Skip to main content

volunteers for animals

Photo: VFA's 40th anniversary celebration at Batavia First Presbyterian Church

By Howard B. Owens
volunteers for animals
Cutting the anniversary cake, from left, Shanna Shaw, Kathy Dispenza, Debbie Chilano, Wendy Castleman, Debbie Stocking, and Angela Knisley.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Volunteers for Animals celebrated its 40th anniversary on Saturday at Batavia First Presbyterian Church.

Previously: Chamber Awards: VFA earns special recognition in its 40th year caring for animals

volunteers for animals
Photo by Howard Owens.
volunteers for animals
Julie Jenkins with shirts being sold to support VFA.
Photo by Howard Owens.
volunteers for animals
Photo by Howard Owens.
volunteers for animals
Photo by Howard Owens.
volunteers for animals
Mary Della Penna and Shanna Shaw with sheet pizzas donated by Main Street Pizza to the event. Main Street donated 10 sheet pizzas.
Photo by Howard Owens.

VFA celebrates 40 years with a party, and you're invited to join on May 18

By Joanne Beck
volunteers for animals
2022 File Photo of VFA member getting a snuggle from a temporary shelter occupant.
Photo by Howard Owens

This year of 2024 is a big one for Volunteers For Animals, a nonprofit that just last month received the Chamber of Commerce Special Anniversary Recognition of the Year Award and will celebrate its 40th anniversary next month.

And what better way to celebrate than with a party filled with refreshments, a special cake, activities for children, multiple door prizes, favors and a little history thrown in? It’s set for 1 to 4 p.m. May 18 at First Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Main St., Batavia. 

“It’s a chance to take the time to get together and to celebrate with each other and the community, a time to reflect on our beginnings as well as plans for the future,” volunteer and event planner Angie Knisley said. “(And to) honor those who selflessly founded the organization and remember all they had to accomplish to get us where we are today. This is not an easy story to tell. These early founders and volunteers sacrificed much to establish the VFA, a nonprofit all-volunteer humane-type society for companion animals in Genesee County.”

The Anniversary Celebration this year will also give VFA the opportunity to communicate its mission, programs and needs more fully and widely, she said, including, of course, the vital importance of having volunteers to help with varied tasks.

VFA’s mission is “to provide care, comfort and protection to companion animals in need tin Genesee County by engaging the hands, hearts and minds of our community.”

Organizers want to include all of the people who not only helped to establish the organization but who also helped to maintain and further grow it, she said. That list is quite long, as there have been folks — individually and in groups, business.

s, veterinary practices — since those early days in 1984 up to now that have provided support of time, labor, money, services and/or goods.

“We want to thank our supporters, including those businesses in the area, that have helped us through the years,” she said. “And again, the list of those who have helped through the years is vast. We are working on the best way to recognize our supporters and communicate our appreciation.

“We do not want to miss recognizing anyone,” she said. “But, we also want to respect those that would have, or may prefer, to remain in the background and not want to receive much focus/attention.”

The nonprofit rightfully received its due attention in March for the Chamber award after 40 years of volunteers serving four-legged friends' needs through Genesee County Animal Shelter. 

At the event, there will be displays about the history and people who founded VFA, information about its current programs, and photos of animals that have been adopted over the past many years.  

There won’t be any fundraisers at the event; however, “we are kindly asking for a $5 donation,” Knisley said, and children are free. Attendees are asked to register by May 10 for planning purposes so that there will be enough refreshments and cake. 

The church “has graciously and generously donated the use of the reception hall” for the party, she said, and is helping out with the event. 

VFA greatly appreciates the kindness, Knisley said. 

She hopes that the public will attend this open house party and help the volunteers mark this special occasion together. 

To RSVP, click on the QR below, contact the animal shelter at 585-343-6410 or visit 3841 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. 

VFA QR code

Genny Sees the Eclipse helps to raise money for local animal rescues

By Joanne Beck
Zorro kitten
Zorro, one of the kittens who was in foster care with Volunteers For Animals and is now up for adoption.
Submitted Photo

Genny the cow, in a field near her barn, looked up at the sun over Genesee Farm. While the pig rolled in the mud and the horse pranced nearby, Genny just stood there, transfixed by the sky. What are you wearing? The dog asked with a bark. “I need these safe glasses until it gets dark.”

If you have already purchased your copy of “Genny Sees The Eclipse,” this charming introduction will be familiar, as it leads the way, along with a bunch of whimsical animals, to learn more about a total eclipse that’s nearing our world right on April 8, 2024, right here in Genesee County.

