What Is Beyond No Kill?

July 29th, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on What Is Beyond No Kill?)

by Karel Minor, President & CEO, Humane Pennsylvania

What do we do when “No Kill” is not the aspiration but the standard? In 2008 Humane Pennsylvania killed its last animal simply because it ran out of space. For the past five years we have exceeded 90% live outcomes, the accepted, arbitrary benchmark for achieving “No Kill” status, for all healthy and treatable animals. We now take in fewer animals each year than we used to kill each year.

We’ve reached the point where our intake numbers, like shelters in large swaths of the US, are declining and our euthanasia counts are at historic lows. Being the only organization in the region with accredited animal hospitals attached to each of its shelters often means we are the first choice for the least savable. We are OK with that, that is why we got into veterinary medicine, and we make a difference for even these tough to help animals.

But what does this success mean for the relevance of our organization when we routinely have empty adoption centers? Without much fanfare we, and our local partner and peer rescue organizations, have turned our many communities into essentially No Kill zones. While some shelters and cities are declaring their intentions to reach No Kill, the actual numbers, especially in Berks County, show that we are already there. Is every animal saved? No. But by the agreed upon yardsticks of the past, we’ve walked through the golden “No Kill” door. Where do we go from here?

Fortunately, Humane Pennsylvania has always kept an eye beyond the horizon and we know what lies Beyond No Kill. Humane Pennsylvania will create America’s first Universal Pet Healthcare Community. In the City of Reading, we will accomplish this in two years.

Merely not being dead is not the standard by which any of us, or our pets, should live. We should expect to be healthy, or at least have meaningful access to high quality healthcare. Humane Pennsylvania can’t do much to make that a reality for people, but we can commit to providing it to our community’s pets.

What does meaningful access to pet healthcare mean and what will a Universal Pet Healthcare Community look like?

Meaningful access means all people, regardless of income, geography, and capability, have the ability to access and afford basic health and wellness needs for their pets. Those without geographic access, those with limited or no financial resources, and those who simply don’t know how to access services.

  • Where there are veterinary hospital “deserts”, we will bring services and access.
  • Where there are barriers to affordability, we will break those barriers down.
  • Where there is a lack of knowledge, understanding of how these services can help pets and families, or language barriers, we will educate and communicate- respectfully, and without judgment and condescension.

Living next door to a veterinarian you can’t afford is not meaningful access. Living ten miles from a vet you can afford when you don’t have a car is not meaningful access. Not being able to understand the language of your pet healthcare provider is not meaningful access. We will tear down those barriers.

We have identified several steps that will lead to the creation of the first Universal Pet Healthcare Community in the City of Reading. First and foremost is providing veterinary services that are close to people and pets in need, open hours that work for working family schedules, and offer care that is suitable for their needs and not driven by profit motive. We have focused on Reading because of the need as one of America’s poorest cities and a high population density, and it’s what our funding allows at this time thanks to the Giorgi Family Foundation Grant which kick started this initiative. If it works, we will seek more funding and we will expand to the City of Lancaster, the suburbs, and beyond.

Humane Pennsylvania has identified several key services which we feel are central to community pet health:

  • Every pet should have access to free microchip identification. Universal, free microchip identification is offered to all hospital clients, our adopters, or anyone who walks in and asks for it. The largest easily preventable cause of pet death in the US is being an unidentified stray in an animal shelter. It’s hard to be healthy if you’re dead, and a properly registered microchip can reduce the chances of dying as a stray in a shelter to nearly zero.
  • Every pet should receive all appropriate preventative vaccinations. Preventable disease is not something our pets should face when a simple and inexpensive vaccination can prevent it. We will make this basic healthcare intervention available to all, affordably.
  • Every animal should have access to appropriate reproductive healthcare options. Sterilization services will be made available to all pets, both in home and neighborhood pets like free roaming cats. We know not everyone will or wants to sterilize their pets, but we want to make sure financial considerations are never a barrier in our Universal Pet Healthcare Community.
  • Every pet should be free from hunger. A hungry pet is more likely to be unhealthy or poorly behaved. Through a massive expansion of Humane Pennsylvania’s Spike’s Pet Pantry program, we will partner with humane food pantries to ensure that no pet goes hungry.

Even microchipped, vaccinated, and sterilized pets need ongoing vet care so we are also committing to ensuring that all pet owners have the ability receive high quality sick care vet services through empirical/incremental care delivery that suits the needs of the pet and the caretaker. We will continue to offer and expand upon our unique sliding scale, subsidized, and payment plan offerings to ensure that animal care decisions are driven by empathy and love, not merely the cost.

