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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Chemung SPCA shifts its focus

  • The Chemung County SPCA recently announced it would be cutting dog control and humane investigations from its program, and SPCA officials want to clarify the reasons behind the move.
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  • The Chemung County SPCA recently announced it would be cutting dog control and humane investigations from its program, and SPCA officials want to clarify the reasons behind the move.
    “I think that there’s been some confusion and some misperceptions out in the community about what we will continue to do and what we will be doing,” said Tom Geroy, executive director of the SPCA, located on State Route 352 in Big Flats.
    As a nonprofit organization, dog control and humane investigation work became too costly, Geroy said.
    In addition to the cost of providing those services, Geroy also believes that those tasks are better fit for a law enforcement agency, such as Elmira Animal Control - which will be taking over most of the dog control and humane investigations - rather than an animal welfare organization.
    “I truly believe and we as an organization truly believe that when law enforcement professionals fulfill a law enforcement role and when animal welfare professionals fulfill an animal welfare role, that the community and pets in the community are going to be better served,” Geroy said. “Once the wheels get turning a little better, you’re going to see a difference in the animal welfare in this community.”
    Also a factor in the decision-making process was the number of strays the SPCA shelters versus the number of surrender animals. As the only agency in the Chemung County area that accepts surrender animals, the SPCA struggled to give both strays and surrenders proper shelter.
    “We were actually getting more surrenders than strays,” said Louise Richardson, the SPCA’s communications and marketing manager. “We were not able to take surrenders promptly a lot of the time because we had a lot of stray dogs and cats here, so we had to put them on a waiting list.”
    According to Richardson, many of those surrender animals on the waiting list turned into strays through owner neglect.
    Through saving money and resources, the SPCA will be able to implement a number of much-needed programs throughout the community, such as pet food pantries, wellness clinics and enhanced humane education programs.
    “In the past, our organization has had to be a reactive organization and we really want to shift into being a proactive organization,” Geroy said. “We want to prevent issues before they even become an issue, as opposed to reacting to them after the fact.”
    Despite no longer offering dog control and humane investigation services, the SPCA still contracts with one large municipality to house their stray animals, continuing not only to help the owners and pets in the community, but also serving as a resource for other animal welfare agencies in the area.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to be here and we’re still going to fulfill a very important role in the community,” Geroy said. “It’s just going to be a little different from what people are traditionally used to us doing.”

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