A year after new people were brought in to help turn around the SPCA of Niagara County, the executive director has stepped down. YNN's Antoinette DelBel has more on why he says the move is bittersweet and how the shelter plans on continuing its forward momentum.
NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. — As he plays with a customer’s dog, it’s clear the former executive director for the SPCA of Niagara has a love for animals.
Andrew Bell says that made it more difficult to leave the position, but says it is for the best.
"My role was to get the shelter stabilized and on the right track, and when they felt that job was in hand then I'd step down," he said. "I was happy to leave them because it was a recognition that… mission accomplished, as they say."
Last week, the board of directors announced Bell would be leaving the SPCA. He says he knew when he was hired, it was for just long enough to help turn the SPCA around.
Bell's extensive management experience is something the Shelter Director Amy Lewis says the organization needed at a difficult time.
"He had a pretty good grasp on the business end of the shelter,” said Lewis. “Now that that's been cleaned up, it's time to really look at someone who's going to bring corporate sponsorships and some big fundraisers."
During his short tenure, Bell helped to quickly turn the shelter's image around.
In January 2012, allegations regarding operations at the shelter led to an investigation, which showed hundreds of healthy animals were euthanized and denied medical care.
Two months later, an entire new board of directors had been elected and Bell stepped into the role of president. He became the executive director in October 2012.
"We saved every animal coming that we could, and we achieved that,” said Bell. “For those four months, we met the 'No-Kill' standards, which the shelter never did before."
This isn't the end for Bell and the SPCA. He says he'll always continue to support the organization and would be up for any challenge that might come his way.
"I would be happy to get involved again,” said Bell. “It was very fulfilling."
Bell will return to running Grandpaws Pet Emporium, his pet shop in Lewiston.
Within the next few months, the shelter will begin a nationwide search for a permanent executive director with experience in non-profit organizations and fundraising.