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 >>

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SPCA SERVING ERIE COUNTY WELCOMES THREE NEW STAFF MEMBERS IN VETERINARY SERVICES AND ALL-NEW ANIMAL BEHAVIOR & RESEARCH DEPARTMENTS

August 10, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

The SPCA Serving Erie County is pleased to announce the hiring of three new staff members, two in its Veterinary Services Department and one in its redesigned Animal Behavior & Research Department.

MELANIE RUSHFORTH (holding Sophie) is the SPCA’s Vice President of Veterinary Services. After working in the human services industry, Rushforth became the Executive Director of Northwest Spay & Neuter Center in Tacoma, WA in 2014. During her tenure, Rushforth stabilized the clinic’s income stream while maintaining a focus on cost-management. More than 70,000 animals were altered, the organization’s animal transport program expanded from three to 16 counties served, and registered partner relationships with other animal welfare organizations grew from one to 83. Rushforth has presented at national animal welfare conferences and symposiums.

Together with her staff in the SPCA’s infirmary and in the public Stanford & Judith C. Lipsey Veterinary Clinic at the SPCA, Rushforth will help the SPCA design and deliver compassionate, efficient medical services to the animals in its care. Rushforth is committed to increasing efforts to keep pets in loving homes by making the SPCA a resource for affordable care and by providing educational resources surrounding prevention and ongoing wellness.

“I’m excited to be at the SPCA Serving Erie County because it is such a cornerstone of Western New York,” says Rushforth. “It is rich with history and deep roots that demonstrate compassionate service and the ability to evolve over time to meet the needs of the community. I’m looking forward to being part of the work that meets the whole family, human and animal, where they are in an effort to preserve and maintain a healthy bond for life.”

Rushforth shares her home and heart with four cats and “…one perfect, senior dog.”


DR. ALLISON KEAN is returning to the SPCA Serving Erie County, this time as Shelter Veterinarian. Her duties will include performing surgery and managing medical cases for the SPCA’s shelter population alongside those who she calls, “…a  very dedicated group of technicians, assistants, and volunteers.”

Originally from Western New York, Dr. Kean volunteered at the SPCA prior to attending veterinary school. She completed her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University after attending Canisius College, where she majored in psychology with a concentration in animal behavior.

After veterinary school, Dr. Kean, Fear Free-certified and certified in veterinary acupuncture, worked in small animal non-profit and shelter medicine in Denver and Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Kean volunteers with multiple organizations and performs surgeries around the world; she has most recently been involved with “Spayathon” for Puerto Rico.

Excited to bring her experience and enthusiasm for shelter medicine to the SPCA, and to be able to continue helping the animals in our community, Dr. Kean is happy to be closer to her family, and enjoys hiking and spending time with her own pets. “I volunteered at the SPCA before veterinary school,” Dr. Kean says, “and I was always impressed with the various programs and the people. I knew that if I moved back to the area, this is where I wanted to be.”


MIRANDA K. WORKMAN, anthrozoologist and former owner of Purrfect Paws Animal Behavior Center, LLC, also returns to the SPCA Serving Erie County as the Director of the all-new Animal Behavior & Research Department. Workman has spent the last decade as a professor at Canisius College and is lead trainer/mentor and program developer for the Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive programs at GreaterGood.org; she is also a current PhD candidate in Sociology at the University at Buffalo, focusing on exploring the intersection of humans, other animals, family, and the environment. Workman currently serves as a council member for the American Sociological Association’s Animals & Society section council. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, Inc. and as the Chair of the Cat Division for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

Workman is looking forward to developing a new, top-notch Behavior & Research Department focused on the behavioral welfare of the animals in the care of the SPCA. “I’m excited to return to the SPCA, this time as the Director of Animal Behavior and Research,” she says. “It’s a position that allows me to combine my academic and applied experiences in animal behavior, anthrozoology, and sociology. I look forward to using my unique skill set, knowledge, and experience to maximize the behavioral welfare of sheltered animals, and endeavor to create a rich research program aimed at improving the human-animal relationship through evidence-based programs and networking with research scientists.”

Workman and her husband share their home with three dogs, four cats, four rats, and one mouse.

All three professionals have started their work at the SPCA Serving Erie County, and the organization’s Board of Directors and staff members are excited over the collective level of experience added to both the Veterinary Services and Animal Behavior & Research Departments.

Information and news from both departments will continue to be shared at YourSPCA.org.