Cold Weather Pet Care Tips

February 11th, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Cold Weather Pet Care Tips)

Winter weather can bring about increased risks for your pets. When the temperatures drop pets are at a higher risk of experiencing hypothermia and/or freezing if left outside without adequate shelter for an extended period of time. These useful tips will help keep your pets, warm, happy, and safe during the winter months.

Provide Adequate Shelter

  • Like humans, pets like to be warm and cozy during the winter. If you have pets that primarily live outdoors during other seasons, they should be brought indoors when sub-freezing temperatures arrive.
    For community cats and other outdoor pets, provide adequate shelter that faces away from the wind with a covered doorway. The shelter should be insulated, dry, and draft-free. The shelter should also be large enough to allow them to move about comfortably, and small enough to maintain their body heat.
  • Be sure to keep outdoor pets hydrated and well-fed. Ensure these pets are provided with fresh, unfrozen, water that is changed frequently. Warm bedding should also be provided. Hay or straw, as well as cozy pet beds, warm blankets, and pillows are recommended.
    Outdoor pets burn more calories and need more food as keeping warm depletes energy. During the winter months, use plastic food and water bowls as a pet’s tongue can get stuck to metal.
  • Pennsylvania state law governs that companion animals must have access to sanitary shelter which preserves body heat and keeps the pet dry. If a dog is tethered outdoors, which refers to the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object or stake, usually in the owner’s backyard, as a means of keeping the animal under control. These terms do not refer to the periods when an animal is walked on a leash.
    If a dog is tethered outdoors, the law states that the dog should not be tethered for more than 9 cumulative hours within a 24 hour period. The tether is secured to a well-fitting collar with a swivel and by a tether of no less than 10 feet or three times the length of the dog. The dog has access to water and an area of shade. The dog is not tethered for longer than 30 minutes when the temperature is over 90 degrees or under 32 degrees.
    These standards must be met in order for the assumption to be made that the dog has not been neglected. If the dog is not tethered in a manner that satisfies these requirements, a law enforcement officer may file neglect charges. – Act 10 of 2017 Limits the Continuous Tethering of Dogs in Pennsylvania

Check Your Vehicle

  • Cats and other wildlife may seek shelter from the cold winter weather by crawling in to the wheel well or under the hood of your vehicle. Your vehicle provides a warm place for the animal, however, this can be a very dangerous location for them.
    – Bang on your hood and honk your horn before starting the engine in order to awaken any animals and give them the opportunity to escape the vehicle before for you pull away.

Keep their Skin Clean

  • Salt and chemicals from ice melt can irritate your pet’s skin and paws. Following your winter stroll, thoroughly wash and dry any exposed areas of skin with clean water to remove any potential irritants from the belly, paw pads, and between the toes.
    – Monitor exposed skin, such as the nose, ears, paws, and belly for and belly for signs of irritation and prolonged redness, lasting longer than 24 hours. You can also protect your pet’s sensitive skin with a warm pet jacket or sweater. Prior to taking your dog for a walk, apply a layer of petroleum jelly to your dog’s paw pads. This will act as a barrier and help protect their pads from salt and other irritants. Dog booties are also a great option to protect their pads from winter irritants.

Protect Against Poisons

  • Many common household products are poisonous to your pets. Spills and leaks from vehicle can be especially dangerous. Coolant and antifreeze, for example, have a sweet taste that can attract your pet. However, these products can be deadly if ingested.
    – Effectively clean up all vehicle spills to ensure your pets does not come in contact with these toxic materials.

Keep ID Current

  • During the winter months, snow and ice can mask familiar scents that would help a lost pet find their way home. Be sure your pet is always wearing a collar with accurate contact information and keep them on a leash during walks.
    – Have your pet microchipped to increase the likelihood that they will be returned to you safely if a separation were to occur.

Watch the Temperature Gauge

  • Limit your pet’s exposure to the outdoors, for example, reduce duration of walks and leave your pets outside for quick bathroom breaks and for short burst of exercise.
  • Also, senior pets may have a particularly hard time keeping warm in cold temperatures and may not be able to manage cold weather hazards, such as ice, with the same agility as a younger pets.

