FOURTH OF JULY, OUTDOOR FESTIVALS: No Picnic for Pets

June 30, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

The days immediately following July 4 can result in increased numbers of stray animals admitted to animal control facilities and humane societies, and often the explosive sound of fireworks is to blame. Fireworks cause many pets to panic, resulting in extreme and sometimes dangerous escape measures from homes or yards. Without identification, it is nearly impossible to reunite pet with owner.  Please keep the following tips in mind this holiday:

* ENSURE ALL ANIMALS ARE WEARING CURRENT IDENTIFICATION! Even if the animal has microchip identification, place a collar with an ID tag on your pet. If a neighbor finds your animal, an ID collar that includes your phone number can lead to a faster reunion.

* DON’T TAKE ANIMALS TO FIREWORKS DISPLAYS. The sounds and sights of fireworks often have the ability to turn the most calm, quiet, and non-aggressive pet into a stressed, frightened animal. A startled animal may not only break free and run away, but may also bite. If you bring your dog to these events and realize it’s becoming too overwhelming for him or her, DO NOT KEEP YOUR DOG IN YOUR CAR FOR ANY AMOUNT OF TIME! The effects of heatstroke on even slightly warm days begin within mere minutes. and the results could be fatal.  Stressed animals confined to cars can not only die or suffer severe brain damage, but can also experience an overwhelming stress level that can cause physical harm to the pet, and/or damage to the vehicle’s interior. Home is the safest place for pets this holiday.

* HAVE SOMEONE HOME WITH NERVOUS PETS DURING FIREWORKS. If the animal is with someone he or she knows, the pet’s stress level will be greatly reduced. Keep the volume on a television or radio turned up to block some of the noise. ThunderShirts®  reportedly work to calm the anxiety felt by some dogs and cats when they can hear fireworks, thunder, even when they experience separation anxiety, and can be found in many local pet supply shops and online. Other anti-anxiety items are carried here in the SPCA’s Petique: (716) 875-7360, ext. 237.

If a pet manages to escape, community members can visit the SPCA’s Lost & Found/Stray Animals page at YourSPCA.org, which includes effective ways to find a lost pet. A link to local animal control facilities can also be found on that page.


 Home is also the safest place for pets on extremely hot days, during arts festivals, food festivals, and other crowded outdoor events.  Very hot weather paired with immense crowds of people and loud, strange noises heighten the stress level for many animals.  Your pet’s body is closer to the asphalt and can heat up quickly. The hot pavement can also burn unprotected, sensitive paw pads

 

See the SPCA’s additional, important reminders for keeping pets safe in the summer heat here >>

If you witness animal cruelty or see any animal in need of rescue or emergency assistance this summer, the SPCA Serving Erie County may be able to help. Please call the SPCA Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., at (716) 875-7360, ext. 214.

 

SPCA Issues Hot Weather Reminders Designed to Keep Pets Safe

June 30, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Buffalo and the rest of the country have moved full-speed-ahead into hot weather, with temperatures this week again predicted to surpass 90 degrees. While many are happy with the warm weather forecast, it’s important to remember pets don’t fare as well as some of their owners on these hot days. Please keep the following hot weather pets tips in mind and share with pet owners you know:

IT IS AGAINST THE LAW IN NEW YORK STATE TO LEAVE ANIMALS IN A VEHICLE IN EXTREME TEMPERATURES, HOT OR COLD >>

HEATSTROKE CAN KILL, AND FAST. Most pet owners realize that keeping pets in hot cars can kill them…but not many realize just how quickly the effects of heatstroke can set in for a dog or cat. Heatstroke is a condition animals begin to suffer gradually, but it accelerates quickly; it’s easy for early signs of heatstroke to go unrecognized, and for the pet to be in an emergency situation within mere minutes. The image below is provided courtesy of VeterinaryClinic.com; please click on the image for a downloadable copy of this chart:

On warm days, a vehicle acts like an oven.  It holds the heat inside, and that heat becomes very intense even on days that don’t seem too warm. On an 85-degree day, even parked in the shade with the windows open, the temperature inside a car will climb to 104 degrees in 10 minutes, and to 119 degrees in 30 minutes.  With the humidity we experience here in Buffalo, it may go even higher.  Because a dog’s normal body temperature is 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, he can withstand a body temperature of 107-108 degrees for only a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage…or death.

