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!
SAVE OUR PITTIES
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 Fowler, 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.
EDUCATION FOR US
- 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:
OUR EXCITING PLANS FOR 2013!
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 at 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.animalallianceofgreatersyracuse.org or our Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/AnimalAlliance.
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.