Report on Niagara Co SPCA

A report detailing the results of an investigation done by the SPCA Serving Erie County into allegations of wrongdoing against the Niagara County SPCA in NY has been published. Here are some of the points included in that report.

The shelter’s software was not being used fully and records were incomplete.  The director had attended a conference offering workshops on how to use the shelter’s software shortly after he was hired.  Neither the director not the board reviewed the reports generated by the software and hundreds of pets remain unaccounted for.  There was a huge disconnect between the hundreds of pets listed in-house and those few listed online.  The software provides the shelter the ability to easily sync the in-house records with the online postings but it was never utilized.

The board members and director all believed the shelter was “no kill” but none had ever checked to see if all healthy/treatable pets were being saved.  When questioned, one board member defined killing for space as “necessary euthanasia”.

Even though the agency’s by-laws require an annual financial contribution by members of the board, approximately half the board members had made no donations in 2011.

The director was surprised to learn that his shelter had killed at least 473 cats and 100 dogs between October 1 and December 15, 2011.  He never reviewed data on intakes, killings or RTOs – only adoptions.

Per the director, the vet tech made up the kill list and he reviewed the dogs on the list with the tech because sometimes staff would ask him why a particular dog was killed.  Since nobody ever asked about the dead cats, he didn’t bother making himself aware of their killings.  A review of records revealed that the director was in fact only reviewing some of the dogs on the kill list, not all as he had stated.

The techs were killing conscious pets via heartstick, using a drug called Rompun first which caused the pets to vomit but did not sedate them.  Treatable pets were killed and killing for space was commonplace.  Pets were killed in view of living animals.  The techs were told not to list “space” as a reason for killing so they would try to find something else to use as an excuse for killing such as bad teeth.

The drivers from the shelter who were sent to investigate claims of animal cruelty are not Peace Officers and have no power to bring charges against offenders.  Sometimes animals were seized from cruel conditions but were returned since charges were never brought.

The cat room at the shelter is kept locked to keep the public out. When it was suggested to the director that he unlock the door and let adopters in to see and touch the cats, he refused saying that touching cats leads to the spread of disease within the population.  The shelter accepts feral cats, holds them for the stray holding period, then kills them.  The director did not want to stop accepting feral cats from the people who regularly brought them in as it would mean a loss of income.

A litter of very young puppies was being housed in the stray area next to a dog whose kennel sign said “rabies suspect” on it.

The overall impression of the shelter is one of dysfunctional relationships, childish behavior and lack of leadership resulting in the suffering and needless killing of pets.

These are some direct quotes lifted from the report:

Page 13:

As NCSPCA is the largest organization in the county, meaning that it handles the most animals, it has a moral obligation to reach out to any and all that can help, regardless of differences of opinion.

Page 15:

Providing services for animal control while operating under the mission to protect animals creates two entirely different platforms for the organization and can seriously impede progress to meet the stated mission of the NCSPCA.

Page 16:

For a humane agency to be the “dog catchers” of the community, to be collecting fees and fines for the government, to house dogs involved in complaints, (such as dangerous dogs for long periods of time), does not align with animal protection. There is currently a dog that was seized as a dangerous dog in early September 2011 being “cared” for at the NCSPCA. The dog has lived in a small kennel for almost five months, barking and snarling at anyone who approaches him. The dog is living a miserable existence with no touching, walking, kennel enrichment, or companionship. That an SPCA is keeping this animal under these circumstances cannot be acceptable.

Page 19:

[T]here is a veterinarian on the board who has never looked at the controlled substance logs, has never asked to see procedures such as euthanasia performed, never attended any shelter medicine workshop, webinar, or attended other veterinary medical educational forums that deal with the operation of a shelter.

Page 41:

There are no SOPs at NCSPCA for general animal care/handling/feral cats/animal health care/incoming exams/vaccination protocols/sterilization/disease control and sanitation/isolation/feeding protocols/zoonoses/bite case protocol/euthanasia paperwork method and disposal of the bodies.

