New ideas, goals accompany new SPCA of Niagara director

By Thomas J. Prohaska
Updated: April 16, 2010, 8:16 pm /
Published: April 17, 2010, 6:50 am


TOWN OF NIAGARA Aiming to make the SPCA of Niagara more efficient and less expensive for those looking to adopt animals, new executive director John A. Faso has taken the reins of the agency.

Faso said Friday that the Niagara SPCA, which was a cash-only operation under his predecessor Albert Chille, soon will allow the use of credit and debit cards to adopt animals.

Bruno "Brandy" Scrufari III, who took over as board president last summer, noted that the adoption business has picked up since Neil E. Nolf, who served as interim director after Chille's resignation last summer, reduced the prices.

Faso, 42, said one of his goals is "making the process of adoption a lot more customer- friendly." He said the SPCA will begin taking credit and debit cards as soon as next week.

"We want to be transparent and have the ease [of adopting]," he said.

Faso started work last week. He had been event and facility manager for Conference Center Niagara Falls since 2005, and before that was director of events for the Buffalo Sabres for nine years.

"My strong points are managing people and facilities, marketing and public relations," he said.

The SPCA's public relations took a hit after local animal rescue groups picketed the SPCA's annual meeting last May to protest Chille's work. Chille, who had run the agency for 28 years, quit in August after the board met with an employee he had fired to hear her complaints.

"We were looking to enhance the positive image of the shelter," Scrufari said. "We're stressing this is a "no-kill' shelter where no healthy animals will be euthanized."

Chille's salary was $57,240 a year, but Faso is being paid $70,000. He said he signed no contract and serves solely at the board's pleasure.

Costs were reduced by abolishing the associate director position. Chille's longtime No. 2, Patricia McCue, resigned when he did.

Scrufari said the SPCA board interviewed Faso three times before deciding to hire him.

"We had remarkable applicants. We were really impressed with the quality, but John stood out. He identified a lot of the SPCA's issues. he did his homework," Scrufari said.

Faso lives on Grand Island and is married with three children. He is the son of Town Justice James Faso and the brother of prominent Niagara Falls criminal defense attorney James J. Faso Jr.

"We were confident he's here to stay for quite some time," Scrufari said.