As for the cow, horse, pig, dog, and many other creatures that will also need some help to understand why it has suddenly gone dark in the middle of the day, at least four local rescues — all of which will benefit from the sales of this book — will be there for their occupants’ once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Volunteers For Animals is a longtime nonprofit staple based in the Genesee County Animal Shelter at 3841 W. Main Street Road in Batavia. Vice President Shanna Shaw, who says that her more prominent role of late is as kitten coordinator due to so many pregnant cats in the community, acknowledged the heavy and constant need for both cats and dogs, but with a special emphasis on felines at the moment.

“There are about 40 cats and kittens in the foster care system,” she said. “Resources are always needed, people coming to help clean is a need. So it's just a matter of cleaning, feeding, caring for the animals, and doing the daily operations that you need just to get started for the day. We need people to come and help with cleaning and feeding the animals, scooping litter pans, and exercising the dogs, that in the morning seems to be we're having challenges with keeping up with that,” she said. “And then just like the typical supplies like bleach and laundry soap for a high energy machine. We probably do seven or nine loads of laundry a day. So we go through a lot of that. Clay cat litter is always welcome, as well as canned dog food. So those are some of the things usually on our wish list. But you know, having more people willing to come in and clean is one of our more immediate needs.”

Actually, human hands to help out is a need at each one of these shelters. And as for the book fundraiser, monetary proceeds will go toward the animals’ medical needs and/or a spay and neuter program to help reduce the animal population and even more unwanted four-leggeds.

Shaw talked about Loki, a cat who came to the shelter pregnant with six babies. One of them did not survive, and another has been adopted. Four of her kittens are now up for adoption and just waiting to be taken into a warm, snuggly home.

If you are interested in volunteering, call 585-343-6410, Ext. 7, and ask to speak with Animal Control Officer Catherine Seward or Sarah Fountain. For more information about the animals or shelter, go to

Slim the horse
Slim the horse that "started it all," founder Maryanne Arena says.
Submitted Photo

On the other side of the county with four-leggeds just a little bit bigger and taller — well, a whole lot bigger, heavier and taller — is Maryland, a Haven For Horses, at 8132 W. Bergen Road in Le Roy.

The nonprofit is Founder Maryanne Arena’s dream come true, and it “promises horses a safe and dignified retirement after racing,” she said.

“What makes MaryLand different is that we do not rehome,” she said. “Once a horse is accepted here, it will live out its natural life on the farm. We had 10 horses, but we were able to reunite an original owner with two of her former racehorses. We have two slots open and had hoped to fill two stalls for Christmas, but we need help.

“Our horses are stabled and it costs a great deal of money to stable horses during the winter months. We are constantly fundraising,” she said. “The money will definitely go to the care and maintenance of the horses, and fencing repair, and the goal is to fill the two stalls.”

The money raised from book sales will go toward giving two Standardbred horses “a safe home for life.”  For more information, go to

Llama at Mockingbird
Daisy the llama.
File Photo by Joanne Beck

Just to the northwest of that is Mockingbird Farm Sanctuary at 5978 Upper Holley Road In Byron.

Jonell Chudyk co-founded the nonprofit with Jon Tedd to provide, as the name implies, a sanctuary for creatures of all various types, with a compassionate heart and loving touch for their ultimate comfort through the remainder of their lives.

From Ferris and Forest to Barnaby, Anne and Gilbert, the goats, miniature donkeys, pigs, chickens,  cows, geese and others that have a comfy niche carved out on the Upper Holley Road property, they have what Chudyk believes is a mutually beneficial and responsive relationship with their human caretakers in this corner of a world of kindness.

None of it happens without cost, both time and money, it takes $6,000 a month to care for the animals, with vast amounts of hours of cleaning, feeding and caring for the sanctuary animals, Chudyk has said.

The farm has two holiday wish lists at Chewy and Amazon and has an ongoing goal this year to raise $15,000 to buy hay for the winter season. Volunteers are always a need for the daily care — scrubbing and filling bowls and buckets with food and water, cleaning their beds, providing for medical needs, and other such tasks, while also enjoying the critters’ individual personalities, of course.

“Mockingbird Farm Sanctuary embodies true peace and sanctuary for the living beings in our company,” the co-founders say.

For more information, go to

Jerritt the horse at Cherry Hill
Jerrit, the tenacious elderly and blind Belgian that still does "everything a horse should be able to do."
Submitted Photo

Cherry Hill Farm Sanctuary, at 2514 Genesee St., Corfu, began as a refuge for senior horses that were discarded after years of work. 