The typical signs of heatstroke are:
– Panting – High body temperature
– Dehydration – Red mouth/eye membranes
– Rapid, irregular heart rate – Diarrhea
– Weakness, looking dazed – Coma

If your pet begins exhibiting any of these signs, contact a veterinarian immediately.

CAN I LEGALLY BREAK INTO A CAR TO SAVE A SUFFERING ANIMAL? As of May 2020, while a handful of states allowed good Samaritans to legally break car windows in an effort to save a suffering animal, unfortunately New York was NOT one of those states.

If you see an animal alone in a vehicle in extreme temperatures:

-Immediately record the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number, and record the time you first noticed the animal(s) alone in the vehicle.
-Next, immediately call 911 to report the incident. If the vehicle is located in Erie County, NY and the time is between 8 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., contact the SPCA Serving Erie County as well: (716) 875-7360, ext. 214.
-If you are at a location with a public announcement system (a retail establishment, office, public event, etc.), provide managers, directors, employees, or event coordinators with the details of the situation, and ask for a public announcement that the animal in the vehicle is in severe distress.
-If possible, stay at the scene until help arrives.


PORCHES AND YARDS: Short stays ONLY!

Use caution during warm weather months when allowing animals outside for short sessions in yards or on porches. Never leave them outside extended periods of time. Ensure appropriate shade and water are always available. Keep close supervision on your pet when outdoors on hot, humid, sunny summer days. If you see an animal left on a porch or in a yard with no access to shelter, or with inadequate shelter, the SPCA may be able to intervene in accordance with New York State’s Animal Shelter Law.

Contact the SPCA immediately if the location is within Erie County Monday – Sunday,
8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., at (716) 875-7360, ext. 214.

Read more about the Animal Shelter Law here.

And remember…pets can get sunburned too. Speak with your veterinarian about applying sunblock to your pet’s sun-sensitive areas, such as nose and ears, even when the animal is only outdoors for short sessions.


ADMINISTER FLEA PREVENTION PRODUCTS CORRECTLY! Early last June, the SPCA received two cats on death’s door after cheap, incorrect flea products purchased from deep discount stores were applied. The SPCA has already received several phone calls this season from people who misapplied flea products to their pets.   DO NOT APPLY PRODUCTS MEANT FOR DOGS ON CATS, AND DO NOT APPLY CAT FLEA PRODUCTS TO DOGS, AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS CONCERNING THE VOLUME AND MANNER OF APPLICATION!  Read the directions carefully PRIOR to application, not during application. The application of improper flea products, low-quality flea products, or products applied incorrectly, can cause internal damage or death to your pet. Always consult a veterinarian before purchasing and applying flea products.


USE CAUTION WHEN PURCHASING SUMMER PET TOYS.  Flea products are not the only items that shouldn’t be purchased at deep discount stores. Some pet toys are not durable enough to withstand a pet’s play. This tip and photo came to us in the summer of 2019 from Patrick in South Dayton, NY. Patrick purchased a disc dog toy from a deep discount store for his dogs Roscoe and Titan. On the first throw, Titan caught the toy, which shattered, said Patrick, “…like a mirror” (see photo). Be sure the toys you purchase for your pets are safe and sturdy.

 


KEEP PETS HOME DURING OUTDOOR FESTIVALS.  Art festivals, food festivals, summer fireworks displays, and other crowded outdoor events are no places for dogs.  Extremely hot weather, paired with immense crowds of people and strange noises and scents, heightens the stress level for many animals; the repetitive, exploding sound of fireworks is enough to make even the calmest animal frantic and sometimes aggressive. Your pet’s body is closer to the asphalt and can heat up much more quickly.

The hot pavement can also burn unprotected, sensitive paw pads when dogs are on pavement for any period of time. Check out this photo from a June, 2019 post on WGRZ-TV and click on the photo for the full story:


DON’T FORCE EXERCISE, primarily after a meal or in hot, humid weather. Instead, exercise pets in the cool of the early morning or evening. Be extra-sensitive to older and overweight animals, or those prone to heart or respiratory problems. Bring an ample supply of water along on the walk. For cool, indoor walks, bring pets to shop at the SPCA’s Petique or other pet-friendly stores.


BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU WALK! Avoid walking your dog in areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals (see below), or have puddles or spots of auto coolant. The sweet taste of poisonous liquids attracts animals and can sicken or kill them if ingested. Clean any spills immediately or consider using animal-friendly products to help minimize risks.

Unfortunately, the use of wild rat poisons also increases during warm-weather months, which poses potential hazards for your pets. Be mindful of any poisons your pet(s) can reach on your property and other properties. Read the Humane Society of the United States’ recommendations on alternatives to rodent poisons here >>


WATCH WHAT THEY EAT & DRINK! In July of 2012, two family dogs in North Buffalo died after eating poisonous mushrooms (amanita) growing right in the backyard. Check yards and any areas pets frequent. If something looks suspicious, don’t take a chance….GET RID OF IT. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection spread through the urine of contaminated animals. The bacteria can get into water (puddles, ponds, pools, etc.) or soil and survive there for months. Humans AND animals can be infected. Use caution when letting your pet drink, walk through, or swim in water that may have been exposed to infected animals (rodents, wildlife, infected domestic animals, and others).


KEEP YOUR PET WELL-GROOMED AND CLEAN to combat summer skin problems. If your dog’s coat is appropriate, cutting his hair to a one-inch length will help prevent overheating and will also allow you to watch for fleas and ticks. Don’t shave down to the skin, though; your pet can get sunburned (see below)! A cat should be brushed frequently to keep a tangle-free coat. Long-haired cats will be more comfortable with a stylish, summer clip.


USE CAUTION WHEN MAKING SUMMER LAWN/GARDEN PURCHASES! When purchasing lawn and garden products, always read the labels for ingredients toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals. Fertilizers, weed killers, herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals can be fatal to your pets. “Weed out” the toxic products from your garage, and learn more about non-toxic, pet-friendly seasonal items. Snail, slug, and rat/mouse baits, and ant/roach baits and traps are also hazardous. Metaldehyde, one of the poisonous ingredients in many baits, is often very appealing to pets, and metaldehyde poisoning can cause increased heart rate, breathing complications, seizures, liver complications, and death. If insect and nuisance animal control items must be purchased, keep them in locations impossible for pets to reach.


KEEP CORN COBS AWAY FROM DOGS! In August of 2013, SPCA veterinarians removed corn cobs from the intestines of not one but TWO dogs! Both survived, but without veterinary treatment the results could have been fatal. Read this article from VetsNow.com  discussing the dangers of corn cobs and corn to dogs.


DO NOT USE HUMAN INSECT REPELLENTS ON PETS! These items are toxic when ingested at high doses, and dogs and cats may lick it off and ingest it, potentially resulting in a toxicity. Read more about what you can use here.


BUNNIES NEED TO KEEP COOL TOO! Pet rabbits who live indoors with no air conditioning can benefit from an easy cooling technique. Rabbit owners can freeze a filled water bottle. Once the water bottle is frozen, it can be wrapped in a cloth and placed on the rabbit’s cage floor. If the rabbit becomes too warm, she’ll instinctively know to lie next to the bottle. Fans can also be pointed in the general direction of a rabbit cage, and rabbits will raise their ears (their natural cooling system) to catch the breeze and cool off. On hot days, pet owners with rabbits living in outdoor pens will want to ensure their pets are cool enough in outdoor locations; if not, rabbits and pens should come indoors.


If you witness animal cruelty or see any animal in need of rescue or emergency assistance this summer, the SPCA Serving Erie County may be able to help. Contact the SPCA immediately if the location is within Erie County Monday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., at (716) 875-7360, ext. 214.

Between 7:30 p.m. and 8 a.m., please contact your local animal control, police department, or your local after-hours emergency clinic.

_________________________________________

Those who witness a situation that might constitute
cruelty and/or violence toward animals in Erie County,
including animals left outdoors with inappropriate
shelter in yards or on porches, are encouraged to report the
circumstances to the SPCA Serving Erie County:
716-875-7360 or cruelty@yourspca.org.

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.

