Niagara Gazette

March 13, 2013

GUEST VIEW: In defense of the SPCA of Niagara board

By Mary Corio
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A court case, proposed by three individuals who have the benefit of a “free” lawyer, are opposing the legitimacy of the current structure of the SPCA of Niagara’s Board of Directors and proposed voting tiers.

First of all — I think it’s only fair to emphasize the unsung fortune of having professional individuals on the SPCA board of directors, keeping in mind that they do what they do voluntarily, and they do it very well.

Currently on the SPCA of Niagara board is President Bryan Barish who owns Allbreed Obedience Academy and is a full-time professional dog trainer with over 17 years of experience.

Assisting him on the board at the SPCA of Niagara is Dr. Susan Persico — a well-respected veterinarian who runs Central Park Hospital in Buffalo with her husband, veterinary surgeon, Dr. Franklin Latson. For the record, Dr. Latson is also the veterinarian/surgeon who has cared for the animals at the Aquarium of Niagara for well over a decade.

Dr. Susan Persico loves animals, and as a direct benefit of the love she and her husband have for animals, being a board member at our shelter is a blessing beyond measure. Animals are treated and nurtured with no charge regularly. Who better to be on our board than a qualified and respected veterinarian with a husband who is also a veterinary surgeon? Invaluable!

Additionally, Larry Eggert and Dave Bower are long-time police enforcement officials in the Niagara community — both animal lovers with no tolerance for abusers of the animals they serve to protect. In addition, Bower is very instrumental in planning and manning many fundraisers — and he enjoys doing this! Summer 2013 is already in the development phase of many fun events! Stay tuned!

As for the financial side, the SPCA now has two certified accountants on board. David Urban is the board treasurer and Michelle Madigan also serves as board secretary. In addition to full-time jobs, not to mention the stress during tax season at this time — they voluntarily put in 30-40 hours additional per week tending to SPCA record keeping, accounts payable and receivables. Add into the mix — on a shoestring budget — finding funds to become defendants in a lawsuit — more time and money away from the animals.

This is just the ‘short list’ of the several qualified, respectable and caring individuals who currently comprise the SPCA of Niagara Board of Directors. Sadly, these hard working individuals now must divert their focus to waste time and energy addressing a ridiculous lawsuit, taking time and attention away from what they have been concentrating on doing well the past eight months — restructuring, renovating and saving lives at the SPCA.

Last year, an inactive and disinterested board of directors created public outrage in the community. Now with an aggressive and determined, hardworking, interested board at the helm, there yet persists a trio of ‘disgruntled’ which proves, you can’t please all the people all the time!

Get to know the SPCA of Niagara Board of Directors, ask long-standing staff members, and form your own opinion before you fall prey to anything you hear or read that is a distorted perception. All board of director names and short bios can be found on the SPCA of Niagara’s website. (Note the improvements also of the website, still a work in progress, but further testimony that things are steadily progressing.)

In light of all of the good things happening at the SPCA of Niagara — a lawsuit, seriously? The SPCA of Niagara has suffered decades of distress and an extremely blemished and tarnished reputation.

There’s now a fresh coat of paint, new lighting, comfortable kuranda beds for all dogs and repairs regularly being made inside and out, hundreds of volunteers and members signing on and being made welcome to witness and assist, countless animals being fostered, adopted and given a chance to stay alive.

Please don’t let some people to continue to poison our SPCA. Some are not even Niagara County residents. Do they really know the history of the SPCA? And what exactly is it they care about?

I want to say THANK YOU in big bold letters to the current board of directors who have made such progress in less than eight months in their own time and without any compensation. The driving force for the board of directors at the SPCA is their love for the animals.

What is the driving force in people who want to sue the SPCA? How can anyone with a beating heart want to hurt an already handicapped facility and yet profess they are ‘animal activists’ who love animals?

I am a $25 member of the SPCA of Niagara and a volunteer. I do not need to choose who runs the SPCA when it is running so well by the people who have undertaken such an enormous task and are also volunteers.

I wish I had money for a lawsuit. I would give those funds to the SPCA of Niagara!

“A lawsuit against a shelter HURTS animals.” There is no way to get around this!

Mary P. Corio is a Town of Niagara resident and SPCA volunteer and member.

Mary P. Corio is a Town of Niagara resident and SPCA volunteer and member