“Over the years, we have grown. We now take in a multitude of farm animals, including goats and fowl, but our focus is senior workhorses, founder Pam Harmon said.

“Currently, the farm is working to add a goat barn that will move our goat herd from the horse barns to their own space.  As we have grown, taking in animals other than the horses has been challenging.  We are hoping to divide up our indoor space so that it is easier to turn out horses and not need to move our entire goat herd to do so,” Harmon said.  “Along with that challenge, winter is always a challenge with senior animals.  The horses are moved off the big pastures and turned in at night.  Several have special dietary requirements due to lack of teeth, and the cold makes it harder to do our everyday chores.”  

The money raised from the book will be used to help update some of the farm’s fencing for the blind horse herd, which includes Jerrit, an elderly Belgian who has no eyes. Blindness is not a rarity on the farm, as there are several blind draft horses there — “it is one of our soft spots,” she said. 

“We currently have three draft horses that are fully blind.  Jerrit an elderly Belgian, had his remaining eye removed due to cancer.  He was our first draft horse that we took on that had a missing eye,” she said.  “We quickly learned that even though he was missing an eye, it did not hinder him from doing everything a horse should be able to do.” 

For years, Jerrit was the leader of the sanctuary’s large herd, but a few years ago, Jerrit started showing signs of cancer in his remaining eye.  It quickly progressed, and he had to have his remaining eye removed.  “This was not an easy decision for us, we wanted to make sure Jerrit could still have a good quality of life without his eyes,” she said.  “We decided that we would take the chance, and if Jerrit did not acclimate to his new life, then we would have him humanely euthanized. 

“He has proved to us that a horse without any eyes can still enjoy their life.  We have modified a pasture for his needs, and up until this year, he lived with Bess, who never left his side.  Bess passed this Fall, and we have been working towards finding another companion from the herds for Jerrit,” she said. “Fletcher and Jake suffered from accidents while in work that left them blind; they came to CHFS this Fall. We also have NaLady and Callie, who have had one eye removed due to cancer.” 

For more information, go to

Genny Sees book

On nights in the stalls when the grand calves won’t sleep, to help them drift off, Genny doesn’t count sheep. She tells them again of the glorious sight: the eclipse, when the moon turned the day into night.

To get your copies of this limited edition children’s book — perhaps for a Christmas, holiday or simply as a commemorative gift while also helping out these rescue organizations — go to the Chamber office at 8276 Park Road in Batavia or online at You can save on shipping costs by picking it up at the Chamber Visitor Center. 

Rescue cats from VFA make a house a home

By Anne Marie Starowitz


I was told that training a cat was demanding  

Our cats had us trained in two days!

Our lives changed when we adopted our kittens from the Volunteers for Animals of Batavia Animal Shelter. Our Clyde and Missy became our children; we refer to them as our babies.   We look forward to coming home to see them when they greet us at the door.

When we first got them, we bought all the supplies to protect our furniture and the special tape to keep them off the dining room table and counters. That lasted about a week; they now have two climbing houses, one in our dining room and the other in our sun parlor. Our home also has cat cozies on chairs, fireplace hearth, and coffee tables. We also heated their window cozy. They both love to lie in our bathroom sink.

Although our house has been known for our cameras on the outside of our property, we also have cameras inside our basement to check when and how much they poop. 

You can also find one on our kitchen counter to record when and how much they have eaten.

Back in the day, you could buy a goldfish or a painted turtle at JJ Newberry Department Store. In talking to my baby boomer friends about their pets, they said they had pet chickens, birds, snakes, white mice, rats, rabbits, and toads, besides the favorites, cats, and dogs. Of course, an exotic pet back then was a raccoon or crow, or you could order a pet monkey through the mail.

This story captured my attention. A baseball league called the PONY League (Pennsylvania, Ontario, and New York) played in Batavia and had a raffle at one of their games in the 60s. An actual pony was given away. I can’t imagine going home and telling my mom what I won at the baseball game!   Readers, is there any truth to that story?

As an elementary teacher, I greatly advocated for a classroom pet—many great stories of our years with guinea pigs and hamsters are still remembered today.

I remember Neptune’s Garden Pet Shop on Liberty Street and Pet Mart on East Main Street, a favorite of mine. Today there is Country Max and Petco on Veterans Memorial Drive. These two stores have everything you need for your pets and a place to adopt a new family member. 

Please share the stories of your pets. For example, we tell our friends our cats own our house, and they allow us to live there. 





Fur Ball hosted by Batavia Downs raises $20k for area animal rescue groups

By Press Release


Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced that the Fur Ball Gala Fundraiser on Saturday, March 4 raised $20,000 for Volunteers for Animals, the Animal Shelter of Genesee County, the SPCA of Wyoming County & the SPCA of Niagara County. 

