Category Archives: Programs


If you’ve been waiting to see how you could help bring about our vision of no more homeless animals in our community, we’re ready for you! Here are a few ways you can get involved:


Spring, summer, and even fall are full of them! We need some enthusiastic, energetic volunteers to help with set up, tear down, and, of course, to spread our message to the public!


We must raise $135,000! That’s what it will take to make our dream of a high volume, high quality, low income spay-neuter clinic come true this Fall. Could you research or write a grant? Drum up corporate sponsorship? Contact media to advertise our clinic and our fundraisers? Distribute flyers and posters? Dream up a fundraiser–large or small? Organize or help with a fundraising event?


AAGS members attend court hearings of all city animal abuse cases, as well as many cases heard in the town courts. Sitting very quietly and respectfully, our members’ presence is in support of the victimized animal. Via a polite, concise note to the judge, we make our advocacy known. AAGS’ silent presence at these cases has been duly noted by both the court and the media. Might you like to attend any hearings to bear witness for the animals?


As the reality of our high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic grows nearer, we must build relationships with and encourage the participation of those segments of our community where the need for this service is most pressing. Speaking informally with church groups, school organizations, community centers, food pantries, social service providers, civic organizations, local merchants, and local government representatives will be crucial to build trust and gain support. If you like face-to-face informal contact with some of our neighbors, this might be just the job for you. While we will begin by focusing on our inner-city neighbors, we will exist to serve all of the income-eligible in Onondaga County.

Community outreach can even include small, targeted campaigns to get dogs licensed. Interested in devising or helping to execute that activity? Talk to us!

Spring Has Sprung . . . And Here Come The Kittens!

It happens every year with the arrival of good weather! The unneutered male’s fancy turns to . . . well, you know—and before we know it, we have kittens, hundreds of them, thousands of them, all of whom will themselves be breeding within a few months. It is a cycle that never ends. But there is something you can do.

While some of the cats you are seeing may be neighbor’s pets, it is likely that many are stray or feral.

So What’s the Difference?

A feral cat is one whose home is outdoors and who has not been socialized to people. It cannot, in most cases, be “taught” to become a pet, and is therefore unadoptable. If taken from its outdoor home to a shelter, it will be killed.

A stray cat, on the other hand, is a former pet that has been lost or abandoned. These cats are generally adoptable and make wonderful housecats.

But There Are So Many!

According to the Tree House Humane Society of Chicago, “February and March are the peak pregnancy months for feral cats  . . . they have an average of 1.4 litters per year, with an average of 3.5 live births.” In addition, a kitten can become pregnant as early as four months old. Utilizing statistics from the  American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) it is easy to calculate that the current estimated 36,656 stray and feral cats in Syracuse this spring, could easily reach over 100,000 by winter. Not all of them will survive the winter of course, but many of them will, and the cycle will start anew next year.

What is the Answer?

The answer to pet overpopulation is spay and neuter, which we encourage every pet owner to do. With regard to unowned cats, whether stray or feral, Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the only method of feline population control endorsed by all major animal welfare organizations, including The American Humane Association (AHA), The Humane Society of the US (HSUS), The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA and The National Animal Control Association (NACA), to name just a few. Why? Because it is affordable and it works! 

What is TNR?

According to Neighborhood Cats, “Trap-Neuter-Return, commonly referred to as “TNR,” is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling feral cat population growth. Using this technique, all the feral cats in a colony are trapped, neutered, [vaccinated for rabies,] and then returned to their territory where caretakers provide them with regular food and shelter. Young kittens who can still be socialized, as well as friendly adults, are placed in foster care and eventually adopted out to good homes.”

Why Not Just Take Them All to the SPCA?

Feral cats taken to a shelter are typically killed immediately. This is not an option that is popular with most Americans.  Furthermore, according to the ASPCA, “Eradication . . . of a feral cat colony . . . almost always leads to the “vacuum effect” [wherein] either new cats flock to the vacated area  . . . or survivors breed . . . .  Eradication is only a temporary fix that sacrifices animals’ lives unnecessarily, yet yields no positive or beneficial return.” In other words, the trap and kill methodology does not work.

So What Am I Supposed to do?

