The SPCA’s New SHADOW CAT Initiative
February 10, 2022
By: Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth
UPDATE 4/21/22: The adoption fee for all Shadow Cats, regardless of age, has been waived! This includes the adoption of Shadow Cats from either the SPCA shelter or a foster home! Wondering if an adoptable kitty has been designated as a Shadow Cat? Check out adoptable animal photos here >> and click on individual listings of our cute cats to read their descriptions and find out if they are Shadow Cats!
The SPCA Serving Erie County is proud to roll out a new initiative that shines the spotlight on a unique population of animals in our care. Effective immediately, the SPCA’s Shadow Cat effort will work to meet shy or fearful cats where they are behaviorally to assist them in navigating the journey to becoming adoptable pets living out the rest of their lives in long-term homes.
Fear is common and a perfectly normal, innate, and adaptive behavior in all animals. However, if fear isn’t addressed appropriately, it can develop into serious behavioral and health problems and result in deterioration. Our goal with Shadow Cats is to be proactive in managing a cat’s fearfulness or shyness should a cat surrendered to the SPCA present those behaviors while in the shelter.
Transitions and big changes are hard for many cats, even ones who are not identified as fearful. In preparing to introduce a cat into the home regardless of their confidence level, it is very important to set the cat up for a successful experience by making some small, but important adjustments. The intent of Shadow Cats is to offer a home environment, in the form of a foster home setting, to allow the cat to gain confidence, relax, and build trust. These cats may wind up being the best friend that was missing in that particular home, and we always consider that a foster “win” rather than the traditional term “foster fail.” Even if the stay is temporary, the effects of a loving and welcoming home environment will be permanent.
Introduction to a new home can be very challenging for a fearful cat. Fearful cats usually do best in relatively quiet homes or quiet areas of the home. Many fearful cats slowly become more confident as they get used to their living space and daily routine. The Foster Department of the SPCA Serving Erie County will assist new and experienced foster parents with whatever they may need to help Shadow Cats acclimate to their homes. Time, patience, love, and food are some of the ingredients that will help a Shadow Cat step into the light a little bit at a time.
It is a special experience to build a relationship and bond with a fearful cat, and it is deeply rewarding. The journey may be long, but patience is a true gift to a nervous cat in need. Just like people, cats can have vastly different personalities. Some of these Shadow Cats may blossom into lap cats, while others may remain the quiet roommate that is grateful for love, attention (from a distance) and a safe place to call home. Whatever the end result, we are grateful to have the opportunity to showcase these special cats in an effort to save more lives.
We have one word to describe March 25, 2022’s adoption event at Northtown Subaru in Amherst: SUBARUNBELIEVABLE!
The team at Northtown Automotive Companies & Northtown Subaru went full speed ahead, and brought along the Buffalo Sabres, to hold an exciting adoption event for our SPCA!
Plenty of our animals found new love, and $28,680 was donated through Subaru’s recent “Share the Love” campaign! Sabres fans were able to have their photos taken with former players Rob Ray and Pat Kaleta along with sassy Sabretooth, and adopters received a pair of tickets to an upcoming game!
On behalf of the SPCA’s staff, volunteers, and animals, thousands of tail wags go out to our friends at Northtown!
See the photo album filled with pics of the fun at bit.ly/NorthtownAdoptionEvent, or just click one of the images below!
–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Serving Erie County Chief Communications Officer
Help a cat see the light! Become a member of the SPCA’s Foster Care team and bring home a “Shadow Cat!” And now, you can ADOPT a Shadow Cat for a waived adoption fee! Shadow Cats:
-Are quiet, polite roommates
-Are not attention-seekers
-Keep to themselves
-Are perfect for those with busy lifestyles
-Only require food, a litter box, and plenty of hiding spots!
–NEW! Are available for adoption from either a foster home or the SPCA’s West Seneca shelter for a waived adoption fee! Read about this exciting update here! >>
Shadow Cat foster parents will foster cats in the home a minimum of two weeks; length of stay depends on each cat’s individual needs. As with all foster companions, the SPCA provides food, supplies, veterinary care, and guidance.