Feral Cat FOCUS Inc. is an all-volunteer organization with 501(c)(3) status. Donations are welcomed and encouraged. Make a gift or learn more >>

NO BONES ABOUT IT…KEEP PETS SAFE THIS THANKSGIVING

November 23, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Yes, Thanksgiving looks very different this year than in years past. No matter how small the celebrations, however, many people are still planning on preparing holiday meals, and those delicious smells are enough to drive any four-legged critter into a food frenzy.  The SPCA Serving Erie County has issued these holiday reminders to keep your pets safe, slim, and trim:

HUNGRY PETS: Too many holiday treats won’t only pack the pounds on us…they’ll pack them on our pets. Many pets are on standard, limited diets; feeding them large quantities of food they don’t normally receive could cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, none of which are welcome during this festive holiday…or at any other time, for that matter. Use discretion. Turkey bones are also dangerous for pets. A brittle, spiky bone could cause irritation of the stomach or intestines, or could lodge in your pet’s esophagus.
NOTE: Dogs eating foods to which they’re not accustomed may experience BLOAT, a life-threatening condition. Dogs experiencing bloat may have difficulty breathing, may appear weak and/or depressed, may attempt to vomit but cannot, and/or may appear to be extremely uncomfortable for no apparent reason. If your pet exhibits signs of bloat, bring him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Speak with your veterinarian for more information on this condition.

NO BREAD FOR BARNEY:  Think twice before leaving that homemade bread dough atop the oven to rise. According to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, when bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in the stomach. As alcohol is produced during the rising process, the dough expands. Pets who have eaten bread dough may experience abdominal pain, vomiting, disorientation and depression.

PEANUT BUTTER WARNING: Using peanut butter as a holiday treat for your pet? Remember to check the label! Xylitol is a sugar substitute now added to some peanut butters, along with other foods and candies. It’s safe for most humans, but deadly to pets, even in small quantities!  Be sure to check labels for Xylitol or other ingredients that could be dangerous for your pet. It’s also a bad idea to give any animal caffeine-laced peanut butter or other foods; serious health problems could ensue.


GARBAGE PICKERS?
  Some animals patiently wait for the chance to pick through the garbage when you’re not around. Aluminum foils with juices, plastic wraps with frostings, even tasty strings from tying turkeys…well, the temptation can just be too much for your deprived pets. Keep your garbage bags away from where pets can chew through them to get to the goods. Ingestion of these items can be life-threatening.

SWEET TEMPTATIONS: CHOCOLATE CAN BE FATAL TO PETS!  Chocolate contains a substance called Theobromine, a compound very similar to caffeine in structure. Theobromine can be toxic to dogs and cats in small quantities, causing vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, rapid and irregular heartbeats, muscle tremors, coma, even death. Keep chocolate safely away from all animals.

POTPOURRI PROBLEMS:  Of course we want our homes to smell nice when guests arrive…but be mindful that liquid and other types of potpourri, especially sprinkled into rugs, along with many scented essential candles and oils are toxic to dogs, cats, even birds and other animals.

For additional holiday medical reminders, speak with your veterinarian, or call the SPCA’s Lipsey Clinic: 716-531-4700.

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

October 22, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

WITH A FEW EXTRA PRECAUTIONS, PETS CAN HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN TOO!

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.

-PETS AS VICTIMS:  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 Scary-Good, Spine-Tingling Cat Sale >>

FROM THE DESK OF JOHN J. FLYNN, ERIE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

November 6, 2019

DOG DAYCARE WORKER PLEADS GUILTY TO FELONY CHARGE FOR BEATING DOG TO DEATH

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 23-year-old Jarrod Dillman of Buffalo pleaded guilty before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia to one count of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, a felony. The defendant pleaded guilty to the highest charge.

On Saturday, August 3, 2019, the defendant, while working as a dog daycare attendant at PawPrints by Penny & Co. on Niagara Street in the City of Buffalo, caused the death of “Alessio,” a three-year-old Havanese mix. The defendant admitted to using a leash to throw the dog against a wall. He also repeatedly kicked the dog while wearing boots. A necropsy determined that “Alessio” died as a result of blunt force trauma. (Read the original story here.)

Dillman faces a maximum of 2 years in jail when he is sentenced on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. He remains released on $5,000 bond posted in Buffalo City Court.

DA Flynn commends the SPCA Serving Erie County, including Officers Paul LeShay, Amy Jaworski, and Lindsey Styborski, for their work in this investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Erin E. Hart of the DA’s Animal Cruelty Unit.

 

For more information, please contact Terry Belke: Terry.Belke@wgrz.com

From the Amherst Bee: click the image below to see how Amherst Middle School is dedicating the year to helping the SPCA Serving Erie County’s “Paws for Love” program!