Humane Pennsylvania is also working to ensure that in the event of disaster our community pets are safe and sound and don’t face death in shelters simply because of being temporarily displaced. By creating the region’s first 500-1,000 pet mobile mega-sheltering capability, supported by our animal hospitals and animals shelters and working in partnership with sheltering peers, local and State government, PEMA and PASART, we will be ready if the worst ever strikes our region.

What will this mean for our community?

Besides just having the healthiest and happiest pets anywhere, we think that taking these actions will result in a 50% decrease in animal shelter intake from our target Universal Pet Healthcare Community. It took us the last 15 years to achieve a 50% reduction in intake in Berks and Lancaster Counties. Our goal is to achieve the next 50% animal intake reduction in just two years.

This is what Beyond No Kill means. Not merely avoiding death but offering a healthy and meaningful life.

We are accomplishing this thanks to a historically large $3.1 million dollar grant, with hundreds of thousands of additional dollars from thousands of donors small and large in support of this effort, with hundreds of incredible volunteers, and with amazing staff.

Will we succeed? We don’t know. No one has ever done this before. No one has ever attempted this before. It appears that no one has ever even talked about attempting this before. We think we can do it. A few decades ago the San Francisco SPCA simply decided it was going to attempt the impossible, and became the first No Kill city which now has the lowest per capita shelter intake and euthanasia rates in the nation. We have decided that the City of Reading will be the first in the nation to move beyond No Kill and become No Suffering. We will create America’s first Universal Pet Healthcare Community.

If we can do this in Reading, one America’s poorest cities, we can do it anywhere. And we hope you will help.

If you want to be a part of this groundbreaking effort, join us. Email me personally at [email protected] to learn more or get involved. Or go to HumanePA.org to volunteer or donate.


Humane Veterinary Hospitals: Low Stress Initiative

July 25th, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Humane Veterinary Hospitals: Low Stress Initiative)

by Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Chief Veterinary Officer, Humane Pennsylvania

Humane Veterinary Hospitals are committed to handling your family pet in the most compassionate way. Does your pet have anxiety over making a trip to the vet? Most do.

You may observe behaviors in dogs such as not taking the normal treats that they love at home in the hospital setting as well as panting, pacing, worried eyes or hiding behind you or under a chair in the exam room. These are all signs that we recognize as an anxious dog. A cat can read your mind as soon as you think about finding their carrier. In anxious cats we may see hiding, vocalization and dilated pupils. We are here to help.

In an effort to make low stress handling a part of Humane Veterinary Hospital’s culture we have regular meetings to advance our understanding of small animal body language and how to make our patients feel less worried.

  • We are offering a bandanna for dogs or a towel over a cat carrier that has each species calming pheromone. Smell is a powerful sense in animals!
  • We are using high value treat rewards for dogs and cats.
  • We allow cats that prefer to hide the ability to do so.
  • We are being trained in using only necessary not excessive restraint.

We are making a great effort to do most of our treatments and sample collections in the exam rooms. This allows you to see what your pet is experiencing and if it’s not going well we can move on to an alternate plan.

Our technicians are being trained in identifying and addressing common behavior concerns. If it is in the best interest for your pet Humane Veterinary Hospital Doctors have several medications that they may prescribe to ease anxieties at future visits.

Watch our efforts translate to less fear for your companion and a better experience at a vet hospital for you. Contact us to learn more.


5 Reasons Why Fostering A Shelter Pet Makes You A Super Hero

July 15th, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on 5 Reasons Why Fostering A Shelter Pet Makes You A Super Hero)

by Tawny Kissinger, Lifesaving Programs Coordinator, Humane Pennsylvania

When you think of a super hero, you may think of a cape, tights, and the ability to scale large buildings in a single bound. When we think of a super hero, we too image great feats – like possessing superhuman abilities, such as opening their hearts as wide as they can possibly go to let the love of a pet in need in, or the dedication to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, such as caring for orphaned kittens.

Fosters are the super heroes of the animal welfare world. They nurture a foster animal until that pet can be placed in a permanent home with a family who will love them unconditionally, and hey, no cape required.

Want to be a super hero? Here’s five reasons why fostering a shelter pet will miraculously make you a super hero.

  1. You’re Saving Lives

    Fostering a shelter animal will save that foster pet’s life and the life of another animal in need by freeing up space in our adoption centers.