You can read more about the SPCA’s Shadow Cat Program here. If you’d like to help a Shadow Cat see the light, please contact the SPCA’s Foster Care Department at (716) 875-7360, ext. 216, or FosterCare@yourspca.org.
Injured Bald Eagle Rescued by SPCA Serving Erie County After Buffalo Police Hear “Loud Crash” Outside Building Yesterday
May 25, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca
UPDATE 9/12/21: This afternoon, the injured bald eagle found by Buffalo Police & rescued by the SPCA Serving Erie County returned to the skies of Western New York! As detailed below, the eagle was operated on by staff at Cornell University’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital on May 27, and on June 30, the incredible team at Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center, Inc. in Holland, NY picked up the eagle for extensive rehabilitation led by Marianne Hites! Today, the Messinger Woods team (pictured here), joined by members of the SPCA and local media, released the bald eagle at Wendt Beach in Derby, NY! Check out video of the release below:
To learn more about Messinger Woods and the fine work the organization does in caring for the wildlife of our community, please visit their Facebook page here >>
Thank you to all who played a part in this gorgeous creature’s return to our skies. An entire community came together to save her life, from the Buffalo Police to members of the SPCA Serving Erie County, to the team at Cornell, and finally to the crew at Messinger Woods. Neither the SPCA Serving Erie County or Messinger Woods would be able to do the work the organizations do and save the lives of so many animals each year if it wasn’t for the donors who make our work possible. On behalf of Messinger Woods and the Wildlife team at the SPCA Serving Erie County, thank you to the donors who help us give these animals second chances.
UPDATE 5/28/21: On Wednesday, May 26, the bald eagle spotted by members of the Buffalo Police Department & rescued by the SPCA Serving Erie County after flying into a window in the City of Buffalo was transported to Ithaca, NY. The eagle was dropped off at Cornell University’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital for surgery on a severely fractured femur; the center wanted him immediately because, as our own Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Karen Slote and Wildlife Director Barbara Haney explained earlier this week, after that fracture the muscles contract and can make surgery much more difficult.
Today, we heard from staff there that the eagle is doing “great” after surgery! Now he’ll have time to rest and they will create a rehabilitation plan for him. Exciting news for the eagle, and for this community!
Also of note: in the photo here, you’ll notice a thin, thread-like spike (for lack of a better word!) at the tip of the eagle’s wings. Barbara Haney tells us that is indicative of the eagle’s status as a first-year eagle born sometime this calendar year, probably February or March. According to the National Eagle Center website, bald eagles fledge at approximately 10 – 14 weeks, which tells us he has not been out of the nest for long.
We may not receive another eagle update from the wildlife hospital for a few weeks, but when we do, we will definitely share that update with you.
Once again, we thank the members of this community for your care and compassion. Your constant support of all types is what makes our work possible.
UPDATE 5/26/21: The bald eagle spotted by Buffalo Police & rescued by the SPCA Serving Erie County after flying into a window in the City of Buffalo was dropped off moments ago at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital, an annex of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. He was photographed upon admission. We will provide updates on his progress as they are made available. Thank you to this caring, compassionate community, for all of the interest in and prayers for this magnificent bird. Your concern, your donations, and your constant support of all types are what make our work possible.
A juvenile bald eagle is in critical condition at the Wildlife Department of the SPCA Serving Erie County after flying into a high building window in the City of Buffalo yesterday.
The SPCA received the call yesterday afternoon from Tracy Masiello, crime analyst for Erie County, after Buffalo Police Detective Mark Costantino and Officer David O’Brien heard a loud crash outside of their offices at Court and Franklin Streets in Buffalo. They ran outside and there, across the street, a large bird was struggling on the sidewalk. The crash they heard was the bird flying into a window of a building across the street, approximately 30 feet high.
“He tried to raise himself four or five times, but he was struggling and we could see he couldn’t lift up,” Detective Costantino said today. Despite the fact that the bird didn’t have a full white-feathered head, Detective Costantino said he knew right away that the bird was a bald eagle. “He was enormous, and his talons were so large, I could tell we were looking at an eagle.”
