Valentine’s Day and Pets

February 11, 2021
By: SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth

While we at the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County believe the best Valentine’s gift you can give your pet is the gift of a longer and healthier life without the burden of litters and pesky hormonal cycles, free of fleas and other parasites, it’s the season of love! Let’s talk a little about things to look out for this month.

Forbidden Chocolate
Seasoned pet lovers know that all types of chocolate are potentially life-threatening when ingested by pets. Methylxanthines are caffeine-like stimulants that affect gastrointestinal, neurologic and cardiac function—they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and an abnormally elevated heart rate. The high-fat content in lighter chocolates can potentially lead to a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. Go ahead and indulge, but don’t leave chocolate out for chowhounds to find.

Careful with Cocktails
Spilled wine, a half a glass of champagne, or some leftover liquor are nothing to cry over until a curious pet laps them up. Because animals are smaller than humans, a little bit of alcohol can do a lot of harm, causing vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, metabolic disturbances and even coma. Potentially fatal respiratory failure can also occur if a large amount is ingested.

Life Is Sweet
Don’t let pets near treats sweetened with xylitol. If ingested, gum, candy, and other treats that include this sweetener can result in hypoglycemia (a sudden drop in blood sugar). This can cause your pet to suffer depression, loss of coordination and seizures.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Don’t let pets near roses or other thorny-stemmed flowers. Biting, stepping on, or swallowing their sharp, woody spines can cause serious infection if a puncture occurs. De-thorn your roses far away from pets.

Playing with Fire
It’s nice to set your evening aglow with candlelight, but put out the fire when you leave the room. Pawing kittens and nosy pooches can burn themselves or cause a fire by knocking over unattended candles.

Wrap It Up
Gather up tape, ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, cellophane and balloons after presents have been opened—if swallowed, these long, stringy and “fun-to-chew” items can get lodged in your pet’s throat or digestive tract, causing her to choke or vomit.

Learn more about the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County here >>

Find the love you’ve been looking for at the SPCA Serving Erie County! See our adoptable animals >>


By Shauna Greene, Veterinary Services Coordinator and Lipsey Clinic Manager

In the veterinary world, February is Pet Dental Health Month.  While it’s important to maintain your pet’s smile throughout the year, we take this month to showcase the importance of oral health.

All too often, we fail to notice issues with our pets’ teeth until dental disease is in advanced stages.  Just like in humans, unattended dental disease can cause other problems in animals.  We all think about the obvious bad breath, but rampant bacteria in an affected animal’s mouth can cause infection in the blood, leading to cardiac issues.  Liver and kidney function can also be impaired by bacterial infections that begin in the mouth.  But there are ways you can help!  Regular oral care, like brushing teeth and surgical cleanings, can reduce the risk of dental disease and keep your furry friend’s smile bright.

Expect installments throughout the month featuring ways to contribute to your pet’s oral health, and photos and videos of what dental surgery looks like at a vet’s office.

The SPCA’s Lipsey Veterinary Clinic offers veterinary services for cats and dogs! To see all available services, please visit To make an appointment, please call 716-531-4700.


Lipsey Clinic COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures
November 13, 2020

New York State has recognized veterinary practices such as the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County as essential and are allowing them to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. To protect staff from the spread of this virus, veterinary clinics such as the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County have made considerations to protect both human and animal health.

The Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County veterinarians are applying careful professional judgment to case management so that needed care for animals continues to be provided while limiting staff and client person-to-person exposure. This may also include prioritizing urgent patient visits and postponing non-urgent veterinary visits and elective procedures until regular business operations resume in Western New York. In some jurisdictions, executive orders will directly influence what types of procedures may be performed.

The greatest risk of COVID-19 exposure to staff at veterinary clinics comes from person-to-person transmission through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking, which is the main way SARS-CoV-2 spreads. Clinic staff are continuing to self-screen daily, at the beginning of shifts prior to interacting with staff and clients and will practice social distancing. The Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County is taking additional precautions to minimize staff contact with all pet owners.

Effective immediately, the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County will enforce the following procedures in addition to the standard directive for all individuals to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth completely and socially distance at least six feet apart when in an area with other people.

-When a client calls to make an appointment, the receptionist will inform the client that only one person will be allowed to approach the building to pass along the pet to a veterinary staff member within the entryway/double doors at the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County and anyone else along for the appointment will have to wait in the car. At this time, the receptionist will ask if the pet has had any exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.  The receptionist will gather applicable information for the pet’s appointment at this time. Any pet who has had exposure to an individual with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will be deferred to an appointment at a later time.