The City of Syracuse does not currently have any programs for cats. This does not, however, mean you have no options.

The cats in your neighborhood have been abandoned by your former neighbors. They are now “community cats” and the resolution of this problem must be undertaken at the community level, given that “nobody’s” problem is in actuality “everybody’s” problem. Learn more about this subject at Alley Cat Allies.  Talk to your neighbors and decide on a neighborhood approach. The CNY Cat Coalition can’t take the cats, but they can assist with trapping as well as other details. They have a low cost spay-neuter clinic available by appointment at 420-7729.

Spay and Neuter Syracuse (SANS) is another local clinic. They do not help with trapping but do offer spay-neuter services. They can be reached at 422-7970.

It has been said that there are only three things you can do with a feral cat:  1) Nothing, 2) Trap & Kill, 3) TNR. The first one means next year you are going to have at least 10 cats where today you have 2. The second means the same thing BUT it will cost you $$. The third one is the ONLY one that will provide a permanent solution to your overpopulation problem. So get busy! Learn more, White kitteneducate your neighbors, and have a TNR party!

Visit to Operation PETS

On Monday, March 5, several AAGS Board members traveled to Buffalo, NY to visit Operation Pets Spay-Neuter Clinic of WNY. Our mission was to look over their shoulders and pick their brains relative to starting a high-volume, high-quality, low-cost spay-neuter clinic here in CNY.

You would think that the presence of  visitors might be viewed as a nuisance on a busy clinic day, but the staff at Operation Pets could not have been more welcoming or gracious. They shared their methods and answered all our questions, obviously enthusiastic about helping to bring this important service to another NY community.

Our thanks to all the staff at Operation Pets!


Operation Pets’ welcoming front entrance.




Vet in surgery
Vet in surgery


The incision

The incision


On 3/18, the Syracuse City Common Council passed a memorializing resolution urging legislators to enact A-775/S-1776, the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill, making Syracuse the first municipality in New York State to do so.  Championed by the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse and Cuse Pit Crew, this resolution was crafted by City Clerk John Copanas, and submitted by Councilors Jean Kessner and Bob Dougherty. The resolution, which would move animal cruelty from the under the Agriculture and Markets to the Penal Code in order to promote understanding, awareness, and enforcement of animal crime laws, passed the Common Council with a unanimous vote. The meeting was attended by NY State Director of HSUS, Brian Shapiro, who made remarks before the Common Council in favor of the resolution.
This action moves Syracuse into the forefront  of NYS municipalities fighting animal abuse, and we in the Animal Alliance couldn’t be prouder!IMG_0758


Award will support creation of mobile spay/neuter clinic

SYRACUSE—The Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse has been selected to receive a $20,000 grant from the Central New York Community Foundation to purchase start-up equipment for a mobile spay/neuter clinic, which will move around to various city locations altering both dogs and cats belonging to low-income residents.

“Spay/neuter is so important,” says Linda Young, president of the Animal autoclavesAlliance, “because Central New York has a huge overpopulation problem with both cats and dogs, resulting in a lot of suffering as well as a high euthanasia rate. Spay/neuter is the only solution to that.”

“Unfortunately,” she continued, “not only is Syracuse lacking in true options for pets in low-income areas, but transportation can be a problem.” ”Even if they can afford the surgery, many people can’t get their pet there, so we decided to bring the clinic to them.”

According to Young, a “perfect storm” brought this undertaking together.

“A member of our group, Dr. Jennifer Bailey, who had shared the vision for this clinic for many years, graduated from veterinary school at the same time we were approached by a private donor wanting to subsidize surgeries to make them more affordable. It became a question of ‘if not us, who; if not now, when.’”

“While we have the funding for equipment and the subsidies for surgeries, there remain many additional costs, such as medications and otheDog Vets at workr supplies,” says Board member Karen Antczak. “We also anticipate hiring a part-time veterinary technician to manage the ordering of supplies, to be available for follow-up with clients, and to schedule the community veterinarians who have graciously stepped up to volunteer their time.”

The clinic is partnering with Cornell University’s Shelter Medicine Program and is expected to begin operation in April, initially working in conjunction with the Animal Welfare Coalition’s Healthy Pet Clinics.

