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NYSP Investigate Conditions at Wyoming County SPCA

9:33 PM, Feb 18, 2012   |    comments
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BATAVIA, N.Y. -- Several of the cats at the Wyoming County SPCA and its satellite adoption center at the Eastern Hills Mall are being transferred to other facilities while the New York State Police and the Wyoming County District Attorney's office continuing to investigate allegations of animal cruelty at the Wyoming County SPCA.

Working in conjunction with the Erie County SPCA, Troopers executed search warrants Wednesday as a result of animal cruelty allegations at the Wyoming County SPCA in Attica, as well as the Wyoming County SPCA Adoption Center located at the Eastern Hills Mall.

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As a second day of removing and screening animals began, other agencies had arrived to help out at the SPCA shelter on Route 98 in town of Attica, a shelter roughly the size of a conventional ranch style home. Erie County SPCA spokesperson Gina Browning says rescue groups are coming from as far away as Albany to help out.

The Humane Society of Greater Rochester opened its Lollypop Farm facility in Perinton to 32 of the cats seized, and the Rochester organization sent a team of five employees and volunteers to help perform veterinary checks, clean, feed and process the seized animals.

The Second Chances Sheltering Network rescued a total of 30 cats from the Eastern Hills Mall location. The organization was the first to assist at the scene. The group says that none of the cats had proper paperwork and all needed shots. The cats were taken to the Honey Hill Pet Center inside the Eastern Hills Mall, and the McClelland Small Animal Hospital on Ellicott Street in Buffalo.

Ten from the adoption center at the Eastern Hills Mall have been taken to the Buffalo Animal Shelter.

Heart Animal Rescue and Adoption Team, Inc. has six of the cats from the Eastern Hills site. They are available for adoption at their adoption site at 48 Buffalo Street in Hamburg. 

Ten Lives Club has close to 50 cats from both the Attica shelter and the Eastern Hills Mall satellite site. Marie Edwards with Ten Lives says none of the cats have files or collars, so all must be checked out by vets before they can be adopted out. Wyoming County SPCA cats that are available for adoption are being housed at the Ten Lives location in the McKinley Mall.   They also have some cats available for adoption at their shelter in Hamburg.  Appointments are requested for shelter adoptions.

The SPCA servicing Erie County is not doing individual adoptions at this time, but they are still looking for groups that can take multiple cats.  If you are part of such a group, contact them at 629-3505. 

State Police say they received a complaint on January 24 that there were hundreds of cats at the Attica facility not being properly cared for, that the cats had not been checked by a veterinarian, that medications were illegally obtained and grant money received by the facility was not being used for its intended purpose.

Erie County SPCA spokesperson Gina Browning says the conditions at the Attica facility were "horrific". She said some cats were in cages, some were in cabinets, some were in the wall, but that most were roaming free.

Officials say there were nearly 400 cats at both facilities that they checked out. Six had to be euthanized for medical reasons.

"This is not a bad place. It's lack of money and lack of people," said Candie McConnell, who was a member of the Wyoming County SPCA board up until a few weeks ago, when she left for reasons she wouldn't specify. 

Contrary to how authorities are now characterizing the shelter, McConnell insisted the animals were well cared for and the few volunteers they had would clean it every day.

"I'm afraid we're going to lose it all together and we don't want that to happen," McConnell told WGRZ, as her voice cracked with emotion. 

In the meantime, Browning says they're contacting other shelters throughout upstate new York to place as many of the cats as possible..but it can't be done right away.

"We don't have a handle on how many of these cats might have contagious illnesses. The least safe thing we can do is move them to another facility where they could infect another shelter full of cats," Browning said. 

Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O'Geen says he will seek a forensic audit of the Wyoming County facility to determine how the grant money was used.  Police also seized medications from the Attica facility and will investigate how they were obtained and used.

The facilities are closed while officials continue their investigation.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Dave Harrington.

Click here to read Dave McKinley's latest blog.

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