Amy Lewis, SPCA of Niagara Interim Director
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- The troubled SPCA of Niagara has a new Interim Executive Director and during her first day on the job she sat down with 2 On Your Side to answer tough questions about the shelter, its challenges, and her vision.
In early January, allegations of mismanagement and abuse first surfaced at the shelter. On January 27th, the Executive Director of the SPCA of Erie County, Barbara Carr, released a report that outlined "dysfunction" at the SPCA of Niagara. Days later, John Faso, who was serving as the SPCA of Niagara's Executive Director,was ousted by the board. This brings us to Monday, which was interim director Amy Lewis's first day on the job.
Lewis, who comes with more than 7 years experience in mobile adoptions, animal rescue and behavior modification from the Erie County SPCA, has animal lovers and critics around the region watching to see how she'll steer this ship that's blown so off course.
Reporter: What do you plan to do to right the ship?
Lewis: I think it's really going to start with getting everyone on the same page.
She says that begins with proper training and cleaning up the records. Lewis wants to create some transparency so the public can trust the shelter and really begin to adopt again. "I think that's going to be the most important aspect for the shelter to start to recover from this."
That goes hand in hand with reducing the number of euthanizations. "If we can start making an appointment based intake system we can manage what is coming into the shelter and then only euthanize as a last resort," said Lewis.
One part of the transition already isn't sitting well with Lewis is the way the new board of directors is being chosen. The current board president selects a Nominating Committee which is subject to approval by the current board. "I think the new Committee should probably be chosen by a group of individuals. If you have the existing board that's not trusted, I don't know if it's a good idea for that existing board to choose these new members. It almost might seem like there's another agenda."
Lewis says when it comes to the board, the staff and volunteers, she'll have an open door policy. " I plan on meeting with as many individuals as I can to get them all on board and to help them create a sense of unity," she says.
It seems everyone is ready to put the past behind them. "We give it our all while we're here. So we're looking forward very much to having someone on board that feels the same way we do," says shelter volunteer, Margie Kwiatkowski.