Over 70 baskets donated by local companies were raffled off to the more than 160 persons in attendance.  Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas took pictures with attendees while they enjoyed food and drink.  Attendees danced the night away as they enjoyed music from local DJ Marc Tillery.

Monies from the gala will be used by the charities to feed and support the hundreds of animals in their care.

“We are so appreciative to the local community for coming together in support of the Fur Ball Gala,” said Jacquelyne Leach, CFO for Western OTB / Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel and Jody Coffta, General Manager of Food & Beverage for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “We want to thank all the volunteers, not only from the local animal organizations but from our staff as well.  We would also like to thank the many vendors who donated food and beverages for this event and all the individuals and local businesses that contributed baskets for the successful raffle held. This was truly a great team effort.”

For those interested in getting involved with local animal organizations, information for each can be found here:

Submitted photos.







Batavia Downs hosting annual Fur Ball on March 4

By Press Release

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced that former Buffalo football legend and Hall of Famer, Thurman Thomas, will be attending the upcoming Fur Ball Gala Fundraiser set to take place at Batavia Downs on Saturday, March 4..

The Fur Ball Gala is a benefit to raise money for the Animal Shelter of Genesee County & SPCA of Wyoming County. The event runs from 5-9 p.m. on Saturday, March 4. Tickets are $75, and attendees receive a buffet dinner, open bar, tastings, $50 in free play and access to a basket raffle with more than 40 items from Batavia Downs and other local businesses. Thurman will be on hand to take photos with all event attendees, and a DJ will be on-site as well.

There is a hotel package available - $275 plus tax includes two tickets to the event along with a hotel room for the night of the event.

To book tickets or the hotel package, interested persons can call Sara at 585-344-6155 to book now. Anyone that calls and reserves the hotel package will receive a free limited-edition Josh Allen bobblehead when they arrive on site that evening.

"We are so excited to host the first annual Fur Ball Gala," said Jacquelyne Leach, CFO for Western OTB/Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. "Raising money for local animal charities is near and dear to our hearts. We look forward to seeing everyone have a great time at the event alongside a Buffalo football Hall of Famer!"

Super Sunday Craft Fair to benefit GC Animal Shelter and VFA

By Joanne Beck


Volunteers For Animals members are asking folks to take a “paws” next Sunday and attend the Batavia Super Sunday Craft and Gift Market coming soon to Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel.

The event, featuring “wonderful craft and gift vendors,” plus door prizes and free admission, is set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 12 at the facility at 8315 Park Road, Batavia.

All proceeds are to go towards Genesee County Animal Shelter on West Main Street Road, Batavia, and the nonprofit VFA of Genesee County. The first vendor fair was postponed due to -- you guessed it -- COVID -- in 2021, and was put on last year. 

For more information about the animal shelter, go HERE.

Click HERE for more about Volunteers For Animals.

File Photo of a preview for the 2022 vendor fair, by Howard Owens.

Photos: VFA basket raffle at Pudgie's

By Howard B. Owens



Basket raffles and door prizes brought out hundreds of animal lovers to Pudgies in Batavia on Saturday to raise money to help Volunteers for Animals service all the needs of pets residing, however temporarily, at the Genesee County Shelter.





'Giant basket raffle' this weekend in Batavia to benefit VFA's efforts

By Joanne Beck


This month may be October, but there are many people looking forward to OctoFUR this weekend.

It’s a Volunteers For Animals fundraiser (ahem, Furaiser), complete with oodles of baskets with a wide variety of items just waiting to be won. This event is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Pudgie’s Lawn and Garden, 3646 West Main St., Batavia.

Volunteer Shelley Falitico is part of the event committee, which also includes Angie Knisley, Marcy Colantonio and Becca Walters, who have been “committed, dedicated volunteers for several years,” she says.

Falitico has been impressed with all that the nonprofit does to help animals at Genesee County Animal Shelter, from providing much-needed medical care, vaccinations, fostering, walking, assisting with adoptions, to, of course, showering them with lots of TLC. All or at least some of these services have eased the temporary transition to shelter life for dogs, cats, and even a bird, Falitico said.

“I am a new volunteer and I have met so many long-time, dedicated volunteers since my introduction to the Volunteers for Animals mission,” she said. “They hold a couple of fundraisers each year.”

This event promises to be a good one, and includes an “extra special raffle” this year featuring a grand prize of two Buffalo Bills game tickets. The game pits local favorite Buffalo Bills against the New York Jets on Dec. 11. Get ready to watch from Section 118, Row 6 if you’re the lucky winner. Tickets are $10 each.