After receiving the call from Masiello, SPCA Serving Erie County Animal Rescue Team Officers Jennifer Maleskis and Tyler Robertson arrived at the location, retrieved the young bird, and rushed him to the SPCA’s Wildlife Department hospital, where they were met by Wildlife Director Barbara Haney and, within the hour, SPCA Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Karen Slote.
“By the time the bird made it to us, he was obviously quite stressed,” says Haney. “In addition to not being able to stand, he had an injury on his beak and blood in his mouth. He was open-mouthed breathing, a clear sign of his high stress level.”
Dr. Slote was able to provide an initial examination and determined the bird, a first-year bald eagle, has a fractured femur. Further assessment and radiographs this afternoon confirmed a severe fracture.
“We are doing everything we can for this magnificent bird, considering its compromised state at the moment,” said Haney, when asked whether the bird will survive. “We’re careful not to provide any solid prognosis at this time because the bird is still in critical condition and the outcome is uncertain.”
At this time, Dr. Slote will consult with wildlife professionals at Cornell University’s Wildlife Health Center, and will send them her assessment of the eagle along with the radiograph images. If the bird survives and responds to the supportive care, fluids, and medications it is receiving at the SPCA, Haney says, “…then it’s our hope that, once he is strong and stable, Cornell will accept the bird for surgery. The surgical team at Cornell is much better-suited for this sort of surgery…they perform it much more frequently…and they have the equipment and the pins and the other necessities large enough and strong enough for this extremely large animal.”
Haney adds, “Our primary hope right now is that the bird does, in fact, survive. That’s what we’re focused on right now. We’re doing everything in our power to help his survival so that we can actually have that discussion with Cornell about surgery and rehabilitation.”
This eagle is not the first cared for by the SPCA Serving Erie County Wildlife Department. “Eagles have made quite a comeback in the last 30 years or so,” Haney said, “and we’re starting to see them in all parts of Western New York, the City of Buffalo included. It’s possible this bird became disoriented for what could be one of several reasons, possibly even due to his reflection in the window of the high building, or he may have been in a territorial scuffle with a peregrine falcon, as hypothesized by our contacts at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.”
The SPCA wishes to thank Buffalo Police Detective Costantino, Buffalo Police Officer O’Brien, and Erie County Crime Analyst Masiello for their cooperation, and for contacting our officers when they found the eagle and saw that it was in distress.
Keep watching YourSPCA.org/EagleRescue2021 for updates on the bald eagle.
Thank you to Detective Costantino, for providing us with the video and photographs from the scene of the rescue.
Take This Job and Love It:
Great Benefits Program with Perks for Blue Collar Working Cats
June 21, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca
They’re a little too temperamental to be considered perfect, in-home, companion cats. Some are even feral. What’s to be done about these categories of cats when agencies like the SPCA Serving Erie County receive them as surrendered animals, or as part of an animal hoarding situation or other type of animal rescue or cruelty case?
For more than a decade, East Aurora-based Feral Cat FOCUS Inc. (FCF) has provided an answer for this agency and other cat welfare organizations in the state. Historically called other names such as the Adopt-A-Barn-Cat program and the Adopt-A-Working-Cat program, the Blue Collar Working Cats program now encompasses more of the varied establishments that have taken advantage of the loyal presence of these hard-working cats!
One of the founders of FCF, Edie Offhaus, says, “These are cats of various temperaments. In some cases, they are not exactly feral, but they’re unsocial. This program is a beautiful adoption alternative for these types of cats who have nowhere else to go.”
According to Offhaus, Blue Collar Working Cats have been placed in various New York State establishments including wineries, warehouses, nurseries and greenhouses, barns and stables, and more. “We place cats in all parts of Western New York, and assist agencies all over New York State, even some in the New York City area,” Offhaus states. When an organization representative calls to inquire about receiving Blue Collar Working Cats to live on the property, Offhaus says, “We conduct a thorough interview to ensure proper placement, since not all of these cats will thrive in all of these settings. We also ensure there are enough people who will take full responsibility for the care and feeding of these cats throughout their lifetime.”
