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SQSPCA, County partner to continue clinics in spite of pandemic

Dr. Bret Meckel administers a rabies vaccine to SQSPCA alumnus Roscoe while owner Regan Hayes looks on.

July 17, 2020 – When Otsego County was forced to cancel its annual free rabies vaccination clinics in April due to the “New York State on PAUSE” directive, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) stepped up with a solution.

By scheduling appointments and conducting the clinics via a rear entrance to the shelter building, the SQSPCA would address social distancing concerns. The requirement of face masks or face coverings and thorough disinfection between appointments would protect visitors and staff from COVID-19 and stop the spread of germs.

Working closely with the Otsego County Department of Health, the SQSPCA began rabies vaccination clinics on-site on Wednesday, April 22. Since that time, almost 400 cats and dogs have been immunized.

“Otsego County is providing the vaccines and the tags,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “The shelter is providing the service.”

In addition to shelter staff dedicated to the effort, several local veterinarians have stepped up to donate their time to the cause.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have caring veterinarians in our area,” Haynes said. “Dr. Julie Huntsman, Dr. Bret Meckel and Dr. Jenny Lukovsky all worked free of charge at the clinics during the peak of the pandemic in New York State to administer the rabies vaccinations.”

“It’s a pleasure and honor to work at the shelter,” added Dr. Huntsman, who subcontracts with the SQSPCA for regular veterinary services in addition to her volunteer work at the clinics. “It’s important and meaningful work, getting these animals off to a good start and, in many cases, on the road to recovery. 

“The rabies clinics are another opportunity to serve,” Huntsman said. “Getting animals current on their rabies vaccine is critical to their safety and to public health.  I’ve been glad to pitch in!”

The program is expected to continue at the shelter for the foreseeable future. Vaccination appointments for pet dogs, cats and ferrets are being scheduled on alternating Wednesday afternoons from 1-3 p.m. by calling (607) 547-8111, extension 108. Appointments are required and are on a first come, first served basis. There is a limit of 15 pets per person.

“We are so very happy to be in a position at this time to step up to help the county. We believe they are working hard to do the best they can for the people of this county and we want to be part of it,” Haynes said.

The SQSPCA requirements for pet owners will follow Otsego County guidelines:

  • Previous rabies vaccination certificate must be presented to receive a three-year booster (NO exceptions).
  • Dogs must be on a leash and under proper control.

Cats and ferrets should be in a pillow case or carrying case.

According to the Otsego County Department of Health, the vaccine being used gives one-year protection for domestic dogs and cats receiving their first vaccination and three-year protection for domestic dogs and cats receiving a booster.

“Compulsory vaccination is required for all dogs and cats in Otsego County. The incidence of confirmed positive rabies cases in wild animals continues, the most recent of which being a rabid bat in Oneonta,” said Heidi Bond, Otsego County Director of Public Health.

“Every dog and cat three months of age or older is required to be vaccinated, even pet dogs and cats that stay inside, and domesticated ferrets require vaccination each year,” Bond explained.

New York State law requires all dogs to be licensed. A license will not be issued for a time period extending beyond the date of the dog’s rabies certificate. It is also New York State law that any unvaccinated pet exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal be euthanized or quarantined for six months at the owner’s expense, and that any unvaccinated pet that bites be confined for 10 days at a facility at the owner’s expense.

In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit

SQSPCA launches ‘Feral to Friendly’ program

July 10, 2020 – With “kitten season” now well underway, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) is reaching out to the community for help with taming feral and unsocialized kittens.

Kitten season is the time of year when animal shelters are overrun by kittens because birth rates are higher, typically March through October. Kittens of all ages – even newborns – are surrendered to the SQSPCA. Summer months are the busiest.

“The socialization period for cats occurs between 2 and 7 weeks of age, but can extend up to 14 weeks,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “The majority of kittens brought to us have had very limited exposure to humans, so our animal care staff works with them as much as possible in between cleaning, intakes, dog and cat meets, and adoptions,” she said.

“We currently have 28 feral or unsocialized kittens on-site, with more arriving daily. Our new ‘Feral to Friendly’ program is designed to give volunteers the opportunity to meet and help socialize these kittens, and also to lighten the load for staff as the shelter enters its busiest season,” Haynes explained.

Early socialization, including gentle handling for 15-40 minutes a day, helps kittens learn to interact with people and increases their chances for successful adoption into a home. Kittens that are undomesticated and remain feral will likely become working cats in a barn, garage or workshop.

“Folks can volunteer for the Feral to Friendly program in two ways,” Haynes said. “They can call and sign up to come to the shelter to visit and play with kittens for an hour at a time, based on availability. People with experience handling feral cats and kittens can foster for us.”

