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Reconfigured golf event will aid homeless, abandoned animals

August 10, 2020 – The fifth annual Par for Paws Golf Tournament to benefit the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) has been restructured this year due to COVID-19.

In order to meet current social distancing restrictions, 2020’s event at the Otsego Golf Club will instead be an SQSPCA Golf Weekend beginning on Friday, September 25 and extending through Sunday, September 27.

“Given the shelter’s dependence on fund raising despite the continuing concerns regarding COVID-19, we are revamping our one-day tournament into a weekend event stretching over several days,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes.

“Anyone teeing off at the Otsego Golf Club during our Golf Weekend can take part simply by mentioning they are golfing in support of the SQSPCA. The $40 per-person admission charge will cover greens fees for 18 holes, use of a cart, a thank-you gift, and a hot dog at the end of play,” Haynes explained.

In addition, a percentage of each fee will be donated back to the shelter, Haynes said.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for the SQSPCA Golf Weekend, all of which include signage at the event. According to Haynes, sponsorships start at $300 for a Hole Sponsor, followed by Cart Sponsors at $1,000. The Scorecard Sponsor ($2,500) and event underwriter ($5,000) will receive player registrations as well, as part of their sponsorship packages.

Located on the shores of Otsego Lake just nine miles from Cooperstown, the Otsego Golf Club is one of America’s oldest and most beautiful courses.

“This event is ideal for people who love golf, love animals, and who appreciate the history and picturesque greens of the Otsego Golf Club,” Haynes added.

Profits from the SQSPCA Golf Weekend will provide much-needed funds to help the SQSPCA fulfill its mission of caring for homeless and abandoned dogs and cats from across the region. These animals are vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and treated for illness or malnutrition as necessary before they are adopted out to a loving new home.

Registration for players as well as sponsors is currently underway.

Golfers should call the Otsego Golf Club at (607) 547-9290 to register a tee time. The SQSPCA Golf Weekend must be mentioned in order to secure the $40 per-person fee, and payment is cash only.

If your business or organization is interested in supporting this event as a sponsor, please e-mail [email protected] or call (607) 547-8111, extension 101.

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In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. The SQSPCA is a privately funded, state inspected animal shelter practicing “no-kill” philosophies. Private donations, grants, fundraising and the New Leash on Life Thrift Shop are the shelter’s only source of income. For more information or to donate, visit www.sqspca.org

Susquehanna SPCA opens doors to dogs facing euthanasia, torture

August 1, 2020 – With kennels standing empty due to the COVID-19 slowdown, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) has answered the call of animal advocacy groups from both the United States and Lebanon to assist in the rescuing and rehoming of dogs in distress. 

According to SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes, intakes at the shelter have been down over the past several months due to the “New York State on PAUSE” directive, while adoptions have increased. 

“At the height of the PAUSE, our shelter saw a 10 percent jump in adoptions. Intakes dropped 16 percent during the same time period compared to last year,” Haynes said. 

The national trends have been similar. 

“I reached out to see if we could help with any overflow problems or wait lists area shelters might have, but they were all experiencing the same phenomenon – very few dogs,” she added. 

Gordon County, Georgia 

On July 15, local dog advocate Kim Condon reached out to the SQSPCA in hopes the shelter would have space to help save Boomer and Wagner, both scheduled for euthanasia the next day. The dogs were being held at the Gordon County Animal Control Shelter in Georgia. 

“The Gordon County Animal Control Shelter is in a sad and unfortunate position. Unlike us, they do not have the luxury to not euthanize due to space constraints,” explained Haynes. “Being overwhelmed with dogs, and because Boomer and Wagner had been at their shelter the longest, they had no choice.” 

Condon reached out just in time. 

With the SQSPCA’s commitment, she and a dedicated rescue network were able to pull Boomer and Wagner out of the shelter. After a seven-day hold in a Georgia boarding facility, the dogs were transported to the SQSPCA where they are now available for adoption. 

“Boomer is a 3-year-old American pit bull terrier mix. Wagner is an Australian cattle dog, also around 3 years old,” said Haynes. “Both are very friendly.” 

The cost to secure and transport Boomer and Wagner was paid for entirely by the rescue network, which saves dogs from Texas as well as Georgia. 

Condon said dog overpopulation in the South is prevalent due to lack of spaying and neutering. 

“Many people simply do not realize the thousands of dogs killed each day,” Condon explained. “These dogs are often as sweet as can be – beautiful animals with little to no chance of avoiding being killed. 