See Something, Say Something

  • Speak out if you see an unsheltered or inadequately sheltered pet. Dropping temperatures can be deadly.
    – Contact your local police or animal control agency if you see an animal that needs help.
    In Berks County Contact: To report suspected Animal Cruelty call, the Animal Rescue League at 610-373-8830
    In Lancaster County Contact: To report suspected Animal Cruelty, call the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office at 717-917-6979

Who’s Who in Animal Welfare in Pennsylvania?

February 5th, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Who’s Who in Animal Welfare in Pennsylvania?)

There is often confusion regarding the various animal welfare organizations in Pennsylvania with similar names and sometimes overlapping missions. Each year after the Super Bowl, someone asks me why some nasty group bought an advertisement harassing us, “the humane society”,and I have to explain it’s a different group that has nothing to do with Humane Pennsylvania. We just have similar names. So, Humane Pennsylvania has prepared this simple explanation of the “Who’s Who” of Pennsylvania’s animal welfare organizations.

Humane Pennsylvania (us!):

Humane Pennsylvania was founded in 1900 and is a locally operated, staffed, and funded charitable organization. Originally the Humane Society of Berks County and the Humane League of Lancaster County, Humane Pennsylvania changed its name to reflect the larger service impact of the organization following the merger of these two local organizations in 2014. We directly house nearly 5,000 animals a year and help tens of thousands more through community services. We are your local “boots on the ground.”

In Berks and Lancaster Counties, we…

  • Have two animal shelters, two nationally accredited public animal veterinary hospitals, a public dog park, an equine rescue facility, a national management services and training division, and a charitable foundation.
  • Receive no tax subsidies and no funding from any national animal groups such as HSUS or the ASPCA.
  • Are not part of, managed by or controlled by any national organization.
  • We advocate for issues and legislation, we do not engage in electioneering.
  • If you live in Berks or Lancaster County, we are your “boots on the ground.”

Other local organizations:

Across Pennsylvania there are many local humane societies, SPCA’s, rescue leagues, and other organizations with similar sounding names. Despite having similar names, they are not related to one another or any national groups. These are all independent local organizations working to help animals in their local communities, with local boards of directors and local staff and donors, just like Humane Pennsylvania. These are their own community’s “boots on the ground.”

Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania:

Federated is the statewide member organization of over 65 animal shelters (like us and the others mentioned above). Through 2018 it oversaw Humane Society Police Officer training and continuing education in Pennsylvania (and hopes to continue under the upcoming RFP). Its volunteer board of directors represents animal shelters from across the state. It is the Federation of all the “boots on the ground” organizations across Pennsylvania and represents the broadest voice of local constituencies across the state.

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS):

HSUS is a national animal advocacy organization based in Washington, DC and Hagerstown, Maryland. It operates no animal shelters in Pennsylvania. It is not affiliated with any local organization and does not directly or regularly fund any local organization. It employs a State Director, who serves as its issue advocate in Harrisburg, but she does not represent or speak for any local animal welfare organization (very often, but not always, local organizations are in agreement with HSUS positions). Although they are often considered interchangeable with “the humane society” and even use for their email, HSUS is not your local organization.

Humane PA PAC (Political Action Committee):

Humane PA PAC is a political action committee. It has both out of state and in state animal advocates involved and engaged in election work as well as issue advocacy. It operates no shelters and provides no direct animal services. It is not in any way associated with Humane Pennsylvania (us!), the animal welfare and sheltering organization. It merely has a similar name.

ASPCA, Best Friends, American Humane Association:

There are many out of state animal organizations such as these. Some provide animal sheltering and services in other states and some are issue advocacy organizations. None have local animal service locations in Pennsylvania and none directly operate, fund or are affiliated with any local Pennsylvania organizations.

One thing is really important to remember:

No other organization gives us money! Please don’t think you are supporting your local shelter when you support a national group. These national groups often do great and important work. We often work with them to pass legislation. We provide training for and to them. But donations don’t flow to us from them.

Local, regional, and national groups are all important, but they are all different. I hope that clears up any Super Bowl confusion. To learn more about the direct animal welfare programs and services we provide the communities we serve, visit


Funding Second Chances

January 28th, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Funding Second Chances)

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

Before I started working at Humane Pennsylvania, animal welfare was not something that crossed my mind on a daily basis. Of course, I wanted animals to be treated humanely, but the constant thought about donations, being an advocate, raising funds, who could I talk about sponsorship, those thoughts were not something that kept me up at night. But that was almost three years ago. 

