New York Senator George Maziarz on Tuesday issued a statement calling for an independent investigation into the activities of the Niagara County SPCA and the adoption of modern methods of shelter management.
The statement reads:
“Since my press release of January 3, I have spoken at length with local government leaders and representatives of both local and national animal welfare organizations. These individuals have further convinced me that a truly independent and transparent investigation of the allegations concerning the Niagara County SPCA (NC SPCA) is absolutely necessary.
“Although the NC SPCA has selected the Erie County SPCA (EC SPCA) to conduct an investigation, there are undisputed, documented links between the two organizations which put the objectivity of the EC SPCA as an investigative entity in doubt. For example, the EC SPCA and NC SPCA admittedly share staff members. The EC SPCA also admits transferring animals to the Niagara facility. At least one board member of the NC SPCA is employed by a board member of the EC SPCA. The NC SPCA has also retained an attorney to assist in the investigation being conducted by the EC SPCA. Although there is a dispute as to whether he has been hired to conduct an investigation or has been hired to represent the NC SPCA board, the NC SPCA simply cannot satisfy community concerns by choosing its own inquisitors.
“Since these allegations came to light, numerous individuals and groups concerned with the welfare of companion animals have contacted my office. I have been able to gain a great deal of information about more modern and humane methods for dealing with what was once thought to be an unsolvable problem of dog and cat overpopulation. More particularly, I had an opportunity to share an hour long phone conference call with Wheatfield Supervisor Robert Cliffe; the leader of Animal Allies of Western New York, Morgan Dunbar; and Nathan J. Winograd, a world expert, author, lecturer, advocate and spokesperson for the “No Kill” movement. Mr. Winograd is the Director of the national No Kill Advocacy Center. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School, a former criminal prosecutor and attorney, and held a variety of leadership positions including director of operations and executive director of two of the most successful shelters in the nation. He has spoken nationally and internationally on animal sheltering issues, has written animal protection legislation at the state and national level, has created successful No Kill programs in both urban and rural communities, and has consulted with a wide range of animal protection groups including some of the largest and best known in the world.
“As a result of these conversations, there appear to be many innovative ideas and methods which could drastically reduce and perhaps even eliminate the need for healthy or treatable animals to be killed at local shelters. It is now time for the NC SPCA to begin to incorporate these up to date ideas into their operations. This would be greatly facilitated by the appointment of local No Kill advocates to their board of directors. There is no shortage of such talent in Western New York. I am willing to offer my support to such efforts and urge all the citizens of Niagara County to join me in this worthy community endeavor.”
The SPCA issued a statement of its own in response later Tuesday. It reads:
An independent investigation is welcomed provided the investigating agency understands an SPCAs role in the community, and its responsibility to the animals and people of that community. If an investigation is performed blindly with limited or no knowledge of shelter protocol, its benefits are questionable.
This statement by Mr. Maziarz was released without checking a single fact with the SPCA Serving Erie County. Making statements without taking the time to research the facts is incredibly dangerous and can be extremely misleading. In the end, actions that are taken based on uneducated statements can never be effective, because they’re based on either mistruths or the omission of relevant facts. Actions taken need to be based on all the facts, not on partial facts that allude to lies.
If Mr. Maziarz is going to offer his assistance, we hope he will take the time to properly educate himself regarding modern methods of shelter management, so that his statements and decisions are better-informed. He could be a great asset to such an investigation.
-The SPCA Serving Erie County's primary focus is and remains SAVING AS MANY ANIMALS’ LIVES AS POSSIBLE. This has never changed. We welcome whatever measures it takes to arrive at that goal, provided those measures are informed and ethical.
The public can draw its own conclusions regarding the uninformed statements made by Mr. Maziarz concerning "undisputed, documented links" between the two organizations, but we are of the mind that Mr. Maziarz is misleading the public by not detailing these “links” and putting them in some kind of scope:
STATEMENT: For example, the EC SPCA and NC SPCA admittedly share staff members.
No. When one of the SPCAEC veterinary technicians, a caring man and Niagara County resident, realized that the veterinary technician of the NCSPCA resigned, he also realized the number of animals there who may not receive any form of veterinary care. He chose to volunteer personal time to go to the shelter and provide any level of care needed until a new veterinary technician was brought aboard. In all, he donated approximately 25 hours in 1 1/2 months, and in that time, didn’t euthanize a single animal for reasons other than suffering. No staff members are shared between the two separate organizations.
STATEMENT: EC SPCA also admits transferring animals to the Niagara facility. In 2010, when the SPCA was completely out of room for cats and we embarked on a large animal rescue, 10 of the cats were transferred to the NCSPCA for adoption. In 2011, when our small animal habitat was filled, 6 rodents were transferred to the NCSPCA for adoption. 16 animals' lives were saved in two years thanks to these measures. When the NCSPCA is in a position to save lives, we take advantage of that. If these life-saving measures are considered a “link” between the two organizations, so be it.