Page 55:

The NCSPCA does not have any SOPs with regards to adoption selection criteria or behavioral assessments.
[...]
The conditions which automatically lead to a verdict of euthanasia are parvo, distemper, feral, FIV and FeLV.

Page 56:

The NCSPCA does not have any SOP’s with regards to the adoption process.

Page 71:

Hard work and hard decisions need to be made by those in positions to shape the future of this organization.

Those are the final words of the report.  What actions will be taken by the Niagara Co SPCA as a result of this report remain to be seen.

Leave a comment

11 Comments

  1. Ugh. This makes me sick. Reading your blog has certainly opened my eyes to the shady inner workings of some shelters, which are supposed to help animals.

    Reply
  2. CristyF

     /  January 30, 2012

    There does seem to be a LOT that needs to be changed about this animal shelter, I mean house of death *cough* but that one part about the aggressive dog being held in a cage with no attention *may* not be entirely their fault. When dogs are involved in investigations, many times they are being held as “evidence” and are not allowed to be put down until the case is over. If the dog truly is very aggressive to people (and not just cage-aggressive), how are people supposed to interact with it? Human safety comes first.

    Reply
    • The point there is that an SPCA should be the group fighting for better conditions for the dog – not the ones actually inflicting the cruelty.

      Reply
  3. In case you haven’t heard – http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/local/spca-board-terminates-director

    Of course this is just the beginning as the board of directors was just as much to blame, but that process is going to take a bit longer as they are going to need to work under the existing bylaws, schedule and hold a general membership meeting and hopefully be smart enough to NOT run and allow the creation of a proper board of directors.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the update Clara. It’s no use booting one figurehead and I assume they know that. No improvements can realistically be expected from simply chopping off the head. The board who kicked the director out is heavily implicated in the wrongdoing at the shelter according to the report. I hope they take swift action to demonstrate they are not going to stop with reform efforts until actual results are achieved.

      Reply
      • Absolutely and I know we will see changes at the board level as well. My educated guess is that the current board of directors will call a general membership meeting quickly to elect new board members and most if not all will step down. The next step is that the current bylaws (which were last reviewed in 1986) will be replaced with new ones that are current. If that does not happen, our next step is to file a complaint with the state attorney general as they have blatantly

        We are working hard to educate the powers that be of the No Kill Equation and pressing for board members that embrace that philosophy. We already have support from Senator Maziarz and a few other key people. Most of the animal control contracts were just renewed for three years early this year, but we are also hopefully that they will work with the municipalities to bring animal friendly laws into their own cities. One city, Niagara Falls, has a two animal limit, and routinely fine people who are caring for free roaming cat colonies claiming they are over the animal limit. No Kill Buffalo-Niagara is working very hard to change THAT outdated and irrational law as well.

        First and foremost we are asking three things from the Niagara SPCA, 1 – stop taking free roaming cats in just to kill them, 2 – extend your adoption hours to at least 7pm each night and both Saturday and Sunday and 3 – reach out to all area rescue groups to help with the animals that are currently there. Those are all quick solutions that will save numerous lives.

      • I only hope they don’t call for the meeting via telegraph (little inside joke for any of you shelter eval wonks who read the full report).

  4. There are no hard decisions here to be made at all. The entire Board must be made to step down with a REAL Board waiting in the wings to take over. Then the director and most of the staff, including the veterinarian and the so-called euth. tech need to be shown the door (and DO let it hit them in the ass on their way out). They need a complete overhaul. This would be a great arena for Nathan to turn over!

    Reply
  5. Oh, one more thing. The new staff, Board and everyone involved in the NEW NSPCA should be able to spell “c-a-t” and “d-o-g”, and also know how to ask critical questions, and to be able to draw a cat and a dog on a piece of paper. At the very least.

    Reply
    • I was thrown out of art class in high school because the instructor thought I was joking. My drawing is THAT bad. So please be lenient with my dog and cat submissions.

      Reply
  6. db

     /  January 30, 2012

    totally off topic –
    Any word on Gloria the cat?

    Reply

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