Find the latest issue of the SPCA’s new newsletter, Compassion in Action, below!

-June 14, 2019


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

(6/10/19: Tale for Two summer orientation dates have passed, but you can register children any time for the challenge! Just contact Humane Education Director Christine Davis:

The SPCA Serving Erie County will present its first annual Tale for Two Summer Reading Challenge this year, with prizes for children who read multiple books!

Tale For Two encourages children ages 6 – 15 to read aloud to adoptable animals at the SPCA. Animals benefit from the increased socialization and reduced stress levels, while children work on their literacy and reading skills, building their self-esteem and confidence.

This summer’s reading challenge sessions, available in groups of 6 (program cost $40) or 12 (program cost $70), are available on Tuesdays, June 18 – September 3, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the SPCA’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca shelter. Reading sessions are 30 minutes in length.

Children in kindergarten through fifth grade who read three books will receive a certificate of achievement, an SPCA pencil, and a wristband; five books earn the certificate, pencil, and humane-themed book; seven books earn the certificate, book, and an SPCA

Children in grades six through 11 who read two books receive the certificate, pencil, and wristband; three books earn the certificate, book, and T-shirt; and five books earn the certificate, book, and an SPCA sweatshirt.

Children can bring their own reading materials, or make a selection from the SPCA’s library.

Readers and parents/guardians are required to attend one hour-long orientation session at the SPCA either Thursday, May 30,
5 p.m. or Saturday,
8, 3 p.m. (Please see below for information on how to register children for the challenge after June 8.)

Register for the Tale for Two Summer Reading Challenge and one orientation session right here >> (orientation dates have passed, but you can still register children for the challenge! Just contact Humane Education Director Christine Davis:


Please contact SPCA Humane Education Director Christine Davis with questions:

See additional Tale for Two photos here >>

See the story on WKBW-TV’s website >>


SPCA Serving Erie County Offers Free Adoptions to Current and Past Military Members During Vets & Pets

May 13, 2019
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca 

To celebrate the men and women of the armed services this Memorial Day, the SPCA Serving Erie County offers “Vets & Pets,” waiving adoption fees on most animals for individuals on active duty, reserves, and honorable discharge, along with service-disabled veterans and those retired from military service.

Vets & Pets begins Saturday, May 18 and runs through Monday, May 27* at the SPCA’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca shelter (closed on May 27) and all SPCA offsite adoption locations.

Photos of adoptable animals are available here, and a list of offsite adoption locations and addresses can be found here. Military ID or DD214 will need to be presented.

Vets & Pets is proudly sponsored by Nancy Gacioch of Buffalo, NY.!

Contact SPCA Adoptions with any questions: 716-875-7360, ext. 233.

*Please note: The SPCA’s West Seneca shelter is closed on the final day of Vets & Pets Monday, May 27, but many of the SPCA’s offsite adoption locations are open that day! That means you can still take advantage of the Vets & Pets adoption special! See a list of our offsite locations and photos of the animals available here!


May 9, 2019
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

UPDATE, MAY 17: This class is filled. Registration has closed for this event,  but please keep an eye on, Facebook, and Twitter for future class announcements! Thank you!


The SPCA Serving Erie County will offer its second Pet First Aid Class of the year Tuesday, May 28,
5 p.m. – 8 p.m. at its 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca location.

Instructors will cover the symptoms of serious emergencies that require immediate treatment, hands-on animal CPR with CPR mannequin resusci-dog Spot, muzzling demonstrations, bandaging demonstrations, and will offer a comprehensive lecture portion on recognizing and appropriately handling life-threatening emergencies.

Included in the $10.00 registration fee is a take-home booklet for easy reference, and contact information for area emergency veterinarians.

Registration is required and interested parties can register here. Space is limited, so hurry!  PLEASE NOTE: THIS CLASS IS ALMOST FILLED! Register here…and if you find that the class has been filled, please keep watching, Facebook, or Twitter for future class announcements!


April 18, 2019
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

BREAKING ‘PAWS AT THE PUB’ NEWS: This Sunday’s event at Buffalo Brewpub may be for people only…but that doesn’t mean the beverages have to be! 12 Gates Brewing Company and Buffalo Brewpub have collaborated on their version of a ‘doggie bag’ with a doggie BOTTLE:  PUPS N/A malt beef-flavored ale to bring home for your four-legged canine connoisseur!

The bottles will be available for just $5.00 each and will be available ONLY during Paws at the Pub on Sunday! Quantities are limited, so don’t miss this chance to find out whether your pup has a future as a canine cicerone (yes, we had to look that up).

Break out the brews! For the second time, Buffalo Brewpub, located at 6861 Main Street in Williamsville, will host “Paws at the Pub” to benefit the SPCA Serving Erie County!

