Two Amherst Men Arraigned on SPCA Charges of Animal Cruelty in Beating of Small Dog

June 29, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Erie County DA John Flynn’s Comments >>

UPDATE, Feb. 22, 2024 — The SPCA learned that Blake Hiligh and Zachary Pilarcek pleaded guilty to one count of Disorderly Conduct (violation) before Amherst Town Court Justice Ann Nichols on February 7, 2024. Both defendants were sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Additionally, Hiligh was ordered to surrender the dog.


Blake Hiligh, 19, and Zachary Pilarcek, 20, of Amherst, were arraigned in Amherst Town Court at 12 p.m. today. Both men were charged by the SPCA Serving Erie County with animal cruelty, Class A misdemeanors in accordance with Article 26, Section 353 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, in the alleged beating of a small dog.

At 11:20 p.m. June 13, an anonymous email was sent to the SPCA’s Animal Cruelty Investigations Department. The email included a video that had been posted on a Snapchat account that evening.

In the video one man, Pilarcek, a native of Endicott, NY, is speaking off-camera about damage a dog did to a couch in a Sweet Home Road apartment he shares with the dog’s owner, Hiligh, a native of Maryland, and claims he will film the punishment the dog will receive.

Hiligh, the dog’s owner, is then filmed yelling at the dog, a four-year-old buff-colored male Miniature Poodle named Kobe, and proceeds to beat him with what appears to be a leather belt.

An investigation was launched the morning of June 14 by the SPCA Serving Erie County. The email sent to the SPCA included the name of one of the individuals and provided information leading SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigator Lindsey Wood to contact University at Buffalo Police officers, who received similar incident reports and fully cooperated with the SPCA investigation.

Wood, assisted by SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigator Jennifer Maleskis and SPCA Agent Nicole Abrams, located Hiligh and Pilarcek the same afternoon. Both men were charged at that time. Kobe was rescued from the property and immediately transported to the SPCA Serving Erie County’s veterinary team for a full examination and any necessary treatment. Kobe is currently in the care of the SPCA at an undisclosed location and has not been surrendered to the organization.

Amherst Town Court Justice Geoffrey Klein placed a temporary order on the defendants prohibiting them from owning or caring for any animals while the case is pending. Further proceedings for Pilarcek are scheduled for Thursday, July 27 at 9:30 a.m. ; further proceedings for Hiligh are scheduled for Thursday, August 3 at 9:30 a.m. for further proceedings. Both were released on their own recognizance as charge is a non-qualifying offense for bail. There will be a bond hearing in Cheektowaga Town Court on July 6.

A press release issued by the office of Erie County District Attorney John Flynn states, “Hiligh and Pilarcek, both University at Buffalo football players, were subsequently suspended then dismissed from the program.  ‘I want to thank our partners at the SPCA for their work in this investigation and the many services that they provide to help animals in our community. I also commend the University at Buffalo and the UB Football program for taking immediate action, which further demonstrates that animal abuse will not be tolerated in this community,’ said Erie County DA John Flynn. DA Flynn commends SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigators Jennifer Maleskis and Lindsey Wood and SPCA Agent Nicole Abrams as well as University at Buffalo Police for their work in this investigation.”

Keep watching YourSPCA.org for important updates on this case.

Join us in our fight to protect animals >>

NO BONES ABOUT IT!
KEEP PETS SAFE THIS THANKSGIVING!

November 15, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Planning a delicious holiday meal? Those delicious smells are enough to drive any four-legged critter into a food frenzy! The SPCA Serving Erie County has issued these Thanksgiving 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.

With changes to the veterinary industry, seeking timely medical care for your pet, especially on a holiday, can prove itself to be problematic. Pet owners are advised to take every preventative measure possible to eliminate the chance of animals requiring emergency veterinary care.

