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 >>

SPCA Serving Erie County LVT Constantino is Nominee for 2021 American Humane Hero Veterinary Nurse Award

Vote for Marisa each day >>

June 18, 2021 — The annual American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards™ honor the heroes who dedicate their lives to making a difference in animals’ lives, and this year, the SPCA Serving Erie County’s Marisa Constantino, LVT and Dr. Allison Kean, DVM were both nominated for these awards and recognition!

Constantino, pictured here, is one of five veterinary nurses selected to advance to the voting round!

Voting for the 2021 American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards™ ,  sponsored by Zoetis Petcare, is now open!  From now until 12 p.m. Pacific Time on July 29, 2021, you can vote for your favorite vet and vet nurse each day. Your votes will determine the winners that will be featured on Hallmark Channel this fall.

If you are a U.S. resident at least 18 years old, please vote for Marisa each day right here >>

Marisa was nominated due to the outstanding care she provides. Her nomination at AmericanHumane.org reads as follows: 

Marisa demonstrates the characteristics of an American Hero Veterinary Nurse on a daily basis. She demonstrates the perfect balance of professionalism, compassion, logic, curiosity, and reason. Marisa approaches each animal she is presented with as if that animal is the only one she will treat that day, and may not see again. For a large, open admission, multi-species shelter, and public-facing clinic, Marisa does the work of 3 technicians. She has taken on the role of trainer and mentor to a large number of 4th year veterinary students on a regular shelter rotation, and does so with the knowledge that she has been influenced by preceptor mentors like her, and strives to pay it forward, also with the knowledge that these future veterinarians will depend on the talents and skills of technicians as they settle into their career, and knowing how to navigate that partnership with grace and professional respect is crucial.

 As animal welfare shifts to a true social service initiative, the ability to serve people with the same respect as animals in need is a skill that Marisa demonstrates without even trying. She sees the big picture, and works to undo much of the oppression and discrimination that many clients seeking services have experienced at some point in their lives. Marisa sees only solutions, not barriers. 

Animal welfare needs to care about people as much as it cares about animals, and Marisa is a perfect vision of that goal. 

The SPCA’s Vice President of Veterinary Services, Melanie Rushforth, says, “It is an honor to work with someone like Marisa on a daily basis.  She is a humble caretaker and an innovative veterinary nurse who represents the industry with the utmost professionalism.  She helps others be better.” We couldn’t agree more!

One winning Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse will be featured on the 2021 American Humane Hero Dog Awards® broadcast on Hallmark Channel this fall!

Please take this opportunity to vote for Marisa as recipient of the American Humane Hero Veterinary Nurse Award™, and encourage your friends and family members to do the same! 

–SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

 

Our favorite, Terry Buchwald, is back with the WNY Elvis Appreciation Society to help the animals at the SPCA!  All the details are in the flier below! But just for fun…how many references to Elvis songs can you find in this write-up? (HINT: There are 17, and extra credit for another one that is loosely referenced!)


Memories of pre-COVID days got you down and you don’t even want to get out of bed? Well, set that teddy bear aside and don’t worry too much about being lonesome tonight…or at least not on May 23! We’re all shook up to announce that ELVIS FOREVER is back to benefit the hound dogs and other animals at the SPCA Serving Erie County! And we can’t help falling in love with Buffalo Music Hall of Fame member Terry Buchwald…we know you’ll love him tender too!…as he gives us a little less conversation and a whole lot more of the music we ALL have a burning love for! Put on your blue suede shoes and join the WNY Elvis Appreciation Society and the SPCA Sunday, May 23, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m., in the parking lot of the Elks Lodge, 33 Legion Pkwy., way down in Lancaster! (Our good luck charms should keep the rain away, but just in case, a rain date is set for June 6!) See the flier here for all the details! And tickets are going fast, so it’s now or never! We don’t want to be cruel, but when they’re gone, they’re gone…just call Trish at
716-481-0958 and she’ll tell you where to mail your check; then the tickets will be returned to sender. Even if we can’t bossa nova together, at least we can all sing along! See you later this month!

–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Chief Communications Officer

March 30, 2021 — This story was released in 2019  to help pet owners make it a safe Easter for pets. This Easter is very different from 2019’s, but some of these reminders are still applicable for community members planning on bringing at least a few Easter traditions into the home on Sunday. 

