NYS Finds Violations at SPCA of Niagara

January 10, 2012 Updated Jan 10, 2012 at 7:53 PM EDT

By John Borsa

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January 10, 2012 Updated Jan 10, 2012 at 7:53 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Inspectors with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets found the SPCA of Niagara to be a safe facility for animals when they conducted a surprise visit of the shelter last Friday.

"Our inspectors found the establishment does provide first and foremost a clean and safe environment for its animals," said Jessica Ziehm, spokesperson for the department.

However, inspectors said they found three instances of dogs being euthanized prior to the mandatory five day waiting period.

"There was no record of a veterinarian's examination on file stating that the dogs could not be made comfortable during the redemption period," the report states.

"If an animal is ill or injured," Ziehm said, "And it does have a veterinarian stating that the dog is untreatable they can euthanize prior to that redemption period."

Without the proper records, Ziehm added, it will be difficult to know if the euthanized dogs were healthy and treatable or not.

The report also said sections of chain link in six dog runs were pulled away from pole supports and a metal panel on one dog run was corroded with an exposed sharp edge, which could injure an animal.

However, the dog runs were not being used at the time of inspection. The state is recommending repairs before those runs are used.

The SPCA of Niagara was last inspected in June of 2011 and passed without any citations, Ziehm said.

The unauthorized euthanizations discovered in this inspection will not result in a fine, but only a warning letter, since it is SPCA of Niagara's first offense, she added.

The SPCA of Niagara issued this release to Eyewitness News in response to the inspection results:

SPCA of Niagara Releases Report of Surprise N.Y.S. Department of Agriculture Inspection
Move to release the report shows the organization continues to be open, honest, and transparent with the community concerning the quality of animal care

(Niagara Falls) – An independent and surprise review of the SPCA of Niagara by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets shows the agency marked “yes” to 18 of 19 quality of care issues pertaining to the care of animals in the facility. The surprise inspection took place on Friday, January 6th, 2012. According to the report released by the N.Y.S. Department Agriculture, inspectors answered “yes” to the following questions following their surprise inspection:

· Shelter is structurally sound: YES

· Housing area and equipment is sanitized regularly: YES

· Repairs are done when necessary: YES

· Dogs are handled safely: YES

· Adequate space is available for all dogs: YES

· Light is sufficient for observation: YES

· Ventilation is adequate: YES

· Drainage is adequate: YES

· Temperature extremes are avoided: YES

· Clean food and water is available and in ample amount:
YES

· Veterinary care is provided when necessary: YES

· Dogs are euthanized humanely, by authorized personnel:
YES

· Complete intake and disposition records are maintained
for all seized dogs: YES

· Dogs transferred for purposes of adoption in compliance
with Article 7: YES

· Owners of identified dogs are properly notified: YES

· Redeemed dogs are licensed before release: YES

· Proper impoundment fees paid before dogs are released:
YES

· Written contract or lease with municipality: YES

“We thank the New York State Department of Agriculture for their independent and surprise inspection. This information will be immediately sent to the SPCA Serving Erie County for their review. We will be open, honest, and transparent when it comes to communicating with the community about the quality of care we provide animals in Niagara County. That is why we are sharing this information with the public,” said SPCA of Niagara Executive Director John Faso.

“Our organization is always pro-active in looking at ways to improve policies and procedures. We will review this information, share it with our staff and volunteers, and work collaboratively to find ways to further improve our facility,” said SPCA of Niagara Board of Directors President Bruno “Brandy” Scrufari.

The review shows inspectors answered “yes” to 18 out of 19 parameters, with the only “no” answer being provided to the question: “redemption period is observed before adoption, euthanasia, or transfer” as it pertains to incomplete paperwork on three sick or injured dogs.