#SPCACompassionInAction: Saving Animals’ Lives

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Tonawanda Man Saves Dog From Ellicott Creek; After Treatment at SPCA, Dog Reunited With Owner

January 6, 2023
BY: SPCA Social Media Coordinator Jillian LeBlanc

UPDATE, February 18, from Tammi in our Admissions Department:
We had a very special guest visit us this morning in Admissions and we are still crying very happy and thankful tears!  You may recall our precious boy Rufus, who was pulled from Ellicott Creek not too long ago by a wonderful and brave man named Jim.  Jim jumped into action the moment he saw Rufus struggling in the creek and pulled him to safety and brought him to us immediately for emergency medical care.  Rufus was reunited almost immediately with his family and we found out sweet Rufus was a gentle senior that they loved very much!

Rufus, Mr. Keane and Liam stopped in today with a ton of wonderful dog treats for our dogs and two BEAUTIFUL thank you cards, one from the Keane family and one from Pamela Giannantonio, the principal at St. Andrews Country Day School.  The children from Liam’s school collected all of these wonderful donations and we are so grateful!!!  Mr. Keane also informed us that Jim, Rufus’ hero, has stayed in contact with the family and just visited them recently…….sounds like a beautiful book and movie needs to be made regarding this incredible heart warming story!!! ”

–All the best stories have happy endings, and this story is no exception!

Rufus arrives, shivering, at the SPCA

Earlier today, Town of Tonawanda resident Jim Skoney was driving down Ellicott Creek Road in Tonawanda when he noticed three cars were parked along the creek, with people standing near the edge of the water. Jim stopped to see what was happening and noticed a small dog was struggling in the water, head bobbing up and down.

Jim says he did “what anyone would have done,” but it was much more than that. Jim laid down on the steep bank of the creek as one onlooker held onto his legs, ensuring Jim himself didn’t plunge into the water, and did everything he could to rescue the dog. As the current started pulling the dog out of reach, Jim said, “I called to him and he suddenly turned his head and tried swimming against the current. He made every attempt to stay above water, swimming in my direction, but he was repeatedly going underwater and rapidly losing energy.”

The SPCA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allison Kean

Just as it seemed the dog would go under without the energy to swim up, Jim was able to grasp him by the neck and pull him back to shore. Once back to safety, Jim wrapped the dog in his coat to keep him warm and cranked up the heat in his car. Jim knew he needed to get the dog to a veterinarian quickly. After a local veterinary clinic refused treatment because there was no owner to pay veterinary bills, Jim brought the dog to the SPCA Serving Erie County to ensure he survived.

And survive he did.

The SPCA’s Sally Budik covers Rufus as rescuer Jim gets a little kiss

When Jim arrived, the shivering, senior dog (who we now know is named Rufus!) was rushed straight to our infirmary, where our incredible veterinary team, led by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allison Kean, made sure he was healthy and warm. While the veterinary team worked on Rufus, Admissions staff contacted local animal control facilities. Admissions counselor Shannon shared word of the dog with Tonawanda representatives and was quickly called back with news of a possible owner who works for the town!

Joe, Rufus’ owner, shared with us that the fence in his backyard was knocked down during the Blizzard of 2022. Wood was put up to patch the hole and keep Rufus from escaping. Unknowingly, the wood fell. Rufus, who is 18 ½ years old, deaf, and blind, somehow slipped out of the opening and eventually found his way to the creek. The rest of the story is history.

Reunited, and it feels so good! Dr. Kean brings Rufus to his dad, Joe, before introducing Joe to rescuer Jim, right.

Jim doesn’t believe he is a hero, but we do. He saved Rufus from drowning and brought him to safety.

Now, Rufus is back home, safe in his bed because of Jim’s heroic effort and our veterinary team’s diligent work (along with our donors, who ensure these life-saving efforts keep happening for the animals who need us most). This display of compassion would in no way be possible if not for Jim’s bravery. Please join us in celebrating this local hero!

Rufus, held by dad Joe, can’t wait to get home! (SPCA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allison Kean, middle, and reluctant hero of the day, rescuer Jim, right)

YOU can help make life-saving work at the SPCA possible >>

The SPCA/Erie County Sheriffs’ PUPS AT THE PEN Program Returns to Erie County

MORO is the first dog to graduate after receiving eight weeks of intensive training by female inmates at the Erie County Correctional Facility

January 5, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Moro the dog prepares for his big Pups at the Pen graduation at the Erie County Correctional Facility Jan. 3, 2023

#SPCACompassionInAction — After almost three years on COVID hiatus, PUPS AT THE PEN, created by the SPCA Serving Erie County and the Erie County Sheriffs Office (ECSO), has returned to Erie County!

The program, originally started in July of 2016, established a partnership between the two organizations that, according to an ECSO press release, “…will bring new hope for inmates and sheltered dogs.” This program pairs selected female inmates with adoption candidates for several weeks.  During this time the inmates train the dogs, help with socialization skills, and provide care and attention throughout the program. The dogs live with the inmates in the housing area and the teams utilize parts of the facility for training, socializing, and recreation.

Eight weeks ago, Moro, a two-year-old dog surrendered to the SPCA in August, 2022 who staff felt would benefit from a higher level of training, began his in-depth behavior program at the correctional facility. There, he received not only behavior lessons but care, socialization, love, and attention from a loyal team of individuals committed to teaching this sweet dog new skills.

Moro passed his intensive training courses with flying colors and graduated with honors in a ceremony held at the Erie County Correctional Facility January 3. To ease Moro’s transition and keep his stress level low, Moro will be available for adoption not at the SPCA but at the home of a dedicated foster care volunteer. Those interested in meeting Moro for possible adoption can call the SPCA’s Behavior Department at
(716) 875-7360, ext. 268.

While his trainers taught Moro skills to prepare for his new life, they were learning lessons to prepare for their new lives. In fact, the trainers were so impacted by this program that at the graduation, SPCA representatives received this heartfelt letter signed by four of Moro’s teachers:

See coverage of yesterday’s emotional graduation ceremony on WKBW-TV Ch. 7
here >>

Since the program’s inception, more than 70 dogs trained by inmates have graduated and been adopted, one by Erie County Chief of Community Reintegration Tom Diina himself (see that story
here >>) ! In fact, in April of 2017, the first dog adoption that took place at the SPCA’s then-new 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca location was a dog named Jed, a Pups at the Pen grad, who was adopted by his correctional facility trainer Mercedes (see that story here >>) !

Keep watching YourSPCA.org for news on the next dogs heading to the Erie County Correctional Facility later this month.


SPCA Compassion In Action:
SPCA offers free vaccines for canines!

November 10, 2022

The no-cost parvo and distemper vaccines are made possible through Petco Love’s new national vaccination initiative, which is providing one million free pet vaccines for family pets in need to existing animal welfare partners, including the SPCA Serving Erie County!

Other services available at a minimal cost listed in flier below:

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 >>

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

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