Wednesday, September 05, 2012

What can we (you) do to help the SPCA

A punch in the stomach.  That is what it felt like yesterday morning when I read the Niagara Falls Reporter story on the Cattaraugus  County SPCA.

It felt so for several reasons.  First, and most importantly, because I hate to see animals suffer.  And if the story is true, it is too much to stomach.

The second reason for the instant stomach ache was that BonaResponds has worked there many many times and I know and like many of the people and the animals there.  I don't want them to be hurt.  The workers all care greatly about animals and do a thankless job.

Having been there many times, I should first say that I have not seen anything as bad as was reported by the Niagara Falls Reporter.

  (Warning: you seriously do not want to click through.  It was that bad.)

The video that accompanies the article is here:

Slow Kill at Cattaraugus County SPCA (Olean, New York). THIS IS NOT NO KILL - YouTube

Immediately upon reading the article, we (Jim) emailed the SPCA laying out some steps that we can do to help.  However, and this is a HUGE however, we can only help if we get volunteers.


"I was very sorry to see the article from Niagara Falls Reporter this AM. If you have not seen it I apologize for being the bearer of bad news.  It is a horrible story. Indeed it turned my stomach.

Although the below suggestions may appear to be critical, it is truly not my intention.  I am looking at the SPCA through the eyes of someone who cares about animals, sees things as a business person, and has been to the SPCA often, so please trust me that I am not trying to be critical, just trying to help. 

The article is troubling on many levels and I am sure they were looking for the worst and it only takes one "source" to have things blown up.  That said, there appears to be problems (size of facility etc) [and many of these things we have discussed before].  But I will also ask, how can BonaResponds help? 

It is such a huge task and you are doing great work, but constantly getting bad press for it.  It really is a thankless job you all have.
Clearly these ideas may  not all be possible, wanted, or even needed but they are things I have been thinking for a while to make it easier up there for you all and I would feel guilty if I did not mention them to you.

[Our] ideas: 

1. More vet coverage surely costs money [and I know you are always short of money.  Perhaps this story may be good if it gets people to donate more and I am not sure how we could help with this as we depend on donations ourselves], although the marketing intern might help.  I would encourage you to reach out to....the internship program for the School of Business. (Mike Kasperski's email address deleted)

2. Put up new fences for increased outside play area.  Have a gate to allow an "alley way" between areas on each side.  Eyeballing it, could increase play areas to at least 6 and improve efficiency in getting dogs in and out of their kennels. This would allow the dogs more outside time and also make it easier on your employees freeing up their time for other jobs.

3. Aforementioned boardwalk on the North side of the building (or maybe even just clearing and using gravel to allow the area to be used (cheaper--not as nice but cheaper).  This makes it less stressful for dogs and volunteers (maybe get more dog walkers to come?) I spoke with manager at Home Depot this week and they are interested in helping.  Also I spoke with a person who has a bull dozer who said he could spread gravel to make a path with pipes underneath to allow any water flow easier flow.

4. [Starting a] daily volunteer program (NOT BonaResponds--we simply do not have the time, but we can get a volunteer to help get it started and I am sure some will help on an ongoing basis--some of our leaders were there this weekend walking dogs in fact) to have more people sign up and take a single day a month of walking dogs for an hour or so.  Even an ad campaign to start this. Have dog walking times posted outside, online, and even in the paper.   Have some in the [morning] for people who work, and then after work as well.

5. Thinking longer term, Kitty Kingdom seems to me (and by no means am I an expert at all on this) too crowded?  Maybe convert some of the barn, or put up a new shed that could take washer-dryer-food space to increase room in the building? A capital campaign build around a video of current overcrowding would surely raise enough money for a small expansion?

6. Easier entrance. Sounds silly, but volunteers are already nervous to be out of their environment and then to approach down a bumpy one lane road can be stressful and may deter some.

I know you are all overworked up there and have next to no money, and these suggestions are not to be critical, [rather] just some ideas I had this summer when up there. 

To emphasize the enormity of your task (and seriously not to add to them), I have had two calls from a woman who is 81 years old and feeding 20 cats.  She is very worried it is too much for her and feels awful about it, but does not know what to do.  She can't let them starve.  Her friend (who called) was about crying on the phone with her sense of powerlessness.  Any ideas? 

Thanks, sorry, and good luck.  We will help in anyway we can.  I hope this email is not seen as criticism.  It is not meant to be.




In the past 25 hours, we have had talks with student BonaResponds leaders as well as alumni.  To a person we want to help.  Matt, a Junior Marketing major, has taken the reigns and is helping to organize a group of BonaResponds volunteers that will make twice a month trips to the SPCA to walk dogs.  With SPCA permission we will also help extend the walking program to make it easier for people to do this on a regular basis.

On September 29th as part of our WarmSnugglyBlanket/Collection day we will be collecting cat litter for the SPCA (that was stated as their biggest need last week).  Also we will help get them a marketing intern to help with adoptions and fund raising.

However, these programs can not happen without the support of you all.  Get involved.  Stop in at the SPCA and walk dogs, adopt a cat, have your animals spayed and neutered.  

To get started, we will have a very short BonaResponds meeting devoted to the SPCA initiatives on Thursday (tomorrow) at 4:30 in Murphy.  All are invited.

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