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July 9, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

UPDATE May 19, 2023 — There is a current “puppy scam” taking place involving the SPCA Serving Erie County. Through a fake SPCA Facebook page, , a person is claiming to represent the SPCA Serving Erie County and is requesting down payments on Golden Retriever puppies.

One of the Buffalo residents on the verge of being scammed visited the SPCA this afternoon with proof of a Facebook conversation with the scammer, who asked her to send him a down payment of several hundred dollars before picking up her puppy at 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca. Fortunately, she visited prior to sending any money.  Since yesterday the SPCA filed numerous reports on the scammer, who is also using the organization’s federal identification number in an attempt to steal money from innocent parties. Please do not engage with this Facebook account. If you have fallen victim to this scam, information on how to file a report is available below.

See this story on WGRZ-TV >>

See this story on WIVB-TV >>

See this story on WKBW-TV >>


It was just last month that the American Kennel Club issued a warning about online “puppy scams” in its article How to Spot a Puppy Scam Online.

The scams have hit close to home.

One Buffalonian and friend of the SPCA who wishes to remain anonymous cautions those looking for puppies to avoid a scam to which he fell victim this week.

“Sam” has been looking for a puppy for several months and has sent online applications, which included his mobile number, to various local and national groups. When he received a text from, the sender claimed, a representative of one animal organization based in Tennessee (although the text was from a 916 Sacramento, CA area code), Sam was delighted to learn the organization had a Golden Retriever puppy available right in New York. Fulton, NY, to be exact. The text message included photos of a puppy that looked very similar to the puppy in this photo: two photos of the puppy with a red ribbon around his neck standing next to a red Valentine’s Day heart, and one photo of the puppy on a blue mat next to a pail and flowers.

The pictures looked vaguely familiar, and since Sam had been looking for a puppy for a few months, he assumed he saw the photos at some point during his search. The puppy was too appealing to pass up. Sam expressed interest and asked when he might be able to purchase and pick up the pup.

The representative said he’d hold the puppy with a 50% “reservation deposit,” nearly $400,  payable through mobile payment service Cash App. The balance would be paid upon puppy pick-up the following day. The address was a home on West 3rd Street South in Fulton, NY, approximately 2 1/2 hours away.

Upon Sam’s arrival at the home yesterday, there was no animal organization representative, no puppy, and Sam was told he was the fourth person this month who arrived at the home looking for this very Golden Retriever pup.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), most victims of puppy scams lose between $100 and $1000, although some report losing considerably more. The BBB recommends reporting fraud to the BBB Scam Tracker,, the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-FTC-HELP), and others. Find this information and more in the BBB’s November, 2019 article Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers / A BBB Study .

The Humane Society of the United States shares warnings about Internet pet sale consumer scams, how to find a reputable dog breeder, and more in Consumer Scam: Internet Pet Sales.

SPCA Serving Erie County Offers Free Adoptions to Current and Past Military Members During Vets & Pets

May 19, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

To thank the members of the armed services this Memorial Day, the SPCA Serving Erie County once again offers Vets & Pets, waiving adoption fees on most animals for individuals and immediate families of individuals on active duty, reserves, and honorable discharge, along with service-disabled veterans and those retired from military service! This program, a longtime SPCA tradition, is proudly presented by the kind, caring, and patriotic folks at GEICO® .

Vets & Pets begins Monday, May 22 and runs through Wednesday, May 31* at the SPCA’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca location and all SPCA off-site adoption locations

Photos of adoptable animals can be found here >>.

Adoption hours can be found here >>.

See a list of our off-site locations here >>.

Military ID or DD214 will need to be presented. If an individual is currently serving outside of New York State, that individual’s spouse can adopt during Vets & Pets if a military spouse identification card is presented. Adopters can apply the Vets & Pets waived adoption fee promotion toward a total of two animals.

Please contact SPCA Adoptions Supervisor Mindy Ussrey with any questions: (716) 875-7360, ext. 210.

*The SPCA’s West Seneca location is closed Sunday and Monday, May 28 and 29 , but many of the SPCA’s off-site adoption locations are open ! See a list of our off-site locations and photos of the animals available here. To be pre-approved to adopt an off-site pet, please call the SPCA’s Off-site Adoptions Department at (716) 875-7360, ext. 235, or visit the 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca shelter Monday – Saturday, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.


May 17, 2023 — Our team at the SPCA Serving Erie County is saddened to announce that we have lost our beautiful Paws for Love Coordinator, Debbie Braun.

Debbie’s passing Saturday night, May 13, was not completely unexpected…she’s been battling an illness for quite some time…but the rapidity of her decline WAS unexpected. The family…we all…believed there was more time left with this kind and loving soul.

Debbie came on board as Paws for Love Coordinator in 2006 and grew this program beyond any expectations. What started as a few volunteers visiting a few nursing homes turned into hundreds of volunteers visiting hundreds of locations, and not just medical sites.