The SPCA Says Goodbye After 38 Years of ‘Butler Service,’ as Joe & Fran Butler Retire

August 28, 2019
By: Gina Lattuca, SPCA Chief Communications Officer

 

This week, we at the SPCA Serving Erie County say goodbye to a husband and wife team whose names are practically synonymous with the organization. Joe Butler, a 38-year employee and former dog control officer in the town of Evans, and Fran Butler, a 33-year employee, will be retiring August 30 after a history with the SPCA that brought them to three different shelters: Pontiac Rd. in Angola, Ensminger Rd. in Tonawanda, and now Harlem Rd. in West Seneca.

Joe Butler down on the (SPCA) farm

For 24 and 23 years respectively, Joe and Fran managed the SPCA’s satellite shelter in Angola. Because they lived nearby, the two often worked around-the-clock helping thousands of animals along with thousands of people (many who were known to knock on the Butlers’ door at all hours of the night). They were involved in animal cruelty investigations, rescues, adoptions, admissions, public relations, special events…every single aspect of shelter work was handled by Joe and Fran, along with their small team of staff members and volunteers.

Fran at the SPCA’s Angola satellite shelter

When that satellite shelter was closed, the two relocated to the Tonawanda shelter (Joe had worked there prior to the opening of the satellite shelter) and eventually to our current West Seneca site. Here, their important work with animals continued in the Behavior & Training and Adoptions Departments.

Last week, I asked Joe and Fran a difficult question…consider the last 30+ years at the SPCA and share with me something you love now, or a favorite memory. For Joe, a significant time was in the early 90s, when the SPCA started performing early-age spay/neuters. Fran is thankful for the fact that the Adoptions Department is like a group of family members who can count on each other for help.

Fran (sitting, in green) working at a busy Tonawanda shelter Adoptions desk

For the 29 years I’ve known her, Fran continues to teach me the importance of making a human connection no matter how busy you are. I’d watch her at a very busy Angola shelter adoption desk with several people waiting for attention; no matter how busy she was, she took the time to look each patron in the eye, thoughtfully respond to questions, and in doing so, made each and every patron feel valued. I still see her doing this today in West Seneca. That is a gift, and it’s one she shares with all of us.

Joe (right) at the SPCA’s Radiothon, talking with NewsRadio 930 WBEN’s Sandy Beach

I was a little afraid of Joe when I first met him. I was 24 and even in heels had to look up at this serious, steadfast man who was in charge of our Angola shelter. It didn’t take long to realize I now knew one of the most genuine, determined people I’d ever meet in my life. The love he exhibited for animals was unsurpassed, as evidenced by the work he did 24/7 (not an exaggeration), and I’ll always be thankful for his never laughing at how much I didn’t know, and how he helped me learn about the most difficult parts of the job while becoming acclimated to a small, insightful, tightly-knitted staff.

Left: Joe (left) and the SPCA’s Tim Tomkinson on a rescue. Right: Joe prepares for an investigation.

Sheila Foss, SPCA educational farm manager and 34-year employee, says, “When I think of Joe and Fran, the words that spring to my mind are respectful, dedicated, concerned, thoughtful, humble, gracious, helpful, humorous, calming, and mentors.”

She adds, “Fran & Joe demonstrate these descriptors to everyone they encounter: each other, co-workers, visitors, and patrons. I am blessed to have had the pleasure of being on their team, and hope their journey continues to bring forth an abundance of treasures, small and large.”

Fran attempts to untangle the neatly-put-away lights used as holiday decorations in Tonawanda

SPCA Petique Retail Store Manager Jessica Tyler, a 12-year employee, says “Over the last 12 years at the SPCA, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing these two. Joe is so knowledgeable and passionate about what he does here, and his love for animals shows.

“I worked with Fran doing adoptions for nine years, and we shared many laughs, many tears, and overall had a great time at work,” Jessica said. “She is more than a co-worker; she is family to me. She’s always there for me, and….I will miss talking to her and seeing her smiling face every day. Joe and Fran will be missed, but it’s time for more fun to happen!”

Joe and Fran make the big time

The impact Joe and Fran have made on the SPCA, its programs and services, its staff members and volunteers, and most of all its animals, will not be forgotten.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Thank you, Joe and Fran, for spending nearly four decades putting others’ happiness ahead of your own, and for living lives that truly made a difference in our community!