There’s free entry and several baskets in the “giant” basket raffle event, and all proceeds support animal care. Winners need not be present to win. Pudgie’s is also offering 10 percent off all pet-safe plants.

For those wanting to help out with the cause another way, donations of new items or themed baskets may be dropped off at the shelter during regular hours: 1 to 3 and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, and 1 to 3 p.m. Friday at 3841 West Main Street Road, Batavia.

JJ, top, and Digger are just two of the shelter residents waiting to go to a loving forever home. Photos courtesy of VFA's website.

Dog abuse case postponed after VFA letter received

By Joanne Beck


Cassandra Elmore’s case was set for 1:30 p.m. today, and one thing was fairly certain: she would show since she was recently arrested on a warrant and put in jail. She had failed to show up two times previously.

After several other cases were brought before Judge Thomas Burns Thursday in City Court, Elmore was brought in, handcuffed and wearing a neon yellow jumpsuit with Livingston County Jail stamped on the back.

While waiting for her case to be called, Elmore turned to talk with her mother, Lisa, about posting bail, and made a one-fingered gesture to someone else in the gallery area. She was being represented by Assistant Public Defender Jamie Welch.

Judge Burns said that some correspondence was received from Volunteers For Animals, and it, in essence, asked for a “possible resolution to this case,” given that Oddey, Elmore’s dog that overdosed, has been sitting at the county shelter for more than two months.

Burns proposed adjourning the case for a week and set her next appearance for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 22.

Welch and Assistant District Attorney Jenna Bauer agreed. Burns instructed Elmore that, if she was to make bail, she needed to show up for her court date. 

Elmore has missed two prior court dates after initially asking for more time to hire an attorney. Her original charge was three counts of injuring an animal after her dog was found to have overdosed on some type of narcotics.

She failed to appear in court on Aug. 11 (when a friend reported a call from Elmore in the hospital) and Sept. 8 and was arrested in between, on Aug. 30 after a traffic stop. She was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, obstruction of governmental administration, aggravated unlicensed operation third, uninspected motor vehicle, and insufficient tail lamps.

After not showing in court on Sept. 8, a warrant was issued for her arrest, and Batavia Police Department caught up with her on Sept. 10 after a property dispute at 316 East Main St. called them to the scene. She was arrested on the spot.

In the meantime, while her case has been pending and continues to be postponed due to her being a no-show, Oddey awaits his fate at the shelter. He can’t be put up for adoption while it’s an open case.

Volunteers For Animals member Wendy Castleman said Thursday that the dog is doing well. She couldn't answer any questions pertaining to the correspondence because it's an open case, she said.

Batavia Downs donates more than $2,400 from craft and vendor market

By Press Release

Press release:

Western Region Off-Track Betting (WROTB) / Batavia Downs Gaming President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek presented representatives from the Genesee County Volunteers for Animals and the Genesee County Animal Shelter with checks totaling $2,471 to help support their efforts to take care of animals in the Genesee County area.

The Puppy Paws Indoor Craft and Vendor Market, held at Batavia Downs on February 6th, was organized by Mary Bucceri, Group Sales Manager at Batavia Downs.  100% of collected vendor fees and accepted donations by attendees were given to these 2 local organizations. 

Volunteers for Animals will use the money raised for pet supplies and medical expenses for the animals.  The Genesee County Animal Shelter will use the money to repair and replace various equipment at the Animal Shelter and in the Animal Control van. in addition to purchasing safety equipment for the officers when interacting with feral cats.

“We host several vendor events throughout the year, and we are happy to use these events to help raise money for local worthy organizations,” said Wojtaszek. “We will continue to do what we can to be a good partner to local charities and organizations.”

“The Volunteers for Animals would like to give a special thanks to Batavia Downs and their continued support, “ said VFA Board President Deb Stocking.  “We work hard every year to raise enough money to continue to help the animals. The Downs has been a huge part of this goal. Thank you all for your hard work and - the dogs and cats say 'thank you' as well!”

Vendors, shoppers turn out at Batavia Downs to support Volunteers for Animals

By Howard B. Owens


Among the vendors at yesterday's Volunteers for Animals Vendor Fair, hosted by Batavia Downs, were Brock Bucceri and Hunter Wagner making their vendor show debut as entrepreneurs. 

During the pandemic, Bucceri and Wagner (along with friend Gavin Beck, not pictured) decided to start making their own fishing lures.