Photo credit Chris Caya/WBFO

Debbie warmly welcomed each volunteer team into the program, forming a personal relationship with each and every one of them. She established long-standing relationships with not just nursing homes and hospitals (at one time the only types of locations visited) but little by little identified the need for this healing program at other types of locations…and went on to fill that need. Colleges and all grade levels of schools. Libraries. Rehab centers. Funeral parlors and memorial services. The Family Justice Center, helping victims of domestic violence.  In fact, because of Debbie, in 2013 the Buffalo Niagara International Airport became one of only nine airports in the entire country with dogs on hand to lower stress levels; LA may have been the first airport boasting such a program, but within mere months, Buffalo’s was the largest program in the nation.

Under Debbie’s leadership, thousands upon thousands of people’s lives were touched by Paws for Love through our incredible volunteers and through the efforts of our Debbie. Her loss will be felt not only by family and friends, not only by the SPCA, but by an entire community who did not even know how hard Debbie was working behind the scenes.

Debbie’s obituary can be found at .

Those who would like to share special memories of Debbie or how, through her guidance, the Paws for Love program touched their lives are encourage to email . With these emails, the SPCA will create a special memory book for Debbie’s family.

Bob and Debbie Braun in 2018

Condolence cards and/or other notes to be shared with the family can be sent to Gina Lattuca, SPCA Serving Erie County, 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca, NY 14224, ATTN: Memories of Debbie .

A celebration of Debbie’s life will be held at the SPCA Serving Erie County Sunday, May 21, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Debbie’s family and Paws for Love volunteers and pets will be available to greet visitors and share favorite stories and memories of Debbie (SPCA Adoptions and animal viewing areas will not be open).

To those organizations and business that have encouraged Paws for Love visits, and to volunteers past and present who have participated in this program, we thank you for recognizing the importance of the bond between animals and people, and for believing in an animal’s ability to provide moments or hours of solace to those in any type of emotional need. This bond is what Debbie believed in with her whole heart and soul, that to which she dedicated much of her life, and this belief is the motivation behind ensuring Debbie’s legacy, the SPCA Paws for Love program, lives on.

–SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

From The Humane Society of the United States:
A coyote in the woods.

New York: Urge your legislators to end wildlife killing contests

Send a message to legislators here >>


In wildlife killing contests, participants compete to kill coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other ecologically vital species for cash and prizes. Hundreds of animals may be killed at a single event and countless others may be injured. During springtime contests, dependent young may be orphaned and left to die from starvation, predation or exposure. After the killing is over, the animals are often dumped like trash, away from the public eye.

“It is not a sport, it is not hunting, it is the killing of wildlife.” –NYS Senator Timothy Kennedy told WGRZ-TV in February.

Stopping these contests would not reduce opportunities to hunt coyotes or other wildlife, prohibit big buck competitions or fishing tournaments, prevent the lethal control of wildlife to protect livestock or outlaw field dog trials. It would simply prohibit the competitive killing of wildlife for frivolous prizes. All wildlife species play an important role in healthy ecosystems. It’s time for New York to join Massachusetts, Vermont, Maryland and the five other states that have already outlawed these cruel, unsporting and ecologically destructive events.


Please send a message to your state legislators urging them to support A.2917/S.4099 to end wildlife killing contests, using the form found here >>> . You can also take action using the Wolf Conservation Center form here >>>. Be sure to personalize it so your message stands out.

Send a message to legislators here >>

Additional action through Wolf Conservation Center >>

FAQs on wildlife killing contests >>

See this story on WGRZ-TV >>

Editorial in The Buffalo News >>

Editorial in The Daily Gazette >>


–SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca


Louisa, Louis, Penny, and Cecelia have dedicated their time and efforts to ensure Gibbs finds a home! They’ve raised funds to provide Gibbs with six weeks of obedience classes after he’s adopted! Plus, Gibbs will go home with a Doggy Goodie Bag filled with treats, toys, dog shampoo, and more! Tails throughout the shelter are wagging for The Loyal Leashes! Thanks, kids!

Read more about these enterpreneurial fourth-graders and all they’ve done to help Gibbs right here >>

Read more about Gibbs here >>

Hear about The Loyal Leashes and Gibbs on Star 102.5 with Rob Lucas during the SPCA’s May 3, 2023 segment here >>

Take This Job and Love It:
Great Benefits Program with Perks for
Blue Collar Working Cats

May 1, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

They’re a little too temperamental to be considered perfect, in-home, companion cats. Some are even feral. What’s to be done about these categories of cats when agencies like the SPCA Serving Erie County receive them as surrendered animals, or as part of an animal hoarding situation or other type of animal rescue or cruelty case?

For more than a decade, East Aurora-based Feral Cat FOCUS Inc. (FCF) has provided an answer for this agency and other cat welfare organizations in the state. Historically called other names such as the Adopt-A-Barn-Cat program and the Adopt-A-Working-Cat program, the Blue Collar Working Cats program now encompasses more of the varied establishments that have taken advantage of the loyal presence of these hard-working cats!

