OSWEGO, NY ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ For the last couple of weeks, the Oswego County Animal Welfare League, SPCA, has been dealing with a Herculean task.
More than 110 animals gave been rescued from one site in Palermo.
While some have found homes, many others remain in constant need of food, shelter and some tender loving care.
According to Hilary McIntyre, treasurer of the Oswego County Animal Welfare League, SPCA, the organization was formed as an SPCA to investigate cruelty situations ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ if there is a removal or a surrender, animals are taken into foster care and rehabilitated if need be and given “love and attention.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ”
“We try to re-home as many as we can. We are a no-kill organization; so if the animal can’t be re-homed for whatever reason, they stay in foster care forever,” she said.
“Right now, we are up to nine foster home locations ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ we need as many as possible. Those interested can go online at www.ocwal-spca.org and fill out a foster application or they can call 342-3050 or email [email protected] for more information,” she continued.
The group has probably taken in thousands of animals over the decades.
This (Palermo) is the largest rescue they’ve ever done. A couple members who’ve been with the organization for a long time said they don’t recall anything as big, McIntyre added.
They have actually rescued cats in a lot worse conditions in smaller rescues, she pointed out.
“We do do education throughout the community. We go to schools and speak to children about animals and spaying and neutering,” she said. “We’re trying to get it out there, even if we reach the younger generation, maybe they’ll go home and say ‘maybe it is a good idea to have Fluffy spayedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦'”
It’s a good idea to keep animals inside so there aren’t unsprayed or un-neutered animals roaming around procreating and creating a bigger problem, McIntyre said.
There have been times when the organization has helped people feed their animals.
“They didn’t want to surrender their animals. But, they couldn’t afford to keep them, either,” she said. “We get food donated to us, so we also donated it to a member of the community in need.”
When the SPCA went in (to the Palermo site) they seized 67 cats. And then, they went back for the rest.
“When we went back, one of the relatives had called me and said she thought there were like 20 or 30 (cats). The police we’re telling us there were closer to 70,” McIntyre said.
The number is approximately 100 now.
This is the worst case that she’s ever seen.
“We were panicking, we could only find 14 more. However, the house is in a way that any cat could hide in a lot of spaces. There are so many places and they are almost all black cats because of all the inbreeding,” McIntyre said.
The majority of cats they took out had to be “tagged” so rescuers could tell one from another.
“They are literarily identical. There are two in a cage right now that I can’t tell apart. One is really, really mean and one is really nice. One swats at you and the other is like ‘come here and pet me!'” McIntyre explained.
The nasty cats can still be spayed and neutered and can become barn cats.
A couple of the volunteer foster parents pay for the spaying and neutering themselves.
There were seven roosters, 10 hens, three or four regular chickens, a pot-bellied pig, a black lab mix dog, four geese, two caged birds (“not cheap birds”), a snake, close to 100 cats, and an emu.
“Anything we found in the house that we could get out, we got out,” she said. “It was for the animals’ own health and safety. The bottoms of the birdcages were covered in several inches of waste. The birds had to stay on their swings,” McIntyre said.
They are still attempting to locate more cats.
Some of the younger, older and weaker cats are in bad shape. The vast majority of them seemed to be in one room. A few were free to roam the entire house, she said.
“I was coughing my lungs out after being in that room. When you walk into that room the ammonia smell is so bad that it burns your eyes. It was like taking a bottle of ammonia and sticking it right under you nose,” she said.
A Helping Hand
Bruce and Myrna Stone own a 250-acre farm in Amboy.
“I have had emus before, so I’ve had experience with them. When I heard they were looking for help with these animals, I offered to help,” Bruce said.
On a recent visit to Palermo, the Stones scooped up the geese around the legs with one hand and held there heads with the other as they escorted them to their truck.
The birds were quite relaxed and didn’t struggle hardly at all.
The emu was a different story. It took several tries to slide a large sock over its head and down its long neck.
When the sock was in place Bruce held the bird on one side and Myrna held the other. As Bruce pushed gently on the bird’s rear it calmly walked out of the dilapidated barn, down the dirt path and into an awaiting trailer.
Once inside it settled down on the floor for a nap.
“We’ll keep him inside for a few days to get used to his new surroundings. But he’ll be excited to see his new home,” Myrna said. “If he is a he his name will be Joey. If it lays an egg it’s going to be Emma.”
“We bale our own hay and everything. We have a few animals right now but want to get a few more,” Bruce said. “When we’re home, we’re home, just how we want it and that’s a nice thing.”
Bruce went back into the barn to retrieve the bucket of feed he brought to entice the animals and found the pig was making a meal out of the unguarded buffet.
“Pigs are real smart animals,” he said. “He was probably just sitting there waiting for me to put that down and leave.”
The pig and remaining birds in the barn have also gone to new homes.