I have been a part of Humane Pennsylvania since June of 2016 and the support I see for the animals we serve everyday could bring tears to your eyes, and sometimes it does. I hear all the time how much people love animals, but on a daily basis I see so many people prove that. By the donations they make, the support they provide, the sponsors that care about their community, and the staff that fights every day for that hope.

Animals like Marshall, Maisy, Lady Luck and so many others that don’t make it into the headlines. Those are the ones that you, our donors, help to save. That gives me goosebumps just writing it. It is not the easiest thing to say, but money saves the lives of so many helpless animals.

Humane Pennsylvania is not subsidized by any national animal welfare organizations or any county, state or federal tax funding. It is only with your generosity that we’re able to save the lives of thousands of animals each year!

Your contributions give our shelter staff the resources they need to care for the animals, some of those animals facing the most extreme circumstances. Your contributions give our veterinarians the tools they need to perform lifesaving surgeries and give those animals a second chance.

For some money is a scary word, that just the mere thought of it causes anxiety. But money here at Humane Pennsylvania means hope.

On a daily basis, I look for that hope in every event sponsor I obtain, in every corporate meeting I have, in every fundraiser someone hosts on our behalf. Because that hope is what gives a family the animal they never knew they needed. That hope becomes a second chance.

Fundraising allows me to provide countless animals with a second chance. But I couldn’t do any of that without the incredible generosity of our sponsors, donors, corporations, supporters, and volunteers.

Whether you’ve supported Humane Pennsylvania a month ago, or ten years ago – thank you. You provided hope to an animal that desperately needed it.

I invite anyone and everyone interested in providing hope to the animals to contact me, Lauren Henderson, Director of Events & Corporate Relations, at [email protected] to learn more about how your support can provide second chances.

There’s always more hope to give and you can be the one to give that hope to so many animals in need.


Driven to Provide Purposeful Community Engagements

January 21st, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Driven to Provide Purposeful Community Engagements)

by Lindsay High, Director of Marketing, Humane Pennsylvania

Humane Pennsylvania is thrilled to share that Lauren Henderson, former Events & Corporate Relations Manager, has been promoted to Director of Events & Corporate Relations at Humane Pennsylvania.

Lauren joined the Humane Pennsylvania team in June of 2016 as the Events & Donor Relations Manager. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management from Penn State University, she was eager to focus her talents on unique fundraising and event planning opportunities.

“I am excited, honored, and humbled to have been promoted to Director of Events & Corporate Relations for an organization that is leading the way in animal welfare. I’m so fortunate for their belief in me and my abilities to make a difference in the lives of the animals!” – Lauren Henderson, Director of Events & Corporate Relations


Along with receiving her Principles of Fundraising Certification from Villanova University, Lauren applies her depth of event development experience to create meaningful donor engagements throughout both Lancaster and Berks Counties. With a focus on continuously evolving her skills, Lauren is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Berks County.

As she continues to develop memorable events and experiences for the community, Lauren is dedicated to ensuring that all Humane Pennsylvania events and fundraisers are mission-driven and focused on providing sustainable funding resources for the animals she serves.

Please join us in congratulating Lauren on her new role! For more information about Lauren Henderson and ways you can get involved with the organization please call 610-750-6100 x211 or email: [email protected].


Volunteer Spotlight: Making a Meaningful Difference

January 14th, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Volunteer Spotlight: Making a Meaningful Difference)

by Kristi Rodriguez, Volunteer Coordinator, Humane Pennsylvania

Humane Pennsylvania and its partners can only do the work we do for animals with the help of the over 600 volunteers who donate their time, expertise, and love every single day. Each quarter we take a moment to highlight two of our caring and committed volunteers.

Whether it’s animal care and dog walking, event support, clerical, fundraising, weeding, adoption promotion, or any other of the many volunteer opportunities we have to offer, every volunteer job is part of our success.

Thanks to each and every one of our 2018 volunteers, last year was a phenomenal year for Humane Pennsylvania. Because of their dedication and volunteer efforts, our organization continues to serve homeless animals in both Berks and Lancaster Counties and provide our community with new family members all year long.

Below we are thrilled to spotlight two of our pawsome volunteers!