LILIES, CHOCOLATE HARMFUL TO PETS; OTHER EASTER PET SAFETY REMINDERS

March 25, 2019
By: Gina Lattuca, SPCA Chief Communications Officer

The SPCA Serving Erie County reminds pet owners that chocolate and Easter lilies can be harmful, even deadly, to pets.

All parts of the Easter lily, day lily, tiger lily, rubrum lily, and others are toxic to felines. Ingesting even a small amount of the plant can result in kidney failure and, if untreated, death. Shortly after ingestion, a cat may vomit, become lethargic, or develop a lack of appetite. As the kidney damage progresses, these signs worsen. In most cases, a cat must be treated within mere hours of ingesting the plant, or damage to the kidneys will be irreversible.

Most chocolate contains high amounts of fat and methylxanthine alkaloids (theobromine and caffeine) that cause constriction of arteries, increased heart rate, and central nervous system/cardiac muscle stimulation.

These effects can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, excessive panting and thirst, hyperactivity, increased urinating, stiffness, and exaggerated reflexes. Cardiac failure, seizures, coma, and death can result if the chocolate ingestion is not found within four to six hours and treated appropriately.

Other reminders:

*Thinking about bringing a bunny into the home? Check out this important article from the SPCA’s former Rabbit Coordinator Mark Schnerle and the House Rabbit Society. You’ll see the truth about the nine most common bunny myths, you’ll learn how to select the right rabbit for you and your family, and more!

*If you color your Easter eggs, ensure the food colorings or dyes do not contain ingredients that are toxic to pets. And speaking of eggs, why risk salmonella by including raw eggs in your pets’ diet? Cooked eggs will offer them the same nutritional benefit.

*Check candy for the ingredient XYLITOL, extremely toxic to dogs even in very small amounts. Xylitol is a low-calorie sugar alcohol used as a sweetener, and does not raise human blood sugar levels or damage teeth. However, it’s extremely toxic to dogs and can cause liver failure, seizures, and death.

*Keep Easter basket ‘grass’ and foil candy wrappers away from pets. These items are non-digestible and can get caught in the intestines, leading to blockage and possible perforation. They can lead to choking, strangulation, and even worse, an internal obstruction.

*If you’re using garlic, onions, or chives in meal preparation, be extra careful about ensuring your pets aren’t sneaking a taste. These items are toxic to both cats and dogs and can cause gastroenteritis and hemolytic anemia. Adding to the risk is the fact that signs of both may not appear for several days. Signs of toxicity include increased heart/breathing rates, pale gums, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and lethargy.

*Tempted to share holiday table scraps with Fido or Fluffy? Use discretion. Be aware of bones in the mix. And don’t overfeed your animal with table food to which he’s not accustomed…diarrhea is never a pleasant thing with which to deal, especially on a holiday.

*Be careful in selecting spring plants for the home. The foliage, flower, or pod of daffodils can cause upset tummies, vomiting, or diarrhea; flower heads of hydrangeas can cause stomach pains, vomiting, and weakness; the seeds and pods of wisteria can cause all of the above plus dehydration and collapse; even ivy is toxic and can cause breathing difficulty, coma, or death.

*Be sure curious pets are not able to get at a garbage bag! Even if harmful items are properly disposed of, an unsupervised pet can chew through a plastic garbage bag and still have access to raw bones and other waste.

Contact your veterinarian for more information.  In an after-hours or holiday veterinary emergency, you can reach an emergency veterinary clinic at 716-839-4043 in Cheektowaga, or 716-662-6660 in Orchard Park.

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 >> 

FREE ADOPTIONS TO CURRENT, PAST MEMBERS OF MILITARY DURING VETS & PETS, PRESENTED BY GEICO®

October 31, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

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

Vets & Pets begins Sunday, November 1 and runs through Veterans Day Wednesday, November 11 at the SPCA’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca shelter and all SPCA offsite adoption locations. (Please note, the SPCA’s West Seneca shelter is closed Sunday, Nov. 1 and Sunday, Nov. 8, but many offsite adoption locations are open.)

Military ID or DD214 will need to be presented.

November 2020’s Vets & Pets program is proudly presented by GEICO®.

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

SEE ADOPTABLE ANIMALS >>
SEE OFFSITE ADOPTION LOCATIONS >>

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.