SPCA Issues Summer Reminders Designed to Keep Pets Safe

June 13, 2024
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

They’re back! Temperatures are predicted to be in the high 80s/low 90s in Buffalo and the surrounding area very soon. 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 and/or vomiting
– Weakness, looking dazed, confusion – Comatose state

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 of your pet when outdoors on hot, humid, sunny summer days, and around inground pools. If you see an animal left on a porch or in a yard with no access to shelter or water, or with inadequate shelter or water, 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 animal-safe 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. Test the pavement! Place your hand on the pavement for ten seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog. 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! It wasn’t long ago that 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 this summer, including animals left outdoors extended periods of time with inappropriate shelter in yards or on porches, the SPCA Serving Erie County may be able to help. If the location is in Erie County, contact the SPCA  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.

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 >>

#SPCACompassionInAction

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.

TOUCHDOWN!
Hayley Beane & Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Continue Bills Muttfia for SPCA Serving Erie County Animals

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

Give in honor of the Beanes and their Bills Muttfia HERE! >>

Brandon & Hayley Beane

It’s official! For the fourth year in a row, Hayley and Buffalo Bills’ General Manager Brandon Beane will continue the Bills Muttfia program at the SPCA Serving Erie County!

For every home game touchdown scored by the Buffalo Bills, the Beanes will pay the adoption fee of one SPCA animal!

Dogs, cats, small animals, birds, reptiles, even farm animals will be drafted into the Bills Muttfia depending on the SPCA’s population on game day.  New Muttfia team members will be announced on the SPCA’s social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) at 11 a.m. the next business day following each home game. 

“Bills Muttfia is an excellent way to highlight and bring attention to the animals at the SPCA Serving Erie County,” said Hayley. “It has also been so fun to be involved and wait to see which animals will be drafted into Bills Muttfia!”

 

Hayley, a member of the SPCA’s Board of Directors, adds, “If you go and visit the SPCA, you’ll be hooked like I was. The tireless work that is done there by the warm, friendly, compassionate staff is really remarkable to see. From assisting animals that are involved in abuse cases to rehabilitating injured wildlife that find their way to the SPCA…it is a wonderful thing to witness and I’m so thankful for them!”

“Lap dog” Bodie Beane relaxes with dad

“No matter what happens at work, good day, bad day, you win 40 to nothing, lose 40 to nothing, your dogs are fired up to see you when you come in the door, and that’s a cool feeling, the love and nurturing that they bring to the family,” Brandon stated in a BuffaloBills.com video focused on the Beanes and the importance of pet adoption.

Brandon and his consummate golfing skills were also responsible for a large Bills Muttfia donation made to the SPCA Serving Erie County last month by football analyst Pat McAfee, who told Brandon during a live broadcast that if Brandon’s upcoming golf score totaled a low 79, he’d make a $25,000 donation to Brandon’s charity of choice! (He golfed a 78!)

Beane’s low golf score = $25,000 from Pat McAfee >>

The Beanes not only talk the adoption talk, but they walk the walk. One Muttfia draft pick, a guinea pig named Sherman, was adopted by Hayley in December of 2021, and Sherman became quick friends of Beane rescue dogs Bodie and Peanut. The family soon became larger, with the adoptions of guinea pig Percy and one of Percy’s [surprise] babies, Coco Beane!

Guinea pigs Sherman, Percy, and Coco Beane are BFFs of rescue dogs Peanut and Bodie!

Another excellent lineup of SPCA animal rookies are waiting to be drafted during the ’23 – ’24 Bills Muttfia season, which begins with the Buffalo Bills’ first home game Sunday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m.

“Brandon and I are so excited to start another season of Bills Muttfia!”  Hayley remarks. “We love rescues, plus, it is heartwarming and inspiring to see the wonderful work done by the SPCA Serving Erie County. We can’t wait for lots of touchdowns!” 

For more on the history & origin of Bills Muttfia, watch this BuffaloBills.com video or read this 2020 Vic Carucci article in the Buffalo News.

