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

June 21, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca



They’re a little too temperamental to be considered perfect, in-home, companion cats. Some are even feral. What’s to be done about these categories of cats when agencies like the SPCA Serving Erie County receive them as surrendered animals, or as part of an animal hoarding situation or other type of animal rescue or cruelty case?

For more than a decade, East Aurora-based Feral Cat FOCUS Inc. (FCF) has provided an answer for this agency and other cat welfare organizations in the state. Historically called other names such as the Adopt-A-Barn-Cat program and the Adopt-A-Working-Cat program, the Blue Collar Working Cats program now encompasses more of the varied establishments that have taken advantage of the loyal presence of these hard-working cats!

One of the founders of FCF, Edie Offhaus, says, “These are cats of various temperaments. In some cases, they are not exactly feral, but they’re unsocial. This program is a beautiful adoption alternative for these types of cats who have nowhere else to go.”

According to Offhaus, Blue Collar Working Cats have been placed in various New York State establishments including wineries, warehouses, nurseries and greenhouses, barns and stables, and more. “We place cats in all parts of Western New York, and assist agencies all over New York State, even some in the New York City area,” Offhaus states. When an organization representative calls to inquire about receiving Blue Collar Working Cats to live on the property, Offhaus says, “We conduct a thorough interview to ensure proper placement, since not all of these cats will thrive in all of these settings. We also ensure there are enough people who will take full responsibility for the care and feeding of these cats throughout their lifetime.”

Once an establishment is deemed a proper setting for specific Blue Collar Working Cats, a representative of FCF brings a minimum of two cats (some larger establishments have four or more Blue Collar Working Cats), already spayed or neutered, treated for fleas, and vaccinated by veterinarians at Operation PETS: the Spay/Neuter Clinic of WNY, Inc. for “grounding” purposes. Cats are placed in extra-large dog crates at their “new home” (when a separate, closed-off room is not available) for a three-week period, which allows them time to adapt to the different people, sights, sounds, smells, and, possibly, other animals that collectively comprise the new setting.  Most importantly, they begin to recognize the voices of those who will be providing the majority of care.

“Feral Cat FOCUS provides the crates and other equipment during the three-week grounding period,” Offhaus says. “After that, as with any adoption, all care is the responsibility of the new owners.” Offhaus also remarks that, in all the years of managing this program, FCF has had very few cats that didn’t respond to the new surroundings. “Now that the quality of life has increased for the animals and they’re more content, some of them become even more social and enjoy being present around people for longer periods of time.”

To date, more than 600 establishments house a minimum of two Blue Collar Working Cats. The purpose? “Rodent control, plain and simple,” Offhaus says. “Sometimes the mere presence of Blue Collar Working Cats is enough to keep rodents away from perceived food sources or food and beverage storage areas.”

FCF is unable to accept surrenders of cats from private owners who believe their cats may not be living a high quality of life indoors, yet feel guilty about keeping them outdoors or giving them up. “What we do,” explains Offhaus, “is walk those pet owners through how to set up a Blue Collar Working Cats program right at home. We remove the misplaced guilt they may feel over not keeping a cat indoors. Not every cat can life a high-quality life indoors. So we help these people establish a Blue Collar Working Cats program right where they are; we walk them through all the steps and assist as much as possible in their imitation of our program.”

The SPCA Serving Erie County is honored to be one of the organizations with which FCF works in its Blue Collar Working Cats program. Several hundred cats who were not viable adoption candidates found new lives through FCF and this program, and the SPCA is indebted and eternally grateful to the team at FCF for dedicating so many of their resources to these special cats with high work ethics.

Organization representatives who believe Blue Collar Working Cats might be a welcome addition to their establishments are encouraged to call FCF at 1-888-902-9717 or visit the FCF website to learn more about adopting a working cat team.

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

Valentine’s Day and Pets

February 11, 2021
By: SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth

While we at the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County believe the best Valentine’s gift you can give your pet is the gift of a longer and healthier life without the burden of litters and pesky hormonal cycles, free of fleas and other parasites, it’s the season of love! Let’s talk a little about things to look out for this month.

Forbidden Chocolate
Seasoned pet lovers know that all types of chocolate are potentially life-threatening when ingested by pets. Methylxanthines are caffeine-like stimulants that affect gastrointestinal, neurologic and cardiac function—they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and an abnormally elevated heart rate. The high-fat content in lighter chocolates can potentially lead to a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. Go ahead and indulge, but don’t leave chocolate out for chowhounds to find.

