My fellow Humane Pennsylvanians, I am honored to report to you that the state of Humane Pennsylvania is strong!
Each year I try to give a report on the prior year, the coming year, and the general state of Humane Pennsylvania. It’s time for your update and as I somewhat facetiously noted above, it’s been a great past year, is shaping up to be a great coming year, and we have never been stronger as an organization. Below are some bullet point highlights. About once a week for the next many weeks, I’m going to post a more extended blog about each of these bullet points. I hope you keep checking back.
- First and most importantly, we did great work for animals last year! Our “live out” rates remained extremely high and even grew, with 97% of dogs, 94% of cats, and 100% of critters being adopted (please refer to our stats page for a detailed breakdown and explanation of the categories we use). Those are great numbers even for a restricted intake shelter, like the Humane League was when Berks Humane merged with it three years ago. But they are spectacular numbers for an open door shelter like we have in Berks- and even more spectacular when you consider that in Lancaster this year we opened that closed door much more widely on our way to transitioning back to fully open door. We also entered into a new stray intake service contract with two local municipalities in Lancaster. In fact, we took in more stray cats than surrendered cats for the first time since we stopped providing animal control intake services in Berks and Lancaster Counties- and we still achieve these stunning success rates!
- Our veterinary hospitals continue to expand and grow. We are actively seeking additional veterinarians (up to three) to fill the needs of the community. Last year was especially exciting for the vet services department because a $75,000 grant from the Giorgi Family Foundation allowed us to provide free and reduced cost services to hundreds of animals in need, with a focus on pets of owners enrolled in our PetNet programs. These services saved lives and prevented animals from being surrendered and could be provided regardless of ability to pay. If you don’t know about our AAHA accredited (the first in PA and two of only 21 accredited non-profit hospitals in the entire US!) public animal hospitals, you should check us out. We can be the vets for your pets! We can also be where you work! If you are a vet who wants to break new ground in the best of both worlds (private practice and community veterinary care), learn more here.
- Speaking of PetNet services, our expanded AniMeals program, with its new partner service, Spike’s Pantry, has also been growing by leaps and bounds. We are very excited at a pending partnership with a major grocery chain and a major international pet food manufacturer which will allow us to combat food insecurity for pets in our service areas. More to follow as we finalize this exciting service expansion.
- Speaking of expansions, both shelters are growing and changing in 2018! Thanks to a multi-year, $500,000 grant from the Culliton Family Foundation, we are making some much needed improvements and upgrades to the Lancaster shelter. This will include returning cats to the main shelters building in a new cat adoption center and expanding the veterinary hospital capabilities.
- But we aren’t stopping there. We are finally returning to the planned vision for a new state of the art adoption center at our 11th Street location in Reading. Half the building will be leveled and rebuilt, the other half fully renovated. It will be the shelter of the next 20-40 years and will have everything it needs to be to give the animals the shelter they require and deserve, the staff the tools the needs and deserve to do the best possible rescue work, and vastly expanded high volume community veterinary resources to allow us to take on the battle against preventable animal suffering in our communities.
- And we fully intend to take that battle on until we win. That’s big talk, I know. We will be announcing a detailed and comprehensive plan to bring an end to preventable animal cruelty in our communities through a five prong attack. This plan has grown out of the combined work and innovation of the past few years and is built on what we do best, as a shelter and as a society. There is still work to be done to line up the needed funds and partners, but this plan is on a short timetable and we hope to have some major announcements in the next four to eight weeks. If you want a sneak preview, call me.
- The Berks Canine Exercise and Training Center (capitals makes it sound fancy!) has begun its transformation. We had hoped to have a completion before December 1 but the need to coordinate tree planting with the repaving of the parking lot and a slow receipt of a major donation meant the asphalt plants shut down for the winter. The needed fencing has already been installed so the space is functional, but the second the ground thaws it will also be pretty. Flowering trees, benches, a koi pond, human rest areas, signage, and a shining, flat new parking lot that doesn’t rip the bottom of your car out are scheduled in just about eight weeks from now (weather permitting). Many thanks to the Baldino Family for their generosity and patience. It will be worth the wait!
- Last but not least, three of our four major special fundraising events are getting new homes this year! The Art for Arf’s Sake Art Auction returns to the old Raja Theater (Santander Performing Arts Center, Reading). The theme is West World. We’ve done robots. Everyone has done cowboys. The obvious option: Robot Cowboys. Save the date cards coming soon! The Walk for the Animals also returns to its old home, First Energy Stadium, home of the Fighten’ Phils in Reading! Bigger, better, barkier than ever. Keep following for details. And finally, Pints for Pups will be making a jump to Lancaster County this year. The location is still being worked out, but fingers crossed for a perfect venue! Announcement to follow. If you are interested in helping with any of these events, please reach out.
Like I said, it was a big year and will be an even bigger one coming up. It would not be possible without our exceptionally great staff, our phenomenal volunteers, and our amazingly generous donors. As you have read we have been blessed with some pretty amazing gifts this past year. Whether you have given your time, a dollar, or a half a million dollars, though, it’s combined to put us on the strongest footing of our 118 year history. It’s allowing us to not just react to the sufferings of animals but to break the fundamental foundations of preventable animal suffering. You have helped us make that happen.
Your support and confidence in us allows me to say that the state of Humane Pennsylvania is strong and growing stronger! God bless the animals and God bless Humane Pennsylvania!
(Now start humming “Hail to the Chief” for full effect…Da, da, dada, da, dada, dada, dada, da….)