One of the founders of FCF, Edie Offhaus, says, “These are cats of various temperaments. In some cases, they are not exactly feral, but they’re unsocial. This program is a beautiful adoption alternative for these types of cats who have nowhere else to go.”

According to Offhaus, Blue Collar Working Cats have been placed in various New York State establishments including wineries, warehouses, nurseries and greenhouses, barns and stables, and more. “We place cats in all parts of Western New York, and assist agencies all over New York State, even some in the New York City area,” Offhaus states. When an organization representative calls to inquire about receiving Blue Collar Working Cats to live on the property, Offhaus says, “We conduct a thorough interview to ensure proper placement, since not all of these cats will thrive in all of these settings. We also ensure there are enough people who will take full responsibility for the care and feeding of these cats throughout their lifetime.”

Once an establishment is deemed a proper setting for specific Blue Collar Working Cats, a representative of FCF brings a minimum of two cats (some larger establishments have four or more Blue Collar Working Cats), already spayed or neutered, treated for fleas, and vaccinated by veterinarians at Operation PETS: the Spay/Neuter Clinic of WNY, Inc. for “grounding” purposes. Cats are placed in extra-large dog crates at their “new home” (when a separate, closed-off room is not available) for a three-week period, which allows them time to adapt to the different people, sights, sounds, smells, and, possibly, other animals that collectively comprise the new setting.  Most importantly, they begin to recognize the voices of those who will be providing the majority of care.

“Feral Cat FOCUS provides the crates and other equipment during the three-week grounding period,” Offhaus says. “After that, as with any adoption, all care is the responsibility of the new owners.” Offhaus also remarks that, in all the years of managing this program, FCF has had very few cats that didn’t respond to the new surroundings. “Now that the quality of life has increased for the animals and they’re more content, some of them become even more social and enjoy being present around people for longer periods of time.”

To date, more than 600 establishments house a minimum of two Blue Collar Working Cats. The purpose? “Rodent control, plain and simple,” Offhaus says. “Sometimes the mere presence of Blue Collar Working Cats is enough to keep rodents away from perceived food sources or food and beverage storage areas.”

FCF is unable to accept surrenders of cats from private owners who believe their cats may not be living a high quality of life indoors, yet feel guilty about keeping them outdoors or giving them up. “What we do,” explains Offhaus, “is walk those pet owners through how to set up a Blue Collar Working Cats program right at home. We remove the misplaced guilt they may feel over not keeping a cat indoors. Not every cat can live a high-quality life indoors. So we help these people establish a Blue Collar Working Cats program right where they are; we walk them through all the steps and assist as much as possible in their imitation of our program.”

The SPCA Serving Erie County is honored to be one of the organizations with which FCF works in its Blue Collar Working Cats program. Several hundred cats who were not viable adoption candidates found new lives through FCF and this program, and the SPCA is indebted and eternally grateful to the team at FCF for dedicating so many of their resources to these special cats with high work ethics.

Organization representatives who believe Blue Collar Working Cats might be a welcome addition to their establishments are encouraged to call FCF at 1-888-902-9717 or visit the FCF website to learn more about adopting a working cat team.

Feral Cat FOCUS Inc. is an all-volunteer organization with 501(c)(3) status.

A: You…your friends…your family…you can be a dog’s entourage! It’s a program dedicated to getting dogs out of the SPCA for a few hours, or for the whole day!

A: YES! Sometimes potential adopters would like to learn what a dog is like away from the shelter before making the choice to adopt. Sometimes people who cannot adopt would just like to spend time with an SPCA dog, taking one out of the shelter for a few hours of fun! If a dog qualifies as a Doggie Entourage VIP, you can take him or her out on the town for a little while! Even if you’re not thinking of adopting, you might meet someone along the way who falls in love with the dog you’ve taken out for the day! And let’s face it…people always fall in love with the VIPs!

A: It’s easy! Almost all the dogs on the adoptions floor qualify as Doggie Entourage VIPs! You can stop in at the SPCA’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca location, or you can visit and click on the listing of a dog you find irresistible to learn more about the dog!  You can bring the dogs to parks, patios, places that allow dogs…even to your own home! (If a dog does not qualify as a Doggie Entourage VIP,  you’ll see the exception listed in the dog’s description at

A: Oh, yes! Every so often, SPCA dogs are out and about with their entourage of staff members and volunteers! You’ll see them at places like farmers’ markets, stores, ice cream stands, popular outdoor hang-outs — all kinds of safe places where fun people and potential, new adopters gather!

A: We’ll be bringing our VIPs on the road soon! If you’re interested in an entourage visiting your event or establishment, please contact SPCA Director of Adoptions and Behavior Mindy Ussrey at !

A: Have we told you how much we love your enthusiasm? Please contact SPCA Director of Adoptions and Behavior Mindy Ussrey at to ask about becoming a Doggie Entourage volunteer! You can even ask her more about volunteering for our Animal Behavior or Adoptions programs!

A: Just contact our awesome Director of Adoptions and Behavior Mindy Ussrey at ! Make sure you put “Doggie Entourage Inquiry” in the Subject Line!

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