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)
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.
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.