January 25, 2021 – Representatives of the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) rescued a horse and two cats on Friday, January 22, but other animals on the Pittsfield property were not as fortunate. Upon arriving at the scene, shelter staff also found a pony, three rabbits and a chicken, all of which had dehydrated and frozen to death.
Following a phone call to the Otsego County Animal Cruelty Task Force, SQSPCA officials investigated the tip before mobilizing to seize the surviving animals. Community volunteers transported and fostered the horse; the cats are now at the shelter.
“Over and over again, we are witness to horrific scenes of animals that have suffered unnecessarily and died,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “We have seen this happen with domestic animals but more often, it is farm animals.”
Haynes worked with local law enforcement officials to form the county’s Animal Cruelty Task Force – also known as PETS (Prevention, Education, Training and Systems) – in February of 2019. Several high-profile abuse cases prompted the partnership, including what Haynes described as an “unthinkable” situation resulting in 104 animals seized from a New Lisbon farm in the spring of 2018.
“Over the last couple of years, the task force has worked hard to address cruelty and educate the public but, after this most recent case, we realize our approach thus far has been reactive rather than proactive,” Haynes said.
“Today we are launching the ‘Here to Help Hotline,’ a new initiative of the task force intended to help prevent hardship from escalating to cruelty,” Haynes announced.
Folks in need, no matter what type of animals they have or how many, are encouraged to reach out to this hotline at (607) 547-8111, extension 108.
“It isn’t easy to ask for help. We understand this, but we also know we have many good people throughout the region who are willing to offer assistance when times are tough. If the shelter does not have the resources to help directly, we will reach out to our network of farm friends,” Haynes added.
The “Here to Help Hotline” is a judgement-free zone, according to Haynes. Information obtained from those seeking help to keep their animals fed and safe will remain confidential and the service is free of charge. Those calling will be asked a series of questions to assess need and to determine the best course of action, including possible surrender of some animals.
“SQSPCA staff continue to learn and adapt in order to meet the needs of our community,” Haynes explained. “Last March, we dropped our surrender fees which typically brought in about $10,000 in revenue for the shelter each year. During these especially difficult times, it is important that the surrender process to be as easy and accessible as possible.”
“There will never be a fee to surrender an animal or for services provided through the ‘Here to Help Hotline.’ We can do these things because we know there are donors who will ensure we have the support we need to get the work done,” Haynes said.
Those wishing to be a resource to the SQSPCA in farm-related matters – willing to provide necessary food, shelter and/or other resources to aid in the care of at-risk farm animals, including fostering – should call the shelter or e-mail [email protected] to learn more.
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