Digging His Free Ride from Florida to Buffalo,
STEFON DIGGUANA Touches Down at the SPCA Serving Erie County

October 28, 2022
By:  SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

UPDATE, November 4 — Stefon Digguana officially has a Buffalo home! He’s the newest member of the family at Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics! New dad and Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics Owner Jeff Musial says on Facebook that Stefon has found his “forever home!” Those are our favorite words! Thanks, Jeff, and Stefon, we’ll miss you but we know you’ll love watching many years’ worth of Buffalo Bills games with the Nickel City crew! Full story below!

Getting on the field at Highmark Stadium can be tricky, but one iguana found a way to score.

This week, an unmarked NBC Sunday Night Football “follow truck” carrying broadcast equipment made its way from Florida to Buffalo in preparation for the Buffalo Bills’ game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday evening.

According to Diana Solomon, production coordinator at NBC Sports, “Our driver, Christian, was unloading the truck this afternoon, bringing boxes and other items to the [Highmark Stadium] field. As he lifted wires and cables out of one of the boxes, there underneath everything, at the bottom of the box, was this iguana!”

Solomon said the iguana was very still, and they weren’t sure if he was alive.

“We placed the iguana in a clear, plastic container, put hand warmers on him, and wrapped him up in towels,” Solomon added. “It wasn’t long before he ’woke up’ and started to move.”

At that point, unsure what to do with the lizard, Solomon contacted the Wildlife Department at the SPCA Serving Erie County.

“The iguana appears to be quite young, and he’s obviously wild, invasive to the Florida region,” says SPCA Wildlife Director Barbara Haney. “That limits our ability to send him back. He appears to be malnourished and dehydrated, so we’ll set him up here in a cage and hopefully he’ll relax, eat, and drink. Then he’ll see a local exotics veterinarian on Tuesday.”

Why are green iguanas illegal in Florida? >>

If cleared medically, wildlife representatives at the SPCA are hoping to place him with a reptile rescue/organization. If one cannot be located, the SPCA will attempt to find an experienced iguana owner who would be comfortable working with a young iguana not yet used to being handled. “Placement with a proper rescue or reptile center would be ideal, but if we cannot locate one that will accept him, it will be important to find an experienced someone,” Haney said. “Due to the special circumstances surrounding this reptile, the fact that he was wild-bred, and his acquisition, the best chance of a successful outcome will be with a patient handler who knows how to work with this iguana and provide the best life possible for him.”

The iguana’s new name? Courtesy of SPCA Animal Care Manager Leigh Ann Abbey, the iguana is now called STEFON DIGGUANA, after Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs!

Experienced iguana owners who may be interested in giving Stefon Digguana a new home can email the SPCA at…what else…Digguana@yourspca.org!

UPDATE, October 29 — Watching the game tomorrow night? Look for an appearance by the newest and most attractive social media darling, the one and only Stefon Digguana! NBC Sports representatives were at the SPCA Serving Erie County, NY this afternoon filming Stefon for his close-up! As you see, Stefon posed nicely for the camera!

See this story on NBC’s WGRZ-TV >>

See this story on Newsradio 930 WBEN >>

Trisha Yearwood Features the SPCA Serving Erie County’s WADE as New #EveryDog ‘Spokesdog’ of the Week!

July 22, 2022
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

From Animal Cruelty Victim to Adoptee to Trisha Yearwood’s #EVERYDOG, Wade has Stepped His Way to the Top!

UPDATE, Nov. 1, 2022: Wade was ADOPTED! After 202 days with us at the SPCA, this loving boy, who somehow lived through the most barbaric cruelty imaginable…who we never thought would survive…found his place in the world, and in two special hearts!

We were honored to meet the warm, caring, compassionate Frank and Brenda of Amherst last week, and when they met Wade, it was an instant love connection.

Today, Wade survived again! He made it through all the tears and goodbyes and hugs and kisses, and he has officially started his brand-new life, a life Frank and Brenda plan on filling with…well…more hugs and kisses!

Be a good boy, Wade, and to Frank and Brenda, our warmest gratitude for making this boy the newest member of your family!

July 23, 2022: Watch Trisha Talk About Wade & the SPCA >>>

Avid country music fans already know Garth Brooks will be performing in Buffalo tomorrow night!

As part of a new program in conjunction with Brooks’ stadium tour this summer, his wife, 3x Grammy (along with a host of CMAs and ACM Awards!) winner TRISHA YEARWOOD wants to help every dog find a loving home!

Through her new #EveryDog effort, Trisha uses her Trisha Yearwood Pet Collection platforms to showcase an adoptable dog at an organization located in each tour city. The #EveryDog Campaign (details here >>) uses a dog in that community as a “spokesdog” for getting EVERY dog in that community (and beyond!) adopted!

