November 13, 2013


SPCA opens its doors to the city

SPCAJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland Police Chief F. Michael Catalano visits the cat room during a tour Tuesday of the Cortland County SPCA.

Staff Reporter

The Cortland County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals held an open house at its McLean Road location in Cortlandville Tuesday night, inviting the city’s aldermen, mayor and chief of police.
The open house comes after concerns from the Common Council that the SPCA was not doing enough to curb the city’s feral cat population.
Of those invited, only Chief F. Michael Catalano and Alderman Julie Bird (D-1st Ward) attended the 7 p.m. event. SPCA Board of Directors President Kitty Totman led a PowerPoint presentation that highlighted the services the organization provides to animals and the community before leading attendees on a tour of the facility.
Alderman Ken Dye (D-3rd Ward) questioned in October if the group was doing enough for the $80,000 the city pays the organization for dog control.
Totman said Tuesday’s open house is the first of a number of presentations the organization will put on to try and educate the community on the SPCA’s practices.
Representatives from the SPCA will also present to the Common Council during its meeting Tuesday night.
One particular point of emphasis from Totman’s presentation was the shelter is a no-kill facility and will only euthanize animals that are critically sick, injured or dangerous. Some animals have spent a year at the shelter waiting to be adopted, which Totman says is the ultimate goal for every animal in its care.
The shelter employs two full-time investigators to respond to animal control issues and reports of animal cruelty or abandonment. Investigators are on call every day, all day.
A recent rise in crime has led to additional abandoned and abused pets, according to the shelter’s law enforcement manager Ed Lake. If their owners are arrested, the animals are left stranded and the SPCA takes them in.
With the close relationship between the police department and SPCA, Catalano was glad to see the facilities.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been here,” said Catalano, who has two cats and one dog that were all adopted from SPCA shelters.
While the SPCA is tasked with removing animals from harmful situation, sometimes they are mistreated unintentionally by uneducated owners. In those instances, the SPCA attempts to step in and provide education to prevent animals being taken away and charges of animal cruelty.
“Lots of times the people we deal with don’t know how to treat the animals,” Lake said. “If we can educate them, it doesn’t reach that level.”
The shelter will also provide free pet food to low-income families who can’t afford to feed their pets. Surplus food at the shelter is given out weekly in the amount that a family might need to feed a dog or cat.
Totman said the shelter also provides temporary housing for pets displaced by house fires or an owner leaving an abusive relationship, a situation some people remain in because they do not know what to do with their beloved pet.
“Sometimes that pet is their sole reason for living,” Totman said. “They aren’t going to leave without that animal.”
Bird was impressed with the facilities and wide scope of activities the SPCA is involved in, especially wildlife control. A pet owner, she also was glad to see the animals were not solely confined to cages and had room to move around.
“I know a lot more,” Bird said after her visit. “I thought it’s interesting how they’re run by so many volunteers.”


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