AAGS is a 501(c)3 tax exempt charity advocating for a strengthened safety net and reduced euthanasia rates for animals in CNY. Donations are gratefully accepted at PO Box 94, Liverpool, NY 13088 or on this page via the DONATE button on the left!

Holiday Greetings to all our supporters from the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse!

The year of 2012 has been a BANNER YEAR in terms of progressing toward our goals, and we would love to share just some of the highlights!

Among the numerous objectives of AAGS is to unite groups and organizations impacting the lives of animals in CNY.  Much of our work has been difficult to bring to the public’s attention simply because it has consisted of quiet foundation building.  We have made strong connections with many eager to become involved, from Brian Shapiro, NYS Director of HSUS, to Mayor Stephanie Miner of Syracuse and her staff, the Syracuse Common Council,  Commissioner Baye Muhammad and staff at Parks and Recreation,  John Copanas and the Office of the City Clerk, as well as Father Jim Mathews and St. Lucy’s Church.  This web of connections has created a “perfect storm” for a major project which we hope to launch in the inner city next spring.

Read on to learn more about that!


A highly successful fundraiser for our program, Cuse Pit Crew, was held at Attilio’s on North Salina in January, and it was the place to be in Syracuse on a Friday night!  The guests of honor included the “Pit Boss,” Shorty Rossi, and his dog Hercules.  Attendees came from the Office of the Mayor, Syracuse Common Council, NYS Assembly and Senate Representatives, as well as Syracuse Police Chief Frank CPCFowler, and Asst. D.A. Laura Fiorenza, along with numerous other supportive people and organizations in our community.

In September, Cuse Pit Crew launched their dog training program out of St. Lucy’s Church on the near west side.  Eight dogs accompanied by about 20 humans, both adult and children, have completed the first eight-week session.  Classes are expected to resume in January.

Additional activities keeping the “Crew” busy include a number of educational tabling events, providing various informational services for members of the community, as well as promoting adoptable dogs through the Cuse Pit Crew facebook site and appearances on the television show Bridge Street.


The spring found us very busy educating some Salina residents who wanted to hire a sharpshooter to dispatch a coyote seen snatching a pet cat.  We assured the frightened citizen, along with the Town Board members that because it was spring, the parent coyotes were simply trying to feed their cubs and would soon move on.  We urged residents to understand that the killing of the coyote was not the solution, instead stressing the importance of removing any food sources that would attract the coyotes.  We engaged Wildlife Expert, Elise Able from Foxwood Wildlife Rescue in East Concord, NY, who backed us up, holding two educational sessions in Liverpool plus advocating with the Board to deny the residents’ request.  Ultimately, the issue was dropped, but only after many hours spent in research and advocacy.


  • In June, our  Board members attended a number of very informative sessions with Maria Fibiger of Three Dog Consulting for some training, sponsored by a grant from The Gifford Foundation, in just what the heck is the job of a Board and what are the duties and responsibilities of its members.
  • Several of our members attended the two-day ASPCA/Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Conference at Cornell in July.   Topics of discussion included managing health issues in shelter and rescue settings, applying for grants, pet identification, the latest in caring for feral or community cats, pet behavior, enriching life for pets in the shelter, and much more.  Of special interest to us was the segment concerning “the link” between violence toward animals and violence toward humans.


Several members met with Assistant District Attorney, Laura Fiorenza, discussing the local “disconnect” in which animal abuse cases frequently “fall through the cracks” from one agency to another.  Laura suggested that relocating animal abuse from the Agriculture and Markets law, with which most police departments have little familiarity, to the Penal Code would be a constructive move.  We agreed completely.

Interestingly, July then found us joining a group meeting with NYS representatives, sponsored by R-CATS of Rome, to advocate for various desperately needed legislative changes which included making precisely that move.

We also met with NYS Senator David Valesky, following the death of a sick and neglected city pit bull, to advocate for stronger laws regarding neglect and abuse.


AAGS is very proud to announce that it is the New York State winner of the 2012 Community Impact Award given by Alley Cat Allies!  This award is given with the intent of helping communities become safer places for cats.  Along with the award came a grant of $1,000 that will further our mission to the benefit of the entire community.  Many thanks to Alley Cat Allies!

