Reaction To Niagara County SPCA Investigation

January 27, 2012 Updated Jan 27, 2012 at 6:57 PM EDT

By WKBW News

January 27, 2012 Updated Jan 27, 2012 at 6:57 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release ) As Barbara Carr of the Erie County SPCA releases her report on operations and management of the Niagara County SPCA, area No Kill advocates expressed disappointment that an independent third party was not allowed to participate and monitor the probe.

Morgan Dunbar, of Animal Allies of Western New York, had been vigorously pushing for such an independent investigation. Her position resonated with Senator George Maziarz, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, and members of the Niagara Falls City Council, among others, who also called for more independence in the review.

Buffalo Humane, an area No Kill advocacy and rescue group, will be scrutinizing Ms. Carr’s report carefully. President Carol Tutzauer will lead the review. “I will certainly keep an open mind, and I’m sure that Ms. Carr’s report will address numerous practices related to standard shelter operations. However, equally important will be issues related to the hiring of John Faso with little or no background in animal welfare and protection, along with his ties to some existing board members. I’m also concerned about retaliatory and threatening behavior against persons inside the shelter who were brave enough to come forward with their concerns – threats that may compromise efforts to uncover or document alleged incidents of abuse and neglect.”

Buffalo Humane will issue their review and any critique once the report is made publicly available.

“Regardless of the Erie County SPCA’s report,” says Clara Miller, a Buffalo Humane board member and Vice President of Communications, “it is apparent that improvements are sorely needed at the Niagara SPCA. If we can move forward and help the shelter and Niagara County embrace a truly No Kill mindset, then much good will have come out of this crisis. We would all prefer to put the past behind us, provided the Niagara County SPCA’s Board of Directors will take their mission and responsibilities seriously from this day forward.”

Asked what she would like to see next, Ms. Miller stressed that there is little doubt that shelter director John Faso must go, as well as those on the Board of Directors responsible for his hiring. The next critical step would be the hiring of a “truly visionary leader who will embrace the No Kill Equation and end the killing there – once and for all.”

Buffalo Humane will be having a No Kill Informational Meeting, Saturday, January 28, 3-5pm, at the Buffalo Humane Education and Event Center, 7007 Campbell Blvd, Pendleton NY. Those interested in learning more are invited to attend.

Assemblyman John D. Ceretto (R, I-Lewiston) and Maziarz (R, C, I- Newfane) on Friday reacted to the investigation into allegations of mistreatment of animals at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Niagara.

The lawmakers had previously called for such an investigation and have been monitoring the situation closely.

Among the items detailed in the report were: missing records for dogs that were euthanized as well as lack of documented treatment for dogs that ended up being euthanized. The investigation also revealed a lack of oversight from leadership within the SPCA of Niagara at both staff and board levels.

“The release of this report raises even more questions about practices at the SPCA of Niagara,” Ceretto said in a news release. “Serious allegations of poor record keeping for animals that were euthanized, decisions allegedly being based on ‘space’ concerns lead me to continue my call for a ‘kill free’ facility.”

“The SPCA of Niagara has much to answer for,” said Maziarz. “I have called for a true no-kill facility, and I believe firmly that the SPCA of Niagara will not recover, in the eyes of its volunteers, the supporters of its true mission and the municipalities they serve, until these steps are taken.”

Assemblyman Ceretto and Senator Maziarz represent large portions of Niagara County, including many municipalities that have withdrawn from their contracts with the company. They previously called for an investigation on January 3, making them the first public officials to do so.