The Central New York SPCA is looking for the community’s help to raise the money to construct more than three dozen new kennels to improve the health and safety of their large dogs, accomplishing the second phase of a project they call Kennels for Canines.
The first phase of the project was accomplished last year when the front kennels, which house the shelter’s small dogs, were replaced. The $120,000 project, funded entirely through community donations, replaced the chain-link doors with half-stainless steel, half-glass doors that include built-in food and water dishes the dogs can’t upend.
“We could have gone all glass, but we talked to some animal behavior specialists, and they said an animal in its environment, if they can see another animal, they’re going to be more reckless, more excited, more aggressive,” CNY SPCA Executive Director Paul Morgan said. “So it calms them down.”
The new kennel also has a tongue-in-groove ceiling with sound-reducing baffles as well as an upgraded ventilation system, which reduces the spread of airborne pathogens like kennel cough among the dogs.
“I think overall, it’s accomplished what the purpose is. It’s been a very positive thing,” Morgan said. “Basically, it’s to improve their living conditions.”
Now, the CNY SPCA is looking to make the same changes to the 42 kennels at the back of the shelter, which house the large dogs, including that arrive as strays and cruelty cases.
“We’re looking at about $200,000,” Morgan said. “Right now, since we started this campaign, which would have been around Thanksgiving, I believe, we’ve raised about $80,000 that we’ve received from the public. And we’re looking at different avenues like grants and so forth. We’re trying to get as much as we can from the public to support it. It’s been going pretty well.”
The organization receives funding from several streams, including fundraising events; surrender and adoption fees; bequests from animal lovers; contracts with municipalities to provide shelter to animals seized by their dog control officers and grants from charitable foundations. But the majority of its operating expenses are paid for by donations from the community. That’s why it found itself on the brink of closure a couple of years ago — those donations just weren’t coming in.
Fortunately, Morgan and his board of directors, including treasurer Nick Pirro, were able to turn that around.
“Just prior to Paul coming in, the only fundraising that was done was what people gave just on their own initiative, as well as a couple of small fundraisers,” Pirro said. “Since then, with the help of some new people here, the events have produced more money. But also, we went to direct mail, which was something that hadn’t been done before, and that has been very successful. It’s the old adage — if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s as simple as that. I learned that in politics.”
Morgan said the shelter has also begun to pursue grants more aggressively.
““That’s helped out in regards to capital improvements,” he said. “We had the front office remodeled about four or five years ago, and that was all paid for through state funding. By going to the people at the state level and saying, ‘We’re a nonprofit, will you help us help the animals in our community?’ that’s helped out a lot.”
But none of it would be possible without the generosity of the members of the Central New York community, many of whom recognize that it’s their dollars that both help the shelter operate and fund capital improvements.
“It’s interesting how they’ll do it,” Morgan said. “They’ll send back the response letter with two checks in it. One will be $25 [specifically designated] for the capital improvement project, and they’ll have another for $25 [specifically designated] for the general fund. The generosity and the thinking mechanism that’s going on, I think it’s working. People are starting to contribute and see how important it is for the community.”
During Morgan’s tenure as executive director, there have been several major renovations at the shelter, the most extensive of which being the construction of the veterinary center. The facility can now provide on-site care for animals with special medical needs, as well as all necessary vaccinations and some low-cost spaying and neutering. The clinic performed 459 surgeries last year as part of a program paid for by a PetSmart Charities grant that provided for low-income spaying and neutering for the 13211 zip code, a program Morgan says he hopes to participate in for another zip code next year.
Right now, the top priority in terms of capital improvements is Kennels for Canines, which they hope to achieve before year’s end.
“We gave [ourselves] the whole year to raise the money,” Pirro said. “We’ve applied for all of these grants, and we hope to raise it by the summer so we can get the project started.”
Donations can be submitted through the CNY SPCA’s website (cnyspca.org) via either PayPal or the organization’s own secure credit card site, COCARD. They can also be mailed to 5878 E. Molloy Road, Syracuse, NY 13211.
In addition to the kennel drive, the CNY SPCA has a wish list; that’s available on the website, as well.
Morgan said anyone who wishes to see the new kennels is more than welcome to come in and ask for a tour.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.