“I became involved in rescue because of my love and absolute respect for animals,” Condon said. “My focus has been dog rescue for the past few years. I work with an amazing network of volunteers throughout the country to gain exposure through social media because so many dogs are killed without ever being seen by anyone outside the facility … given no chance. There are rescues who step up time after time to save as many dogs as they can.” 

The challenges, according to Condon, are a limited number of rescue organizations and lack of funding. 

“It is so important for more people to become involved in helping. Everyone can do something. Sharing posts on social media, pledging an amount for a dog in need so a rescue can help, fostering, volunteering at shelters, and adopting are some ways to save lives. Stacie at the Susquehanna SPCA goes above and beyond to save dogs. She did not skip a beat when I reached out to her, desperately trying to help Wagner and Boomer. They were on the kill list and most definitely would have been euthanized.” 

Beirut, Lebanon 

On the other side of the world, economic collapse and a culture of canine cruelty, neglect, and violence is prompting the arrival of 13 dogs to the SQSPCA early next week. 

Animals Lebanon is a nonprofit group that improves the welfare of animals through comprehensive national animal protection and welfare legislation. They provide nationwide public assistance for companion animals while rescuing and improving the conditions of captive endangered wildlife. 

“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,” Haynes recalled. 

Dogs have a zero percent chance of being adopted in Lebanon. Not because of their health or behavior, but because they are not accepted into homes, Haynes explained. Dogs in Lebanon are beaten, shot and poisoned. The advent of COVID-19 and misinformation about transmittal of the virus from dogs and cats to humans have made conditions even worse. 

“We still have 15 empty kennels, even after waiving our surrender fees for the past several months. These dogs are suffering horribly, and the circumstances are right for us to take them in and find them loving homes,” Haynes said. 

The SQSPCA is receiving inquiries by telephone and e-mail every day for dogs, but cannot meet the growing demand as people search for companions in this difficult time, she added. 

Once again, all expenses associated with transporting dogs from Lebanon to Cooperstown have been paid with no cost to the SQSPCA, this time by Linda Nealon, a volunteer that helps animals in crisis. 

“I feel tremendous empathy for the dogs arriving from Animals Lebanon. These dogs were rescued after being shot, dragged behind a truck and then hit by another car, and dumped onto the streets by families unable to care for their family pets anymore,” recounted Nealon. 

With the Lebanese pound being devalued to almost nothing, people are starving and unable to feed their families let alone their pets, so the circumstances there are dire, Nealon said. 

“Animals Lebanon is a safety net, rescuing as many animals as they can and providing veterinary care. Their foster families are full and no adoptions are taking place in Lebanon due to the civil unrest and poverty,” Nealon continued. 

“Thankfully Stacie Haynes and the Susquehanna SPCA have stepped up to take in 13 dogs being flown to New York this Monday. They will travel with volunteer John Tarraf by plane for 25 hours in cargo and, upon landing, will be driven straight to the gates of the SQSPCA where they will be welcomed, fed, and watered after their long journey. I am hopeful every one of these pups will find a loving and wonderful forever home,” she said. 

The Delaware Valley Humane Society, also experiencing a shortage of dogs in recent months, will partner with the SQSPCA in sheltering and adopting out the Lebanon rescues. 

“Our Doors Are Open” 

If your cat or dog must be rehomed, the SQSPCA remains ready to help. 

“Because of the financial uncertainty prompted by COVID-19, our surrender fees are temporarily waived,” Haynes reiterated. “We understand that sometimes it’s just not possible to keep a pet. My staff and I are committed to caring for and rehoming all surrendered animals. 

“And sometimes – when the need is urgent and conditions are right – we will answer a call for help from beyond the borders of Otsego County, confident that people will open their hearts and their homes to animals in danger or distress.” 

To learn more about the Susquehanna SPCA, to view available animals, or to donate, visit www.sqspca.org

In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes.

SQSPCA, County partner to continue clinics in spite of pandemic

Dr. Bret Meckel administers a rabies vaccine to SQSPCA alumnus Roscoe while owner Regan Hayes looks on.

July 17, 2020 – When Otsego County was forced to cancel its annual free rabies vaccination clinics in April due to the “New York State on PAUSE” directive, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) stepped up with a solution.

