Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 5, 2013

OUR VIEW: Right people leading SPCA

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Barbara Carr, the executive director of the Erie County SPCA made a visit to Niagara County recently and declared that Niagara’s own SPCA is in much better hands than it was nearly a year and a half ago.

We’re not surprised.

The SPCA of Niagara today is run by people who not only care about animals, but are also trained to provide proper care to them. In addition, the board of directors consists of people who are all pulling in the right direction: one that benefits the animals.

It wasn’t like that in January 2012. Carr’s independent review of the county facility resulted in a scathing, 115-page report detailing the myriad of problems at the SPCA — particularly incredibly high euthanasia rates — and essentially confirmed reports first revealed by Greater Niagara Newspapers’ Rick Pfeiffer.

Carr’s review led — rightfully — to the dismissal of executive director John Faso and, later, the resignations of every member of the board of directors. According to Carr, Faso and the previous board failed to provide “basic building blocks” needed to run a successful shelter.

Faso had little, if any, background in animal care and he seemed to be more concerned with fund raising for the shelter. He was also dogged by charges of mismanagement of shelter operations, absenteeism and failures in fund raising.

But since Carr’s evaluation, many changes have taken place at the SPCA — all of them positive.

Amy Lewis, a Lockport native, was brought in as interim director and she remains today as shelter director. Lewis came to Niagara from the Erie County SPCA, where she worked for Carr, one of the most respected people in the business. Lewis learned well from Carr, and put her knowledge and experience to good use at the Niagara shelter.

Survival rates at the SPCA are in the 95 percent range, much better than the 88 percent reported in early 2012. Today, Carr says the Niagara County shelter is “well run” and full of “happy healthy animals.”

This is what happens when people trained in certain areas of expertise are put in positions that suit their backgrounds. In the case of the Niagara SPCA, the new — and properly trained — people replaced political retreads who only obtained their status with the SPCA through who they knew, rather than merit.