Despite challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and quarantine rules, the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is still responding to and investigating reports of alleged animal abuse in the region. And with less people out to witness abuse and neglect, now could be an especially trying time for pets in danger.
Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross says he continues to operate takes calls daily. Gross notes that his agency is classified as an essential service and remains open 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Peace officers and volunteers have received personal protective equipment (PPE) and Gross has instructed them to follow the best practice guidelines offered by the Center for Disease Control. Still, the agency’s PPE is limited and they require donations to continue their good work fighting animal abuse.
“One of the reporters sent us a box of gloves and disinfectant,” Gross says, illustrating how desperate the Suffolk SPCA’s situation has become. They are almost entirely relying on the kindness of others to continue working safely. “We have zero masks,” he adds. “Our investigators are still going out on cases.” Luckily, Gross says no one on his team has come down with the coronavirus. “Thank God.”
Gross says that the SCSPCA is in dire need of N95 respirator face masks, hand sanitizer, coverall suits and disinfecting wipes for responding personnel. “We just can’t get them,” he explained in a statement asking the public for help. “We have people trying to secure them on a daily basis, but unfortunately by the time agencies get to us on the list, the supply is depleted.”
Offering an example, Gross said a chemical company donated 24 bottle of hand sanitizer, which was greatly appreciated, but it wasn’t enough for even half of his 60-person agency. He was able to give his field operators five pairs of gloves each, and those cannot be reused, so they go quickly.
As things are, Suffolk SPCA’s officers and investigators are avoiding entering homes and instead asking individuals to bring their animals outside for inspection. This, of course, limits their ability to fully assess any given situation.
And while the number of cases are down—hopefully, Gross says, because abuse is down with everyone home and not because there are fewer people out to report on others—there are still plenty of calls. On March 29, for example, a cat was found decapitated in Centereach, and the person responsible has not yet been identified, despite a $1,000 reward. The cat’s head still hasn’t been found.
“We are out there and we will answer every call and do what has to be done,” Gross says, speaking of the duty he’s felt for 36 years with the Suffolk County SPCA. “I’m on the phone every day.”
If you are a business owner or if you have an abundance of new masks you would like to donate, Chief Gross is asking that you contact the Suffolk County SPCA’s office at 631-382-7722 to arrange a pickup or delivery.
The Suffolk County SPCA is a not-for-profit and operates solely on donations made by the public. The agency does not receive any local, state or federal funding.
Learn more at suffolkspca.org.