Task force probes animal deaths, launches hotline

Haynes

Animals on a property in Pittsfield, including a pony, died of neglect, according to the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

According to a media release, representatives of the SQSPCA rescued a horse and two cats at the property Friday, Jan. 22, but found a pony, three rabbits and a chicken had dehydrated and frozen to death.

After a phone call to the Otsego County Animal Cruelty Task Force, the release said, SQSPCA officials investigated the tip before seizing the surviving animals. Community volunteers transported and fostered the horse; the cats are now at the shelter.

“Over and over again, we are witness to horrific scenes of animals that have suffered unnecessarily and died,” SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes said in the release. “We have seen this happen with domestic animals but more often, it is farm animals.”

Haynes said she worked with law enforcement officials to form the county’s Animal Cruelty Task Force in February of 2019.  

“Over the last couple of years, the task force has worked hard to address cruelty and educate the public but, after this most recent case, we realize our approach thus far has been reactive rather than proactive,” Haynes said.

In response, the task force has launched the “Here to Help Hotline,” which is “intended to help prevent hardship from escalating to cruelty,” Haynes said.

Animal owners in need of help, no matter what type of animals they have or how many, can call the hotline at 607-547-8111, extension 108.

“It isn’t easy to ask for help. We understand this, but we also know we have many good people throughout the region who are willing to offer assistance when times are tough. If the shelter does not have the resources to help directly, we will reach out to our network of farm friends,” Haynes said.

Haynes called the hotline “a judgement-free zone.” Information obtained from those seeking help to keep their animals fed and safe will remain confidential and the service is free of charge, the release said. Those calling will be asked a series of questions to assess need and to determine the best course of action, including possible surrender of some animals.

“There will never be a fee to surrender an animal or for services provided through the ‘Here to Help Hotline.’ We can do these things because we know there are donors who will ensure we have the support we need to get the work done,” Haynes said.

Those wishing to be a resource to the SQSPCA in farm-related matters — willing to provide necessary food, shelter or other resources to aid in the care of at-risk farm animals, including fostering — should call the shelter or email info@sqspca.org to learn more.

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