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

October 4, 2023
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 officers rescue 35 animals from deplorable conditions

September 26, 2023
By: SPCA Social Media Coordinator Jillian LeBlanc

On Friday, the SPCA Serving Erie County took in 31 dogs, three newborn puppies, and a cat from a house on Niagara Street in Buffalo. SPCA law enforcement officers performed an emergency rescue after receiving a tip from a mandated reporting agency.

Upon further investigation, SPCA officers discovered the animals were living in deplorable conditions. All the animals were soaked with urine, covered in feces, and were severely matted. Some of the dogs were so matted they could barely see or walk.

SPCA officers removed the animals from the home Friday afternoon and brought them back to the SPCA in West Seneca so they could receive veterinary care. The SPCA team quickly got to work, making the animals feel safe and comfortable before focusing efforts on their matted coats.

Over the weekend, the SPCA team (along with several incredible volunteers!) started the lengthy process of grooming each dog, removing pounds of matted fur from each dog. The before and after photos are truly astounding!

Thanks to our generous donors, these animals are getting the care they desperately need. We hope some of the animals can go up for adoption soon!

At this time, charges are pending.

If you suspect animal cruelty, please call the SPCA Serving Erie County Animal Cruelty Investigations Department at (716) 875-7360, ext. 214. The SPCA will respond to anonymous tips.

See this story in The Buffalo News >>

See this story on Newsweek >>

See this story on WKBW >>

See this story on WIVB >>

See this story on WGRZ >>

See this story on WBEN >>

SPCA Issues Hot Weather Reminders Designed to Keep Pets Safe

July 28, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Temperatures are in the high 80s/low 90s in Buffalo and the surrounding area. 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 warm 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. And we’re not only referring to 80-degree days; animals suffer heatstroke even on much cooler days.

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? Currently, while a handful of states allow good Samaritans to legally break car windows in an effort to save a suffering animal, New York is, unfortunately, 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 4:30 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 – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 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 – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., at (716) 875-7360, ext. 214.

Other times, please contact your local animal control agency, 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.

See this story on WIVB-TV >>

FOURTH OF JULY, OUTDOOR FESTIVALS: No Party for Pets

June 29, 2023
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 or passer-by finds your animal, an ID collar that includes your phone number can lead to a faster reunion. Remember, don’t limit a search for a lost pet to your geographical location! A frightened animal that bolts can travel long distances, and well-meaning community members trying to help may also transport the animal to an animal control facility or veterinary clinic in a different neighborhood. Find local animal control facilities here >>. 


* 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. 


* NOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES FOR HOUNDS. This tip comes from the SPCA’s own Annual Giving Manager, Phil. He and his wife, Samantha, have a beautiful dog, Daenerys, who is very afraid of fireworks. Phil says, “We’ve tried everything to keep her calm, from vests to CBD, and nothing seems to work.” Phil and Samantha ordered custom-made noise-cancelling headphones especially for dogs. The headphones, which must be ordered in advance based on each dog’s specific measurements, contain Bluetooth technology which allows owners to stream their dogs’ most calming musical selections (decibal reduction for the dogs provide a “whisper volume”) directly into their ears. Here, Daenerys is pictured sporting her new headphones, which arrived only days before July 4. We’ll keep you posted on Daenerys’ review of this new calming approach! A simple online search will direct pet owners to the various companies offering these headphones.


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. Home is the safest place for pets on extremely hot days and during arts festivals, food festivals, other crowded outdoor events, and especially fireworks displays.

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 Saturday,
8 a.m. – 4:30  p.m., at (716) 875-7360, ext. 214.

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

See this story on WKBW-TV >>

See this story on WIVB-TV >>

Take This Job and Love It:
Great Benefits Program with Perks for
Blue Collar Working Cats

May 1, 2023
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 live 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.

YOU CAN HELP US SAVE LIVES! BECOME AN SPCA FOSTER CARE VOLUNTEER!

Each year, dogs, cats, and other types of animals are admitted to the SPCA and are not ready to be put up for adoption. Foster care is a program specifically designed to place those animals into temporary homes where they can receive the care that they need!