Careful with Cocktails
Spilled wine, a half a glass of champagne, or some leftover liquor are nothing to cry over until a curious pet laps them up. Because animals are smaller than humans, a little bit of alcohol can do a lot of harm, causing vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, metabolic disturbances and even coma. Potentially fatal respiratory failure can also occur if a large amount is ingested.

Life Is Sweet
Don’t let pets near treats sweetened with xylitol. If ingested, gum, candy, and other treats that include this sweetener can result in hypoglycemia (a sudden drop in blood sugar). This can cause your pet to suffer depression, loss of coordination and seizures.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Don’t let pets near roses or other thorny-stemmed flowers. Biting, stepping on, or swallowing their sharp, woody spines can cause serious infection if a puncture occurs. De-thorn your roses far away from pets.

Playing with Fire
It’s nice to set your evening aglow with candlelight, but put out the fire when you leave the room. Pawing kittens and nosy pooches can burn themselves or cause a fire by knocking over unattended candles.

Wrap It Up
Gather up tape, ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, cellophane and balloons after presents have been opened—if swallowed, these long, stringy and “fun-to-chew” items can get lodged in your pet’s throat or digestive tract, causing her to choke or vomit.

Learn more about the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County here >>

Find the love you’ve been looking for at the SPCA Serving Erie County! See our adoptable animals >>

 

January 22, 2021

SPCA donations in memory of Sabres’
Linus Ullmark’s father

 

Donations are coming into the SPCA Serving Erie County in memory of Linus Ullmark's father who passed away in Sweden earlier this week.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark Photo credit AP / Jeffrey T. Barnes

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – When it comes to supporting Buffalo’s sports teams, this weekend is all about the red and blue for the Buffalo Bills. But quietly, support is also going out to a member of the Buffalo Sabres who has suffered a personal loss.

Goaltender Linus Ullmark was with the team on Monday when he received a call from his mother in Sweden that his father had passed away at the age of 63.

On Thursday, Ullmark opened up to Sabres.com about it.

“I had my worst pregame skate in my whole life, probably,” he said. “Usually when these things sort of happen, with me, there’s always been a common theme, and that’s been that my dad has either been very sick or that something bad has happened back home. I sensed that something was wrong.”

He said he’d been checking his phone a lot since his father entered the hospital early last week. When Ullmark reached the locker room, he found that he had a missed call from his mother.

“The hunch that I had was true,” he said. “She just wanted to call me and say that that afternoon, Dad left us. He left us around 5 very peacefully, calmly with her by his side.”

Linus Ullmark has been a friend and supporter of the SPCA Serving Erie County. Last year he sponsored a program called Ullmark’s Barks. It brought more social media attention to animals that were having a harder time getting adopted.

“That was all Buffalonians needed to hear,” said SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca. “People started calling and asking how they could contribute to Ullmark’s Barks in memory of Linus’ father.”

Lattuca said they set up this special SPCA page for contributions >>.

“Linus is such a remarkable man. It gives you an indication of what kind of man his dad was. We think Buffalo is the most compassionate city in the nation and we’re honored to serve this community.”

Lucia, Safe and Sound After Two Years Straying the Streets

December 29, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

UPDATE 1/14/2021: Yesterday was a big day for Lucia! She was adopted and went home to West Seneca with Katherine! Be a good girl, Lucia!
  



Sure, it takes a village to see some things through. But sometimes it takes an entire city. And this particular cat brought to the SPCA yesterday needed the City of Good Neighbors to help her see things straight!

Here is Lucia’s story, as told to us by our Director of Admissions Amy Jaworski and Admissions Counselor Tammi Cogswell:

Approximately two years ago, a calico kitty was admitted to the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter (CBAS).  While there, as part of the excellent care provided by CBAS, the kitty had eye removal surgery and was placed in foster care for several weeks before being ready for adoption.  She was named Lucia, and, when her rehab was complete, Lucia was placed up for adoption at PetSmart in Buffalo.

Lucia was adopted quickly…but moments after her adoption, while the adopter was walking to her car to bring Lucia home, Lucia fell through the bottom of the cat carrier and was gone.  Devoted CBAS volunteers, including SPCA employee Tammi Cogswell, searched for this cat, and in these two years, right up until this week, continued to put food out for her (courtesy of dedicated CBAS volunteer Mary, who made the search for Lucia a regular part of her life for two years!) in the hopes of capturing her, but with no success.