The free rain-or-shine event for people of all ages (no pets, please) is scheduled for Sunday, April 28,
12 p.m –5 p.m. All tips received by servers and bartenders, as well as a portion of food and beverage sales, will be donated to the SPCA. A special drink menu will also be available featuring Tommyrotter Distilling products.

Buffalo Brewpub and 12 Gates Brewing Co. have collaborated on a Blood Orange Hefeweizen beer which is currently being served, and will be served at the event. There will also be a basket raffle and silent auction featuring prizes that include a week’s stay at Tropical Winds Daytona Beach, a
60” Smart TV, field tickets for June 14’s Taste of Country, a campsite & two tickets to Jam in the Valley, a Magic Hat bass guitar, a Yeti tank, a golf bag, and much more.

“We are big animal lovers and greatly admire the work the SPCA Serving Erie County does in our community every day,” says Christopher Townsell, Buffalo Brewpub general manager. “We saw an opportunity to contribute towards their efforts, and our whole staff was excited over the idea.”

Event partners include 12 Gates Brewing Company, Community Beer Works, Sato Brewpub, Ellicottville Brewing Company, Southern Tier Brewing CompanyResurgence Brewing Company, and Flying Bison Brewing Company. Celebrity bartenders include some of the actual brewers from these companies.

To learn more about Paws at the Pub, visit or, or contact Buffalo Brewpub, 716-632-0552.


Full story and photos at

Linus Ullmark: Meet the man behind the Minions mask, quirks and all

By Lance Lysowski
Published February 13, 2019
Updated February 13, 2019

A young boy pressed the paper sign against the glass adjacent to the Buffalo Sabres’ bench inside KeyBank Center to catch Linus Ullmark’s attention as the 25-year-old goalie skated off the ice at the end of a pregame warm-up.

On the sign, underneath a header that read “Life goals,” the boy listed two items: the Sabres’ winning a Stanley Cup and receiving a stick from Ullmark. The affable, eccentric fan favorite skated over and gently flung his Bauer paddle over the pane of glass.

“He’s a really good kid,” said Carter Hutton, 33, of his fellow goaltender. “Really sincere.”

The child beamed as he hoisted the treasure as if he had won the Stanley Cup. Ullmark’s gesture was seen by the thousands waiting for the puck drop of a game against Chicago. Ullmark, however, does not seek recognition for such kindness, nor did the act surprise his teammates.

On the ice, Ullmark can be perceived by opponents as ultra-serious – he was not afraid to tell Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn to be quiet during a 1-0 loss Jan. 30 – but he is beloved by teammates for his quirks, quips and genuine kindness.

Ullmark, the Sabres’ starter in eight of the past 12 games, is active in two charitable causes: Ullmark’s Barks, which, in conjunction with the SPCA in Erie County, has helped six dogs find owners in two months, and AjaBajaCancer, a foundation in Sweden that helps families affected by childhood cancer.

“I would say I’m quirky, unique,” Ullmark said, unabashedly, in KeyBank Center following practice last week. “I would rather be unique than normal. That’s how I see it. I don’t have any issues with me being me and people seeing me as quirky or fun or whatever they say. I try to be me every day, every week. Try to enjoy life as much as possible.”

Those personality traits are on powerful display during Ullmark’s postgame comments to reporters. He never seems interested in delivering the soundbite they desire, nor does he want to be drawn into a discussion about the meaning of wins or losses. Though his strategy can be maddening – “I didn’t hide the cookies well enough” is among his best work – his interactions with fans and teammates reveal more about the man behind the mask.

Ullmark is hyper-focused when preparing for games and he holds himself to an elite standard, admittedly to a fault at times. But he also can come off as carefree, preferring to savor the moment rather than looking ahead or dwelling on the past.

As a child in Sweden, Ullmark used to arrive home from hockey practice to his mother asking when his team was holding another on-ice session at the rink. He rarely knew the answer, telling his mom to ask the coach. Ullmark was never worried about such details.

Goalies have long been known for their eccentricities, but Hutton said there’s more than one way to approach what is arguably the sport’s most pressure-packed position.

“He’s quirky, more like your old-school goalies,” Hutton said. “He has some odd things that he does. He’s just kind of a goofball and, all in all, a good person. … He’s not your typical hockey player, in the sense that most of these younger guys run around for a while and they’re a little more reckless. He’s a family man, an all-around good kid.”

Adam Wilcox, the backup goalie for Rochester the past two seasons, incorrectly expected Ullmark to be quiet when the two first crossed paths in 2015. Wilcox, who faced the Amerks as a member of the Syracuse Crunch, did not learn until last season that Ullmark seems to always be smiling and rarely stops talking.

During Ullmark’s starts with the Amerks last season, he often would crack a joke during television timeouts and kept the mood light with his random, unfiltered comments. When the two first met, Ullmark jokingly brought up how Wilcox struggled against Rochester in recent years.

