The SPCA of Westchester was founded in 1883 by Ossining resident Mary Dusenberry after she observed horses being mercilessly whipped and beaten as they trudged up nearby hills to deliver heavy loads of coal. Together with caring friends, she obtained land on which to build the Society’s first home and established a fund to be used to prevent cruelty to animals. The SPCA is still located on the same spot, making it one of the oldest landholders in Briarcliff Manor.
Originally, the SPCA of Westchester was affiliated with the ASPCA of New York City, but became an independent organization in the 1920’s. Therefore, the SPCA is not affiliated with the ASPCA. Today, it is the only humane society in Westchester County empowered to enforce laws relating to animal cruelty. Despite this, the SPCA gets no federal or county funds. We rely solely on the financial support of people who care about the welfare of animals. The SPCA is proud to be a no-kill, 501(c)3 not-for-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to saving homeless, abused and abandoned animals and to protecting animals from cruelty and neglect through education and enforcement of humane laws.
Our Current Programs
Recognized as a “no-kill shelter” the SPCA never euthanizes an animal except in cases of terminal illness, extreme aggression, or the inability to maintain a reasonable quality of life in a shelter environment. Regardless of how long it may take, the SPCA is committed to caring for all adoptable animals until a loving, new home can be found. In 2019, our shelter introduced 1,330 animals to their new forever homes. We returned more than 100 lost animals to their grateful owners.
The SPCA contracts with 12 different municipalities to accept delivery of their stray cats and dogs for return to owners or to arrange for adoption. Lost dogs and cats are held at the shelter for at least eight days before becoming available for adoption.
Cruelty Investigation and Intervention
Through its Humane Law Enforcement Unit, (HLE) the SPCA is the only shelter authorized by New York State to enforce the laws as they relate to animal cruelty in Westchester. Last year alone nearly 1,250 complaints of animal neglect and cruelty were phoned into our animal abuse hotline. Investigations encompass cruelty complaints involving dogs, cats, horses, exotics and farm animals. More than 60 neglected and abused animals were seized as a result. The SPCA’s HLE is only made possible through donations and is not funded by any government support.
Low-Cost Veterinary Care
The SPCA stands firm in its belief that the spaying and neutering of all dogs and cats is essential to alleviate the tragic consequences of unwanted animals. Through our Simpson Clinic, the SPCA offers to the public, low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, examination, vaccinations and testing for disease in an effort to help people keep their pets healthy. Since establishing our clinic in 1983, we have spayed/neutered more than 70,000 dogs and cats, successfully reducing the number of strays brought to our shelter by 50% over the last ten years. Once a week, we assist local cat rescue organizations by offering spay/neuter surgeries to feral cats through our Trap/Neuter/Return program.
In 2019, the clinic performed 1,400 low-cost spay/neuters on publicly owned animals and feral cats in addition to providing affordable wellness examinations and vaccines to more than 1,600 furry patients. Together, we helped 3,000 animals receive affordable veterinary care in the community!
TRANSPORTATION AND RESCUE PROGRAM
Beginning in 2007, the SPCA began a program to rescue animals from high-kill shelters where they were slated to be euthanized due to a lack of space and funding. With a solid adoption rate at our shelter, we were confident that we could find loving homes for these animals which we have done with great success. Through this special program, the SPCA has saved the lives of thousands of dogs, cat, puppies and kittens in the United States and world-wide including North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Puerto Rico, Thailand and Turkey. In 2019, the SPCA rescued and safely transported more than 720 at-risk animals so that they could receive a second chance and find loving, new homes.
Golden Outreach Pet Therapy Program
For over 25 years, SPCA volunteers have been taking specially trained shelter dogs and cats to hospitals, hospices, assisted-living centers, nursing homes and adult day care centers, bringing people and animals together to combat loneliness and isolation. This program benefits not only the people with whom we visit, but also the shelter animals who receive special training and extra socialization before being admitted to the program. More than 50 approved volunteer/dog teams visit dozens of different healthcare facilities every week.
SPCA Volunteer Program
A group of 300 dedicated volunteers participates in the daily walking and training of shelter dogs as well as our cat care program in order to make our animals more adoptable and reduce their emotional isolation from people during their stay at the shelter. In 2019, our volunteers contributed nearly 25,000 hours of service to the SPCA. Volunteers foster shelter animals and groom them. They greet visitors and help them through the adoption process, keep our shelter looking its best through various beautification projects, provide support to office and clinic staff, and help with our fund raising efforts. Our volunteers also promote the mission of the SPCA through community outreach and attending local events to inform others of the services we provide.
Teaching children to be animal advocates empowers them to be good citizens. The SPCA of Westchester believes that one of the most effective ways to fight animal cruelty and neglect is education. In 2019, our Humane Education Program staff and volunteers provided educational presentations and shelter tours to nearly 100 schools and youth groups to teach kids humane education and the importance of animal rescue. The SPCA also participates in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Taskforce for Humane Education. Every year the shelter hosts an annual “Camp Critter” in the summer for children ages six through twelve. Participants have fun while interacting with animals, learning about sheltering, animal care, animal cruelty, and how they can make a difference in the lives of homeless animals. New and innovative programs that have been recently introduced are Reading to Dogs, Journaling with Cats & Homework or Music with a Buddy.
THE “WAY HOME” PROGRAM
The SPCA has a full-time Behavior and Enrichment Coordinator for the purpose of promoting activities and training that help animals thrive in the shelter environment and learn skills that prepare them for life with a forever family. Through the generosity of the John and Christine Tortorella Foundation, the SPCA began a program, The Way Home, which offers special training, encouragement and enrichment activities to dogs with behavioral challenges to improve their chances of being adopted. In 2019, more than 100 dogs were adopted into loving new homes through this special program.
SPCA of Westchester/My Sister’s Place Pet Safety Program
In 2008, the SPCA and My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter agency, partnered to create a Pet Safety Program. This program, one of a handful of programs created across the nation, developed from the growing recognition that companion animals living in violent households are often the victims of abuse, and that people seeking refuge from such situations are often unwilling to leave out of fear for their animals’ safety. Because many domestic violence shelters are unable to take in the companion animals of victims, both the SPCA and My Sister’s Place saw the need to create a program that would enable victims to leave their pets with SPCA foster families during their stay in the shelter system.
The SPCA Staff:
Shannon Laukhuf — Executive Director
Megan Caulfield, DVM — Staff Veterinarian
Ernest Lungaro — Director of Humane Law Enforcement
Lisa Bonanno — Director of Development
Kris Cialini — Office Manager
Bill Howard — Dog Kennel Manager
Joanne Langman, CPDT-KA — Behavior and Enrichment Manager
Sofia Rocha — Operations Manager
Liz Tavares — Cat Building Manager
Joanne Witmyer –Volunteer Services, Humane Education and Human Resources
THE SPCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Deborah Klugman, Chairman
Mary Farley, Treasurer
Barbara Kobren, Secretary
Carolyn J. Gill
Lisa P. Rockefeller
Authorized by NYS to Operate as a Shelter–Registration Number RR056