FULTON – Oswego County SPCA and the Fulton Common Council have teamed up in an effort to better the quality of life for pets and strays in the city.
For several years the city has had a problem with the number of feral stray cats and unspayed/unneutered animals and both groups have tried to come up with solutions before Fifth Ward Councilor Dennis Merlino and Oswego County SPCA President Tanya Semchenko met and realized they were both trying to do the same thing.
“We think we have a law that can help control the feral cats without infringing on the rights of animal owners and animal lovers,” Merlino said. “We think it’s going to be very successful just for making sure the animals have their best quality of life.”
The proposed law would require all dogs and cats that go outside the owner’s home or outside the owner’s control to be spayed or neutered. This would decrease the number of stray animals in the city.
Merlino said if a pet is seen outdoors and it does not appear to be fixed, they would take it in, make sure it is healthy and up to date on its shots and then rerelease it, potentially with a fee to the owner.
The proposed law is still in discussion to figure out the right way to control the issue.
“Now, we think we have our best option of the first steps of actually addressing this between a simple law and funding to implement the law,” Merlino said. “We think this is a perfect meeting of the [Oswego County] SPCA and the Fulton City Council.”
Oswego County SPCA has been helping animals in the county since 1973 and is run entirely by volunteers. They rely solely on donations and are not funded by the state or the ASPCA. They do not run a shelter but instead have foster homes for pets while they wait to be adopted.
Their office is based in Fulton, located in the basement of the State Street United Methodist Church.
Semchenko said she recognized that Fulton is a city undergoing revitalization and wanted to help the animals get a better quality of life along with the people in the city.
In addition to working with the Common Council on the proposed law, Semchenko said SPCA is working on the stray cat issue by trying to find placement for them.
“One of the initiatives we already have underway, and have for a couple of months now – and it’s not just open to the residents of Fulton – we have a food pantry for pets,” Semchenko said.
The pet food pantry is located in their office and the hours can be found on their Facebook page, but they are able to meet outside those hours in an emergency.
“We wanted to make sure that no pet went hungry and that people also didn’t feel that they needed to surrender their animals because maybe they were going through a difficult hardship,” Semchenko said.
Longterm, Semchenko said she would like to be able to offer low cost spay/neuter, a microchip clinic and a wellness clinic to Fulton residents.
Semchenko said people can help them by donating to the pet food pantry, donate to help spay and neuter pets, volunteer or become a foster home (SPCA covers the cost and veterinarian bills).
Kate Fire began volunteering with Oswego County SPCA seven years ago after she adopted her cat from them. She was so grateful they nursed the cat back to health after being in a terrible hoarding situation and so she wanted to help out more animals.
“Everybody wants a pet because pets are wonderful, but I know that a big issue for some is affording to spay or neuter, and even sometimes the medical care,” Fire said.
She helps with events and various tasks. At Woofstock, she sits the registration table and makes sure the pets are all up to date on their shots.
“I think everybody at Oswego County SPCA is amazing,” Fire said. “The volunteers are very selfless and always give up their time to rescue and improve the lives of all the animals under their care.”
– July 24, 2019 statement by First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon
“The article about Councilman Merlino is all wrong. He brought the SPCA people in to our legislative meeting. There was councilors Merlino, Ritchie, Patrick, and Kenyon at the meeting. The four of us only agreed to partner with SPCA to educate people about the cats. In no way did we agree to pick up people’s cats take them to get spayed and neutered then bring them back and charge the owner. His story is false and has people calling the councilors complaining about the story. Besides we would have to do a resolution to make this law. Trying to clear this up. Thank You – Tom Kenyon.”