Humane Society of Berks County: Melissa Snyder

Melissa Snyder began volunteering at the Humane Society of Berks County as a Cat Room Assistant in August 2018.

In just a few short months, her dedication to our shelter felines has become quite evident! Melissa spends just about every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday assisting in the daily cleaning and care of our shelter cats. And as if she doesn’t have her hands full enough with her family and volunteer efforts, Melissa recently adopted a giant, fun-loving Cane Corso from the Humane Society named Tank.

Thank you Melissa, not only for being such an amazing volunteer, but for not having to go far to find a loving family for an amazing dog.



Humane League of Lancaster County: Wilma Beachy

Wilma Beachy has been a foster for the Humane League of Lancaster since April this year.

Since she started fostering she has helped 3 nursing mothers and a total of 18 kittens! Wilma’s most recent litter was the most challenging. At times she would wake up every two hours to help supplement feed the kittens and stimulate them to go to the bathroom. Wilma documents her experience on Instagram at Purrs in Paradise.

We are truly grateful for everything she does for our organization and for all the animals she has help saved.




Want to join our pack of all-star volunteers? Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities or contact Kristi Rodriguez, Volunteer Coordinator at [email protected] to get involved. We welcome volunteers to help us make Pennsylvania the most humane state in the nation!


Announcing a New Chief Veterinary Officer of Humane Pennsylvania

January 8th, 2019 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Announcing a New Chief Veterinary Officer of Humane Pennsylvania)

Humane Pennsylvania is excited to announce Dr. Alicia Simoneau has been promoted to Chief Veterinary Officer of Humane Pennsylvania, which represents the region’s largest partnership of animal welfare organizations.

Dr. Alicia Simoneau

Dr. Simoneau is a graduate of Western University of Health Sciences in Southern California. She attended Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA where she attained a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology before veterinary school. Her special interests include holistic and integrative medicine, spay/neuter surgeries and nutrition.

She practices classical homeopathy and is certified to perform acupuncture on dogs, cats and horses. She adores the three rescued Siamese/DSH cats and two adopted Thoroughbred horses.

Dr. Simoneau began her career with Humane Pennsylvania as an Associate Veterinarian then advanced to Senior Veterinarian prior to being promoted to this new role as Chief Veterinary Officer.

In her new role and in alignment with the organization’s mission to build the best community anywhere to be an animal and to provide the highest level care, Dr. Simoneau will be the veterinary director and coordinate the veterinary initiatives undertaken by Humane Pennsylvania’s shelters, practice, and the consulting services.

Dr. Simoneau will also serve as Chief Veterinary Officer for Animal Welfare Management Services, Humane Pennsylvania’s consulting division, which provides consulting and management services across the nation and in Canada.

She will have direct management authority over the medical programs of the Humane Society of Berks County shelter as well as the veterinary services provided through the Healthy Pets, Healthy Lives program. This program is a groundbreaking initiative created by Humane Pennsylvania with support from The Giorgi Family Foundation, to help animals and their families lead better, healthier, and happier lives together.
Through this program, Reading area pet owners are encouraged to take advantage of paramount opportunities to receive low-cost veterinarian services from the region’s leading veterinarians to help their pet receive the highest level of care at an affordable cost.

Health and wellness, or lack thereof, are among the driving forces leading to the breakdown of the human/pet bond, potential shelter intake, and needless death. Dr. Simoneau will be leading efforts to help ensure pets in our community receive the care they need and are able to remain happy and healthy in their homes.

Humane Pennsylvania is also proud to be one of the nation’s only networks of non-profit veterinary animal hospitals. As AAHA Accredited veterinary hospitals, our Humane Veterinary Hospitals of America (HVH), located in Lancaster and Berks Counties, are recognized among the finest in the industry, and are consistently at the forefront of advanced veterinary medicine and veterinary excellence.

We believe that the best way to keep pets happy and healthy at home is to make sure they have access to high quality and affordable veterinary care. Access to veterinary care is shown to be one of the most important factors in keeping animals out of shelters, and our veterinarians help provide that care to animals throughout the community.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Simoneau on her new role. To learn more about her expertise and the exceptional care both her and her team provide to pets throughout our community, please contact us at [email protected] or call 610-921-VETS (8387).