By scheduling appointments and conducting the clinics via a rear entrance to the shelter building, the SQSPCA would address social distancing concerns. The requirement of face masks or face coverings and thorough disinfection between appointments would protect visitors and staff from COVID-19 and stop the spread of germs.

Working closely with the Otsego County Department of Health, the SQSPCA began rabies vaccination clinics on-site on Wednesday, April 22. Since that time, almost 400 cats and dogs have been immunized.

“Otsego County is providing the vaccines and the tags,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “The shelter is providing the service.”

In addition to shelter staff dedicated to the effort, several local veterinarians have stepped up to donate their time to the cause.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have caring veterinarians in our area,” Haynes said. “Dr. Julie Huntsman, Dr. Bret Meckel and Dr. Jenny Lukovsky all worked free of charge at the clinics during the peak of the pandemic in New York State to administer the rabies vaccinations.”

“It’s a pleasure and honor to work at the shelter,” added Dr. Huntsman, who subcontracts with the SQSPCA for regular veterinary services in addition to her volunteer work at the clinics. “It’s important and meaningful work, getting these animals off to a good start and, in many cases, on the road to recovery. 

“The rabies clinics are another opportunity to serve,” Huntsman said. “Getting animals current on their rabies vaccine is critical to their safety and to public health.  I’ve been glad to pitch in!”

The program is expected to continue at the shelter for the foreseeable future. Vaccination appointments for pet dogs, cats and ferrets are being scheduled on alternating Wednesday afternoons from 1-3 p.m. by calling (607) 547-8111, extension 108. Appointments are required and are on a first come, first served basis. There is a limit of 15 pets per person.

“We are so very happy to be in a position at this time to step up to help the county. We believe they are working hard to do the best they can for the people of this county and we want to be part of it,” Haynes said.

The SQSPCA requirements for pet owners will follow Otsego County guidelines:

  • Previous rabies vaccination certificate must be presented to receive a three-year booster (NO exceptions).
  • Dogs must be on a leash and under proper control.

Cats and ferrets should be in a pillow case or carrying case.

According to the Otsego County Department of Health, the vaccine being used gives one-year protection for domestic dogs and cats receiving their first vaccination and three-year protection for domestic dogs and cats receiving a booster.

“Compulsory vaccination is required for all dogs and cats in Otsego County. The incidence of confirmed positive rabies cases in wild animals continues, the most recent of which being a rabid bat in Oneonta,” said Heidi Bond, Otsego County Director of Public Health.

“Every dog and cat three months of age or older is required to be vaccinated, even pet dogs and cats that stay inside, and domesticated ferrets require vaccination each year,” Bond explained.

New York State law requires all dogs to be licensed. A license will not be issued for a time period extending beyond the date of the dog’s rabies certificate. It is also New York State law that any unvaccinated pet exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal be euthanized or quarantined for six months at the owner’s expense, and that any unvaccinated pet that bites be confined for 10 days at a facility at the owner’s expense.

In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit www.sqspca.org

SQSPCA launches ‘Feral to Friendly’ program

July 10, 2020 – With “kitten season” now well underway, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) is reaching out to the community for help with taming feral and unsocialized kittens.

Kitten season is the time of year when animal shelters are overrun by kittens because birth rates are higher, typically March through October. Kittens of all ages – even newborns – are surrendered to the SQSPCA. Summer months are the busiest.

“The socialization period for cats occurs between 2 and 7 weeks of age, but can extend up to 14 weeks,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “The majority of kittens brought to us have had very limited exposure to humans, so our animal care staff works with them as much as possible in between cleaning, intakes, dog and cat meets, and adoptions,” she said.

“We currently have 28 feral or unsocialized kittens on-site, with more arriving daily. 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,” Haynes explained.

Early socialization, including gentle handling for 15-40 minutes a day, helps kittens learn to interact with people and increases their chances for successful adoption into a home. Kittens that are undomesticated and remain feral will likely become working cats in a barn, garage or workshop.

“Folks can volunteer for the Feral to Friendly program in two ways,” Haynes said. “They can call and sign up to come to the shelter to visit and play with kittens for an hour at a time, based on availability. People with experience handling feral cats and kittens can foster for us.”

Those interested in learning more about the SQSPCA’s Feral to Friendly program can call 607-547-8111, extension 102 to learn more and schedule a time to help out.

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In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit www.sqspca.org

Former SQSPCA intern returns to adopt special needs cat

June 11, 2020 – On Sunday, May 24, Lucia Lopez made the 384-mile round trip from Maspeth, Queens to the Susquehanna Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) 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, Cooperstown, 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.

