Oswego County SPCA Expresses Concern At Common Council Meeting

Tanya reading at a microphone
Tanya Semchenko addresses the council.

FULTON – The president of Oswego County SPCA, Tanya Semchenko brought her concerns of the city’s policy on possible rabies exposure to the Common Council meeting public comment Tuesday, August 6. 

She gave two recent examples of why she believes better protocol needs to be put in place.

Semchenko said a child in the fifth ward is currently undergoing a series of rabies vaccinations after being bitten by a feral kitten July 7. The child was brought to UrgentCare and received antibiotics. 

The next day the child’s parents called the Department of Health and were advised to catch the kitten, but could not.

July 11 the parents called the health department again and were advised to get help from Animal Control. Semchenko said Animal Control refused to help track the kitten. 

“If they were able to find and quarantine that kitten for 10 days, the child would not have had to be treated,” Semchenko said. “I don’t know if any of you know, but treatment for rabies is extremely painful. It’s a series of vaccinations, which quite honestly is horrible to go through for an adult, let alone a child.”

The second incident she brought up occurred August 1. A woman in the third ward called Oswego County SPCA to tell them there was a cat in her yard spinning and licking its lips, neurological signs of possible rabies. They advised her to call Animal Control who was on vacation.

Semchenko said in his absence, they advised her to call Fulton City Police who act as backup when he is not in. She was told they do not handle cats. Semchenko said it would have been okay if it was just a stray cat, then Oswego County SPCA could have handled it. 

The group then contacted the police to explain it could be a case of rabies and then police agreed to pick up the cat. She said an officer indicated “they could and would just go out and shoot the cat, which we indicated could not be done.”

Semchenko said once they got the cat, it was not immediately taken to a veterinarian and was left in a carrier at the police station overnight. 

“I personally went down to the police station and asked the cat be transported to the vet, offering the SPCA to pay the cost of any vet bill as we agreed in our partnership,” Semchenko said. “I was told by the officer in charge he would not transport the cat anywhere. Even after I advised that impounding an injured animal with no vet care was animal cruelty under New York State law.”

She asked the council to put in an immediate protocol so this does not happen again. She gave her opinion as to what should be put in place:

  • Any person who reports being bitten by a domesticated animal like a cat or a dog at large and no proof of vaccinations can be obtained, the animal must be picked up by animal control or the police and transported to a quarantine facility.
  • If there is a call regarding this type of animal showing any sign of neurological symptoms of rabies, animal control or police should pick it up and immediately transport it to a veterinarian.

Semchenko said the Oswego County SPCA can work with the city for the cost of this. 

“We as a city cannot have another person, especially a child, have to undergo treatment for exposure to rabies as a result of lack of response or protocol in place when there are resources available to handle the situation properly,” Semchenko said.

Third Ward Councilor and President Donald Patrick, Jr. said as soon as he heard about the situation in his ward he set up a meeting with the council and animal control. 

Oswego County Health Department will hold a clinic for pets’ rabies vaccinations August 14 in Volney at the Bristol Hill Landfill maintenance garage.

Following public comment, the council voted and unanimously approved every action on the agenda.

A group of people shake hands
Common Council with representatives of Friends of History in Fulton.

Mayor Ronald Woodward, who was absent from the meeting, made a proclamation to recognize Saturday, August 24, 2019 as Hunter Arms Homecoming Day in Fulton. The Hunter Arms Company came to Fulton and built a factory in 1889 to build L.C. Smith guns. 

Friends of History in Fulton is sponsoring the event to be held at the John Wells Pratt House Museum, 177 S. 1st St. 

The mayor also signed a funding agreement with the Fulton Historical Society. The council approved the city clerk’s reports for May, June and July. They approved to advertise for bids for a multi-use trail project, allow 207 N. 6th St. to keep their deck as long as it is maintained and allow 801 Emery St. to keep their enclosed porch as long as it is maintained.

The council also amended the city code to make it so any vehicle parked on a public street in Fulton must have a valid registration sticker.

The mayor signed an agreement with Direct Energy Business Marketing, LLC for gas. The council approved to authorize the DPW commissioner to sign a quote for milling and paving.

The next regularly scheduled monthly Common Council meeting will be Tuesday, September 3.