    In 2018, approx. 500 animals entered our foster program. These pets were cared for by committed community members like yourself. Because so many animals were fostered, our organization had the capacity to save approx. 1,000 additional animals.

  2. Fostering Makes Everyone Happy

    Image being very comfortable in your environment and then suddenly being in very unfamiliar surroundings, feeling unsure and possibly scared. This unfortunately, is how many shelter animals feel when they arrive.

    However, this is where our super hero fosters swoop in to save the day. Fosters open both their homes and hearts to animals in need of a little extra TLC. This added attention is proven to reduce stress and increase feelings of acceptance and belonging for both the foster pet and their care taker.

  3. Like Mister Fantastic, Fostering Is Flexible

    Our foster program provides fostering opportunities for all shapes, sizes, and types of animals. From kittens to critters, to senior silver-paw dogs, there are many ways to become a super hero foster. Our adoption centers are open 7-days a week with 24/7 foster staff support to accommodate all different types of schedules and lifestyles.

  4. You’re Teaching A Foster Pet They’re Loved

    Through fostering, a pet receives human companionship that helps improve socialization skills, reinforces positive behaviors, and shows a homeless pet how to acclimate to a home environment. This type of interaction increases the pet’s adoptability and likelihood of being placed in a forever home.

  5. Getting Started Is Easy

    Monthly foster program orientations are held at both adoption centers in Lancaster County and Berks County. During these educational sessions, potential fosters learn about different foster opportunities that are available, the types of animals that may be seeking foster care, and the high level of quality resources and supports they will receive as a foster.

    All fostering supplies, such as food, pet beds, litter, leash, creates, toys, veterinary care, and etc. are provided by Humane Pennsylvania.

With great power, comes great responsibility. As a foster super hero you are giving a pet in need a second chance to thrive. Your care and compassion truly saves their lives and makes you an unstoppable advocate for the animals.

To learn more about upcoming foster orientations, the program, or the overall foster process, visit HumanePA.org, or contact Tawny Kissinger, Lifesaving Programs Coordinator via email at [email protected].


Join Us At The Ballpark

July 8th, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Join Us At The Ballpark)

by Lauren Henderson, Director of Events & Corporate Relations, Humane Pennsylvania

In 1977, the Humane Society of Berks County, hosted its very first Walk for the Animals. Here we are 42 years later as Humane Pennsylvania walking for the animals and better serving our community.

From a walk to a full-day experience, the Walk for the Animals event has transformed into a premier family-friendly community event. The Walk for the Animals & Walktoberfest is the oldest and largest animal welfare event in the region that attracts thousands of participants annually and is supported by animal lovers and their friends across the nation.

For over 40 years, Walkers have been helping raise funds and awareness to improve the lives of animals and the people who love them.

This year’s 42nd Annual Performance Toyota Walk for the Animals & Walktoberfest will be hosted at Reading’s iconic FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Reading Fightin Phils.

The stadium’s atmosphere and energy offers attendees and their dogs an ideal open and airy space to enjoy all of the day’s festivities including; a mile long walk, goods from local vendors and artisans, a VIP beer and wine garden, ball park concessions, live music, kids activities, and more.

During the planning of this year’s Walk for the Animals & Walktoberfest, Karen Linder, Charitable Giving Coordinator, of presenting sponsor Performance Toyota, shared…

“Performance Toyota is excited to partner again with Humane Pennsylvania on their Walk for the Animals. Their cutting edge approach to animal welfare in Berks and Lancaster counties has a huge positive impact on the lives of animals and the caregivers who love them. We are proud to support Humane Pennsylvania’s courageous and compassionate dedication to providing lifesaving services to the animals in their care.”

This community-wide family-friendly event is free, and open to the public!

In conjunction with the Walk and Walktoberfest, community pet owners seeking high-quality veterinary care for their pets are encouraged to attend the Healthy Pets: Free Vaccine & Microchip Clinic. The clinic will provide free vaccine and microchip services to all community pet owners from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM. The clinic is located on stadium grounds and preregistration is required. Visit HumanePA.org to learn more and register for services.

Join us on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, PA for a fun-filled day, all as you show your support for the homeless, neglected, and abused animals in our care.

Learn more, become a sponsor, and register to walk by visiting HumanePA.org or contacting Lauren Henderson, Director of Events & Corporate Relations at [email protected] or via phone at (610) 750-6100, ext. 211.

We’ll see you at the ball park!