“I loved playing with him,” Wilcox said of Ullmark. “He’s a great goalie partner to have off the ice. Whether he has allowed seven goals or has a shutout, he’s always the same. He’ll talk to anyone, and he’s always in a good mood. Obviously, he’s a goofball, but he’s also a super nice guy. Linus will do anything for anyone.”

His endearing personality can help brighten spirits during the rigorous regular season, Ullmark’s teammates said. It’s not a comedic act, either. He and his wife, Moa, each wore one of his goalie helmets during a picture on their wedding day.

Even the most relaxed goalies can fall into the habit of becoming too serious. Ullmark learned that through difficult times. A sixth-round draft pick of the Sabres in 2012, he went a combined 36-43-2 in his first two seasons with the Amerks. His final two seasons in the Swedish Hockey League didn’t go as planned, either.

Ullmark had a .931 save percentage in 31 games for Modo in 2013-14, only to post a 12-20 record the following season. He was an All-Star last season for Rochester, helping the Amerks snap a three-year postseason drought.

Through the Amerks’ run, Ullmark cracked jokes during the team’s pregame soccer match and randomly gave teammates shoulder massages.

However, on the eve of the Calder Cup playoffs in April, he received news that his grandmother, Ruth, had died. That is when Ullmark learned it’s OK not to hide behind a smile. He discussed his options with Amerks coach Chris Taylor: return home to Sweden or remain with the team.

In the end, Ullmark stayed, and he blamed himself for the result after allowing 16 goals in a three-game sweep against Syracuse.

“Obviously, that was a tough situation at that point,” Taylor recalled. “You respect the hell out of a guy who does that. His character has never been in question with me. I know him as a guy in the room that all he cares about is wherever he puts that sweater on he’s for that team. That’s the way he played for us last year.”

Ullmark’s personal loss was not revealed until the Sabres released a video this season in which he spoke of the playoff defeat. Rather than suppressing his sadness, Ullmark said, he wishes now that he had expressed his emotions and made more time for family. He realized the value of such introspection last offseason, he said, when former Sabres teammate Robin Lehner spoke publicly about seeking counseling for mental health and addiction. Lehner is having a breakout season with the New York Islanders.

“You want to use hockey as a sanctuary, so you come here and don’t think about that stuff,” Ullmark said. “But if it starts affecting your game, you should really start talking about it. I don’t know how many guys in this league that keep things to themselves that might be good to talk about. I’m very happy about Robin that he’s talked about his struggles; he took care of himself and he’s playing tremendously now. He’s in a good place. You see whenever there’s a person who might be struggling, they might be struggling in their life. They might be doing all the right stuff on the ice, but just because they’re struggling off the ice, there might be that tension.”

Ullmark, the father of an 11-month-old boy, is happy again and has proven more than capable of playing in the NHL. Among Sabres goalies through their first 50 starts with the team, Ullmark’s .914 save percentage ranks first in franchise history.

During his time in Rochester, Ullmark used to bring his two corgis, Barry and Bob, to the rink to play with teammates – a welcome sight during the always-tense days of minor leaguers – and always seemed to know how to make others feel better following a difficult game.

That has continued in Buffalo. Ullmark hosted Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson for Thanksgiving and had six young fellow Swedish teammates to his home for tacos during training camp in September.

“He’s a great guy and always happy,” said Rochester winger Victor Olofsson, a teammate of Ullmark’s with Modo who attended Taco Friday. “Brings a smile to the rink every day. He likes to talk with everyone about everything. … He tries to take care of everyone.”

Ullmark has always had an interest in helping others and his arrival as a full-time NHL player finally gave him the avenue to make a difference. When the Sabres’ community relations staff asked players to think of possible charitable causes to get involved with this season, Ullmark immediately thought of dogs.

When he wasn’t chasing the family dogs as a child, Ullmark was “all up in the faces” of ones he encountered on the street. He also called his two corgis the “best companions” and wanted to help dogs who could not find a home. As part of Ullmark’s Barks, Ullmark posts a picture of his latest “draft pick” available for adoption and expresses joy on Twitter when the SPCA serving Erie County posts a photo of the pet with its new owners.

Whether he is using his platforms to make a difference in the two places he calls home or eliciting laughs inside the Sabres’ dressing room, the man whose expression is often hidden behind a Minions-emblazoned mask finds joy in watching others smile.

“It’s the satisfaction you get from seeing people smile,” Ullmark said, beaming. “You know you made their day, week, month or year. It’s not about praise or anything like that. People might think it is, but it’s more about seeing the actual reaction from the person that you’re trying to help.”



Never miss a story. Sign up today for a 30-day free trial to

Story topics: Buffalo Sabres/ Linus Ullmark


Snow and frigid temps are on the way! Learn how to keep pets safe and brush up on the new law concerning the tethering of dogs in Buffalo. Learn more.