Those interested in learning more about the SQSPCA’s Feral to Friendly program can call 607-547-8111, extension 102 to learn more and schedule a time to help out.


In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit

Job openings announced at SQSPCA

The Susquehanna SPCA is currently accepting applications for the following positions (click on job title for complete description):

Apply by sending cover letter and/or resume to:

Former SQSPCA intern returns to adopt special needs cat

June 11, 2020 – On Sunday, May 24, Lucia Lopez made the 384-mile round trip from Maspeth, Queens to the Susquehanna Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) to adopt Ocean, a two-year-old male cat unable to stand or walk since birth due to a neurological disorder.

Ocean had been at the animal shelter, located at 4841 State Route 28, Cooperstown, since February. His friendly personality and ability to move around quickly and even climb in spite of his impairment had made him a favorite of the SQSPCA staff.

Lopez is no stranger to the SQSPCA. A recent graduate of the SUNY-Cobleskill Animal Science program, she had interned at the shelter for several months last year.

As a Canine Training and Enrichment Specialist, Lopez assisted SQSPCA staff with three goals in mind: 1) increase the adoptability of shelter-housed dogs; 2) prevent returned adoptions due to unacceptable behaviors through positive reinforcement training and/or behavior modification techniques; and, 3) enhance the quality of the shelter dogs’ stay through enrichment activities.

“The internship job description and requirements stood out to me, as they spoke about training shelter dogs to prepare them for their future homes and creating enrichment activities to mentally stimulate them during their shelter stay,” Lopez said.

Lopez has a long history of caring for animals and helping animals in need.

“Whether it was my personal pets, pet sitting for neighbors, rescuing strays or feeding feral cats, I grew up around animals most of my life, and their welfare is something I have always been very passionate about. I first began working with animals my junior year of high school when I volunteered at an animal shelter,” she explained.

“This gained me the experience to work at a dog daycare in my senior year. There I got to see many different dogs of all sizes and temperaments. No two were alike and it was interesting to see them interact. My responsibilities included watching over the dogs in a safe and positive manner, knowing each of them personally, and recognizing their triggers,” Lopez said.  “Once I arrived at SUNY-Cobleskill, I began working with dogs right away and took related courses such as therapy dog training, canine health, canine aggression, and domestic animal behavior, as well as tracking and trailing.”

Adopting Ocean will not be without its challenges. In addition to being unable to stand or walk independently for any length of time, he also has difficulty holding his head up and using a litter box. Thanks to a generous donor, the shelter’s animal care staff had been working to help Ocean build coordination with a special wheelchair, and they had seen positive results. Lopez will continue to use the wheelchair as well as other tools and techniques designed to increase body strength and improve stamina.

“We could not be happier for Ocean,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “Lucia was a great asset to our team. She went above and beyond her internship requirements and often took her work home — fostering dogs, cats, and even a rabbit. Ocean could not be in better hands, and we look forward to hearing how he’s doing in his new home.

“Ocean is proof positive that, with a little patience and understanding, animals with special needs can find their ‘furever’ homes, too,” Haynes said.

UPDATE: Because her shifts are long, Lucia has been taking Ocean (now named Alaska) to work with her at an animal hospital in Bayside, Queens, where he gets to play with and help socialize a stray kitten awaiting adoption there. He has warmed up nicely to the other animals at home, too (see photo above with dog Bishop and cat Doug).  He is a very good boy, Lucia said.

In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit

SQSPCA waives adoption fees for senior cats

Shelter seeks to raise awareness of seniors facing special challenges

June 9, 2020 – In celebration of national Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) is waiving adoption fees for all cats six years and older through Saturday, June 20.

June is traditionally the height of kitten season when, due to an increase in feline breeding, area shelters experience an influx of homeless cats and newborn kittens. However, the SQSPCA has chosen this month to highlight the special challenges faced by senior cats and to help them find their forever homes.

“Senior cats end up in our shelter for a variety of reasons,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. “Sometimes it’s because of chronic medical issues or behaviors caused by those conditions. Other times, they are surrendered to us by an elderly owner who has no other option because their own health is deteriorating or their living situation has changed.”

Senior cats are easy for potential adopters to overlook, Haynes said.

“Seniors can be easily stressed in a shelter environment,” she explained. “As a result, you might find them hunched in a box, not interacting or making eye contact with people. They may not be eating or grooming. They might be scared or depressed, or become aggressive.

“Because of this, sometimes our seniors are their own worst enemies. It’s hard for them to compete with the young, friendly cats that seek people out as soon as they enter the cat room,” added Haynes.