"We spent a lot of money on fishing lures at Dick's and Cabela's where a frog can cost up to $12," said 13-year-old Bucceri. "So we said, 'let's make some money off of it and we can get some free lures."

The trio makes the senkos they sell themselves. They design the frogs and have them custom manufactured, which they sell for $8.99.

Yeah, that's cheaper than the big retailers but Bucceri said they're still making money -- mostly with sales through Etsy -- because their frogs sell.

The first-ever vendor fair was a big success, according to Angie Knisley, who organized the event for Volunteers for Animals.  It raised more than $2,000 and the more than 300 people who attended brought in a large amount of food and other pet-care donations.





Love is in the air for a first-time vendor fair to benefit Volunteers For Animals

By Joanne Beck


It’s a familiar story with a surprise twist for one Batavia-based nonprofit.

Volunteers For Animals had been planning its first-ever vendor fair for early April in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and rendered all public activities dead. That’s the familiar part for so many organizations that had to press pause for their fundraising events. What happened this year is a surprise.

“We found out the Downs and (Batavia Downs employee) Mary Bucceri was going to host it for us,” volunteer Angie Knisley said during an interview with The Batavian. “I think they felt bad about what happened in 2020.”

And the Puppy Paws Craft & Vendor Market was born. It’s set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Batavia Downs & Gaming, 8315 Park Road, Batavia. Monetary donations and pet supplies and food will be accepted at the door. Admission to the event is free.

Proceeds from the event are earmarked for where most VFA fundraising goes, Knisley said: direct animal care. Rescued dogs and cats may need a veterinarian to treat wounds, fractures, or other injuries; required vaccines; dental care or other medical services, Knisley said. VFA, a nonprofit based at Genesee County Animal Shelter, pays those expenses. 

Zoey and Wasabi are two of the many animals saved with such medical services paid for by VFA. A tan brindled Boxer with white paws and chest, Zoey was rescued with a group of dogs in a hoarding situation. She was thin and found to be positive for heartworm. A vet’s exam and X-ray discovered she had a severe case of heart worm disease, and volunteers mulled the idea of a lengthy, risky, and quite expensive process to restore Zoey to better health.

The answer was yes. Zoey was housed with Diane, an animal lover who volunteered to foster, house, and care for Zoey during her treatment. The two have bonded over the past few months as Zoey has gained weight and come to enjoy her life. Perhaps no surprise is that Diane plans to adopt her new friend. 

Wasabi, a glowing green-eyed feline, was found as a stray with severe hair loss and loaded with fleas. She’s been treated, vaccinated, and, with a new outlook and “great” personality, Wasabi has been adopted and welcomed into a loving home, volunteers said.

Knisley has not only heard about and witnessed these stories, but she has also adopted rescue cats from Genesee County and other similar animal shelters over the years. Once she got to know the inner workings of VFA, it drew her to become more involved, she said.  

“So when I had the opportunity to get a closer look at all the time, care, and funding that VFA members devoted to animal welfare, I felt I would like to help however I could; maybe sort of paying it backward,” she said. “I think because I do care about animal welfare and their needs, and I have the time to help out. I felt it was something good to do, to be able to do something positive for them means a lot." 

The Corfu resident has been a hands-on member of VFA off and on for eight years, she said. Her role includes helping out with fundraisers, and she looks forward to this first vendor fair. There are more than 35 businesses registered so far, including Gourmet Dips, Epicure, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Paparazzi, Artful Shenanigans, Scentsy, Touchstone Crystal, Lula Roe, Pudgies Lawn & Garden, Dead Stick Fishing Company, and Tastefully Simple. Shoppers — may be in search of a Valentine’s gift? — will find a wide variety of products, from makeup, purses, popcorn, and Valentine’s gift boxes to sun catchers, photo packages, and Tupperware.

Anyone that makes a donation to VFA at the door will be entered into a drawing for a Stay & Play gift certificate valued at $225 at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel. All attendees age 18 and older will receive Free Play for the gaming floor. Lunch will be available for purchase.

“The Downs is really highlighting Valentine’s Day with decorations. It’s a nice day out and a fun way if someone wants to do a little Valentine’s shopping,” she said. “And it gives them a chance to learn more about the shelter and the Volunteers For Animals programs.”

The VFA will have a table with information at the event. There may be a few spots left to participate, and interested vendors may call Mary Bucceri at 585-344-6144 or email for more information. 

Top photo: Angie Knisley, a member of Volunteers For Animals, shows off Abby, a friendly five-year-old cat who has been overlooked for adoption at Genesee County Animal Shelter on Route 5, Batavia. She really needs a home, Knisley says, and would make for a great companion. For more information about Abby and other prospective pets, go to  Photo by Howard Owens.