Several months ago, a woman named Susan came to the SPCA to surrender her mother’s cat, and Tammi, working at our Admissions Desk, asked Susan the general questions asked upon intake: how Susan’s mom acquired the cat, how long she owned the cat, etc. The conversation turned to stray cats when Susan responded that her mother’s cat had been a stray; Susan offhandedly mentioned that there was another stray cat who had been in the area a few years, a cat with beautiful colors and ONE EYE!

Tammi, acting as the ever-vigilant animal advocate that she is, asked Susan if this stray cat was in the vicinity of the PetSmart location  in the city.  The answer was a resounding “Yes,” the cat took up residence on Buffalo’s Rebecca Drive, and Susan promised to send Tammi photos of the cat next time the kitty came around.

Over the last few months, Tammi sent messages to Susan asking about the cat, but Susan was never able to grab another photo. Earlier this month, Susan contacted Tammi asking to borrow a live trap in an effort to safely capture and contain this one-eyed beauty.

We learned this cat had captured many hearts during her 2+-year stay in the neighborhood, and while the entire community came together to help care for her, Lucia had touched the life of one man in particular named Stephen, who was a primary caretaker (he even built a house for her, complete with a heated floor mat). Stephen had become very attached to this little girl and named her “Manechan” (Stephen later said he named this feisty cat Manechan after a feisty, Thai princess…so her full name, Stephen told us, is Lucia Manechan!).

Susan shared with Stephen the possible story behind this stray and put him in touch with Tammi at the SPCA.

Jump ahead to this week…the one-eyed stray Stephen and others in the neighborhood had been caring for was finally safely secured with no trap needed, and arrangements were made for Susan to bring the kitty to the SPCA to be scanned for a microchip.

The big scan happened yesterday, and it was finally confirmed: the beautiful, one-eyed stray is, in fact, Lucia! There were plenty of tears of joy at the SPCA and CBAS over this exciting news! Thanks to Stephen, Susan, and the other amazing, caring community members in the neighborhood unable to keep Lucia, yet dedicated to looking out for her wellbeing, Lucia is alive, safe, and unharmed more than two years after her escape! 

Today, Lucia is, understandably, a little stressed, and we’re giving her time to relax and unwind after her adventures. At the time of this writing, SPCA representatives have contacted CBAS representatives to determine what happens next in little Lucia’s story!

The compassionate teams at the CBAS and SPCA, combined with a Buffalo neighborhood full of caring individuals including Stephen and Susan, exemplify an entire community coming together to care for the lives of its animals.

Keep watching this page and YourSPCA.org for updates on Lucia!

 

Tommy the Cat: Reunited for Christmas! One Stray Cat’s Buffalo-to-North Carolina Journey Home for the Holidays

December 10, 2020
By: SPCA Serving Erie County Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

See Tommy’s video here >>
“Reunited for Christmas” sounds like a favorite holiday movie with a fantasy ending. For Tommy the cat, however, this holiday fantasy ending was real!

Tommy, a sweet kitten, was adopted  at the SPCA Serving Erie County by then-Buffalo resident Frances Grinage back in June of 2018.  As part of his adoption, Tommy was microchipped at the SPCA. Frances says he fit right into her Buffalo home, where he lived with other four-footed friends…among them, dogs CoCo and Baby.

Frances tells us that every night, Tommy, CoCo, and Baby contentedly shared her bed for their nightly slumber, and that every morning, Tommy would wake her up with a “kiss” on the nose.

In August of 2020, Frances found herself on the move to North Carolina. Tommy, however, had other plans; as Frances was packing up the car to leave, Tommy escaped. Frances said she searched high and low and wanted to remain in Buffalo until she found Tommy, but finally had to begin her road trip without her beloved boy.

Jump ahead to earlier this December week. A good Samaritan who found a very sweet, stray cat arrived at the SPCA to surrender the kitty. It turns out this sweet cat was microchipped…and that chip identified Tommy’s owner as Frances.

When Frances received the call that Tommy had been found (approximately one mile from where Frances had lived!), she said she was elated! “I couldn’t believe it!” said Frances. “I felt like my heart was going to explode! All I wanted for Christmas was to have my Tommy back.”