Once an establishment is deemed a proper setting for specific Blue Collar Working Cats, a representative of FCF brings a minimum of two cats (some larger establishments have four or more Blue Collar Working Cats), already spayed or neutered, treated for fleas, and vaccinated by veterinarians at Operation PETS: the Spay/Neuter Clinic of WNY, Inc. for “grounding” purposes. Cats are placed in extra-large dog crates at their “new home” (when a separate, closed-off room is not available) for a three-week period, which allows them time to adapt to the different people, sights, sounds, smells, and, possibly, other animals that collectively comprise the new setting. Most importantly, they begin to recognize the voices of those who will be providing the majority of care.
“Feral Cat FOCUS provides the crates and other equipment during the three-week grounding period,” Offhaus says. “After that, as with any adoption, all care is the responsibility of the new owners.” Offhaus also remarks that, in all the years of managing this program, FCF has had very few cats that didn’t respond to the new surroundings. “Now that the quality of life has increased for the animals and they’re more content, some of them become even more social and enjoy being present around people for longer periods of time.”
To date, more than 600 establishments house a minimum of two Blue Collar Working Cats. The purpose? “Rodent control, plain and simple,” Offhaus says. “Sometimes the mere presence of Blue Collar Working Cats is enough to keep rodents away from perceived food sources or food and beverage storage areas.”
FCF is unable to accept surrenders of cats from private owners who believe their cats may not be living a high quality of life indoors, yet feel guilty about keeping them outdoors or giving them up. “What we do,” explains Offhaus, “is walk those pet owners through how to set up a Blue Collar Working Cats program right at home. We remove the misplaced guilt they may feel over not keeping a cat indoors. Not every cat can life a high-quality life indoors. So we help these people establish a Blue Collar Working Cats program right where they are; we walk them through all the steps and assist as much as possible in their imitation of our program.”
The SPCA Serving Erie County is honored to be one of the organizations with which FCF works in its Blue Collar Working Cats program. Several hundred cats who were not viable adoption candidates found new lives through FCF and this program, and the SPCA is indebted and eternally grateful to the team at FCF for dedicating so many of their resources to these special cats with high work ethics.
Organization representatives who believe Blue Collar Working Cats might be a welcome addition to their establishments are encouraged to call FCF at 1-888-902-9717 or visit the FCF website to learn more about adopting a working cat team.
DOG ADOPTION & VISITATION APPOINTMENTS AT THE
SPCA SERVING ERIE COUNTY, NY
We know. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for us too. And we know the dogs aren’t crazy about it either.
But dog adoption and visitation appointments, while time-consuming and inconvenient, are the best way to keep members of our community, our volunteers, and our staff members healthy and safe during our ongoing COVID Response period. Plus, same-day appointments are often available!
Find the answers to some of the questions you may have regarding dog visitation and adoptions below.
“Why do I need to make an appointment to adopt a dog?”
We at the SPCA Serving Erie County love all our animals equally, of course…we can’t play favorites! However, our dogs seem to attract a higher number of visitors. To comply with the SPCA’s COVID-era occupancy guidelines, we minimize traffic in our kennel/dog areas through appointment adoptions and viewing. This is to help preserve the health and safety of our visitors, as well as the health and safety of our volunteers and staff members.
Same-day appointments are often available, but during periods of high-volume calls, your appointment may be scheduled for later in the week.
“Do I need appointments to adopt other animals?”
Appointments are required for cat adoptions on Saturdays only.
The reason? Saturdays are our biggest adoption day and often attract hundreds of potential adopters, and with our current occupancy guidelines, we just can’t allow this (as much as we’d like to). No appointments are needed for other animals at this time.
“How do I make an appointment to adopt a dog?”
Make your appointment by calling 716-875-7360, ext. 207. PLEASE LEAVE ONLY ONE MESSAGE! Your call will be returned in the order it was received.
“I left a message earlier today. Why hasn’t anyone called me back yet? Should I leave another message?”