Volunteers for Animals: OctoFUR 2021 Basket Raffle & Mask Contest.

By Lisa Ace
Volunteers for Animals: OctoFUR 2021 Basket Raffle and Mask Contest.
Held at: Pudgie's Lawn and Garden 3646 W Main St. Batavia NY 14020
Saturday, October 23rd from 10 AM to 3 PM
All proceeds go to animal care!

There will be a wide variety of Baskets and you do not need to be present to win. Contest masks will be displayed at the event and on VFA website ( & Facebook. Prize for Mask Contest is a $50. gift card to Main Street Pizza.
Event Date and Time

Adopt-A-Pet: Louie needs a home, ready to capture your heart

By Press Release


Press release:

People stop and look at me and always say, “Poor Thing”.  Then they choose another when they could have had a king.

That’s Louie’s story.  When you visit the shelter, you will find Louie hiding in the corner.   It’s difficult to see how handsome this 7-year-old Siamese mix with stunning blue eyes is as he lays curled up in a ball.  

Louie has called the shelter his home for the past few months and finds shelter life absolutely terrifying.  During the calm, quiet hours Louie enjoys and loves the attention he receives from the volunteers.

He was surrendered because he was bullying the other cats in the home and may need to be an only cat. 

He likes to keep up appearances and daily brushing is always on his agenda.   Louie is longing for a home of his own.  Longing for a stress-free, shelter-free life.  A family that will provide the patience and love he needs and so well deserves. 

Are you this special boy’s special someone?
"If you really like me, please take me home with you. I promise I’ll be good and love you long and true."

He is neutered, tested negative for FIV/FeLV, and is up to date with vaccines. Louie would do best if he is confined to a small room for a couple of weeks to acclimate to his new surroundings and give his new adopters a chance to bond with him. If you can give this kitty a nice indoor home, please stop into the Genesee County Animal Shelter, 3841 W. Main Street Rd, Batavia, NY during adoption hours to complete an adoption application or email us at

Volunteers For Animals soldier on after 'crazy year' and ask for your continued support

By Press Release

From the Volunteers For Animals:

It has been a crazy year indeed.

One year ago everything was being cancelled and closed. We were only able to hold three fundraisers -- Scrap for the Pack, Hogs for Paws at Stan’s Harley Davidson, and a basket raffle at Pudgie’s Lawn and Garden Center.

We are grateful for the outpouring of support from the community both monetarily and through the donation of much-needed supplies.

When we compared 2020 to 2019, our overall intake and adoption numbers for cats was very close.

For dogs it was a slightly different story. We saw a drop in stray dogs in 2020 and VFA had a drop in rescue dogs brought in from out-of-state due to travel restrictions and COVID-19. So even though the coronavirus pandemic closed many places and changed our daily lives, in 2020 the Shelter saw more than 700 animals come through the doors needing our care.

We were able to continue our Community Spay/Neuter Voucher Program by providing over 700 vouchers for cats and dogs in the community to be vaccinated and spayed/neutered. The Petco Foundation grant we received in April of 2020 provided vouchers for over 200 pets.

We especially want to thank our participating vets at Perry Pet -- Batavia, the State Street Animal Hospital, and True Care for continuing to provide much needed services during a very challenging time.

In January, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department seized 13 dogs and two cats in a cruelty case. These animals are being held at the Genesee County Animal Shelter and are being cared for by the county and Volunteers For Animals. Many of the animals were in need of medical care. To date, VFA has spent more than $5,000 for veterinary services for these animals. 

In March, Genesee County began renovations on the Animal Shelter facility including improvement of dog kennels, drains, ventilations systems, and nonslip floor surfaces. The county received a grant of $200,000 from the Department of Ag and Markets for the work. It is the first major renovation done since the Shelter was built in 2001.

Construction is always challenging, especially when animals are involved, but the end product has been well worth it. 

So right now we are at a more hopeful point than a year ago. You have always been there for the animals and we will continue to care for the animals that come through the door. We greatly appreciate all of the support this past year and look forward to seeing everyone in the upcoming year.

Thank you for your support.

To make a donation online, go to our website, click on the picture where it says "Help the animals" then click on the Donate Now button.

Or mail a contribution to: Volunteers For Animals, PO Box 1621, Batavia, NY, 14021

Make checks payable to Volunteers For Animals.

Donations are tax deductible under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code.

Of every dollar donated to Volunteers For Animals, 96 percent goes directly to help animals in Genesee County. We have no salaried employees and rely entirely on the generous support of volunteers and donations.


