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Another SPCA under fire

by jmaloni
Thu, Feb 16th 2012 07:00 am

by Susan Mikula Campbell

The SPCA of Niagara isn't the only Western New York SPCA under investigation.

A press conference was scheduled for this morning in Batavia on allegations of animal cruelty against the Wyoming County SPCA.

The New York State Police in conjunction with the Wyoming County District Attorney and the Erie County SPCA were to report on a joint investigation at the Wyoming County SPCA, 808 Creek Road, Attica, and the Wyoming County SPCA Adoption Center, Eastern Hills Mall, Clarence. Search warrants were executed at both locations and the allegations will be addressed at the press conference, according to a State Police report. State Police Lt. John C. Aquilina said Wednesday afternoon that the search was still under way and probably would take some time as investigators checked on the well-being of the animals.

•Meanwhile, little news is being released about the situation at the SPCA of Niagara, where in recent weeks the executive director was fired and a veterinarian was hired and then fired. Several board members have discussed the possibility of stepping down.

Lewiston resident Robert E. Lee said Wednesday that he has previously asked the board to replace him because his wife no longer wants him to drive at night due to his age. He said he finally mailed a formal letter of resignation last week. He noted that he had talked with some fellow animal lovers about recommending them for his position, but although initially interested, they changed their minds.

Wheatfield Supervisor Bob Cliffe said Monday that Wheatfield's SPCA funding is still being withheld. Town officials and residents are very interested in what is going on at the SPCA of Niagara, but are not being kept informed. As a private business, the SPCA has a right to do that, he said.

"They haven't been in to talk to us. They haven't involved us," he said.

•In other animal welfare news, Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, this week helped pass legislation to penalize commercial pet dealers who failed three consecutive inspections or three state inspections over a three-year period. Ceretto noted that the bill is intended to improve the health of animals sold at pet stores and to ensure that unscrupulous pet dealers have their licenses revoked.

"As lawmakers, we must continue to work at passing legislation to protect the health and well-being of our pets," Ceretto said. "This bill will help to ensure that pet dealers act in a responsible manner and put in place stronger penalties for heartless pet dealers who would rather run their businesses like puppy mills instead of pet shops."

Under the legislation, pet dealers who fail three inspections by state regulators will have to go before a hearing to determine whether their licenses will be suspended or revoked, as well as face other penalties determined by the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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