Hayley & Rob Lucas Talked Muttfia on Star 102.5 in ’22>>

Bills Muttfia Recipient of ’22 Bar Bill Golf Tournament >> >>

Bills Muttfia Included in Bills’ Community Honors >>

The Beane Family

END WILDLIFE KILLING CONTESTS


A coyote in the woods.

Submit form urging Gov. Hochul to sign bill banning wildlife killing contests >>

A message from the SPCA’s Cait Daly & Barbara Haney >>

Words from HSUS NYS Director Brian Shapiro >>

Update, July 2023 — Last month the New York State Senate and Assembly passed the bill to end brutal wildlife killing contests. It now heads to the desk of Governor Kathy Hochul, whose approval would make New York State the ninth state in the nation to outlaw such kills. Those interested in encouraging Governor Hochul to sign S. 4099 into law can call (518) 474-8390, or contact her using an on-line contact form here >>


Credit NYSHA & WGRZ-TV

In wildlife killing contests, participants compete to kill coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other ecologically vital species for cash and prizes. Hundreds of animals may be killed at a single event and countless others may be injured. During springtime contests, dependent young may be orphaned and left to die from starvation, predation or exposure. After the killing is over, the animals are often dumped like trash, away from the public eye.

“It is not a sport, it is not hunting, it is the killing of wildlife.” –NYS Senator Timothy Kennedy told WGRZ-TV in February.

Stopping these contests would not reduce opportunities to hunt coyotes or other wildlife, prohibit big buck competitions or fishing tournaments, prevent the lethal control of wildlife to protect livestock or outlaw field dog trials. It would simply prohibit the competitive killing of wildlife for frivolous prizes. All wildlife species play an important role in healthy ecosystems. It’s time for New York to join Massachusetts, Vermont, Maryland and the five other states that have already outlawed these cruel, unsporting and ecologically destructive events.

TAKE ACTION

Please send a message to your state legislators urging them to support A.2917/S.4099 to end wildlife killing contests, using the form found here >>> . You can also take action using the Wolf Conservation Center form here >>>. Be sure to personalize it so your message stands out.

Send a message to legislators here >>

Additional action through Wolf Conservation Center >>

FAQs on wildlife killing contests >>

See this story on WGRZ-TV >>

Editorial in The Buffalo News >>

Editorial in The Daily Gazette >>

June article by ESPN Radio >>

August letter by local Eagle Scout to Buffalo News Editor >>

Cait Daly & Barb Haney letter in Buffalo News Aug. 30 >>

#SPCACompassionInAction

–SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

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 >>

SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigations: Happening Daily, Rarely Discussed

Investigation With Homeland Security, BPD Still Resonates with One SPCA Officer

June 12, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

It’s not a secret. Volumes of research point to the link between cruelty to animals and violence towards people. It’s no stretch, then, to recognize the reality of this fact: when SPCA Serving Erie County representatives work tirelessly to end animal cruelty, an impact is made on reducing overall violence in the community.

The SPCA’s efforts towards ending violence in Erie County are indisputably paramount, especially now, as the organization works to transform the model of animal sheltering, care, and protection, with community members playing a larger role than ever before. We all have a vested interest in making Erie County kinder, more compassionate, less violent.

This transformation puts an even brighter spotlight on the SPCA’s animal cruelty investigations. As with all law enforcement investigations, it’s nearly impossible to share with the public details as an investigation is taking place (which could negatively impact the investigation) or even after an investigation has taken place (which could negatively impact future investigations). Because we are not constantly sharing information on animal cruelty investigations, the fact that our officers are engaging in this work every day to help abused animals and keep our community safe can be forgotten.

Hundreds of animals are rescued annually by SPCA officers as a result of cruelty investigations, and speaking with the officers emphasizes the importance of the work being done. Visions of nighttime raids, doors being kicked in, and on-the-scene chaos compete with the reality of the investigation and the emotions experienced by cruelty officers when abused animals in appalling conditions are finally found…animals that can be saved by the SPCA, and especially animals who are past the point of being saved.