  • Veterninary Care -- 75 percent
  • Medications/Vaccines/Food Supplies -- 20 percent
  • Fundraising/Promotional/Operational -- 4 percent
  • Rescue Dog Fees -- 1 percent

Photo: Volunteers collecting scrap metal to help them care for pets at the shelter

By Howard B. Owens


The Volunteers for Animals collected a dumpster full of scrap metal today, an annual fundraiser for the organization.  

You have plenty time yet to donate your old metal items. You can either drop it off this evening, placing it as close to the dumpster as possible, or tomorrow between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Five felines at the shelter have special needs and need special homes

By Billie Owens

From the Volunteers For Animals:

Here's the scoop from "CATFAx" a service of the Volunteers for Animals at the Genesee County Animal Shelter.

There are currently five pre-owned "special needs" cats available for adoption.

The standard fee of $60 has been slashed in half, 0-percent financing because only cash or personal checks are accepted!

All have had a multipoint vet inspection, been neutered or spayed, vaccinated and tested for FIV/FeLV.

Features and Specs:

  • Trixie and Lucky -- over age 10
  • Terry, Bubba and Jenna -- FIV positive
  • All models offer standard all-paw drive.
  • 100,000 purr warranty
  • All over "curtain-climbing phase."

Come see!

The GC Animal Shelter is located at 3841 W. Main Street Road in the Town of Batavia.

ALL BUSINESS (including animal adoptions and turn-ins) WILL BE CONDUCTED BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. 

(585) 343-6410
(585) 345-3075 (fax)

Hours of Operation:    Monday   1 - 3 p.m.   Tuesday   1 - 3 p.m.  Wednesday

  1 - 3 p.m.
  7 - 9 p.m.

 Thursday         CLOSED  Friday   1 - 3 p.m.  Saturday 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.  Sunday   1 - 3 p.m.  

Time to compile a big pile of metal junk to donate at Scrap for the Pack event in June

By Billie Owens

Scrap weighing you down? Well, put it to good use and donate it to benefit homeless pets at the Genesee County Animal Shelter.

It'll soon be time once again to Scrap for the Pack!

The metal recycling event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.mSaturday and Sunday June 19 and 20 in the shelter parking lot, 3841 W. Main Street Road in the Town of Batavia.

The scrap service will be handled by Ed Arnold EAS Scrap Processors of Corfu.

Accepted items include any kind of METAL: railings, doors, garbage cans, file cabinets, bicycle frames, gutters, pipes, poles, fencing, window frames, lawn furniture, tools, shelving, washing machines, dryers, stoves, wheel barrows, wagons, etc.

The Volunteers For Animals, who work tirelessly on behalf of the shelter animals, will thank you for it.

Barn home needed: 'Orangina' is not big on people and finds indoor living unsuitable

By Billie Owens

The Volunteers For Animals are seeking a nice barn home for Orangina.

It does not tax the mind to think it is most likely she got her colorful moniker because of her gingery coat.

It is highly unlikely it was bestowed in a nod to the lightly bubbly beverage of the same name created in exotic Algeria in 1936; all the better to rock the Casbah quarter with in a primarily Muslim nation, where a stronger quaff is "haraam" -- forbidden. The concoction is made from carbonated water, 12-percent citrus juice, as well as 2-percent orange pulp, sweetened with sugar, or that ever-ubiqitous high-fructose corn syrup, and added natural flavors.

Alas, amidst the persistant coronavirus pandemic, this young female cat has not adjusted to indoor living, like some people we know -- and their pets, too.

Speaking of people, she's not keen on them either. Frankly, there are humans who aren't people persons. The Batavian knows this to be an indisputable fact.

But as a mouser, the volunteers think Orangina would be great.

She is spayed, tested negative for FIV/FeLV and is up to date with vaccines. There is no adoption fee for her. 

"We ask that she have good shelter, food, water and some human companionship," they write in an email. "It is also necessary to confine her for a couple of weeks to acclimate her to the new surroundings." (C'mon, let's just call it what we know it to be: quarantine.)

If you can give this kitty a nice home, please stop in the Shelter, located at 3841 W. Main Street Road in the Town of Batavia, during adoption hours or email the volunteers at:

Phone: (585) 343-6410

Shelter Hours of Operation

  • Monday & Tuesday:  1 - 3 p.m
  • Wednesday:  1 - 3 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
  • Thursday:  CLOSED
  • Friday:  1 - 3 p.m.
  • Saturday:  11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • Sunday:  1 - 3 p.m.

Photo and information courtesy of the Volunteers For Animals.

Authentically Local