We also met with Brian Shapiro, NYS Director of HSUS, in September and discussed the issues of violence and dog fighting in our area.  Later, we gratefully received a donation from HSUS in the amount of $500 to assist in our mission!


In October, several members attended our first meeting with the Family Support Network  at Huntington Family Center on Gifford Street, sharing humane education information including pet health care, spay/neuter, and trap-neuter-return (TNR) related to community cats.


Later in November, members presented the first session in a pilot program to several pre-k classes at the Huntington Family Center, talking about respect, care, and compassion for animals.  We have been invited back for further sessions that will include proper etiquette when meeting a dog on a leash, and how to stay safe when encountering a dog running loose.  We have also been invited to present programs for older children and after-school groups, and lesson planning is under way!


Along the way, many of our members have
volunteered at the Animal Welfare Coalition’s Healthy Pet Clinics, which conduct 6-8 clinics a year at St. Lucy’s Church on the near west side and Assumption Church on the north side of Syracuse,  providing vaccinations, flea treatment, and spay-neuter counseling for pets of low-income residents.


Officer Becky Thompson was appointed as the first Animal Cruelty Investigator with the Syracuse Police Department!  Although currently only part-time, this position is something the area has needed for many, many years.  Given the proven connection between animal and human cruelty, Officer Thompson’s newly-created position is a positive move in the fight to end violence in our city.  Dog fighting, with its relationship to drugs and gangs, serves only to harden and desensitize hearts and minds.  Perpetrators of domestic violence and violence toward children and the elderly are, almost without exception, found to have begun with cruelty to animals.

In October, AAGS met with Chief Fowler to thank him, to discuss the link between violence against humans and animals, and to advocate for Officer Thompson’s new position to become full-time, noting that by doing so, the department would not be losing a road patrol officer, but rather getting two officers for the price of one!  Since the creation of her new position, Officer Thompson has been deluged with cases and has made numerous arrests – arrests that we are confident will hold up in court and bring the highest level of sanctions against the perpetrators.

And now . . . . . as a supporter of AAGS, you are hearing it here first:


AAGS has partnered with the Cornell Veterinary School of Shelter Medicine, and with the help of a variety of grants as well as a generous donation from a mystery donor, we plan to launch a mobile spay-neuter clinic that will set up at various locations within the poorest neighborhoods in the area.  Many pet owners in these locations lack not only the funds to alter their pets; they also lack the transportation to get them to a veterinarian’s office or stationary clinic.  Our clinic will remove both barriers for those wanting to do the right thing for their pets!

This represents our most ambitious project to date, and we will require help from the community, from our supporters, from YOU.  We will continue to need your financial assistance, AND we will also need volunteers to undertake all manner of tasks within the clinics.  This will be a community undertaking to make this a better place for all of us to live, especially the animals, and we hope we will see many of you step up to volunteer your time!

If you are not sure what a mobile clinic looks like, you can see one in operation atDogVets the Montana Spay/Neuter Task Force. We don’t expect to have a fancy painted van like they do, but with your help, we will get the job done!

Knowing that every animal we spay or neuter means at least one less killed in local shelters has made this a long-time dream for many of us.  If you would like to volunteer for this – or any of our projects – contact us at We will begin holding volunteer orientations soon!

The holidays are a time for gratitude.  We want to sincerely thank each and every one of you for your help and support and share the hope that all our dreams may come true!  We wish each of you the Happiest of Holidays and a New Year filled with blessings!

The Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse,

Linda, Donna, Carol, Joan, Karen, Jan, Jude, Robin, Dr. Jenn, Judith, DeeDee, Susan, Marcia, Melissa, and AnnMarie

Cuse Pit Crew,

Stefanie, Nicole, Kathy, Robin, Alexa, Lindsay, Alesha, and Dan 

P.S.  If you can help – even a little bit – to ensure that the coming year will be brighter for our animals, donations may be sent to us at PO Box 94, Liverpool, NY 13088 or via the DONATE button on our website at or our Facebook site at

The Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse is a 501(c)3 tax exempt non-profit organization.  Donations to AAGS are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Community Impact Award

English: Feral cat, sterilized through a Trap-...

