Lately, there have been some themes concerning the SPCA Serving Erie County (SPCAEC) that seem to be repeated in many different arenas. I would like to address these now.
The first one is that the SPCAEC claims "no-kill" status. Because this term is so open to interpretation and defined differently by different organizations, we don't use it.
Secondly, earlier this week in Everybody's Column, a statement was made that the SPCAEC "exterminated" 140 animals taken from the Wyoming County SPCA. In February, New York State Police investigated that organization. Each of the 518 cats cared for at the Wyoming County SPCA was signed over to the State Police.
At the request of State Police, the SPCAEC helped care for and confine cats on site. Also on site was a veterinary team made up of three private veterinarians, one from the ASPCA and one from the SPCAEC. Most of the cats surrendered to the police were ill. The veterinary team, not the SPCA, made medical decisions concerning these cats. Forty-eight were deemed by veterinarians to be hopelessly suffering and were euthanized. The SPCAEC did not make these decisions nor were these cats ever in the custody of this organization.
State Police transferred 90 cats to the SPCAEC and we were able to find homes for 81 of them. Nine, not 140, cats were euthanized. Reasons for euthanasia included debilitating kidney disease, feline leukemia and other serious medical conditions. They were euthanized only when it became clear that all life-saving treatments were exhausted.
Also in the letter to the editor, the success rate of live releases at the SPCAEC was challenged and injudiciously claimed as 63 percent.
One could only come up with a figure like this by counting pets euthanized by the SPCAEC for grieving owners who request this service from the SPCAEC for financial reasons when their pets are at the end of their lives, suffering. We call this "owner-requested euthanasia," and we take this service very seriously.
Without the SPCAEC providing this service at no cost or at a low cost to citizens in Erie County, more than 2,000 animals a year would be left to suffer the last days or hours of their lives. Instead, we are there for the animals and the citizens of Erie County, as we, too, like the letter's author, have little regard for what was so aptly called "slow kill."
We regret that anyone would so misunderstand the SPCAEC's owner-requested euthanasia service as somehow unwarranted and a cruelty when, in fact, it is one of the most humane services we can offer to this community.
We encourage anyone with questions to call the SPCAEC directly for complete and honest information about what our organization does and does not do. No animals can be helped through the dissemination of incorrect information.
Barbara S. Carr is executive director of the SPCA Serving Erie County.