OLEAN, N.Y. (WIVB) -
When viewers brought us their concerns about the Cattaraugus County SPCA, we took their questions straight to the director of the shelter.
Former Cattaraugus County SPCA employee Kristie Solari declared, "The Cattaraugus County SPCA is a horrible abomination."
Solari is one of two former workers we spoke with with who showed us pictures of backed up sewer drains in the dog kennels, and told how a year ago when she last worked there the roof leaked onto the dogs.
"Who would allow animals to sit in a kennel where the roof was leaking on his head all day long, you know with the sewers backing up? It smells so bad," said Solari.
So we paid a surprise visit the SPCA in Olean on Thursday.
It didn't seem nearly as bad as what the former workers described. Many of the kennels were rusty, but seemed as clean as they could be for housing a hundred dogs and even more cats. We saw plenty of food and water, and no standing water or roof leaks.
After failing an inspection in September for the roof, the SPCA passed inspection just eight weeks ago by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets. The roof is patched with a huge tarp with plans to fix it properly in the spring.
President Kelly Chaffee said, "If we do the whole roof, we're probably looking at about $50,000, so we're going to start a capital campaign."
But just last year the SPCA received a $200,000 gift, which is more than half of their annual budget. So why didn't the SPCA use some of that money to fix the roof?
"Because to be honest with you we actually had talked to a professional fundraising company that said that they thought they would be willing to help us raise the money for the roof, so the other money could be used for other areas," explained Chaffee.
Such as upgrading kennels in the spring.
Board member Liz Connelly said, "We're doing it as quickly as we can, little-by-little. It's an old building."
This SPCA does have some outstanding bills more than a year old to a septic company and an oil company and the Cattaraugus County District Attorney has a pending investigation.
Chaffee contended, "Well I think the people who called you are the same people who have been harassing for years. We've got some local competition that try to steal our contracts from different towns and agencies. I do this for free. It's all about the love for animals."
Chaffee has also been criticized for taking "no kill" to an extreme. She does not believe in euthanizing an animal unless it is truly suffering. Her shelter spends about $30,000 in veterinary care a year and euthanizes less than 10 animals a year, so some of the aggressive dogs that are hard to find a home for stay here for years.
"I do not know of any other shelter for miles and miles around that do what we do to save animals," said Chaffee.
Chaffee's position of president is all volunteer, but she caught attention when she took two personal loans from the SPCA for $8,000 and $9,000. She tells me she bought extra kennels with that money and paid it back with interest.
"Heavens no, the SPCA owes Kelly a lot of money, but Kelly doesn't owe the SPCA any money," affirmed Connelly.
We have talked with a lot of animal volunteers in the past few weeks, and they don't all have the same views of when an animal should be put to sleep. But what best helps any SPCA is when people adopt the animals.