The SPCA team went to work, and on Wednesday, December 9 (coincidentally during the annual SPCA T-Mobile Radiothon with Newsradio 930 WBEN and Star 102.5 FM Radio!), with a little help from the SPCA’s Cary Munschauer, Tommy packed his bags and headed to the Buffalo airport for his 1:30 p.m. flight to North Carolina!

As pictured here, Tommy patiently awaited his departure at the airport…seems he had a little bit to say when it was slightly delayed…but Tommy’s flight was closely monitored and it appeared to be a smooth trip home.

Frances contacted us early this morning to say that Tommy arrived safely home, and was resting after his travels! “He cried a lot at first, and was extremely nervous. He finally settled down around 8 p.m.”

Frances added that a 4 1/2-month break apparently did nothing to change Tommy’s routine! Right away, Frances tells us, “…he did recognize me and also CoCo and Baby! We all slept together again! It felt like old times.”

Even during a year as difficult as 2020, Tommy’s tale proves that miracles really do happen, especially in the City of Good Neighbors. An entire community came together to help this cat reunite with his loving mom and family.

“I’m truly happy he’s home,” says Frances. “Thank you and the entire staff of the SPCA for my early Christmas gift!”

See Tommy in this video re-telling of his story:

You can help make miracles like this happen at the SPCA Serving Erie County every day! Make your gift today >> 

William Mattar ‘Rescue a Shelter Animal’ Campaign Features SPCA Serving Erie County’s Unending Work

November 24, 2020

UPDATE, DECEMBER 4, 2020: See more on this campaign on WKBW-TV’s AM Buffalo!
___________________________________________________

Car accident attorney William Mattar recently teamed up with the SPCA Serving Erie County to produce a new television commercial showcasing the SPCA’s tireless and vital work. The spot premiered during the law firm’s annual Rescue a Shelter Animal campaign and features several clips of what happens behind the scenes at the humane society, echoing the message that the SPCA NEVER STOPS.

“From our Rescue a Shelter Animal campaign, we have been able to learn so much about the SPCA Serving Erie County. Our campaign has always focused on rescuing animals. As important as that still is, and in growing our relationship with the Erie County SPCA, we learned that they never stop serving our community. By sponsoring the SPCA and developing this commercial, we wanted the public to be aware of all the vital work they do and encourage everyone to support them at this crucial time. Because once you see it firsthand, you want to help, and you feel a sense of responsibility to make everyone else around you aware,” said William Mattar, pictured here with Peanut Butter Mattar.

“We at the SPCA take that word ‘serving’ in our name very seriously,” says Gina Lattuca, SPCA Serving Erie County chief communications officer. “During this COVID phase, with the patient support of our community members, services like animal rescue, cruelty investigations, wildlife rehabilitation, animal adoptions and admissions, and more still haven’t stopped. We’re incredibly thankful to William Mattar and his team for allowing us to share that message and, in this commercial, provide a rare, behind-the-scenes peek into the work going on every day at the SPCA Serving Erie County.”

Before an animal is paired with its forever home, the SPCA staff and volunteers work tirelessly preparing animals for adoption, including behavioral development, training, providing veterinary care, and everything in between. “Without their ongoing efforts to prepare these animals for a smooth and lasting transition to their forever homes, adoptions would not be successful,” said William Mattar. With the launch of this commercial and through the law firm’s Rescue a Shelter Animal campaign, William Mattar encourages the public to support the SPCA Serving Erie County by providing donations that go directly towards rescuing animals, providing essential resources, and fighting animal cruelty.

William Mattar covered the cost of the SPCA Serving Erie County commercial and has donated all the airtime.  The commercial is available below, or watch it on the William Mattar Rescue a Shelter Animal campaign page (beneath the Pet Photo Contest information).

For more information, visit www.WilliamMattar.com.

JUST PIZZA IN AMHERST ASKS CUSTOMERS TO BE THE CHANGE IN AN ANIMAL’S LIFE THROUGHOUT NOVEMBER

October 29, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Next month, in addition to supplying the people of our community with delicious food, JUST PIZZA & WING CO. in Amherst will encourage customers to round up their totals to benefit the animals at the SPCA Serving Erie County!

Be The Change in an Animal’s Life will run November 1 – 30 only at Just Pizza & Wing Co.’s 2319 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst location. Customers can round up their bills to the nearest dollar amount (payment can be in any form) and/or donate any spare change they have, and their donations will help change an animal’s life at the SPCA.

Mary Alloy, owner of Just Pizza & Wing Co.’s Amherst location, has been a longtime supporter and friend of the animals at the SPCA Serving Erie County, and has made significant contributions to several SPCA events in the past.

