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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 

Subaru ‘Share The Love’ gift doubled by SQSPCA challenge

June 5, 2020 – Thanks to Five Star Subaru and Subaru of America, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) is now about a third of the way to meeting its current SHELTER US matching challenge goal.

SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes was presented a check for $16,963.64 this week by Five Star Subaru owner Ben Guenther. The funds were raised during Subaru of America’s Share The Love® event from November 14, 2019 through January 2, 2020, during which Subaru donated $250 to the SQSPCA for every new Subaru vehicle purchased or leased.

“The timing of this gift could not have been better,” Haynes said. “The clock is ticking to raise $100,000 and this check puts us over $31,000 already.”

From now through August 1, every new donation or pledge to the SHELTER US Campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000, for a total of $200,000 toward the campaign goal.

“Those who can give $5 are now actually helping to contribute $10. A donation of $5,000 becomes $10,000, and so on. This is truly an incredible opportunity,” Haynes explained.

Construction is now underway on the SQSPCA’s new campus, which will include a state-of-the-art shelter designed to increase the health and safety of animals, visitors, staff, and volunteers. The new facility conforms to guidelines established by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and will allow the shelter to follow industry best practices, Haynes said.

The SQSPCA is $1.2 million away from its SHELTER US Campaign target of $5 million.

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 adds animal cruelty information, reporting tool to website

May 20, 2020 – Otsego County citizens who suspect animal cruelty or neglect can now go to the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) website to learn more about what to look for and to report suspected cruelty online.

As part of the Otsego County Animal Cruelty Task Force, or PETS (Prevention, Education, Training and Systems), the SQSPCA has created website resources specific to recognizing and reporting animal cruelty and neglect, including a “Report Cruelty” button at the top right of the website home page.

“It is important to note that while the SQSPCA is not law enforcement and, as such, cannot take action on its own, we are fortunate to have very supportive policing agencies in our communities. When our staff believe a report should be taken seriously, local law enforcement will, too,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes.

“Folks must also understand that, in some instances, action will not be not immediate. There may be cases where there is not currently enough evidence of suspected cruelty to take action but for which evidence may be building,” cautioned Haynes.

In addition to the new reporting tool, the SQSPCA website also includes information and links to news articles on PETS, ways to recognize the physical and environmental signs of animal cruelty, and steps to take if you witness or suspect animal cruelty.

“If you would like to remain anonymous to those suspected of animal cruelty, we can arrange that,” Haynes said. “However, in order for the report to be taken seriously, we do need your name and contact information to share with law enforcement.”

The goal of PETS, formed in February of 2019, is to prevent and combat animal cruelty in Otsego County through education and empowerment of law enforcement and the general public. Task force members intend to accomplish this by putting together training for law enforcement, networking with other animal protection agencies, and establishing a standardized system of reporting suspected animal cruelty.

“The Otsego County Sheriff’s Office is reminding the community that animal cruelty is a crime,” reiterated Sheriff Richard J. Devlin. “The State of New York has criminalized the cruel treatment of animals. However, animal abuse and cruelty continue to occur in Otsego County and throughout New York State.

“The Otsego County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, will do whatever we can to assist our citizens with animal related problems. Furthermore, we seek to protect animals from the neglect and abuse inflicted upon them in violation of current laws. We continue these efforts through education, mediation, investigation and enforcement working toward a healthy community where quality of life matters,” Devlin said.

Those suspecting animal cruelty or neglect can visit sqspca.org or call (607) 547-8111 and follow the prompts.

PETS (Prevention, Education, Training and Systems), the Otsego County Animal Cruelty Task Force, is a collaboration of the Susquehanna SPCA, the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, Leatherstocking Veterinary Group, and Oneonta Veterinary Hospital. 

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

Challenge grant announced as SQSPCA walls are about to go up

May 14, 2020 – It’s full steam ahead as the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) announces a $100,000 challenge grant in support of its multi-million-dollar SHELTER US Campaign. The announcement comes as work on the new campus moves from site preparation to the shelter building itself.   

“To have an anonymous donor offer us a challenge grant of this magnitude at such a crucial time for our project is truly amazing,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “We understand folks are looking for ways to economize and tighten their budgets given these uncertain times. Here is an opportunity to maximize support of our efforts by having your contribution doubled.”

From now through August 1, every new donation or pledge to the SHELTER US Campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000, for a total of $200,000 toward the campaign goal.

“Those who can give $5 are now actually helping to contribute $10. A donation of $5,000 becomes $10,000, and so on. This is truly an incredible opportunity,” Haynes explained.

With $1.5 million of the $5 million goal still to be secured, the SQSPCA is optimistic.

“The COVID-19 crisis has been a good demonstration of how essential our shelter really is. In a time of fear and uncertainty, we have risen to the challenge and actually increased our positive impact on behalf of animals in need,” Haynes went on to say.

Normal shelter operations – accepting surrendered, stray, and seized animals and adopting them into loving homes – have continued without interruption during the global pandemic. At the same time, the SQSPCA has added new services in order to meet the growing needs of the community. These include a 24/7 pet food pantry, a temporary emergency boarding program for essential workers or those succumbing to illness, and free weekly rabies vaccination clinics in partnership with the Otsego County Department of Health.

“We are also partnering with the United Way of Delaware and Otsego Counties to mobilize volunteer assistance for those who need help caring for their pets. These efforts will keep people and pets together as they navigate troubled times,” said Haynes. “Additionally, we had six animals arrive at the shelter yesterday that were relinquished due to death or illness from overcrowded New York City shelters, a transfer arranged through the New York State Animal Protection Federation.”

The shelter also tapped into its Emergency Medical Fund to save the life of a mother dog and her seven puppies recently, and rescued and rehomed five goats earlier this week.

Shelter officials project that these and other mission-based efforts will be both more effective and more efficient in the new location. The SQSPCA will move from its current site, located in a flood zone, to a new campus that will include a state-of-the-art shelter designed to increase the health and safety of animals, visitors, staff, and volunteers. The new facility conforms to guidelines established by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and will allow the shelter to follow industry best practices, Haynes said.

“This project is special because when donors visit the new shelter, they will see as well as feel the tangible difference they have made. We present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to leave a legacy as part of the SHELTER US project through naming opportunities, which are available from $5,000-$100,000,” she added.

To request an information packet, call Haynes at (607) 547-8111, extension 101.

The SHELTER US Capital Campaign Committee, chaired by Cooperstown resident and former Susquehanna SPCA Board member Anne Keith, will continue to work with the SQSPCA Board of Directors and staff to secure the funds necessary to reach the $5 million target. 

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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