A local animal-rights group is alleging that another area SPCA is mistreating animals in its care.
Animal Allies of Western New York accused the Cattaraugus County SPCA of neglecting ill and injured dogs and cats during a protest Sunday outside the shelter on Route 16 in Olean.
"They're anything but a no-kill shelter. They're what I call a slow-kill shelter," said Morgan Dunbar, director of Animal Allies, which in the past has scrutinized SPCAs in Niagara County and Wyoming County. "There's absolutely no accountability whatsoever."
The chairwoman of the Cattaraugus County SPCA board of directors fired back at Dunbar on Sunday, saying the allegations were untrue.
"This is nothing more than a witch hunt," said Kris McDonald, the board chairwoman. "It's all lies, that's all I can tell you."
Dunbar said she initially went to the Cattaraugus County shelter to learn more about its "no-kill" shelter policy, in an effort to see whether the Niagara County SPCA would be able to function similarly.
Instead, she said, she found many sick animals and long delays in seeking medical treatment for animals that were in need of it.
"They have no veterinarian, no veterinary technician, no one with any medical background," she said.
Dunbar has called for the Cattaraugus County SPCA board to resign.
McDonald said all of the board members are volunteers who receive no pay and are committed to assisting animals in need.
"We're not going anywhere. We are trying to fix the issues," she said.
When animals need medical treatment they are taken to veterinarians in Olean and Portville, and some animals have been taken as far as the Cornell Veterinary School in Ithaca for treatment, she said.
The shelter has had a no-kill policy since 1985, she said.
It costs about $1,000 a day to keep the shelter running, said McDonald.
Fundraising, she added, is a constant battle.
But, she added, the Cattaraugus County shelter has no intention of changing its no-kill policy, which means healthy animals are not euthanized no matter how long they remain unadopted.
"Of course it makes it hard," McDonald said, "but that's what makes it worth it."