“We love the animals in our community, and this is just one small way we can help the SPCA,” Alloy says. “It warms my heart, seeing an animal rescued and knowing he or she is in a better place at the SPCA. We want to do our part to increase funding and awareness for all of the wonderful work the SPCA Serving Erie County does, and maybe help an animal find a loving home this holiday season.”

For more information on November’s round-up program for the SPCA, contact Just Pizza & Wing Co., 716-568-1000, or Phil Weiss, annual giving manager at the SPCA Serving Erie County: 716-875-7360, ext. 243.

DOMESTIC MALE RATS ADDED TO NEUTER LIST AT SPCA SERVING ERIE COUNTY

August 24, 2020
By: SPCA Shelter Veterinarian Dr. Allison Kean; Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth; Director of Behavior and Research Miranda K. Workman 

The SPCA Serving Erie County is now neutering male rats prior to adoption. Neutering male rats can have several benefits that result in improved welfare for the rats, their cagemates, and their humans.

Males can be neutered as early as eight to 12 weeks of age. A neuter is a less- risky procedure than a spay (ovariohysterectomy) for females, which is why the SPCA is limiting sterilization surgeries to males.

Benefits of neutering male rats include the following:

-The risk for testicular cancer is eliminated after neutering. Reproductive cancers are very common in rats; neutering can potentially increase their lifespan. The greatest increase in average lifespan for male rats is associated with early neuter (eight to 12 weeks old).

-Neutered rats can be housed with female rats (spayed or intact) without the risk of impregnating the females. This increases their potential adoption opportunities as they are not restricted to housing with males only. (Research indicates that most males are sterile by one week post-neuter, although introductions to females may be safest after two weeks post-neuter to ensure the males have completely healed from the procedure and are no longer experiencing post-operative pain.)

-Neutered rats are significantly less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior toward their cage mates, behavior that may result in injury and/or death. At sexual maturity, due to increased testosterone, it is common for male rats to display increased aggressive behavior.

-It is also easier to introduce new rats to neutered rats than intact males who are more likely to attack “intruders” to their housing space. Introducing new rats to adult, intact males resulted in death for 21% of the introduced rats in one study* (Flannelly & Thor, 1978).

-Neutered males urine mark much less often than intact males. This can help keep their housing units cleaner than if they are urine marking more frequently.

-Neutered males are also more prosocial with humans and are easier to handle due to the decreased influence of hormones on their behavior. The risk of aggressive behavior toward humans is decreased with neutering.

With all the benefits above, there is one small downside:

-Neutered males are at a slightly higher risk of obesity, which is why we encourage a good quality diet and regular exercise and enrichment.

Given the evidence provided by research combined with the experience of the SPCA’s Director of Behavior and Research Miranda K. Workman and Shelter Veterinarian Dr. Allison Kean, we can confidently say that neutering male rats increases the welfare of each individual rat, their cage mates, and their human companions. Thus, in line with the SPCA Serving Erie County’s mission, we are now neutering all male rats prior to adoption. The adoption fee for domestic rats is $15.00, and this fee includes the males’ neuter surgeries.

Web references for information above include:

*http://www.ratbehavior.org/Neutering.htm

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/neutering-in-rats

https://ratcentral.com/should-i-neuter-my-male-rat/

BID NOW!
Remember when there was hockey in Buffalo? Think back. When last we left the ice, the Buffalo Sabres were in the midst of celebrating their 50th anniversary….and announcer Dan Dunleavy is one of the people you’d often hear calling each Sabres’ goal. Now, Dan, longtime SPCA supporter, is the one scoring for the animals at the SPCA Serving Erie County, and you can get the assist!

Buffalo Sabres broadcasters Marty Biron, Brian Duff, Rick Jeanneret, Dan, and Rob Ray are auctioning off the commemorative gold blazers they wore this season, and Dan is donating the proceeds from his blazer auction to the animals at the SPCA Serving Erie County! Dan will personally sign his jacket to the winning bidder, and to complete the hat trick, his jacket will also be signed by fan favorites Jeanneret and Ray!

YOU can get the assist on this goal! Bid now through
9:15 p.m. August 23, and bring a little hockey history home! Place your bid and learn more at https://auctions.nhl.com/iSynApp/auctionDisplay.action?auctionId=3280575

–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Serving Erie County Chief Communications Officer

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