Shelter staff issues plea for help

A year and a half after it secured a property, the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of C

A year and a half after it secured a property, the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has raised only a fraction of the money it needs to build a new facility there.

The SPCA was deeded 22 acres just down Route 5S from its current facility and is in the process of raising enough money to build a new shelter. Shelter manager Toni Weil said the new facility would cost about $700,000 to build. Currently, the SPCA has raised $100,000 for the building through private donations and low-key fundraisers.

The shelter’s current facility is over 60 years old, Weil said, and needs several repairs.

“What we’re doing is putting on a Band-Aid. What we really need is a new facility,” Weil said.

The cages that make up the shelter’s dog runs are falling apart. Each metal door is rusted, letting in winter air. The windows are made of little more than Plexiglas. The building needs a new roof and a new septic tank.

“Our toilets break down every day,” Weil said.

The facility’s dryer can’t keep up with the demand, so blankets are laid out over cages to air dry. The small space for quarantined animals is like a dungeon. Cat cages are stacked practically to the ceiling, all containing at least two cats.

Weil has gotten some significant community support recently. Someone is donating a sliding glass door for the shelter so the animals in the quarantined room can see outside, and a contractor volunteered to take down three trees because branches were constantly falling down in summer storms.

Despite these acts of kindness, Weil said she needs more support from the community. She said donations are minimal in a community with so many people on food stamps and other public assistance.

The shelter has not received any grants or support from local politicians yet, but Weil said she is looking into those avenues.

“It’s hard for me to work on that stuff when I have the shelter to run,” she said.

Weil has only three other paid employees, all part-timers.

The shelter operates now based on private donations and two contracts — one with the city of Amsterdam and one with the town of Glenville.

The shelter takes in animals caught by animal control officers, provides various veterinarian services for those animals and keeps them for five days before they become the property of the shelter.

Weil said she would like to see a facility that has larger dog runs so the dogs can get more exercise as the shelter usually receives dogs that are relatively young and energetic.

She wants a larger space for the cats. Right now, the shelter takes care of nearly 80 cats. She also wants a separate space just for rescued cats, which she said was a huge problem, especially in the city.

“The city has a horrendous cat problem and I’d like to see a section of the new shelter dedicated to rescue,” Weil said.

The shelter also needs more space for parking so it can host open houses like some of the area’s other shelters, and an education room to educate children about taking care of a pet.

“The animals deserve this,” Weil said. “We created this problem for them and we have to try to fix it.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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