The ARL’s mission is to impact all aspects of humane treatment of animals through quality service, accommodation, and education of pet owners and the community.
Since 1952, tens of thousands of animals have been spared the fate of uncertainty and given the opportunity to experience a more enriching and humane life through the services provided by the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Inc (ARL). The ARL’s dedication to providing shelter and care for the unwanted and abused animals of Greater Reading has resulted in a comprehensive effort to not only provide the optimum level of care, but to enhance and guarantee a humane life for over 10,000 animals annually. At any given time we care for over 175 animals a day on our 10 acre facility, many of whom require veterinary care, rehabilitation, and training. Between the months of May through September, the shelter receives an average of 900 cats and 300 dogs per month.
The ARL operates at maximum capacity for 9 months out of the year, and during the that time, the shelter can receive up to 30 animals a day, all who require a cage that is currently full. The dedicated staff is committed not only to these animals and to finding every possible option to save as many of they can, but they are also devout to the citizens of Greater Reading who require their daily assistance. Remaining an open admission shelter with a 1.5 million dollar operating budget means a continuous influx of animals which requires endless resources and execution of services. However, the ARL is devoted to its mission of never leaving an animal in need behind, regardless of that animal’s condition.
The Animal Rescue League of Berks County serves its community not just by providing care to the abandoned, abused and unwanted animals in our facility, but by offering the community options to enrich the lives of their own pets and the pets of others. The ARL understands that the needs of the community extend beyond normal working hours; therefore there are technicians available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days out of the year. It has a fully equipped animal control service that assists in police calls, animal cruelty investigations, confined animal pick up, and injured animal pickups (services are limited to contracted townships).
The state of the art surgery clinic counteracts the rapidly increasing unwanted stray animal population by spaying and neutering an average of 3,000 owned and stray animals a year. The shelter runs a large adoption program that places an average of 4,000 animals annually in permanent homes by means of daily adoption promotions and special programs. Our local one-of-a-kind Grey Muzzle Foster program currently boasts over 400 senior and special needs adoptions in just three years. The shelter provides the community and special interest groups with on and offsite education programs aimed to spread awareness on animal related topics.
The Animal Rescue League also looks to consistently create new programs that attend to the needs of an ever-growing and changing community. In October, 2012, the ARL introduced a program called Kennel Companions, which is designed to improve kennel presentation, quality of life and overall adoptability among dogs with minor behavioral issues. The program assigns a dedicated volunteer to a dog to work on issues with socialization, obedience training, leash pulling and kennel stress. This program has been extremely successful even in its early stage and has resulted in a 50% adoption increase in dogs that would have otherwise been euthanized due to behavior. An even more recent program initiated by the ARL is called Patriotic Paws. This program was created with the goal of reconnecting disabled veterans suffering from service related disabilities to their community and loved ones by providing them with a furry companion for life, in which animal and veteran can heal one another together. The adoption fee and medical fees for the animal’s life will be covered by the ARL in an effort to give back to the worthy individuals who gave so much to our country and citizens.
The ARL places over 4,000 animals a year in qualified loving homes, leaving more than half of those that come to the shelter left to face the unfortunate realities of animal overpopulation. Shelters nationwide are struggling with the realization that there are not nearly enough homes or space in shelters to house and care for all of these animals, and they are forced to perform humane euthanasia as a last resort. This amount of animals has resulted in even higher euthanasia rates, animal suffering, and the downsizing and rid of facilities capable of addressing these issues. The ARL, along with all other shelters, experiences the pressures of decreased charitable giving, a lack of adequate staffing, and a community who does not understand the issues of animal overpopulation. More and more animals will remain homeless and living in deplorable conditions because there continues to be a lack of education and space available to house them.
Even though several committed volunteers take action to assist in fulfilling the needs these animals have, there still remains a severe lack of community action on the part of stray animal management. There is a direct need for the ARL to educate and impact the citizens of Greater Reading by helping them implement proper care of their animals and the animals within the urban, suburban, and rural communities that the ARL is responsible for.
The Solution to the Over Population
Already equipped with the knowledge and tools to implement change in its community, the ARL requires proper funding so that it can provide education, improve its services, and expand its programs so that it can change the way Greater Reading understands and manages stray animal populations. Through innovative educational programs in schools and service groups, the ARL can teach individuals about animal safety, environmental sustainability, and encourage them to take action in their community.
There are a variety of unique challenges that require the ARL’s services in Greater Reading. The most prominent and difficult to tackle is the financial and cultural challenges in the City of Reading. Animal breeding for profit, unsuitable living conditions, and a lack of financial means for animal needs are the top issues facing domestic animals living in Reading today. These animals are used to gain profit, for fighting and entertainment, and they serve as status symbols for most of the people living in the city. Through low-cost spay and neuter clinics, education, and financial assistance the ARL can restructure the way animals are used, treated, and kept in the city. This will not only improve animal’s lives, but it will give the community priceless education and provide them with an understanding of animal’s needs today.
Opportunities for Partnership
The ARL invites donors to make an investment to improve animal welfare by supporting the Animal Rescue League of Berks County. Together, we can not only shape the mindset of our community and improve the quality of life through for homeless animals in Berks County, but we can set the bar for animal shelters nationwide to take action and implement change in their own community.