The Healthiest Way to Serve Vegetables and Data: Raw

December 21st, 2018 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The Healthiest Way to Serve Vegetables and Data: Raw)

We approach the time of year when animal welfare organizations start sharing their annual animal data.  That means it’s the time of year when I start getting frustrated and annoyed when shelters don’t share their raw data.  Raw data is exactly that, it means getting the numbers without them being “cooked.”

As shelters we may operate and report our numbers as we choose, as long as we can continue to get the support we need to keep the doors open.  We all define terms like “save rates” and “positive outcomes” in different ways.  For example, when we say we “save” 90% or more of our animals, we qualify that as treatable animals.  We exclude some animals from those we consider treatable.

We exclude animals that came to us dead (duh).  We exclude animals that came to us for end of life services, (owner requested euthanasia).  We exclude animals who fall under rabies law protocols due to bites.  So, we do sympathize with those who want to put their best foot, and best outcomes, forward.

But we also report our raw numbers.  We show every single animal entering and leaving our shelters, regardless of how.  We also post a detailed description of every term we use, so you know what we mean when we save “treatable,” “untreatable,” or “positive outcome.”  You and the rest of the public can analyze both our raw data and our contextual data and reach your own conclusions.  Some states, but not Pennsylvania, require this.  We’ve been doing this for 15 years and was among the first in PA to post these numbers online.  It is the only honest way to report numbers.

Some organizations only report their “save rates” with no numeric values at all.  That’s not only meaningless, it’s dishonest.  There, I said.  It’s dishonest and deceptive.

Saying nothing but “90% Saved!” without defining what saved means, or noting how many came in or went out, tells us nothing.  Were 9 out of 10 saved or 900 out of 1,000?  Both are 90%.  Did we include every animal or just those that are savable?  That would be like a store having a 50% off sale without telling you the price.  Maybe it’s a good deal.  Or maybe they just always charge a lot and 50% off is still worse than the store next door.

Pennsylvania should mandate consistent, transparent, and complete reporting.  Until it does, we should demand it, of ourselves and of other organizations.  I’m not saying organizations intend to be dishonest, but some do.  I’m not saying it means we put up numbers we are not always happy with, we do. I’m not saying reporting it’s not a major pain in the butt, it is.  Heck, I always run later in posting than I want to because we have to pull together all the data, double and triple check all the numbers, convert the files, etc.

But if a dummy like me can do it, so can everyone else. We deal with lives and the public deserves to know the reality behind the work we do on their behalf and with their money.  If we don’t deliver that transparency, we deserve their mistrust.


Healthy Pets, Healthy Lives: Microchip Identification

November 5th, 2018 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Healthy Pets, Healthy Lives: Microchip Identification)

What’s the one thing that people could do that would save more animals’ live every year more than anything else? Microchip identification.

More animals die in animal shelters each year based on being unidentified strays than for any other reason. Fundamentally, any animal that enters a shelter as a stray and doesn’t get back into its owner’s arms swiftly is at huge risk. No matter the reason it is ultimately killed – lack of space, illness, behavior – the original cause is that it didn’t go home.

Dogs are far more likely to be reclaimed as stray by their owners for two reasons:

  1. They are more likely to wear a collar with some form of ID or license.
  2. When your dog runs off, you are more likely to call the local shelter or police soon after.

Even with these two factors, shelters are lucky to have 20% of stray dogs claimed by their owners. So only 1 in 5 of the hundreds and thousands of stray dogs being picked up in Berks County each year get back to an original owner.

For cats it is even worse, with a typical owner claim rate of 1-2%. That’s because cats rarely have collars and ID (the old “I don’t want my cat strangled on a collar” line is darling, since apparently people would rather their cats die in an animal shelter) and because people tend to think a cat can wander off for a day or two, or seven, before calling a shelter or local police. In that time a stray cat has likely already faced death or been adopted in a shelter.

But cats and dogs who have identification have completely the opposite outcome, with 90% or more getting returned to owners. The simple act of giving your pet ID could save its life and save the lives of other animals in a shelter by not taking up precious space for days or weeks as an unidentified stray.

There is no easier way to identify your pet than with a tiny, safe, cheap microchip implanted under its skin and registering that chip with a national database. It can’t lose a chip like it can a collar. Every shelter and most police departments now have universal scanners. Most microchips come with free registration of your name and address. All vets and most shelters offer microchipping services.

