Hot Dogs and Cats and What to Watch for During the Summer!

By Melanie Rushforth, Vice President of Veterinary Services

With the higher temperatures in the summer months, our dog walks might be a little shorter. When it is hot outside, it can be a struggle to get proper exercise, and when humans are too hot to exercise we can often overlook how necessary it is for your dog. There are several ways that your dog can still get some great exercise without overheating in the warm summer months.

Have a backyard? Put a kiddie pool out for him to romp around in, or a sprinkler for him to chase the water through. Near a lake, beach, or dog park with a pond? Let him go for a swim. This will help cool him off while ensuring he is still getting the exercise he needs to stay healthy. Remember to bring clean, fresh water and do not let him drink from the source.

With exercise comes panting. Panting is a perfectly normal way for your dog to cool down. However, sometimes panting is a sign that something else is going on. Any concerning behavior or condition should be a topic of discussion with your veterinarian, and this article will outline some of the top reasons your pet might be panting. You’ll notice this article is centered around dogs, and that is no accident. If you live with a cat, and notice that the cat has begun panting, contact your veterinarian right away. A cat’s normal breathing rhythm should be smooth and unlabored. Panting is usually a sign that something isn’t right with your cat. Cats only breathe hard with their mouths open when they are very stressed, extremely hot, or a disease process is occurring.

Overheating, or heatstroke, will cause heavy panting in dogs, which can quickly lead to dehydration and death if untreated. Treating heatstroke requires emergency veterinary care. Dogs who are overheated pant very heavily and will likely appear uncomfortable in some way. They could be restless, laid out flat, and/or not responding to you because they are so focused on cooling themselves.

If you see your dog panting, take note of their body language. Are their eyes wide and weary? Are they looking away and yawning? These are some common body language cues that indicate your panting dog is stressed. Panting should correlate with the outside temperature or activity. Healthy dogs usually don’t need to pant in the absence of exercise or excitement.

If you are ever concerned that the panting you hear is excessive, contact your veterinarian immediately. It’s never safe to take a guess when it comes to your dog’s health, and your veterinarian can help you determine if something is wrong or not. Your veterinarian can also help you create a plan on addressing heavy breathing if your dog has a medical condition. You want to enjoy your time with your dog and keep him healthy, so pay attention to those breathy pants, and your pooch will thank you. If you are a new pet owner and looking to establish a home veterinarian, keep the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County in mind. Please visit the Lipsey Clinic’s website to see what services we offer for cats and dogs. Like you, we want your furry friends to live a long and healthy life. Regular veterinary care and appropriate diagnostic tests will set everyone up for success.

Please click on the image below for more information on the SPCA’s Guest Services Coordinator job opening:

For more information from the Erie County Department of Health on this year’s rabies vaccine air and ground distribution, please click on the image below:

You can also find more information on the ECDOH website >>

Scentimental SPCA Tale Blooms at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses 

July 29, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

People find love at the SPCA Serving Erie County every day.

They’ve called us eHarmony.

But This was a first.

To be fair, this magic moment did not actually happen at the SPCA’s West Seneca shelter. It actually started nearly eight years ago at our former shelter in Tonawanda…November 30, 2013, to be exact…and continued this summer at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses in Williamsville.

That’s where Mark Yadon, vice president of Mischler’s, brings his dog, Foster, to work each day. As Yadon tells us, Foster happily greets customers as they begin their shopping…just for a few moments, Yadon said…then makes his way back to “dad.”

One day this summer, Foster left Yadon’s side to greet a male customer and didn’t immediately return. Yadon, wondering why Foster was uncharacteristically gone so long, headed to where the customer was shopping, and there with the shopper was Foster. Yadon says Foster simply would not leave the man’s side and kept sniffing his ankle and leg. When Yadon commented on this unusual behavior exhibited by Foster, the shopper replied that Foster may smell his own dog on him and that could be why Foster remained next to him.

Yadon and the customer started talking dogs, and the customer mentioned that he and his wife, Cheryl, had adopted their dog, an Australian Shepherd mix like Foster, from the SPCA Serving Erie County about seven years or so ago. He explained that their dog, Luke, was just  a puppy at the time, transported to the SPCA from Kentucky days earlier.

Yadon marveled at this adoption story because, like Luke, FOSTER was adopted from the SPCA Serving Erie County about seven years or so ago, and…yes…FOSTER was a puppy just transported to the SPCA from Kentucky.

Foster’s original name, Yadon shared, was “Randy.” Luke’s original name, the customer said, was “Travis.”

Randy. Travis. Littermates, it turns out, from the City Animal Shelter in Menifee, KY, transported from that overcrowded shelter to the SPCA Serving Erie County on November 26, 2013. Randy was adopted November 30, 2013 at 12:38 p.m., and Travis, the same day at 1:01 p.m.