The SPCA covers all veterinary care and associated costs, and the best news? When it’s time for the animal to be placed for adoption, foster care parents (or someone they know) can adopt the animal first, before the animal ever hits the adoption floor!

Click the image below to learn more about becoming an SPCA foster parent >>


See this story on WKBW-TV >>


FROM THE OFFICE OF
ERIE  COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY JOHN J. FLYNN
November 30, 2022

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 30, 2022: FORMER DOG DAYCARE WORKER TO SERVE JAIL TIME FOR FATALLY BEATING SMALL DOG UNDER HIS CARE

See this story on WIVB-TV >>

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 26-year-old Jarrod Dillman of Buffalo was sentenced this morning before State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller to 6 months in jail followed by 5 years of probation.

On Saturday, August 3, 2019, the defendant, while working as a dog daycare attendant at a business on Niagara Street in the City of Buffalo, caused the death of a three-year-old Havanese mix under his care. The defendant admitted to repeatedly kicking the dog and throwing the dog against a wall. A necropsy determined that the dog, named “Alessio,” died as a result of blunt force trauma.

Dillman pleaded guilty to one count of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals (Class “E” felony), the highest sustainable charge, on November 6, 2019. As part of his sentence today, Judge Boller issued a final order that prohibits the defendant from owning or caring for any animals for next 5 years.

The day after pleading guilty to the crime, the defendant attempted to rob a bank. On November 7, 2019, at approximately 2:29 p.m., the defendant entered a bank on Elmwood Avenue near Breckenridge Street in the City of Buffalo where he approached the teller with a forged check. A note was written on the back of the check, which directed the teller to give him cash and not to call the police. After the teller repeatedly stated “no,” the defendant left the bank without any money.

Dillman pleaded guilty to one count of Attempted Robbery in the Third Degree (Class “E” felony), the highest sustainable charge, on February 10, 2020.

At the time of the plea, State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia, who presided over both cases prior to his retirement, consented to the defendant participating in a judicial diversion program. After he successfully completed the program, the Court allowed the defendant to withdraw his plea to the felony charge and instead plead guilty to one count of Petit Larceny (Class “A” misdemeanor), a one-step reduction. Today, Dillman was sentenced to 3 years of probation, which will run concurrent to his sentence on the animal cruelty case.

DA Flynn commends SPCA Officers Paul LeShay, Amy Jaworski and Lindsey Styborski as well as the SPCA Serving Erie County for their work in the animal cruelty investigation. DA Flynn also commends Detective Sergeant Amy Frankel, Detective Zackary Burgess, Detective William Moretti, Officer Richard Cruz and Officer Elaina Perez of the Buffalo Police Department for their work in the attempted robbery case.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Christine M. Garvey of the Animal Cruelty Unit and Assistant District Attorney Rachel Kranitz McPhee of the Special Victims/Domestic Violence Bureau.



UPDATE, AUGUST 23, 2022:
 Today, a sentencing date in the felony animal cruelty case of Dillman was set for November 30, 2022, 9:30 a.m. We will update this story with further details at that time.



UPDATE, NOVEMBER 6, 2019
: 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. Read the full story on today’s developments after this SPCA investigation here.



UPDATE, AUGUST 16, 2019
: Jarrod Dillman appeared in Buffalo City Court this morning. He has waived his felony hearing and his case will now proceed to the grand jury. Please keep watching YourSPCA.org for further information on this animal cruelty case.


August 13, 2019

DOG DAYCARE WORKER CHARGED WITH ANIMAL CRUELTY FOR BEATING DOG TO DEATH

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 23-year-old Jarrod Dillman of Buffalo has been arraigned before Buffalo City Court Judge Barbara Johnson-Lee on one count of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, a felony, and one count of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance, a misdemeanor.

It is alleged that on Saturday, August 3, 2019, the defendant, while working as a [daycare attendant and bather] at PawPrints by Penny & Co. on Niagara Street in the City of Buffalo, caused the death of “Alessio,” a three-year-old Havanese, by throwing the dog against a wall and repeatedly kicking the dog while wearing boots. The preliminary necropsy results determined that the dog died as a result of blunt force trauma.

