Niagara Gazette — The activists’ 72-page suit complains the SPCA of Niagara is not being run transparently or in a fiscally responsible fashion. The chief complainants are the Reeses, who cut off their $2,000-a-month donations at some point last year after the board did not yield to their demand for changes including granting “amnesty” to all former SPCA trustees, employees and volunteers, getting local veterinarians on board with the no-kill philosophy and appointing Tutzauer to a vacant board seat.
Tutzauer, the president of Buffalo Humane, emerged as a local leader in the effort to reform SPCA of Niagara in early 2012 after revelations about the wanton destruction of animals in its custody was exposed by the Niagara Gazette. The executive director at the time was fired and SPCA trustees yielded their spots to a new board, elected in May by $25-a-year dues-paying members. Fifteen trustees were chosen from a slate of 24 approved by the former board; Tutzauer was “denied” the opportunity to run for a seat, according to the suit.
The new board is operating in “secret,” the activists’ suit charges. An annual meeting of members, called for in the bylaws, hasn’t been held in several years. Board meetings are “unannounced” and “no minutes of such meetings have been made public,” it claims. The board turned down new memberships after it was installed, and the donations that would have come with them; and it has rebuffed Mrs. Reese’s requests for copies of the amended bylaws and a full listing of members with contact information, it adds.
Peter Reese asserts that the SPCA is a membership corporation, not a board-only corporation, and the trustees are subordinate to the membership, that is, elected merely to carry out its wishes.
He said the post-scandal trustees seized control from the members in part by rewriting portions of the bylaws to raise the annual voting membership fee so high that few will join — while exempting themselves from the fee.