Cortland Community SPCA

Cortland SPCA Reaches Out for Abused Animals

Posted by  //  October 30, 2014  //  Local Business

By Shannon R. Myers

There’s a new Sheriff at the Cortland Community SPCA, and he is working in conjunction with the State Police and County Sheriff’s department to crack down on abusive animal owners.

Bob Eckard has been Executive Director of the Cortland SPCA since mid-July of this year. Their had been no director for about three years prior to his taking the position. “The shelter was doing a great job with caring for the animals,” he said. “But there was no one in the front end to run the organization.” Bob brings 35 years of business background to the table. “My business was in design and printing, so I know how to promote and raise money. I know how educational, promotional, and event planning materials should look.” He will be using his experience to raise money for the care of the ever-increasing number of abused, neglected and abandoned animals that come through the doors of the Cortland SPCA. “The organization is now nicely in the black, and we are pushing forward to become very financially secure in order to do the things that we need to do for these animals.”

When Bob first started at the Cortland SPCA, he thought he had landed his dream job – until he saw the condition of many of the animals that are brought to the organization for care. “It breaks your heart and can make you angry,” he said, and explained that with the decline of social values in the past two to three years in Cortland County, animal abuse cases are on the rise; and that often, domestic abuse situations and heroine, meth, and other drug use has a direct correlation with animal abuse, neglect, and abandonment cases.

Currently, prosecution of animal abuse cases falls under Article 26 of  the Agriculture and Markets law. However, if these cases get into the penal system instead, it will change the dynamics of how the cases are prosecuted. “We are pushing for stiffer penalties for animal abuse cases.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also recently given animal abuse cases their own category among other crimes classified as felonies such as assault and murder. This will enable them to find those individuals who are violent offenders.

“We are now allowed to arrest and charge perpetrators of animal abuse,” Bob said. “We will also be working closely with the precinct and doing things like patrolling parking lots in summer, looking for dogs left in cars. We have equipment that will take the car’s temperature; we are able to write tickets and, if necessary, make arrests.”

With the increased vigilance and apprehension of animal abuse offenders comes a price. The dogs and cats that are brought to the Cortland SPCA require testing, veterinary care, drugs, antibiotics, food, and adequate time to be nursed back to good health. The testing of cats and dogs for diseases like parvo and feline leukemia are extensive; plus there is an expense for worming and flea medications and vaccinations.

“People can look at our website to see all of the services we offer. But the biggest expense goes into the overall care and boarding of these animals. Our organization covers the entire county; we have contracts with the City of Cortland , Cortlandville, Cortland County, and some of the municipalities. But quite often those contracts don’t cover our costs due to the conditions of the animals that we have to deal with; so that is made up from donations.” This leaves no funds in the budget for publicity, marketing, and raising public awareness. The SPCA will be partnering with the City of Cortland, Cortlandville, and Cortland County to pursue grants together, and because of this partnership, they will not have to use taxpayers’ dollars. After some investigation into grants, Bob discovered that there are many corporations and businesses that have foundations or extensive funds earmarked for humane organizations. He believes that the Cortland SPCA’s fundraising campaign will be successful if the funds are sought in the correct manner.

A portion of those funds will go toward raising public awareness.  The Cortland SPCA is going into schools, retail operations, and other public venues in order to help educate people on how to care for their animals, what to do if they can’t take care of them, and the laws regarding animal treatment. “For instance, if an elderly person were to pass away and leave behind a cat or a dog, some people may simply turn the animal loose, when they should call us. In a lot of cases, people do the wrong thing because they don’t know what else to do. We haven’t done public awareness in the past, but a strong public awareness campaign is in process. We need to be more visible, and are raising funds to do exactly that.” The SPCA relies on members of the community to help identify cases of animal cruelty. “If people see animal abuse, neglect, or find an abandoned animal, or if they suspect it, they should call us; twenty-four hours a day.”

The Cortland Community SPCA is a no-kill shelter. The staff and volunteers participate in a very successful foster program, and they, as well as non-affiliated community members, walk the dogs and play with the dogs and cats on a daily basis, including holidays. Other services offered are an enhancement to the Meals on Wheels program, where, if a pet owner can’t go out to get food for their pet, or can’t afford food, the SPCA will deliver pet food to the home, free of charge. Grief counseling is also offered through three ministers working with the organization, and hospice services are also available.

To learn more about the Cortland Community SPCA’s services, volunteering, or reporting a suspected case of animal abuse, visit them online at www.CortlandSPCA.org, or call (607) 753-9386. Community involvement can help pave the way to eradicating animal abuse in Cortland County.

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