Put simply, medical care is expensive, and veterinary medicine is no exception. Whether it be the machines needed for diagnostic testing, the medications and equipment essential to medical procedures, or the time and expertise of veterinarians, the expenses add up very quickly, especially for nonprofits on a budget. Since 1995, spay and neuter efforts have been a pillar of our mission at the Animal Rescue League thanks to the generous donors who have contributed to this critical work. For years, our organization has worked within finite resource limits to provide critical care to those animals in need, outside of spay and neuter, but often have needed to outsource many of those cases to private practices who had the advanced equipment we simply could not afford. As a result, outsourced veterinary services cost the ARL $153,000 since 2018.

Thanks to the generosity of three key donors, that is about to change. The ARL is proud to announce that our scope of services for animals in need of medical care will be expanding in significant and lifechanging ways. While we will always continue to outsource medical cases that are beyond our current capacity for care, the following donors and their gifts have transformed the ARL’s medical treatment capabilities to be on par with many private practice clinics.

ARL′s x-ray machine donated by VCA Animal Hospital. The equipment required to install and operate the machine was generously donated by the Fleming Foundation. Thanks to these generous donors, we are able to extend our care to animals in-house such as Ricky (as pictured), a 1 year old terrier mix, who was discovered to have a severe right side heart enlargement only a week after we installed the new x-ray machine.

VCA Animal Hospitals

For several years, the ARL has maintained a partnership with VCA Animal Hospitals to promote free wellness exams to new adoptees and their families. So, when two of VCA’s local veterinary hospitals merged, VCA made the ARL a once in a lifetime offer: come select anything we needed at the closing clinic and they would gift the items to us. What would normally have cost our organization hundreds of thousands of dollars in new veterinary equipment, was being donated to us at the rock bottom price of free. Walking through VCA’s clinic, members of the ARL’s leadership team gratefully and giddily placed red stickers on everything from lift tables to oxygen cages, anesthesia machines, surgical lamps, autoclaves, scales, IV poles and the priceless grand prize of a full body x-ray machine, something we had only ever dreamed for our future. A few emails later, the last piece of the x-ray machine was donated by one of VCA’s suppliers and overnight, the ARL’s medical capabilities were changed forever.

The Fleming Foundation

With a new x-ray machine, comes a plethora of electrical and logistical needs to prepare for to be able to transport and use a machine like that – not to mention the equipment needed to keep staff technicians safe such as gloves, lead gowns, etc. When our friends at the Fleming Foundation told us at the beginning of the pandemic to let them know if we ever needed anything, we knew just who to call. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to prepare and outfit the space, as well as our staff, for the arrival of our new x-ray machine. Since its installation, we have performed 50 x-rays on animals within our care to diagnose ailments ranging from congenital heart conditions to broken bones.

Jay and Elaine Rosenson Fund of Berks County Community Foundation

Jay Rosenson has been a friend to animals his entire life, and he brought that passion to the ARL in 2014 when he funded the creation of Julie’s Way – a pet memorial walkway on the grounds of the ARL in honor of his late Carin Terrier, Julie, and his beloved wife, Elaine. When Jay called us in early 2021 to discuss a capital gift to the ARL, we knew we could reach our goal of completing the expansion of our veterinary practice’s efforts with his support. Jay’s generosity funded a new dental x-ray machine, oxygen concentrators, blood analyzers, fluid warmers, and an incubator to grow cultures to diagnose ringworm – which is perhaps the most time-intensive and resource heavy disease that we content with at the shelter. In addition, Jay’s gift included a new custom outfitted van for our Animal Protection team.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County has been expanding its services over the last 12 months, to join other animal welfare industry leaders in a new and innovative shift towards a HASS model – Humane Animal Support Services. At the forefront of this movement, the ARL and other animal welfare leaders are operating under the guiding elements of envisioning a new world of animal services, where most pets are housed in foster homes and communities, not in the shelter, leaving more space for the neediest animals at our facilities. In this reimagined system, the role of animal services is to proactively assist families to enable them to keep their pets, help lost animals return home quickly, and support pet owners who are struggling to meet their pets’ needs.

In 2020, thanks to the seed funding provided by the ASPCA, the ARL launched Berks County’s first official Pet Help Center. The Pet Help Center is a multifaceted approach that provides affordable and/or free support services to keep pets where they belong – out of shelters and in loving homes. These programs and services provide physical resources such as food, supplies, and equipment; training and coaching for common behavioral challenges; affordable veterinary care and alternative treatment options, and housing support for families in temporary transition or crisis.

Now equipped with the proper veterinary resources outlined above to add to our toolbox, we and other leading shelters nationwide believe that we can prevent many animal surrenders and support our community to provide a more enriching and supportive environment for companion animals everywhere.

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