Due to the temporary closure of the Humane Society of Berks County on November 4, and to help provide a solution for the residents of Berks County who find stray animals in municipalities without an animal control contract, the Animal Rescue League of Berks County will accept stray animals from those municipalities beginning on November 1. Residents from those non-contracted municipalities will be able to drop off strays by appointment, with proof of residency (i.e., a driver’s license) and with a $50 fee, mirroring the Humane Society’s policies and fees. “Although we will surely feel the pinch with additional animals coming in through the doors and decreased funding to care for them, we feel we must provide a solution for all of the animals and the people of Berks County who might not be able to get to the Humane Society’s other branch in Lancaster,” says Alexis Pagoulatos, executive director of the ARL. “This was the direction we were headed in 2020 anyway, but the news of the Humane Society’s closure hastened our decision to push forward with these important policy changes.”

In an effort to ramp up capacity to meet an estimated 30% or more increase in animals coming through its doors, the ARL is actively seeking interested fosters, volunteers and donors to help the organization meet the demand of the community’s needs. “We need the community’s help just as much as they need us,” says Pagoulatos. Interested fosters and volunteers can find more information—including upcoming orientation dates—on the ARL’s website under the “How to Help” tab. Donations can be made in person at the shelter; by sending checks or supplies directly to the shelter at 58 Kennel Rd., Birdsboro, PA 19508; or by contributing online at the ARL’s website. “This is a critical time for our organization,” says Pagoulatos. “We cannot do this work and stay a viable part of Berks County without the community’s help.”

To honor animal control agreements with municipalities who signed and paid for contracts with the ARL earlier this year, space will be prioritized for residents and animals from those municipalities. “This means that we may need to offer residents from non-contracted municipalities alternative solutions—such as going on a waiting list or contacting local rescues—when we’re at or near capacity,” says Pagoulatos. “We understand that this may be frustrating for members in our community when we’re not able to provide them an immediate solution. The ARL is at or over capacity for many months of the year when the Humane Society is operational and helping care for stray animals. With their temporary closure, we simply may not have enough space to properly house and care for the anticipated increase in animals who are seeking a safe haven. We hope that the community will offer us some patience, grace and understanding when we may not be able to accommodate them for a few days and if they’re unable to get to the Humane Society’s other location in Lancaster.”

“As a reminder, municipalities are mulling over their animal control options for 2020 right now during their public meetings,” says Pagoulatos. “For those who care about stray animals having a safe and professional organization to care for them during their greatest time of need, please attend your local meetings to learn what plans your municipality has for stray animals and animal control in 2020.”

To find a list of municipalities who signed animal control agreements with the ARL in 2019, please click here.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County serves more than 5,000 animals per year and is the county’s only provider of animal cruelty and humane investigation. The organization’s full-service adoption center works to find responsible and loving homes for thousands of kittens, puppies, cats and dogs, as well as working/barn cats and other farm animals each year.