Diet and nutrition can be real concerns for senior cats in the shelter – another reason the SQSPCA seeks to adopt or foster them out as quickly as possible. When cats become stressed and fearful they may stop eating. Senior felines also have more difficulty digesting fat and proteins than younger cats, and may need to be given specialty foods. Cats with geriatric conditions such as thyroid disease and diabetes may require special diets.

“We’re waiving adoption fees in hopes that folks will give our seniors a chance to win them over,” Haynes said. “You can check out Bluebelle, Jack O Bean, Prince and others at, and make an appointment to meet them by calling (607) 547-8111.”

There are currently 11 senior cats awaiting adoption at the SQSPCA, ranging in age from 7 to 14 years.

In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit 

Subaru ‘Share The Love’ gift doubled by SQSPCA challenge

June 5, 2020 – Thanks to Five Star Subaru and Subaru of America, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) is now about a third of the way to meeting its current SHELTER US matching challenge goal.

SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes was presented a check for $16,963.64 this week by Five Star Subaru owner Ben Guenther. The funds were raised during Subaru of America’s Share The Love® event from November 14, 2019 through January 2, 2020, during which Subaru donated $250 to the SQSPCA for every new Subaru vehicle purchased or leased.

“The timing of this gift could not have been better,” Haynes said. “The clock is ticking to raise $100,000 and this check puts us over $31,000 already.”

From now through August 1, every new donation or pledge to the SHELTER US Campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000, for a total of $200,000 toward the campaign goal.

“Those who can give $5 are now actually helping to contribute $10. A donation of $5,000 becomes $10,000, and so on. This is truly an incredible opportunity,” Haynes explained.

Construction is now underway on the SQSPCA’s new campus, which will include a state-of-the-art shelter designed to increase the health and safety of animals, visitors, staff, and volunteers. The new facility conforms to guidelines established by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and will allow the shelter to follow industry best practices, Haynes said.

The SQSPCA is $1.2 million away from its SHELTER US Campaign target of $5 million.

In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit 

SQSPCA adds animal cruelty information, reporting tool to website

May 20, 2020 – Otsego County citizens who suspect animal cruelty or neglect can now go to the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SQSPCA) website to learn more about what to look for and to report suspected cruelty online.

As part of the Otsego County Animal Cruelty Task Force, or PETS (Prevention, Education, Training and Systems), the SQSPCA has created website resources specific to recognizing and reporting animal cruelty and neglect, including a “Report Cruelty” button at the top right of the website home page.

“It is important to note that while the SQSPCA is not law enforcement and, as such, cannot take action on its own, we are fortunate to have very supportive policing agencies in our communities. When our staff believe a report should be taken seriously, local law enforcement will, too,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes.

“Folks must also understand that, in some instances, action will not be not immediate. There may be cases where there is not currently enough evidence of suspected cruelty to take action but for which evidence may be building,” cautioned Haynes.

In addition to the new reporting tool, the SQSPCA website also includes information and links to news articles on PETS, ways to recognize the physical and environmental signs of animal cruelty, and steps to take if you witness or suspect animal cruelty.

“If you would like to remain anonymous to those suspected of animal cruelty, we can arrange that,” Haynes said. “However, in order for the report to be taken seriously, we do need your name and contact information to share with law enforcement.”

The goal of PETS, formed in February of 2019, is to prevent and combat animal cruelty in Otsego County through education and empowerment of law enforcement and the general public. Task force members intend to accomplish this by putting together training for law enforcement, networking with other animal protection agencies, and establishing a standardized system of reporting suspected animal cruelty.

“The Otsego County Sheriff’s Office is reminding the community that animal cruelty is a crime,” reiterated Sheriff Richard J. Devlin. “The State of New York has criminalized the cruel treatment of animals. However, animal abuse and cruelty continue to occur in Otsego County and throughout New York State.

“The Otsego County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, will do whatever we can to assist our citizens with animal related problems. Furthermore, we seek to protect animals from the neglect and abuse inflicted upon them in violation of current laws. We continue these efforts through education, mediation, investigation and enforcement working toward a healthy community where quality of life matters,” Devlin said.

Those suspecting animal cruelty or neglect can visit or call (607) 547-8111 and follow the prompts.

PETS (Prevention, Education, Training and Systems), the Otsego County Animal Cruelty Task Force, is a collaboration of the Susquehanna SPCA, the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, Leatherstocking Veterinary Group, and Oneonta Veterinary Hospital. 

In operation since 1917, the Susquehanna SPCA is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to caring for homeless, surrendered, and seized companion animals and finding them loving, forever homes. For more information or to donate, visit




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