June 3, 2023 — As we struggle to find the appropriate way…the appropriate words…to honor Debbie Braun, The Buffalo News columnist Sean Kirst showed us what living up to the challenge is all about. Read his emotional, heartfelt tribute to Debbie here >>>.
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.
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 that did not even know how hard Debbie was working behind the scenes.
Debbie’s obituary can be found at bit.ly/DebbieBraunSPCA .
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 MemoriesofDebbie@yourspca.org . With these emails, the SPCA will create a special memory book for Debbie’s family.
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