by Janet Schultz
The first action of the January Wheatfield Town Board meeting was to issue a statement regarding the SPCA investigation. With more than 60 people filling the meeting room, Supervisor Bob Cliffe explained that this is a Niagara County-wide issue affecting all 12 towns and three cities.
"We are not the decision maker in how this investigation will proceed," Cliffe read. "Other than sharing our views."
Cliffe went on to say that he and the board members have had numerous conversations with passionate animal specialists and activists over the past few days who have remarked their common belief is that the SPCA is years behind the times in its treatment of animals.
Cliffe spoke with Barbara Carr of the Erie County SPCA as well as Carol Tutzauer from Buffalo Humane and Peter Reese of "No Kill."
"We are all very concerned that all dogs and cats brought to the SPCA receive the best of care," Cliffe continued. "We strongly encourage the SPCA board to listen to these learned and concerned animal specialists and incorporate their vision into the SPCA's policies and procedures. To be fully versed in these concepts, ideas which have worked well elsewhere, the board of the SPCA would do well to add one or more 'No Kill' advocates to their ranks.
"Personally, I greatly prefer a totally independent investigation of recent SPCA actions; there are apparent connections between Carr and the Niagara County SPCA, which bring her impartiality into question.
"However, Wheatfield has no control over the SPCA board; we must live with their decision to have Ms. Carr perform this investigation. I trust that this will happen very soon and ask that the SPCA quickly release the results. Then, please, immediately take those actions necessary to protect our dogs and cats."
The Wheatfield Town Board has appointed Craig Schultz to perform the services of dog control officer under the direction of Town Clerk Kathy Harrington and Cliffe.
"For anyone with a dog control issue who is concerned the SPCA may not be the best service provider, (you) will now have this alternative," Cliffe said.
Following the statement, Morgan Dunbar of Animal Allies of WNY spoke during the public session. She is pushing authorities for an independent investigation.
In addition, she explained relationships between Erie and Niagara SPCAs are questionable. Dunbar said Niagara County SPCA Board President Bruno "Brandy" Scrufari is employed by radio station WTSS 102.5-FM, of which Erie County SPCA Board President Lawrence Robb is general manager. This relationship, she said, puts the credibility of the investigation in question.