-Upon arriving for an appointment, the client must call from the car upon arrival.  At this time, an assistant may gather pertinent information from the client regarding the concerns for the veterinary visit.

-When the building is cleared from the previous appointment, the client will be invited by phone to approach the building with the pet to hand off the pet to a veterinary assistant at the double doors of the Lipsey Clinic. Only one person should approach the doors with the pet.  Pet owners will not be allowed to enter the building.

-A veterinary assistant will weigh the pet in the lobby and bring the pet to the exam room for exam and treatment. Upon completion of the exam, the owner will be called again to discuss any treatments necessary. After treatments are performed, the owner will be called and given the total for the visit, and will complete the check-out process over the phone prior to collecting the pet if the owner is paying by credit card (this is preferred).  If the owner is paying with cash, the owner may approach the building if another pet owner is not present, pay for services and receive change, and at that time, retrieve the pet and accompanying paperwork.

It is essential for the health and safety of staff and clients that these safety directives be followed.

For  more information, please visit the Lipsey Clinic page >>

— Melanie Rushforth, SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services

SPCA Slates Canine Parvo Vaccine Clinic for November 18

October 28, 2020
By: SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth

Canine parvovirus (commonly called parvo) is a highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness in puppies and dogs. It can be transmitted by any person, animal, or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces.

Puppies, adolescent dogs, and adult dogs who are not vaccinated are at risk of contracting the virus.

On Wednesday, November 18th, the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County will host a free community Parvo vaccine clinic in an effort to keep pet dogs in the larger community healthy and vaccinated against this deadly virus.

We will serve dogs 4 months and older at this clinic. This clinic will abide by all capacity restrictions and social distancing directives to keep the humans who love and care for these pets safe and limit the risks of contracting COVID-19.

Appointments are required in order to be seen at this event. The SPCA will not be able to accommodate walk-up clients at this time.

To request an appointment, please email . You will receive an automatic reply detailing the process to confirm your appointment. Please note, an appointment request is not a guaranteed appointment.

Due to social distancing and capacity limitations, we will be unable to serve walk-in clients on this day. If you do not get an appointment, you are welcome to schedule a wellness visit at the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County.

Masks, worn properly, are required on the SPCA Serving Erie County property. If you do not wear your mask completely covering your nose and mouth for the duration of your time at the SPCA Serving Erie County, you will be asked to leave.

We are honored to serve the pets and the humans of Erie County with dignity and with safety precautions in place.

October 21, 2020


I hope everyone is doing the best they can to get through these trying times.  We have all been through a lot of change, and it’s not over yet. The Lipsey Clinic is also growing and changing, and with new management we are trying new things. We hope you are as excited as we are to grow and embrace these changes.

Starting in November, we will begin a solid schedule of appointments and surgeries.  We will be open for exam appointments Monday, Tuesday and Friday of each week.  Thursday will be reserved for surgery, and Wednesday for technician-led appointments only (you can call us for more details about which you may require).  Depending on need, surgery may expand to another day each week. Please note that everything will still be on an appointment basis, including medication pickups.

Speaking of expanding, what we can offer has grown as well as our availability. We still cannot provide the intensive care needed for a critical illness or injury, but we can provide the diagnostics and treatment necessary for many milder and chronic ailments like arthritis, thyroid conditions, skin and ear infections, etc.  We will also begin offering the Purina line of prescription diets in-house and a small selection of retail and over the counter items.

Another big change is our exam fee schedule.  While we have slightly increased the cost of your pet’s full and comprehensive annual exam, we’ve lowered the cost for seeing the doctor in between those annual appointments. And you can still get a la carte services like nail trims done without an exam so long as you’ve seen us within a year.

I welcome any feedback you have about the changes we’ve made, and I’d love to hear about your experiences with us, and if there’s anything we can do better or offer that isn’t already available. Feel free to email me directly or call the clinic and ask for my extension. Also, we love to see your pet being happy and healthy at home; please send us photos and updates!

Please continue to be safe, wash your hands, and stay kind to one another.

In good health,

Shauna Greene
Practice Manager, Lipsey Clinic

September 16, 2020


We’ve missed you and your fur children! The entire world has been through a LOT in the last 6 months, and the Lipsey Clinic is no exception.