According to the website, #EveryDog is described this way:

After doing some research, Trisha and her marketing team picked the SPCA Serving Erie County as the representative organization, and current adoptee WADE will be the official #EveryDog this week! It’s an all-new effort that kicked off mid-April, so we are thrilled to be part of the program’s beginnings!

And the exciting news doesn’t end there! Trisha will be talking about our SPCA and Wade on Facebook Live Saturday morning, July 23, during her “Coffee Talk” session!

Now, we can’t tell you too much about Wade’s journey YET. We want to leave that to Trisha. But we promise you…it’s heroic and touching and emotional and most of all, a story of hope and healing.

Be sure to tune in to Facebook at around 11:30/11:35 a.m. Saturday! Trisha should be live with Coffee Talk at approximately 11:40 a.m., and you can watch at https://www.facebook.com/TrishaYearwood.  [UPDATE: See Trisha talk about Wade and the SPCA Serving Erie County at bit.ly/TrishaYearwoodFeaturesWADE72322]

You’ll see Wade’s photo, hear more about his story, and you may even see some videos of our staff members (Lindsey Wood, Dr. Allison Keane, Mindy Ussrey, Phil Weiss, and Cait Daly) talking about Wade’s heroic journey! We know this touch of country will find him a loving home!

Learn a little more about handsome Wade right here >>>! Interested in adopting during our Summer of Love? Then come on in to our 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca shelter and meet him in person; Wade’s adoption fee is half-off! Remember, as Trisha says, what’s meant to be will always find a way! We guarantee, you’ll fall “…in love with the boy!” 

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

November 1, 2022
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

To thank the members of the armed services this Veterans 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 Saturday, Nov. 5 and runs through Saturday, Nov. 12* at the SPCA’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca location and all SPCA off-site adoption locations.

Photos of all adoptable animals 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, November 6, 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, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

SPCA Compassion in Action:

October 21, 2022 —
Earlier this week, Mocha was brought to the SPCA with a pyometra, an infected uterus, which required surgery to remove. Following surgery, our vet services staff cleaned up Mocha to help her recover. From having a pain patch applied to her tail to getting necessary vaccines and having blood drawn for lab work, our team ensured that Mocha was taken care of. Mocha is still recovering from her surgery but is in good spirits. Just this morning, she was standing up and wagging her tail in her kennel. As she recovers, let’s send some good thoughts her way! We’ll keep you updated on her condition. Thank you to our vet services staff for all the incredible work you do. #SPCACompassionInAction

–Jillian LeBlanc, SPCA CCO Assistant/ Social Media Coordinator

Click the image and headline to see the full story from Oct. 20, 2022!
Thank you to Cheektowaga Animal Control and Aaron Kandefer, for the concise explanation of what’s being done to help dogs in our region!


Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 21-year-old Joelier A. Santiago of Buffalo was arraigned yesterday morning before Buffalo City Court Judge Kevin J. Keane on two counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals (Class “E” felonies under Agriculture and Markets Law) and two counts of Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals; Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance (Class “A” misdemeanors under Agriculture and Markets Law).

It is alleged that on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, the defendant intentionally caused serious injuries to two puppies under his care inside of an apartment on Louisiana Street in the City of Buffalo.

One of the dogs, a 2-month-old male Maltese named “Milo,” was unresponsive when he was taken to the Greater Buffalo Veterinary Emergency Clinic before being transferred to the critical care unit at the Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center. A veterinarian determined that “Milo” suffered severe bruising caused by excessive force and non-accidental injury. “Milo” was surrendered to the SPCA Serving Erie County and remains in the custody of a foster caregiver.

The second dog, a 10-month-old female Maltese puppy named “Nala,” died from her injuries. A necropsy determined that the dog died from blunt force trauma caused by excessive force and non-accidental injury.

Santiago is scheduled to return on Wednesday, November 9, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. for a felony hearing. He was released on his own recognizance as the charges are non-qualifying offenses for bail.

Judge Keane issued a temporary order that prevents the defendant from owning or caring for any animals while his criminal case remains pending.

If convicted of the highest charge, Santiago faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

DA Flynn commends SPCA Officer Lindsey M. Wood, SPCA Officer Jasil Ivory, the SPCA Serving Erie County, Greater Buffalo Veterinary Emergency Clinic, Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center and Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center Anatomic Pathology Department for their work in this investigation.

“This defendant is accused of intentionally injuring two small puppies under his care. My office will continue to prosecute animal abusers to the fullest extent of the law. I want thank the SPCA for not only their work in this investigation, but also for the work they do every day to help animals in our community,” said District Attorney John Flynn.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Christine M. Garvey of the Animal Cruelty Unit.