English: Feral cat, sterilized through a Trap-Neuter-Return program. The cat is shown recovering in a humane trap after spay surgery and was later released at the site of trapping. Note notch at tip of the cat’s right ear, marking it as a sterilized feral cat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse is proud to announce that it is the New York State winner of the 2012 Community Impact Award given by Alley Cat Allies! This award is given with the intent of helping communities become safe places for cats.

In the CNY area, our shelters are always full, and rescues are overwhelmed. Many pet owners without means have no alternative but to abandon their cats when they move. Since 80% of them are not altered, this means ever more cats on the streets breeding.

Experience tells us that  spaying and neutering for family pets and TNR for community (feral or stray) cats are the most successful and cost effective ways to go about correcting this problem. We endeavor to carry this message wherever we go, and to arrange for low-cost surgeries as often as possible!

This grant will further this Mission  to the benefit of the entire community. Many thanks to Alley Cat Allies!

Our Current Project, Updated

Swirling like a “perfect storm,” the elements of this project are rapidly falling into place! We have a private donor, locations, well-written grants in progress, and insurance, not to mention support from the Mayor of Syracuse and Cornell University among others!Snoopy dancing

We can’t tell you exactly what this project entails just yet, but it will tackle problems that have haunted this area for many years and will bring positive change for stray animals, pets, pet owners, neighborhoods, and the community in general.

This project will require volunteers from animals lovers in the area as well as pet owners in the neighborhoods served. Stay tuned for more information, coming soon!

Our Current Project!

Our grant meeting this week with the Community Foundation in Syracuse went well. Things are looking up for our big project which could be underway by September!

Shelters are full, rescue groups overwhelmed with calls for help. People who find strays or who have to re-home pets have no options, with animals – mostly intact – often left on the streets. Dog bites are overwhelmingly from intact dogs. Dogs are picked up at taxpayer expense, 96% of those taken in by Syracuse Animal Control are killed. Cats are left to reproduce, causing ever-growing numbers of feral cats, and affecting quality of life issues on many levels.

Almost every pet-related issue has pet overpopulation at its base.

So what is the answer? AAGS believes the answer is accessible spay/neuter, affordable for EVERYONE. Coming your way, CNY – very soon!

This happy dog has been neutered!

Credentials for Elise Able, Coyote Expert

Coyote at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Coyote at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Buffalo State College: BA Secondary Education Biology and General Science

Erie Community College South: Associates in Science Degree

Orchard Park High School class of 1980

Training and Qualifications
Town of  Orchard Park Animal Control since 2010

Town of Concord Assistant Dog Control Since 2006

Completed Animal Control Seminars sponsored by Erie County SPCA
Completed the Chemical Capture and Immobilization training given by ACES
New York State Trappers Course
New York State Hunter Safety Training
New York State Pistol Permit training
Pre-vaccinated for rabies with a current titer of 4.0
20 years experience trapping, catching, assessing and handling  a variety of animals  including but not limited to dogs, cats, horses, pigs, goats, birds, raccoons,  beaver, alligators, woodchucks, fox, coyote, mink and most other New York State species
Possess and have experience using most capture and handling equipment available including box traps, nets, catch poles, rabies gloves, etc.
Created and implemented public education and control  programs for local towns  on fox, skunks, bats  and Eastern Coyotes
Completed all safety training to work on site at the West Valley Demonstration Project

Own and can effectively use a dart rifle

Licensing and Permits

New York State Nuisance Wildlife Control Permit

New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit Class 2 with RVS Certification
Federal Migratory Bird Rehabilitation Permit

NYS License to Collect and Possess Wildlife

USDA Class C Exhibitor Permit

NYS Hunting license

NYS Trapping License

NYS Pistol Permit

NYS Chemical Immobilization Certification

Professional Affiliations

New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Council member since 1991 and seminar speaker

National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association member since 1991 and seminar speaker

International Wildlife Rehabilitation Association  member since 1991 and speaker

Western New York Horse Council Member since 2006 and seminar speaker

National Great Pyrenees Rescue Founding Member

Fox Wood Wildlife Rescue, Inc President and Founder

Bat Conservation International  member

Member Project Coyote