AUBURN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A shelter is one of the most stressful environments an animal will ever experience in their lifetime.

As for Cayuga County’s shelter, the Finger Lakes SPCA of CNY, they are not only looking to reduce stress within their shelter, but create comfort as well.

The shelter earned themselves $482,491.50 from the New York State Companion Animal Capital Fund, which was worth $7.6 million; they were one out of 21 shelters in the state chosen.

Blueprints of their plans for construction.

With this money, they have a long list of improvements they are looking to make, including fully insulating their shelter, putting in a backup generator, installing HVAC units, replacing dog kennels, creating separate walls for dogs, creating a clinic room and so much more.

Nick Lapresi, the Director of the Finger Lakes SPCA of CNY, relayed that one of the problems they have is that they cannot maintain a temperature in the kennel rooms. In the summer, it is too hot, and vice versa in the winter; which is no way for an animal to live.

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

The shelter hasn’t had upgrades in decades, and is beyond due for one. The grant was a miracle they were waiting for.

But there’s a catch.

Although the shelter has received such a large sum of money from the state, they’re still short $160,000, which is needed to complete their renovations.

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, helping them reach their remaining $160,000 goal.

As Lapresi explains it, “every dollar donated by the community gets doubled by Emerson.”

Although a good incentive, the shelter needs your help.

If they fall shy of the $80K they need to raise, the Emerson Foundation will pull out, leaving the SPCA $160K in the hole.

A setback like that would apply even more pressure to them. Because, in 2025 the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) in New York State requires that all shelters reach a certain amount of standards.

So, without the money, the shelter will not meet the qualifications, and the state will remove their certification to be a shelter.

Therefore, Cayuga County will cease to have an animal shelter.

“Never in my 16 years has an animal knocked on the door, the person behind the animal had. You’re not only helping the animal, but the person on the other end of the leash as well,” said Lapresi.

To lay it out, $80K is about 30% of the shelter’s operating budget.

You can donate HERE.

The shelter asks that you specify in the memo that your donation is for the Capitol Campaign (what the $160K is for.) You can send in cash and or a check to the shelter, or stop by if you want to hand in the money. Their address is 41 York St, Auburn, N.Y. 13021.

If you have any questions, you can reach out to Nick Lapresi at or call the Finger Lakes SPCA of CNY at (315) 253-5841.

So what is the shelter doing in the meantime?

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. Currently, they have about 40 animals being fostered.

“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!

Help when finding a stray cat

According to Lapresi.

  • Don’t feed the cat, if you feed the cat it will stay around.
  • Is the cat’s ear tipped? This is a sign that this is a community cat and is most likely part of a feral colony. 
  • If the cat is coming and going, place a breakaway collar on the cat and attach a piece of paper with your contact information. This allows the owner to contact you when the cat returns home. 
  • Have the cat checked for a microchip (a local vet or shelter can do this.)
  • Post flyers and make a post on your local lost and found animal social media groups.
  • Talk to neighbors and people around your block. Most cats are only 1 to 2 blocks away from their home.