Dillman is scheduled to return on Friday, August 16, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. for a felony hearing. Judge Johnson-Lee set bail at $5,000 cash, bond or property.

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 is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Erin E. Hart of the DA’s Animal Cruelty Unit.

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

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From BuffaloNews.com:

Dog day care attendant arraigned on felony aggravated animal cruelty charge

By Harold McNeil
Published August 13, 2019|Updated August 13, 2019

An attendant for a Buffalo dog groomer was arraigned Tuesday in Buffalo City Court on a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals, after an animal in his care died, according to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said 23-year-old Jarrod Dillman of Buffalo was additionally charged with overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal, as well as failure to provide proper sustenance.

“We’re horrified and saddened by the death of the dog that was in our care, and this is the first that I’ve learned that he was arrested,” said Penelope Lanich, proprietor of PawPrints by Penny & Co., when contacted by The Buffalo News Tuesday.

“We’ve been working closely with the SPCA to make sure justice is served here,” she added.

On Aug. 3, while working as a day care employee at PawPrints by Penny & Co. on Niagara Street in Buffalo, Dillman allegedly caused the death of a 3-year-old Havanese named Alessio by throwing the dog against a wall and repeatedly kicking the animal while Dillman was wearing boots. The preliminary necropsy results have determined that the dog died as a result of blunt force trauma, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Dillman initially was identified by the District Attorney’s Office as a dog groomer at PawPrints, but Lanich said that is not a position Dillman ever held at the business during his 1 1/2 years of employment there.

“I’ve been in business for over 15 years and I’ve never had anything like this happen,” Lanich said.

Dillman is scheduled to return to court Friday for a felony hearing before City Court Judge Barbara Johnson-Lee, who set bail at $5,000.


May 16, 2022

 

Dear SPCA Friends & Family:

On Saturday morning May 14, members of our SPCA’s Humane Education Department embarked on a visit to Buffalo Public School #99, the Stanley M. Makowski Early Childhood Center, 1095 Jefferson Ave. in Buffalo. We were participants in an event teaching children about the different ways to safely express themselves and their feelings through art, words, music, and more.

Mere hours later, less than one mile away, ten lives were taken in a barbaric act of violence, rage, and racism.

The people we lost to this hatred, members of our community, were exceptional individuals who, we have learned, truly made the world a better place for those in their lives and for so many they didn’t even know. Our hearts go out to the victims, to their families, to all the people in our towns and cities and counties who are suffering from this hateful brutality.

The violence inflicted upon these individuals, and the violence that affects community members every single day in our neighborhoods, is something we must continue to fight together. With one voice. As one community.

The SPCA Serving Erie County stands committed to its work of putting an end to such violence. Our specific efforts in response to this weekend’s killings are slowly unfolding, but we are ready to bring our existing programs where they are needed most. Our Paws for Love therapy pet visitation teams are on notice, ready to step in at counseling events, therapy sessions, stress-relief events, and more to help suffering individuals cope with their feelings, fears, and emotions. Our Humane Education team is ready to bring our important message of anti-violence, inclusion, empathy, respect, compassion, and love to our community’s children. Our pet food pantry is already in the process of delivering pet food and litter to neighborhoods filled with pet owners who may have difficulty acquiring these items at this time.

We are certain there will be more opportunities for our humane society to assist in efforts designed to not only help with what happened this weekend, but to fill the needs that arise in Erie County every day.

Our SPCA has and will remain diligent in its contribution to the creation of a society more humane, more inclusive, more accepting, and more loving. This can only be accomplished when our entire community works together in solidarity against acts of bigotry, racism, hatred, and violence.

As always, we remain honored to serve the people of Erie County and beyond.

Committed to Kindness,


Cait Daly
President & CEO
SPCA Serving Erie County
CaitD@yourspca.org

–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Chief Communications Officer

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