The SPCA averages approximately 100 dog appointment request phone messages each day. That’s no exaggeration. EACH DAY. Your call will be returned in the order it was received. Same-day appointments are sometimes available. However, because our community is filled with so many dog-lovers who want to visit, it may not be returned the same day. Depending on the number of messages left before yours, your call may not be returned by our Adoptions crew for one or two business days. Please do not leave additional messages!
“When can I expect my appointment to be scheduled? Will it be the same day?”
Because we receive about 100 requests for an appointment per day, but can only allow approximately 10 dog viewing/adoption appointments per day to adhere to our COVID-era occupancy guidelines, it’s possible your appointment will not be scheduled to take place for at least one week in the future, usually longer. That means the dogs pictured at https://YourSPCA.org/Adoptable-Animals the day your call is returned will (hopefully) already be in new, loving homes by the time you are scheduled to come in. We understand how frustrating this can be, especially when you fall in love with a dog just through a photo on our website. We’re betting, though, that an all-new population of dogs will be available during your visit, and (hopefully) that you will find the love of your life that day!
“What if that DOESN’T happen? What if I DON’T find a new dog the day I visit? How do I make another appointment?”
Because you already had to wait what may have been a long time to visit the SPCA, we won’t make you call again! Before you leave the building, please stop at the Adoptions Desk. Your next appointment will be scheduled then and there, and you’ll be given your date and time to return.
“What should I do when I arrive for my scheduled appointment?”
Please note all visitors are required to wear masks upon entering the SPCA, and are asked to adhere to social distancing. When you arrive, simply check in at our Adoptions Desk! This way we’ll know you’re here and will be able to assist you and answer any questions you may have! For COVID tracing purposes, we may require the names of everyone in your party.
“What if I can’t make my scheduled appointment?”
Out of consideration for others just like you who want to bring a new family member into the home, we ask that you take a moment to call (you will be given a special cancellation number at the time your appointment is scheduled) and leave a message cancelling your appointment. This will allow us to schedule another potential adopter in your place, and hopefully another animal will be taken to a new home as early as possible. We appreciate the time you take to cancel, allowing another family to fill your spot.
“This appointment process is so complicated, and I’m missing out on a lot of dogs I think I would have liked to adopt. Isn’t there an easier way?”
Believe us, we understand. We’re in the business of finding loving, new homes for animals, and have dedicated our lives to doing just that. We, too, find this process frustrating, and would like nothing more than to clear the shelter in a day’s time. However, while this system is quite a bit more complicated, we’re willing to do whatever it takes to safely remain open and find new homes for these beautiful animals; right now, this is the safest way we can do just that while obeying our COVID occupancy guidelines. Like you, we can’t wait until this is all over. That’s why your patience and understanding are incredibly appreciated by our staff and volunteers.
“What if I want to adopt an animal other than a dog? Do I need an appointment?”
Yes AND No!
CATS: Appointments ARE required to adopt cats on Saturdays. Please call (716) 875-7360, ext. 207 to make your appointment. For cat adoptions Monday through Friday, just stop in and visit us 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. (Our Adoptions Department closes at 5 p.m., however, you’ll want time to look around and hopefully begin the adoption process, so you’ll want to arrive no later than 4 p.m.)
FARM ANIMALS: Appointments are not needed, but you may call (716) 875-7360, ext. 212 or 215 for more information on any farm animals we have available.
OTHER SMALL ANIMALS: No appointments are necessary at this time.
Please note all visitors are required to wear masks upon entering the SPCA, and are asked to adhere to social distancing. We may need the names of everyone in your party for COVID tracing purposes. Due to our occupancy guidelines, depending on the number of people already visiting the animals you came to visit, you may have to wait in an overflow area or in your car until people exit the building.
“Where can I find more information?”
Find more on our COVID Response Phase adoption guidelines here >>
Find answers to other adoption questions here >>
Find photos and listings of adoptable animals here >>
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AS WE WORK TOGETHER TO FIND NEW HOMES FOR AS MANY ANIMALS AS POSSIBLE IN A SAFE, HEALTHY MANNER!
–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Serving Erie County Chief Communications Officer