Universal microchipping could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of pets each year in American shelters. Humane Pennsylvania thinks it is the single most important thing you can do to avoid preventable death of your pet. That’s why we incorporated it into our groundbreaking Healthy Pets, Healthy Lives initiative as a cornerstone of the program. It’s why we microchip every pet adopted from us.

In fact, we think it’s so important we have made it free to all. This month, Humane Pennsylvania and our animal hospitals started providing all clients’ pets with free registered microchips. Zero charge.

All vet clients will be offered a free chip during a regularly scheduled exam, treatment or surgery. Any client utilizing our newly expanded ultra-low cost sterilization services gets a free chip during surgery. At any of our Healthy Pets, Healthy Lives community clinics, microchips will be offered to all for no charge. When our new Berks County shelter is built and operating, we will be working on a program to allow for walk-ins to receive on demand microchip services.

Our goal is to implant an additional 20,000 microchips in Berks County pets (as part of our recent Giorgi Family Grant) in the next three years, with the greater goal of ensuring that 100% of Berks and Lancaster County eventually have microchip identification.

We project that increased microchipping will result in fewer strays lingering in shelters because their owners can be identified. The closer to universal we can get adoptions of this type of ID, the fewer and fewer the number of unclaimed strays will be. That will free up space for truly homeless animals. It will decrease the burden on animal control agencies. It will decrease costs for municipal and state governments.

And it will save lives. Lots and lots of lives.


Cats: A Working Solution

October 3rd, 2018 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Cats: A Working Solution)

While outcomes have improved dramatically for dogs over the past two decades in animal shelters across the country, there is still a crisis facing cats.  Kittens have great outcomes in our region.  Healthy, happy adult cats have pretty good outcomes in our region.  But adult cats with behavioral issues and feral cats still face nearly universal death in shelters.

Humane Pennsylvania has been attacking this life and death crisis for over 15 years. In the coming weeks we are going to be rolling out very major public expansions of two of our long running programs: Humane Pennsylvania’s Free Roaming Cat Solutions and Working Cat program.  Today I want to share our expanded Working Cat program.

Working Cat – Alternative Placement Program

Working Cats are cats which can’t successfully be placed in a traditional home adoption setting but are candidates for non-traditional placements.  These cats may have behavioral challenges such as having limited socialization (but not being “fully” feral) or have litter box issues.  They are often wonderful cats that just don’t particularly dig being hugged, or dig using the litter box as appropriate.

As a result, their chances of being adopted are virtually zero.  Blunt reality: adopters don’t choose cats which will hide in a closet their entire lives and refuse to be petted, nor will they pick a cat which doesn’t use a litter box.  We can’t blame people for making a choice to adopt a cat without these issues.  With unlimited time and space, we might even be able to rehabilitate many of these cats in our shelter.

But we don’t have unlimited time and space.

That means these cats are almost certainly going to be euthanized in our shelter or some other shelter.  But there is an alternative to death and that’s an alternative placement.


Humane Pennsylvania has been partnering with businesses, commercial greenhouses, families with barns, and other locations where cats like this can have an alternative housing placement.  These are places where they will be given shelter, supervised, fed, and provided with regular vaccinations and medical care as needed.  It just isn’t in a traditional home setting.

These cats provide service in return:

  • First, they are often loving pets, if sometimes from a bit of a distance.
  • Second, they often help businesses and homeowners control rodent populations.  Hence the “Working Cat” moniker.

In the old days the philosophy of shelters was to kill these cats because of the potential they may face living largely outdoor lives.  Some shelters still have that philosophy.  Humane Pennsylvania has come to grips with a simple reality:  A cat can face certain death in a shelter, or it can go into an alternative placement and face a small chance of danger due to being outside.  If we could ask the cat, I think I know what the cat would choose.  If you ask our staff, I know what they choose.  We are here to save lives, not end them when we have a better alternative.

Working Cat alternative adoption placements is an alternative we’ve been practicing quietly for over a decade.  We have decided to stop being quiet about this lifesaving option.  In fact, we are looking for partners.

If you are interested in learning more about how your family or business can provide an alternative to death to one of these great cats, please reach out to our Life Saving Coordinator, Tawny Kissinger. She can fill you in on how the program works and how you can help us save more lives.  We often have healthy, sterilized, vaccinated cats who need your help.