SPCA Officer Lindsey Wood described one extensive animal cruelty investigation that took place in February of this year, an investigation that involved not only SPCA Serving Erie County officers but members of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Buffalo Police Department (BPD).

“On February 3, the SPCA received a call from Homeland Security Investigations,” Wood explained. “That morning, officers had executed a warrant for narcotics at a Marion St. residence, and while they were there, they saw three dogs unproperly cared for, malnourished, with scarring.” As HSI officers arrested five people at the property, SPCA officers worked to obtain their own search warrant, allowing them to enter the property to check on the dogs.

By the time SPCA Officers Wood, Paul LeShay and Jennifer Maleskis arrived that afternoon, only one dog was on location. “The poor dog was in an old closet in the basement,” said Wood. “She was tethered to an old desk with a rusty, chain-link lead, only a foot or two long. There was no food, no water, and she was emaciated, dehydrated, covered with scars. Completely neglected.” The two other dogs seen earlier were nowhere to be found.

The investigation that ensued turned up information that the two dogs not located February 3 had been removed; there was a possibility that the dogs were residing at a May St. property, the home of a Marion St. family member. SPCA officers acquired enough evidence to obtain another search warrant, and on the evening of February 8, as approximately 12 HSI and BPD officers surrounded the house, Officers Wood and Maleskis, together with SPCA Officer William Heine and SPCA Agent Nicole Abrams, executed the warrant.

Six new dogs were found at the May St. property. “Two of the dogs were found outside in a garage-like structure, tethered to makeshift dog houses,” described Wood. “Another was left in a very small crate, one was chained on a two-foot lead in a hallway space that looked to be approximately three feet. Two additional dogs were located in the basement area, short-chained to old work benches.”

Also found at the scene? Two loaded handguns. The subject was arrested by BPD officers on firearms charges and the dogs were rescued, transported to the SPCA Serving Erie County infirmary.

Officer Wood, an 18-year veteran of the SPCA, has been involved in countless animal cruelty investigations and rescues. Seven dogs rescued from brutal, violent settings in the course of just six days should offer some peace of mind. Not for Officer Wood.

“I couldn’t get those two dogs still missing from Marion St. out of my head,” Wood shared. “I knew they needed help. I knew I had to find them.”

It was this drive that led Wood to continue the investigation.

After close review of footage from the warrant executions, information came to light that the two missing dogs may be found not in another home…not in a closet or basement or other clandestine location…but they may have been hidden in plain sight. They may have been brought to a public location, a location as public as the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter (CBAS).

On February 13, Officers Wood and Maleskis headed to the CBAS and found two dogs there that fit the description of the dogs HSI officers originally found on February 3. The dogs, like the dog rescued from the location, were also in poor condition, emaciated, and severely neglected. HSI officers confirmed that the two dogs were, in fact, the dogs they saw on Marion St.

At the time of this writing, all dogs were in the care of the SPCA Serving Erie County, and charges against the owners are pending, although the owners have already been incarcerated on the narcotics and firearms charges.

“Being able to help nine dogs, dogs who may have suffered painful, barbaric deaths otherwise, is a major achievement for the SPCA Serving Erie County,” says Wood. “In addition to helping the dogs, two illegal, loaded handguns were removed from the street, narcotics were removed from the street…it’s rewarding. We’re able to assist these poor dogs and help to make the community a little safer.”

Wood commends the HSI and BPD officers who assisted SPCA officers in the investigations, calling it a true picture of organizations coming together to help animals and people. “These are the tasks we can’t talk about every day. We can’t talk to friends or family, we can’t talk to people in the community, as we engage in these rescues and these investigations. It does become difficult, dealing with the emotional pieces of these situations, but we knew what we signed up for. This is what we work to accomplish. Outcomes like this are what make our daily sacrifices all worthwhile.”

The reality of the emotions experienced by officers engaged in animal cruelty investigations is a stark contrast to what some may imagine when they picture the scenes of such rescues. While the details usually cannot be publicly discussed, and while the emotions are typically kept private, they are all part of the SPCA Serving Erie County’s role in the community, part of making Erie County a true humane society.

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