After a risk of closure, a local SPCA pulls through and meets their donation goals

AUBURN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — He opened the letter and knew they had done it.

The Finger Lakes SPCA of CNY worked for months to raise the $80,000 they needed to keep their shelter — the only one in Cayuga County — open.

Their Executive Director Nick Lapresi explained that as of this morning, Dec. 15, they had reached their goal.

“I can sleep again at night,” Lapresi said with relief.

Executive Director of Finger Lakes SPCA of CNY, Nick Lapresi.

Yesterday, they had a little over two weeks left to collect the final few thousand dollars. But today was a different story.

Back in May, they had received $482,491.50 from New York State so that they could make improvements to their shelter, according to the new New York State Companion Animal (CAPA).

“I’m just really excited for this opportunity. The shelter’s 70 years old, so the best way I can say it, it’s time to retire what we currently have, so it’s done its job. Looking at a new state-of-the-art shelter is something that our animals and our community are looking for,” said Lapresi when we spoke to him in May.

However, the grant money they had received still wasn’t enough. They were $160,000 short of what they needed to successfully complete their upgrades that would meet the Companion Act’s standards.

A local foundation in Cayuga County, the Emerson Foundation, challenged the shelter to raise $80,000 by December 31, 2023, and in return, they would match the other $80,000.

When the deadline was approaching tensions rose, but with days remaining, the shelter pulled through, and doubled their donations.

“When I realized we had hit that goal, it was definitely a stress reliever for me,” said Lapresi. “You know, but this is one step out of many for this entire project. This is one check box that I can check off. Now it’s working with the state on what we’re doing, working with the constructions team, and going step-by-step.”

With that being said, there is still more that the community can do. When construction goes on, there will have to be some relocating done for the animals, which raises the need for fosters now more than ever.

Their first improvement will be tearing down and completely re-vamping the dog kennels, displacing the dogs momentarily.

You can foster an animal anywhere from one week, up to a month.

“Let’s face it, the shelter is a very stressful place for these animals. So, anyone that is willing to open up their home for a little bit of time…to let an animal into your house, it is so crucial and so important,” said Lapresi. “We are always looking for wonderful foster parents that are willing to open up their house.”

Little by little, the shelter will progress. Improvements will begin in 2024 and must be done by 2025 per CAPA. However, they are still working on official contracts before they can break ground.

And even though the shelter reached their goal for new developments, they are always in need of and accepting donations. Other than money, this includes cat food, dog food, blankets, paper towels, dish soap, laundry detergent, garbage bags, and so on.

You can donate HERE.

“Every dollar counts. Whether it’s five dollars or $100,000, we’re so grateful for every dollar that was donated and the community’s support,” said Lapresi.

What’s going on at the shelter?

Beginning work on improvements

Currently, they have re-painted one room. It is a visitation room. Lapresi explained that they chose a light purple because that is a fear-free, relaxing color for animals. When someone is visiting with a potential adoptee, they want that animal to feel as comfortable as possible.


They’ve really ramped up the amount of fosters that are going in and out.

“I’d rather have great foster parents that are willing to take an animal into their house for a little bit,” said Lapresi — as opposed to them sitting in their kennels during that time.

Right now, it’s a 50/50 chance that someone who fosters a pet will adopt.

Doggy Expawditions program

Lapresi told NewsChannel 9 about their new program, similar to hanging out with a pooch for the day. The program is geared towards those who cannot adopt at the moment, but would like to give the dogs a days-worth of relief from the shelter.

He even added that it is okay to treat them to a Puppucino!

What will the future bring for improvements, what is the money for?

1. Fully insulate their shelter

The building that the shelter currently inhabits is seven decades old. Lapresi explained that in the winter, it gets too cold, and in the summer, too hot. They are looking to keep the building more stable and temperate.

2. Putting in a generator for backup power

In case of an emergency, they want to have a generator to kick the power back on for the animals.

3. Installing HVAC units

Currently, the shelter does not have ventilation.

4. Replacing the dog kennels

In this case, these new kennels being put in will have sound-absorbing walls. Lapresi said that he wants the dogs to be as comfortable as possible inside of them and that it’s time for the current ones to be retired.

5. Creating separate walls for dogs

Right now, there isn’t much cut-off from one space to the next. The idea behind creating the separate walls is to create a quarantine space for sick dogs and an intake area for non-vaccinated animals.

The shelter also wants to put in a few adoption suites.

6. Clinic room

Their current clinic room is adjacent to the dog kennels, so they want to build a new clinic room at the other end of the building. This would include a medical-grade room for spays, neuters, and surgeries as well.

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