The customer, Patrick Baird of Tonawanda, returned to Mischler’s the following week with Luke (Luke Skywalker is his full name) and the former Randy/Travis, now Foster/Luke, enjoyed a happy family reunion, all thanks to one expert sniffer who overstayed his welcome with a customer!

We know we speak for these two canines when we say being reunited must have felt so good. In the words of Randy Travis, they were too gone for too long.

You can meet the famous Foster at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Road in Williamsville!

See the story on WGRZ-TV here >>

A special thank you to Mark and Foster Yadon and Patrick, Cheryl, and Luke Baird for allowing us to share this heartwarming tale!


The SPCA’s Shauna Green to Participate in Apprenticeship by Maddie’s Fund

By Melanie Rushforth, Vice President of Veterinary Services

The SPCA Serving Erie County is proud to announce that Veterinary Services Coordinator, Shauna Greene, has been accepted into a highly competitive apprenticeship presented by Maddie’s Fund.  Through Maddie’s University, animal welfare professionals can come together to inspire, engage, and save more lives.

Shauna, who serves as the Veterinary Services Coordinator, will be participating in the Shelter Clinic Management apprenticeship. The Lipsey Clinic provides wellness and incremental care for privately owned animals in the Western New York region. Affordability and access to care have been a primary focus for the Lipsey Clinic, and the skills gained from this apprenticeship will only make our service offerings stronger for the benefit of our clients.

The Veterinary Department within the SPCA believes that innovation is possible when we put our heads together with the goal of saving more lives and improving the industry. We are so proud of the work we do as a team and we can’t wait to see what innovative techniques can be implemented in Western New York to help families and pets live healthy lives together.

Maddie’s Fund is a family foundation established in 1994 by Dave and Cheryl Duffield and is the fulfillment of their promise to their inspirational dog, Maddie. She provided them much joy from 1987 – 1997 and continues to inspire them today.

The Foundation has awarded over $255 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, pioneering shelter medicine education and establishing foster care as a standard across the U.S.

Maddie’s Fund proudly offers the industry a national voice, important funding opportunities for bold ideas, learning resources and access to collaborate and share innovative solutions. The Foundation invests its resources in a commitment to keeping pets and people together, creating a safety net of care for animals in need and operating within a culture of inclusiveness and humility.

#ThanksToMaddie, the SPCA continues to make learning a priority. In a world that changes as quickly as ours, it is our responsibility as professionals to be as informed as possible to keep our collective communities healthy, safe, and armed with the resources needed to navigate the challenges faced by families daily. We are proud to be recognized as an integral piece in the overall mission to keep pets in their homes, and provide equitable access to care for families.

SPCA Serving Erie County President and CEO Gary Willoughby Set to Depart the Organization in the Fall; Will Lead Gulf Coast Humane Society in Florida

July 13, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

It is with regret and understanding that the SPCA Serving Erie County Board of Directors announces the departure of President and CEO Gary Willoughby.

Willoughby, who started his tenure at the SPCA in March of 2016, will be leaving New York State to be close to and care for aging relatives in Fort Myers, Florida, and will be leading the Gulf Coast Humane Society there.

Board Chair Julie Desmond Schechter stated today that board members are incredibly grateful for all that Willoughby has accomplished for the organization throughout the last five years.

In his time with the SPCA, in addition to several other accomplishments, Willoughby, currently a board member of the New York State Animal Protection Federation, helped complete the planning, construction, and subsequent move to the organization’s new West Seneca home; maintain financial health of the agency; and complete and open the Stanford & Judith C. Lipsey Veterinary Clinic at the SPCA.

During Willoughby’s tenure, a partnership with Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine in Harrogate, Tennessee commenced, whereby veterinary students come to the SPCA for rotation between the SPCA’s infirmary and Lipsey Clinic. Engagement in new initiatives including the CATalyst Council (enabling the lifelong health and welfare of companion cats) and AlignCare®  (aligning resources and activities from a community-based perspective to benefit both humans and animals) were realized, helping to ensure that the SPCA Serving Erie County remained at the forefront of animal care.

“Not the least of his challenges and successes was guiding this agency through the unprecedented period of COVID,” says Schechter. “Gary implemented protocols to ensure that our staff, volunteers, and visitors were always safe, and at the same time allowed us to maintain our budget, care for our animals, and fulfill our mission.

“I’m personally thankful for the advice, guidance, partnership, and friendship he’s provided to me during my tenure as Chair of the SPCA Board of Directors,” Schechter added.

“In many ways, this move brings me back to my home,” Willoughby states. “My family moved to the Fort Myers area when I was eight years old, but other members of our family have lived there since the 1950s. We adopted two cats from the Gulf Coast Humane Society in 1979, in fact, and I’ve watched the organization grow and thrive as the community grew.”

