Editor’s Note: The following was submitted by Annette Clarke, Executive Director of the Chenango SPCA.
Who we are and what we do
There are many misconceptions about what the CSPCA does and how we are connected to the community. I hope here to dispel the myths and inform the community as to who we are and what we do.
Our mission sums up how we approach all that we do: “The mission of the Chenango SPCA is to promote care, compassion and respect for our animals and the community.” Our organization works tirelessly every day to improve the lives of neglected, abused or abandoned companion animals.
We are an open-admission shelter, which simply means that we accept all companion animals including strays, owner released, and abandoned animals; whether our cages are full or not. This ensures that all animals have a safe environment with food and shelter. Limited admission shelters (often known as animal rescues and “no-kill” shelters) have the ability to accept only those animals they deem adoptable, healthy and for which they have room. These shelters make a decision as to which animals will receive their care and attention, and therefore limit the number of animals they will accept.
While as an open-admission shelter, we give all animals temporary shelter and food, some animals come to us too sick, too severely injured or too aggressive or behaviorally unsound to be placed up for adoption. Isolating sick or injured animals is necessary to prevent the spread of disease and, with our limited space, the shelter does not have sufficient isolation areas. Being able to treat sick animals is often difficult without a veterinarian on staff. Animals that remain healthy, behaviorally sound and potentially adoptable remain at the shelter as long as they need to. Sometimes animals have been here well over a year before they meet their forever families.
The decision to euthanize is difficult, undesirable and always a last resort. We work with rescues (both local and outside of our area) when possible, and fill every cage, kennel and crate when necessary. Sometimes this is not enough. Sometimes an animal can be rehabilitated, but sometimes they cannot. Sometimes there is just not enough room for more animals. In these cases, we strongly believe that euthanasia is the most humane alternative to an existence of suffering and pain or life in a cage.
What can the community do to help us decrease the number of euthanasia’s? You can spay and neuter your animals so we have fewer unwanted litters. And you can support the CSPCA by volunteering, fostering, adopting or donating to make our community a safer and better place for our companion animals.
What does the Chenango SPCA do about Stray companion animals?
Stray dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and other small animals arrive on our doorstep almost every day. How do they get here and what happens after they arrive?
With stray dogs we are obligated to follow New York State Law through the Agriculture and Markets division. The law requires that all stray dogs must be brought to us by a Dog Control Officer (DCO) appointed by individual towns and municipalities. Legally all dogs are personal property. This means that if you see a dog wandering or appearing to be lost you must call the local DCO for pick up. Bringing us the dog yourself is considered illegal and we are not allowed to accept it. As a good Samaritan, you think you are protecting the dog that is running dangerously free and could be injured by traffic, but in reality you are breaking the law. Instead, you should immediately call your local DCO or town supervisor and report it. You should also be award that seemingly friendly dogs may be dangerous, and may not have had rabies shots or other vaccines. Let the DCO’s, who are trained professional, do their jobs. Frustration can be high when you are unable to reach the DCO, but only they have access to our facility 24 hours a day.
When a dog enters the CSPCA it is automatically treated for fleas, de-wormed, vaccinated and scanned for a micro-chip. It is also assessed for behavior issues. The staff at the CSPCA is trained to recognize aggressive or other behavior problems that might prevent the dog from being adopted. We never want to adopt out a dog that would potentially bite or harm a new owner or their children. The animal is then held for 5 days before being put up for adoption in hopes that an owner comes looking for it. If an owner is known, contact is made and a dog can be held up to 9 days waiting for the owner to contact the CSPCA.
There are no laws regarding stray cats in New York State. Every cat that comes to us receives vaccinations, de-worming, testing for diseases and flea treatment. Many times we have over 75 cats at the shelter. Though there is no legal requirement to do so, we routinely hold all cats 5 days before moving them into our adoption room, in case an owner comes looking for their lost animal. Only 2% of cats are claimed by their original owner. Spring is kitten time and many times cats come to us pregnant or with kittens in tow. Foster homes are particularly valuable when it comes to kittens. A foster home will allow the mother and kittens to stay healthy and socialized so that when they are old enough they will be more likely to be adopted. It also frees up valuable cage space because over-crowding is often an issue. One cat and its offspring can produce over 400,000 cats in just 7 years.
Often cats that are brought in are feral, meaning that they live in the wild or have been born in the wild and are not domesticated. Left on their own these cats will multiply frequently. The current thought is to trap, neuter and release these cats back to their same environment. They no longer produce babies but continue to live and survive. Feral cats are often brought to the shelter by local business owners or farmers who find the animal a nuisance. In these cases, returning them to their home environment is not possible. A behavioral analysis is conducted and if deemed adoptable (respond favorably to humans) than they are put in our adoption program. If not euthanasia is considered the best course of action.
The Chenango County Sheriff’s department is the agency that handles cruelty cases in Chenango County. The Chenango SPCA does not employ a cruelty officer, nor do we have the space or the expertise that is needed for cruelty cases. We will work with the Sheriff’s department and provide education, pet food and, if necessary, care for the abused animal.
What does the CSPCA do for our community?
The CSPCA is here every day as a haven for stray pets. When you are no longer able to care for your pets, we are here to give them food and shelter. When you are ready to adopt a new pet, we are here with some of the most amazing animals that are ready to be your best friend. When you 4-legged friend reaches the end of their life, we are here to provide a compassionate and caring euthanasia.
When you want to do the right thing and spay or neuter your pet, but lack the financial resources, we are here to help with our SNOOP (spay neuter outreach opportunity for pets) program. When you pet has a medical emergency or is in need of flea treatment and you need financial assistance, we are here with our Kerby fund. If you are on financial assistance and know that feeding your pet is too difficult, we are here with our Full-Bellies pet food pantry.
When you just need some advice on behavioral problems or training help, we have trained staff that can assist you. As part of our future plans we hope to have dog training classes and educational materials that will make your experience with your new pet a positive one.
The community often perceives us as uncaring, and the shelter as a place that just kills animals. We urge you to visit us and see what we are truly about. We have a very caring staff and one that puts the animals in our care first. Our facility is a clean (not an easy task when you have so many animals to care for) and compassionate place for the animals of our community.
Most importantly we are a place of refuge for the unwanted, homeless and abused animals of this community. Without us, these animals would spend their lives hungry, cold, wet and without loving companionship. Our dream is that the community and the CSPCA come together to provide care, compassion and respect for all the animals and that we end over-population and ensure homes for all.