by Susan Mikula Campbell
In the past week, the SPCA of Niagara received another mass rescue of animals - cats this time - plus became the beneficiary of new security cameras to that the SPCA hopes will prevent any future vandalism at its Lockport Road site in Wheatfield.
The SPCA is caring for 50 cats rescued from a closed up, feces-filled house at 155 Roncroff Drive in North Tonawanda. Code enforcement officers were notified late last week of a strong smell of cats coming from the vacant house.
Shelter Director Amy Lewis said Wednesday that the SPCA was waiting for the owner to sign over the cats for adoption and was hoping it would be done that day.
Lewis said the cats were originally the owner's cats or stray cats the woman let into the house. Although the owner was apparently not living in the house, she was still bringing food and water, Lewis said.
She described most of the cats as "not exactly social." Only about 10 could be put up for adoption immediately. For the others, volunteers are coming in to help socialize them. All are relatively healthy, although one cat has a broken leg and some others have skin conditions.
This is the second time in recent weeks that the SPCA has had a mass influx of animals. On Feb. 2 (see Tribune Feb. 7), 64 Pomeranian dogs were rescued from poor conditions in a Lockport residence. Within days, the SPCA had a waiting list of more than 100 people interested in adopting the dogs.
"Unfortunately, cats are a different story entirely," said Lewis, herself a cat owner, adding that there had been no calls about the cats yet.
Lewis said there are no plans to euthanize any of the cats. Those that cannot be socialized will be offered as barn cats.
The cats and the rest of the animals at the SPCA of Niagara will now be safer.
According to the SPCA of Niagara Board of Directors, eight Swann security cameras were installed by a dedicated group of volunteers last Sunday, along with all the equipment necessary to monitor and record activity at the scene from remote locations. The new system has high-resolution night vision, which ensures 24-hour surveillance and protection. These safety measures were added to the burglar and fire alarm systems already in place.
The added security was made possible by a generous donation from a woman who asked to remain anonymous, but provided the funding in honor of her friend, the late Cheryl Ann Harrington Curry, an avid animal-lover.
In recent months, several occurrences have been cause for concern at the shelter. During a summer fundraiser, someone broke into the building and opened the cages of several dogs with aggression issues. Luckily, shelter dog control officers were in the process of giving a tour and were able to secure the situation. Then, last week a mysterious Dumpster fire (see Feb. 28 Tribune) filled the stray dog kennels with noxious smoke.