SPCA not a private club - Olean Times Herald: - SPCA not a private club: Editorial

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SPCA not a private club

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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 9:04 am

There has been a few letters to the Olean Times Herald from individuals trying to justify the state of the Cattaraugus County SPCA. As a resident of Cattaraugus County and member of the Citizens for Shelter Reform, I  would like to ask for clarification on a few points.

First, the SPCA claims they are a “true” no-kill shelter. Please elaborate, because as I understand, Kelly Chaffee, the leader of the SPCA, attended a no-kill conference in June of this year and claims to be following Nathan Winograde’s philosophy. If it is a true no-kill shelter, can they please explain in detail the 11 programs they have in place as it pertains to the no-kill equation?

The public would be very interested in knowing what is available to them. Please visit www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/no-kill-equation/

On Sept. 20, 2012, board member Donna Topher wrote to the Times Herald and asked, “When did their lives stop being important?” She wrote that “there are those who believe animals should be killed because they have been there too long, or because they are on medicine and should die.” I am not sure what “people” Ms. Topher to referring to. Citizens for Reform want to ensure the community that we want nothing more than  the 11 steps of the no-kill equation to be followed, with no exceptions. The steps are:

1. A trap-neuter-release program for free-living cats.

2. High-volume, low-cost spay/neuter program.

3. Working with rescue groups.

4. A foster care program.

5. Comprehensive adoption programs.

6. Pet retention efforts.

7. Medical and behavioral rehabilitation.

8. Public relations/community involvement.

9. Working with volunteers.

10. Progressive field services and proactive redemptions.

11. A compassionate director.


For years before Kelly Chaffee took control of the SPCA, and a few years after, veterinarians from the Olean-area veterinarian association rotated turns at the SPCA once a week. This program worked very well and did not overburden the veterinarians. This program insured that all the animals were checked by a trained professional able to identify and treat the animals at the early stages of any medical issue.

According to one of the veterinarians who participated in that program, Ms. Chaffee soon thought she was more educated than the veterinarians and stopped taking their advice. She soon alienated the vets and shut down the program. Why?

 Steps three through nine specifically involve the relationships with rescues, vets and the public. We want a board that is willing to repair those relationships for the well-being of the animals. If those networks would be improved, there would be no need to keep animals in cages for many years. We would like to see the data to back up the claim of “no kill”; specifically, we would like to see the Asilomar Animal Statistics, which would tell the community what the live save rate is, and how many animals are leaving alive. (In 2009, the no-kill shelter in Tompkins County had a live save rate of 94.1 percent.)

 On Sept. 4, 2012, we heard Regina DeFoe and Kris MacDonald state that they were asked earlier this year to be on the board. We ask, who asked them? If the Cattaraugus County SPCA wants the community to “take responsibility,” the community should have the power that comes with such responsibility.

We believe the community should have a say in who sits on the board of the SPCA. It should not be run like the private club it has been for years. Today, we know they do not have an executive director or board president, so who is in charge of the SPCA?  This is a not-for-profit organization that has fallen well below the level of "Roberts Rules of Conduct" to continue to use this status.

At the Olean Common Council meeting on Sept. 4, we heard other members of the community (who support the current SPCA) say they are not happy with the involvement of Animal Allies of Western New York being a part of this campaign. While we disagree with that statement, we are rising to the challenge.   Animal Allies and its activists will, from this point on, stay behind the scenes and allow the community to step up and take control of this horrid situation.

(Ms. Solari lives in Delevan.)

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • MARY KOWALSKI posted at 10:14 am on Mon, Oct 29, 2012.

    PetWatch NY Posts: 0

    SPCAs, and many other rescue organizations, while they serve a public need, are private not-for-profit corporations. SPCAs are first and foremost businesses engaged in the business of saving animals. They carry out a mission that would otherwise have to be assumed by the taxpayers, or not done. After setting the mission, the board should step back and make sure the mission is being carried out.

    To some, this may seem like a private club, but the board members have legal responsibility to carry out the mission of the organization, raise funds and protect the assets.

    I have a real problem with all these attacks on members of boards who are giving of their work, wealth and wisdom to help animals in the community.

    It appears that the citizens groups and Animal Allies (which are not even incorporated, much less registered with the state and IRS) are not subject to the same scrutiny or financial disclosure, much less public selection of leadership, they are demanding from the SPCA.

    I find it amusing that "shelter reform" is posting that the public had no right to dictate the role of Animal Allies. Does Animal Allies have a right to dictate the role of the private corporation that is the SPCA.

    If the Citizens want a shelter with public disclosure and if they want a say on the board.....then they should be lobbying Cattaraugus County to set up a shelter. If they really want to help animals, they should take on some of the projects on the list Kristi Solari posted and work to set up spay neuter services, volunteer as fosters, raise funds for behavioral and health issues.

    And most importantly, think about number 3. All of these attacks are making it very hard to work together, which is critical to improving the animal welfare we all work to improve.

  • Morgan DUNBAR posted at 10:54 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Shelter_Reform Posts: 0

    Kristi Solari writes, "At the Olean Common Council meeting on Sept. 4, we heard other members of the community (who support the current SPCA) say they are not happy with the involvement of Animal Allies of Western New York being a part of this campaign."

    To clarify-- the meeting was September 11th, not the 4th. It's not rocket science why those "who support the current SPCA" would oppose the involvement of Animal Allies of WNY. In less than a year, Animal Allies of WNY was able to reform the Niagara County SPCA from a HIGH-KILL facility to a facility now espousing No Kill goals.

    Solari writes, "Animal Allies and its activists will, from this point on, stay behind the scenes..."

    It's hardly the place of Ms. Solari, to dictate what role Animal Allies of WNY will play in achieving shelter reform at CCSPCA. Furthermore, contrary to what Solari states in the introduction of her article, she is in no way affiliated with "Citizens for Shelter Reform."

    "Citizens for Shelter Reform" is a grassroots campaign initiative of Animal Allies of WNY, geared toward achieving long-term change inside our Nation's animals shelters.

    To stay updated on the shelter reform movement in Cattaraugus, visit: www.AnimalAlliesWNY.org/CATTCOUNTY