As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

–Kait Munro, Public Information Officer, Erie County District Attorney’s Office


October 19, 2022
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Once again, the Subaru Loves Pets campaign will help animals in Erie County, NY!

As announced earlier this month, for every dog or cat adopted at the SPCA Serving Erie County this October, Northtown Subaru has been donating $100 to the SPCA as part of Subaru Loves Pets. The donation will be made for up to 31 animals, one for each day of the month!

Additionally, Northtown Subaru will hold an adoption event made possible through a generous grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®). Adoptable animals from the SPCA Serving Erie County will be present at Northtown Subaru, 3930 Sheridan Drive in Amherst, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Patrons are invited to visit with SPCA animals, learn about what the SPCA Serving Erie County has to offer, and learn more about Northtown Subaru.

Then November 17, 2022 – January 3, 2023, Subaru donates $250 for every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased to the purchaser’s choice of either four national charities or to the SPCA Serving Erie County, a registered Hometown Charity with Northtown Subaru (Northtown Subaru will donate a minimum of $50 per unit sold, plus $5 for every routine service visit, to be divided amongst each registered Hometown Charity).

“Partnering with the Northtown Subaru team is always an absolute pleasure and we are so grateful for its continued commitment in helping the animals in our community,” said SPCA Annual Giving Manager Phillip Weiss this month. “The assistance of the ASPCA® in the Subaru Loves Pets Grant Program, responsible for October’s adoption event, is also invaluable. The event and the donation campaigns will not only help more animals get adopted but they will also earn more funds to help the animals who are in need of medical attention, food, shelter, and comfort when they have nowhere else to turn. Northtown Subaru is a true friend of animals and the SPCA Serving Erie County!”

See animals available for adoption (some might be at the October 26 adoption event!) right here >>

SPCA Treats Pet Owners to Tricks for Keeping Pets Safe This Halloween

October 18, 2022
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca


Halloween is meant to be fun for children of all ages, but according to the SPCA Serving Erie County, pets often experience the dark side of Halloween fun.  With extra precautions, seasonal problems can often be avoided:

HUNGRY PETS:  CHOCOLATE CAN BE FATAL TO YOUR PET!  Please share this tip with children, who may be tempted to share their Halloween take with their best four-footed friends! The sweet smell of Halloween chocolate and other candy left by a door pleases pets, as do cookies and cakes served at Halloween parties. Sweets can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain or worse.  Purchase Halloween treats made specifically for pets and keep the “people” treats away from where pets can reach them.

 Halloween is traditionally known for trick-or-treaters…and pranksters.  KEEP ALL PETS INSIDE on Halloween night, and the nights immediately preceding and following October 31.  This will prevent them from being stolen, teased, kicked, blinded by flashlights or abused in other ways.

NERVOUS/TERRITORIAL PETS:  Constant door-knocking or doorbell-ringing may cause an extremely nervous pet to shake or tremble uncontrollably, or have an “accident” in the house.  Territorial pets may become aggressive at the sound of unfamiliar visitors.  Keep nervous or territorial pets distracted in another room with the door closed.

CURIOUS PETS:  Keep pets away from costume-making areas, where sequins or buttons can be swallowed.  Scissors used for cutting patterns, or knives used for carving jack o’lanterns, can harm your pet.  Also remember to keep pets away from a candle-illuminated jack o’lantern.  Halloween has become a popular season for decorations as well.  Keep decorations out of your pet’s reach, or securely attached in place to prevent your pet from pulling the decorations down.  Swallowing a decorative object may cause intestinal problems and present a potential emergency.

KEEP CURRENT ID ON PETS: Exuberant or nervous pets may bolt out doors opened for trick-or-treat candy handouts. Ensure they are wearing proper identification (even if they are microchipped) in case they become lost. Collars are available for purchase at the SPCA Petique, located at the 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca shelter, and other pet supply shops. If you lose or find a pet, visit the SPCA’s Lost & Found page for tips on what to do next.

Contact the SPCA Serving Erie County with any questions or concerns: 716-875-7360.

SPCA’s HOCUS POCUS October Adoption Special >>

SPCA Compassion In Action:

October 7, 2022 —

This sweet kitty was brought to the SPCA on September 23, 2022 as an injured stray who needed immediate veterinary care. During the course of his exam, SPCA staff members scanned him for a microchip, and a microchip number displayed on the screen!

When the pet owner attached to the chip was contacted, we learned from the very excited person on the other end of the line that the kitty being cared for was named Orion, and yes, he went missing from their North Tonawanda home…EIGHT YEARS AGO!

Orion was picked up by his owners yesterday, and brought to his all-new West Seneca home! And you can tell just by this photo…they both were so excited that they’re reunited! Hey, hey!!

–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Chief Communications Officer

Get Email Updates