Creating change:

1.  Reforming the Shelters 

2. Introducing legislation to protect shelter animals


Reform the Shelters

 Things at animal shelters across the country need to change, so where better to start, than right here in Central New York? We have to take care of things in our own backyard, before moving on to others.

This is not about accusations and finger pointing. It is about speaking the truth and making a difference. Animal abuse and neglect happens every day in shelters and so-called rescues and has been well documented for years. Even with proof of neglect and suffering being reported, it continues to be allowed to happen under the cloak of secrecy, behind shelter walls. And it is not against the law.

 The bottom line is that, unless and until, every person entrusted with care of animals in shelters, actually cares about the well-being of those animals, nothing will change. Shelters need to be transparent and people need to be aware of what really happens behind the shelter doors.

 Shelters need a director who is ready to move in a different direction. The single biggest factor for lifesaving success or failure is often who runs the shelter. Rather than prior experience running a shelter, the job description should list skills which can be transferred to the shelter environment. Too often, prior experience running a shelter means a history of killing. In addition, while communities should provide adequate funding, who runs the shelter has a larger impact on lifesaving than the size of the budget. Moreover, the job description should put saving lives on at least equal footing with public health. They should place as much emphasis on compassion, animal care, reducing killing, and measurable results, as they do on the other responsibilities of animal control.*

 Speaking of funding, what are your donations to your local animal shelter used for? Are they making the best use of the money and other  items they regularly receive, or are they throwing away perfectly good donations, because they aren't needed at the time? Are they helping to fund proactive education programs and promoting the spaying & neutering of pets? Whether or not you donate directly to the shelter, often times, you are paying for animal sheltering through your town & county or village taxes.

 Many shelters contract with government agencies for services. These services are not cheap and the cost is passed on to the public in their tax bills. For more information, or to find out if your town or county contracts with a shelter for animal control, check the shelter website or contact your local officials and ask them. You might be surprised by what you learn about the animal services you pay for. At the very least, they should be making the information about the animals they shelter, public.

 Unfortunately, the abuse and neglect of shelter animals is not illegal. The shelters are operating within the current confines of NYS Ag & Markets Law. 

Which brings us to the second part of the project.

Introduce & Enact Legislation


Follow the link to the newyorkcapa website on the menu to see the latest updates.

Changing the way things are done at the shelters is one thing. Protecting animals in all of NYS now and in the future, is another. We need to get our elected officials to take action. The laws have got to change.

We need to get the conversation started by meeting with elected officials and helping them to understand how important it is to enact laws to protect animals. We need to write letters and make phone calls. Model legislation  exists and can be used and modified as needed for this purpose. 

        We can afford to save them all!

Follow the "Saving 90" * link at the top of the page, for a list of shelters who are currently saving over 90% of the animals that go through their doors. There are a great number of success stories happening everywhere. We can be the next. Let's do this!

*courtesy of the No Kill Advocacy Center


Victory for Animals

Wanderers' Rest-Then & Now 

by Dawn Brocious

You might recall the incident involving the theft of Wanderers' Rest Humane Association's email and donor database in 2017. While no financial information was taken, the theft has resulted in significant financial loss to the shelter. Without our contact list, we are unable to directly reach our supporters. This loss has hurt the animals significantly. To date, we have experienced a loss of well over $100,000 and counting.

However, while the theft was extremely disheartening, it also served as a turning point. We knew that changes needed to be made to move our shelter in the right direction. In addition to staff changes, we implemented life-saving initiatives, like those found in the No Kill Equation ( which include working with rescues, maintaining a foster network, medical and behavioral prevention and rehabilitation, and proactive redemptions. As a result of our efforts, Wanderers' Rest is now a true No Kill shelter. We do not euthanize healthy, treatable animals.

Thanks to the hard-work, compassion and dedication of our current Executive Shelter Manager, staff and volunteers, Wanderers' Rest has gone from a 72% live release rate in 2015, to a 96% live release rate in 2018. While we are not perfect, we remain committed to doing everything possible to ensure that our shelter is truly a “safe haven” for homeless animals.

Our success is also garnering national attention, from agencies such as Best Friends Animal Society and the No Kill Advocacy Center of CA. Best Friends has reached out and would like us to be part of their "No Kill by 2025" Fundraising Campaign, and The No Kill Advocacy Center has added Wanderers' Rest to their Saving 90 website! Learn more here:

Perhaps, as they say, everything does happen for a reason. The attack on our database was instrumental in initiating the amazing turn-around our shelter has experienced, and we could not be more proud of our accomplishments. However, we need your help to continue. Most of our grant funding has now been exhausted and unfortunately, the application and awards process for additional grant money takes time.
Please consider donating to ensure that we can continue these programs. Every animal counts and we cannot do it without you.

Wanderers’ Rest Humane Association is an open-admission No Kill shelter in Canastota, New York, that serves roughly 700 cats and dogs each year. We accept unwanted or stray dogs and cats from Madison County, as well as several other municipalities. We are open to all Central New Yorkers who wish to adopt a dog or cat. To learn more about our wonderful animals looking for their forever homes, or to make a donation, please visit . Thank you for caring.