways people could donate; to the Emergency Medical Fund we set up after we got Zoe, the Save-a-Life fund and our Capital Campaign.”
In thanks for everything that Vitullo has done for the shelter, Haynes announced the Welcome & Adoption Center will be named for the Staffworks founder.
“Anita alone has helped us leverage an incredible amount of money,” said Haynes.
Last December, Vitullo offered a $10,000 matching grant, which spurred $75,000 in donations, and at the awards presentation in January 2019, she gave an additional $10,000 “high performers” grant to the shelter.
Vitullo’s generosity continued. In April, she announced the “Shelter Us” campaign, which would match contributions up to $250,000, adding $500,000 to the coffers. “These sorts of financial contributions make a huge difference,” Haynes said.
Although the SQSPCA’s original goal was $2 million, additions to the planned project have pushed the fundraising goal to $5 million, of which they now have $3.3 million.
“We’ve had a lot of support, and we’re so grateful,” said Haynes. “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.”
Additionally, changes to the design and location of the shelter have added costs. “We changed the location of the shelter and decided to build a new thrift store,” she said. “And we’re adding a community room.”
The community room was inspired by both necessity and generosity. “We’ve had kids who, for their birthdays, instead of presents, ask people to donate to the shelter,” she said. “And they want to have their parties here or just sit and visit with the animals, and we don’t have a space.”
Similarly, staff meetings and trainings are held in the lobby of the cramped former motorcycle shop.
“We want people to be able to come here and for us to be able to show our appreciation,” she said.
Haynes anticipates a March groundbreaking for the new shelter, and is in conversations with several people and organizations about possible campaigns. But she also encourages anyone who wants to donate to feel free to come by the shelter and drop off a donation in person.
“We love it when people come and bring donations directly to us,” she said. “That way we can show them the behind-the-scenes of the shelter so that when we build the new one, they’ll be able to see the difference their contribution made.”
“It’s a lot of work,” said Haynes. “But a lot of people have helped get us here.”
Drop The Threats, Negotiate An Agreement
The issue’s been hanging out there for a while: What role should the Otsego County Board of Representatives play in funding the Susquehanna Animal Shelter?
Schoharie County’s contribution is $75,000 a year to its shelter. Delaware County splits $88,000 among two shelters. Until now, Otsego County has contributed nothing.
The county has been allocating $5,000 a year. It is not a donation, but a fee for services, which seems like the better way to go.
At its Nov. 26 public hearing on its 2020 county budget, county representatives were advised the Susquehanna SPCA, using cost-accounting data developed by a volunteer, Cooperstown’s Richard Sternberg, plans to “unilaterally” begin charging what it has determined its true costs are.
In a situation with a lot of moving parts, doing anything “unilaterally” is not the best way forward.
For one thing, everyone seems to agree abused animals have to be taken care of, and that county government should pay for costs incurred.
County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr., whose department out of necessity, drops animals seized in cruelty cases at the Hartwick Seminary shelter, said “the welfare of animals is both our priorities.”
County Board Chairman Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, also buys into the general concept. “The board wants to take care of its responsibilities,” he said in last week’s newspaper.
So the issue isn’t that the county pay for costs incurred. It’s simply how much (and, perhaps, to whom)?
The shelter’s annual operating budget is over $700,000. Last year, with the 103 starving animals seized on that Garrattsville farm and 56 Lhasa Apsos surrendered in Milford, Sternberg estimated the county received some $70,000 worth of services.
(Remember, that’s the year-to-year “operating budget,” separate from the $3 million that’s been raised to build a 21st-century animal shelter on Route 28 at Index. Two different pots of money.)
Averaged out with Sternberg’s guidance, SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes estimated the county’s annual cost at about $40,000 a year, some 5 percent of its total expenses. That includes caring for dogs dropped off by the sheriff’s department, or when a shelter team responds to a call through the county’s 911 system.
When County Treasurer Allen Ruffles returns in January from his National Guard deployment in Djibouti, he should review those figures and come to a common understanding about the value of the services provided.
Under the state Ag & Markets Law, law enforcement – locally, mostly the sheriff’s department – is required to respond to animal-abuse complaints. When deputies remove an animal, they have to take it someplace.
The Susquehanna Animal Shelter has been the preferred option, but it doesn’t have to be.
As Bliss explains it, if the county wanted to contract for services, it would be required to go out to bid, and other shelters – Oneonta’s Superheroes in Ripped Jeans, for instance – could bid, as could individual veterinary practices. Or the county could set up its own pound.
Clearly, acting “unilaterally” may have unintended consequences all around.
The Susquehanna Animal Shelter has a lot going for it.
Under Haynes, it’s been a first-rate operation, evident most recently in bringing the heart-rending case of Zoe, the
German shepherd discovered chained last month in the Town of Exeter with a chewed-off leg and large tumor in her shoulder. Zoe was seized, treated and is now in a new home in the Butternuts Valley.
Successes like this have raised the shelter’s profile, and pet owners are aware of and likely to use its services.
People – that includes members of the county board – want to back a winner, to support excellence, so Susquehanna SPCA, in its current incarnation, is in a position of strength.
Still, it’s determine to do what it believes in. As Haynes put it in last week’s paper, “We have a moral obligation to do what we do. We’re never going to stop doing what we’re doing.”
Admirable, but it weakens the shelter’s bargaining position. It takes the county board off the hook: It can be assured, regardless, our Zoes will be taken care of regardless.
So it only makes sense to cool off the rhetoric. Get the numbers. In an $11 million local tax levy in a $120 million budget, $40,000 is smidgeon. It’s there somewhere. Still, the county board shouldn’t just give away money because somebody asks for it. Fee for service is the way to go.
Demanding will get us nowhere. Let level-headed representatives on both sides sit down, figure out what’s fair and mutually agreeable.