Willoughby adds that the Gulf Coast Humane Society has a number of programs similar to that of the SPCA Serving Erie County, including a vibrant adoption program, a high-volume spay/neuter infirmary, a public veterinary clinic, and more. “They also have a few upcoming construction projects that will allow me the opportunity to dust off my hard hat and oversee facility improvements, which has been a big part of my career over the past 20 years,” said Willoughby.

The SPCA’s Board of Directors has formed a search committee tasked first with finding a potential interim President and CEO. Willoughby will remain with the SPCA Serving Erie County three more months and will assist in the transition of the position of President and CEO.


July 7, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

UPDATE, JULY 14: “The dogs love each other!” That’s the latest report we received from Mary, who sent us this photo of her daughter’s two dogs, Rocky (formerly Caspian!), left, and Asia!

UPDATE, JULY 9: Just when you think a story cannot become more meaningful than it already is, it does! When Mary Alloy and her son, Alex, visited the SPCA July 7 and learned one of our kennels is now permanently dedicated to Mary, they of course had to take a moment to meet the first dog whose presence graced this elite suite! That dog was German Shepherd Caspian, and clearly Caspian turned on the charm for Mary right away!

Alex quickly contacted his sister, Stacy, and possible adoption plans were  made. Today, Caspian, now named Rocky (although Angel was the first new name considered!), is the newest Alloy family member!  You never know when he may be making an appearance outside the 2319 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst location where he’s pictured below, with Alex and Stacy! Here’s to a wonderful, new beginning for all involved! Congratulations to the Alloy Family!


Mary Alloy is just one of those people who makes our community a better place. As owner of Amherst’s JUST PIZZA location, she has been a longtime donor and friend of the SPCA Serving Erie County, doing and giving so much to help give our animals second chances.

Today, July 7, is Mary’s birthday, and we couldn’t think of a better day to honor her in two ways!

This year’s Paws in the Park walk has been dedicated to Mary, and today’s surprise birthday gift was the permanent naming of a “Dog Suite” (kennel B-7, of course, for her 7/7 Birthday!) in Mary’s honor!

Check out the photo album from today’s tribute that includes pictures of Mary and her wonderful son, Alex, along with the photos in this story here >>

Mary, thank you for your unending generosity…your permanent smile no matter the circumstances, no matter how you’re feeling…and for showing love and kindness to every animal and person who come your way. You are a rare individual and our organization is blessed by your friendship and compassion.

Check out Mary’s Paws in the Park team, the Just Pizza Warriors, at !

By Melanie Rushforth, SPCA Serving Erie County Vice President, Veterinary Services

Today is World Zoonoses Day! So, what the heck does that even mean?

World Zoonoses Day has been observed on July 6th since 1885 to honor the success of French biologist Louis Pasteur, who administered the first vaccination against zoonotic disease on this day. A zoonosis, or zoonotic disease, is an infectious disease that has jumped from a non-human animal to humans. Zoonotic pathogens may be bacterial, viral or parasitic, or may involve unconventional agents and can spread to humans through direct contact or through food, water or the environment. They represent a major public health problem around the world due to our close relationship with animals in agriculture, as companions and in the natural environment. Zoonoses can also cause disruptions in the production and trade of animal products for food and other uses.

Zoonotic diseases range from minor short-term illness to a major life-changing illness. Certain ones can even cause death.

Zoonotic pathogens can spread to humans through any contact point with domestic, agricultural, or wild animals. People living adjacent to wilderness areas or in semi-urban areas with higher numbers of wild animals are at risk of disease from animals such as rats, foxes or raccoons. Urbanization and the destruction of natural habitats increase the risk of zoonotic diseases by increasing contact between humans and wild animals.

Simple hygiene practices will drastically reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of zoonotic spread of disease from pets to people. Some of the things you can do include:

– Make sure that any sign of illness or disease in your pet is diagnosed and treated promptly by your veterinarian.

– Bathe and groom your pet. This will increase the chance of early detection of any skin lesions.

– Give your pet a broad-spectrum deworming product on a regular basis. The simplest way to do this is to use a monthly heartworm product that includes a dewormer. Prevention is key!

– Wear gloves when gardening or working in areas where dogs, cats, or other animals may have urinated or defecated.

– Pick up any feces on your property and stoop and scoop when you take your dog for a walk. Dispose of all waste materials promptly and safely.

– Always ensure you wash your hands after handling any animal.

– Provide separate food and water dishes for your pet, and wash and store them separately from your family’s dishes.

– Wash pet bedding frequently.

– Use flea and tick control products on a routine basis.

People can come in contact with animals in many places. This includes at home and away from home, in places like fairs, schools, stores, and parks. Insects, like mosquitoes and fleas, and ticks bite people and animals day and night. Thankfully, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family from zoonotic diseases. A regular vaccination schedule and good hygiene practices will set you and your pets up for good health and a long life. If you are in search of a veterinary home, consider the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County. With monthly wellness plans including a preventative package, you will be in good hands for the long-term care of your four-legged friends. More information can be found on