As a Canine Training and Enrichment Specialist, Lopez assisted SQSPCA staff with three goals in mind: 1) increase the adoptability of shelter-housed dogs; 2) prevent returned adoptions due to unacceptable behaviors through positive reinforcement training and/or behavior modification techniques; and, 3) enhance the quality of the shelter dogs’ stay through enrichment activities.

“The internship job description and requirements stood out to me, as they spoke about training shelter dogs to prepare them for their future homes and creating enrichment activities to mentally stimulate them during their shelter stay,” Lopez said.

Lopez has a long history of caring for animals and helping animals in need.

“Whether it was my personal pets, pet sitting for neighbors, rescuing strays or feeding feral cats, I grew up around animals most of my life, and their welfare is something I have always been very passionate about. I first began working with animals my junior year of high school when I volunteered at an animal shelter,” she explained.

“This gained me the experience to work at a dog daycare in my senior year. There I got to see many different dogs of all sizes and temperaments. No two were alike and it was interesting to see them interact. My responsibilities included watching over the dogs in a safe and positive manner, knowing each of them personally, and recognizing their triggers,” Lopez said.  “Once I arrived at SUNY-Cobleskill, I began working with dogs right away and took related courses such as therapy dog training, canine health, canine aggression, and domestic animal behavior, as well as tracking and trailing.”

Adopting Ocean will not be without its challenges. In addition to being unable to stand or walk independently for any length of time, he also has difficulty holding his head up and using a litter box. Thanks to a generous donor, the shelter’s animal care staff had been working to help Ocean build coordination with a special wheelchair, and they had seen positive results. Lopez will continue to use the wheelchair as well as other tools and techniques designed to increase body strength and improve stamina.

“We could not be happier for Ocean,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “Lucia was a great asset to our team. She went above and beyond her internship requirements and often took her work home — fostering dogs, cats, and even a rabbit. Ocean could not be in better hands, and we look forward to hearing how he’s doing in his new home.

“Ocean is proof positive that, with a little patience and understanding, animals with special needs can find their ‘furever’ homes, too,” Haynes said.

UPDATE: Because her shifts are long, Lucia has been taking Ocean (now named Alaska) to work with her at an animal hospital in Bayside, Queens, where he gets to play with and help socialize a stray kitten awaiting adoption there. He has warmed up nicely to the other animals at home, too (see photo above with dog Bishop and cat Doug).  He is a very good boy, Lucia said.

In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit www.sqspca.org

SQSPCA waives adoption fees for senior cats

Shelter seeks to raise awareness of seniors facing special challenges

June 9, 2020 – In celebration of national Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) is waiving adoption fees for all cats six years and older through Saturday, June 20.

June is traditionally the height of kitten season when, due to an increase in feline breeding, area shelters experience an influx of homeless cats and newborn kittens. However, the SQSPCA has chosen this month to highlight the special challenges faced by senior cats and to help them find their forever homes.

“Senior cats end up in our shelter for a variety of reasons,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “Sometimes it’s because of chronic medical issues or behaviors caused by those conditions. Other times, they are surrendered to us by an elderly owner who has no other option because their own health is deteriorating or their living situation has changed.”

Senior cats are easy for potential adopters to overlook, Haynes said.

“Seniors can be easily stressed in a shelter environment,” she explained. “As a result, you might find them hunched in a box, not interacting or making eye contact with people. They may not be eating or grooming. They might be scared or depressed, or become aggressive.

“Because of this, sometimes our seniors are their own worst enemies. It’s hard for them to compete with the young, friendly cats that seek people out as soon as they enter the cat room,” added Haynes.

Diet and nutrition can be real concerns for senior cats in the shelter – another reason the SQSPCA seeks to adopt or foster them out as quickly as possible. When cats become stressed and fearful they may stop eating. Senior felines also have more difficulty digesting fat and proteins than younger cats, and may need to be given specialty foods. Cats with geriatric conditions such as thyroid disease and diabetes may require special diets.

“We’re waiving adoption fees in hopes that folks will give our seniors a chance to win them over,” Haynes said. “You can check out Bluebelle, Jack O Bean, Prince and others at sqspca.org, and make an appointment to meet them by calling (607) 547-8111.”

There are currently 11 senior cats awaiting adoption at the SQSPCA, ranging in age from 7 to 14 years.

In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit www.sqspca.org 

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