We are delighted to announce our return to serving the community’s pet wellness needs with a limited opening! We have a new doctor and some fresh new faces behind the counter to greet you! You’ve become accustomed to practicing safe social-distancing out in the world, and the same will be expected here. We will have the following protocols in place:

-The clinic will not be open for walk-in medication pickups. Anyone arriving for an appointment or pickup must stay in his/her vehicle and call the clinic upon arrival. We will check you in over the phone and provide further instruction.

-Anyone entering the clinic must be wearing a mask. Only one human allowed inside per appointment. If you cannot meet these requirements, please call the clinic to see if other accommodations can be made.

-Appointments will be made on a very limited basis. Please understand that at the moment we can only book appointments for routine wellness exams and vaccination updates. This means you will likely need to leave a message on our answering machine and we will take your calls in the order they were received. It is not necessary to leave more than one message. You may end up waiting some time for confirmation of your call, so we ask that you have patience with us.

We will slowly phase our opening to include more treatment options and more appointment availability, so be on the lookout for future communications from the clinic.

AT THIS TIME, WE ARE OPEN TO PROVIDE VACCINATIONS, WELLNESS EXAMS, AND ROUTINE CHECK-UPS ONLY! Please understand that, at the moment, we are unable to see ill or injured patients. If your pet is ill or injured, you will need to contact a full-service veterinary clinic or proceed to an animal emergency hospital.

Please reach out to the clinic to schedule vaccine updates, yearly wellness exams and routine appointments. You can call the clinic at (716)531-4700 or email . If you have feedback about your experience, or what you would like to see offered at the clinic in the future, please email Shauna Greene, Lipsey Clinic manager, at .

Thank you! We look forward to seeing you and your pets soon!

The Lipsey Clinic Staff


Click one of the images below for more information on the following employment opportunities at the SPCA Serving Erie County:



August 24, 2020
By: SPCA Shelter Veterinarian Dr. Allison Kean; Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth; Director of Behavior and Research Miranda K. Workman 

The SPCA Serving Erie County is now neutering male rats prior to adoption. Neutering male rats can have several benefits that result in improved welfare for the rats, their cagemates, and their humans.

Males can be neutered as early as eight to 12 weeks of age. A neuter is a less- risky procedure than a spay (ovariohysterectomy) for females, which is why the SPCA is limiting sterilization surgeries to males.

Benefits of neutering male rats include the following:

-The risk for testicular cancer is eliminated after neutering. Reproductive cancers are very common in rats; neutering can potentially increase their lifespan. The greatest increase in average lifespan for male rats is associated with early neuter (eight to 12 weeks old).

-Neutered rats can be housed with female rats (spayed or intact) without the risk of impregnating the females. This increases their potential adoption opportunities as they are not restricted to housing with males only. (Research indicates that most males are sterile by one week post-neuter, although introductions to females may be safest after two weeks post-neuter to ensure the males have completely healed from the procedure and are no longer experiencing post-operative pain.)

-Neutered rats are significantly less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior toward their cage mates, behavior that may result in injury and/or death. At sexual maturity, due to increased testosterone, it is common for male rats to display increased aggressive behavior.

-It is also easier to introduce new rats to neutered rats than intact males who are more likely to attack “intruders” to their housing space. Introducing new rats to adult, intact males resulted in death for 21% of the introduced rats in one study* (Flannelly & Thor, 1978).

-Neutered males urine mark much less often than intact males. This can help keep their housing units cleaner than if they are urine marking more frequently.

-Neutered males are also more prosocial with humans and are easier to handle due to the decreased influence of hormones on their behavior. The risk of aggressive behavior toward humans is decreased with neutering.

With all the benefits above, there is one small downside:

-Neutered males are at a slightly higher risk of obesity, which is why we encourage a good quality diet and regular exercise and enrichment.

Given the evidence provided by research combined with the experience of the SPCA’s Director of Behavior and Research Miranda K. Workman and Shelter Veterinarian Dr. Allison Kean, we can confidently say that neutering male rats increases the welfare of each individual rat, their cage mates, and their human companions. Thus, in line with the SPCA Serving Erie County’s mission, we are now neutering all male rats prior to adoption. The adoption fee for domestic rats is $15.00, and this fee includes the males’ neuter surgeries.

Web references for information above include:


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