This is not a program for feral and other free roaming cats.  We will shortly announce a dramatic expansion of our long running program to help these cats thanks to the amazing $3.1 million Giorgi Family Foundation Grant received by Humane Pennsylvania.  Stay tuned!

There are no silver bullets to solve the problems of animals in our community or shelter deaths.  These solutions require lots of bite sized approaches to help ever smaller groups of animals which were once deemed unsaveable by animal shelters.  That includes our working cats.

I once heard that a journey to save a thousand lives starts by saving one.  Or something like that.  No wait.  I think it was in a fortune cookie.  Either way, it’s true.


A Manifesto

September 24th, 2018 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on A Manifesto)

Karel Minor, Humane Pennsylvania CEO

Last week I gave you a thesis. A thesis comes from the head. You need to plan from the head or you don’t get things accomplished. But you need to be driven from the heart or what you get accomplished is meaningless. At the Walk for the Animals & Walktoberfest earlier this month I got a bit whipped up in my welcoming remarks about what we are doing with our new funding and service partners. It felt a bit like a manifesto. Manifestos come from the heart. Sometimes you need to actually write out what you actually feel, not just what you think.


A Manifesto:

American shelters are Death Machines.

For a century animal shelters killed millions and no one cared. For decades animal shelters killed millions and told us it was inevitable. For years animal shelters killed millions of animals and told us it was our fault. Now animal shelters kill millions of animals and tell us they are not killing them because they only kill 10% or less. The No Kill of 10% is 100% death for the animals in that 10%.

No Kill is a lie shelters tell themselves and we tell you. We pretend that if we save 9 out of 10, we save them all. Simple math shows this is a lie.

Animal shelters focus on death. Bad animal shelters kill. Good animal shelters are good because they kill less. Good is better than bad, but it is not good enough.

Would we brag that we send our children to be educated in a No Kill school? That we work at a No Kill job? That we worship in a No Kill church? Do we shop at No Kill grocery stores? Do we count ourselves lucky to walk out of our school, job, church, or grocery store alive? In what other part of our lives do we sing the praises of merely walking out alive?

Not dying is not the pinnacle of achievement, it is the base line expectation. Yet we pat ourselves on the back for only killing 1 in 10. We pat ourselves on the back for supporting organizations that only kill 1 in 10.

We sing our own praises that we offer the humane alternative of death in exchange for life. Why is the binary choice life or death for animals who are not dying?

  • The alternative to hunger is not death
  • The alternative to suffering is not death
  • The alternative to homelessness is not death
  • The alternative to illness is not death

The alternative to hunger is food. The alternative to suffering is succor. The alternative to homelessness is a home. The alternative to illness is health. The alternative to death is life.

In all lives, death is inevitable. Sometimes it is the best choice to relieve profound illness or suffering. It is not always the only choice. It is never the right choice just because there are no alternatives at hand. Then it may be a choice but it doesn’t make it the right choice. Even if it is the choice only 1 time out of 10.

People and animals have rights. They have the right to food. They have the right to a safe shelter. They have a right to be free of fear and pain. They have a right to be made healthy when they are sick. They have a right to being treated with respect and dignity, even if they can’t access or even articulate these rights.

American animal shelters steal these rights from animals when they steal their lives in the name of welfare. Even when it’s only 10% of the time. They steal these rights when they warehouse, stack, cage, and hide animals away and declare it to be a life. A life in a shelter is not the life intended for animals. Being a caged animal is not the alternative to death. Life in a home is the alternative.

Humane Pennsylvania will not be a place of death, it will be a place of life. It will not be a place of hunger, suffering, pain, fear, perpetual jail, or indignity. It will be a place of life.

When death is the right choice for an animal, it will not be a place of disrespect for life or truth. Humane Pennsylvania will not lie and tell the world that death is not death because we have a new term for it. We will be a new organization. We believe in life and we repudiate death.

Death is death. Life is life. Humane Pennsylvania chooses life. Choose life with us.



Whew! I sure glad I got that off my chest! I think I’m going to cancel my haircut and hang out my freak flag now. Or, I’ll just get right back to work marrying our Manifesto with our Thesis, and save some more animals.