***************************************************

Susan Royce, Administrative Financial Assistant:
Fran is one of the kindest people I have ever had the privilege of working with.  When I stepped into my position of Administrative Financial Assistant I was constantly going to her with questions regarding Adoptions procedures and the reports they generated.  She was always right there to help me with a kind heart and gentle demeanor.  She is the Adoptions matriarch and her retirement will leave such a void; knowing Fran she will make sure that the staff is well-prepared in stepping in and picking up where she left off.  A sweet, kind and genuinely nice person.  I am going to miss her terribly!

I learned so much from Joe in how to handle and work with dogs.  He was always there to answer any questions with dogs and delivered information in a succinct and clear method so even a novice dog handler could understand.  It was always a comfort knowing that he was on the job taking great care of the animals, comforting the dogs who came in frightened and unsure.  The admiration and respect I have for him is huge, and he will be missed in so many ways.  Here’s to a job well done!!

Stephanie Pepper, Shelter Manager:
Fran has an amazing way of treating every adopter/potential adopter with kindness. I have never seen Fran frazzled; she always remains calm with a “can- do” attitude…no matter what came her way. I love how she refers to every animal while going over adoption paperwork as “your baby” –  always made me smile!

Fran was a great asset to the Adoptions Department. Every morning Fran comes in, and she cleans and prepares for the day. There is so much that Fran does behind-the-scenes that having her gone will definitely leave a void. Every morning when I come in I always said, “Good morning Fran!” I will miss her!

Krissi Miranda, Adoptions Supervisor:
Fran, you have the kindest heart of anyone I know! I’m going to miss the way you called every animal being adopted the adopters new baby. From coming in early every morning and making sure we were ready to hit the ground running as soon as the doors opened, making sure this place didn’t look like it went to the dogs, to working from the moment you came in until the moment you left, this place will not be the same without you!!!

I will miss your smile and your kind heart. I am so excited that you are retiring and able to do the things you enjoy most!  I’ll miss you but you deserve to retire while you’re still young enough to enjoy it!!!!!!

Joe, you have a kind heart and it shows in the love you have for your family. The thousands of animals whose lives you changed I’m sure would thank you if they could. This place will not be the same without you. I am so excited for you and Fran and in some way I’m envious of you both. Take care, live large, and enjoy your golden years! You deserve it!!!!

Jennifer Grzeskiewicz, Adoptions:
One thing I have learned from Fran is that there is no “I” in team. Teamwork is a very important part of our jobs and without it we wouldn’t be able to function the way we do. I love that Fran welcomed me into our Adoptions family – without them to talk to or rely on for help, things would be much more difficult.

Tina Corcoran, Adoptions:
I remember bringing my daughter Devan to the Angola shelter when she was young. We would walk the dogs and even adopted our second family dog named Bojangles from Fran and Joe!

Sandy Comes, Adoptions:
To Fran: I will miss the morning stories and jokes; you always made the mornings silly!  Thank you for always being there as a co-worker and a friend to help me when I was stuck with anything. You always made it seem easy.  I will miss you my dear friend. You were a joy to work with and honor to become friends with. I hope you and Joe get to enjoy all the wonderful things retirement offers! Always remember you can volunteer anytime as a greeter! Love you!!
To Joe: Over time I got to know you and learned what a wonderful person you really are.  You have done the work of many in this shelter and I am sure [there were times that were not] easy, so please enjoy your retirement! You have more than earned it!

Julia Walsh, Lipsey Clinic & former Veterinary Department Assistant:
Joe and Fran are very passionate and dedicated to the SPCA. 

I look up to them and am inspired by their relationship- it must have not always been easy to work with your spouse for 30 + years 🙂 !

I looked forward to Fran’s warm greetings every morning. It has been a pleasure working with them both! Best wishes!

Lydia Stineman, Veterinary Technician/Lincoln Memorial University Program Support:
I [had heard] about “Fran and Joe from the Southtowns” and when that shelter closed, heard they were coming to the “Northtowns” shelter [in Tonawanda]. I was excited to meet them, because I had heard so much about them but had never seen them! Fran was so sweet, and we connected right away. Joe is a big teddy bear! He gets right to the point, and that’s THAT! It was awesome working with them, and I will miss them both! 😘