A special kind of homeless shelter

WELLSBORO – Come August, the Animal Care Sanctuary at the former SPCA building here will officially become the property of the ACS.

“Two years ago in August we went into an agreement to lease the property that formerly housed the SPCA’s shelter for $1 a year.

“On Aug. 23 we enter our third year,” said shelter Director Wendy Reber.

The formal take over is a good move for the shelter’s animals and for the community, but one thing people need to know about Animal Care Sanctuary is “it is not the pound.”

“There is a huge delineation between a kill shelter and a no kill sanctuary, like ACS,” she said.

Reber noted that because they don’t kill any of the animals surrendered to them, “we run out of space fast.”

Anyone wanting to surrender animals must have a real hardship such as losing their home to fire or the loss of the pet’s owner through death, and then they can put their name on a list for an available spot, but the sanctuary prefers not to accept animals.

“No we are not a stray and drop off center by any stretch. This isn’t the pound, this is the next generation of a safe haven,” she said.

ACS currently has 61 dogs, and 36 “are not adoptable for various reasons,” she said.

If a dog is found running at large, Weber advises the public to contact the dog warden, and usually it can be placed back with its owner.

“We will scan it for a chip, take a picture, call the radio station, and get it on social media, and we have had a huge success rate of getting those dogs back to their owners,” Reber said.

If your pet is presenting behavior problems, instead of immediately running to the shelter to surrender a pet, Reber suggests calling their behaviorist hotline at 596-2200, extension 118, for suggestions and guidance about how to retain the pet within the household.

“Sometimes the reality is , there is a much better home out there from whence they came; the challenge is to find it, and find it quickly,” Reber said.

If you must surrender an animal, there is a $60 surrender fee,” she said, but animals must be adoptable.

“I only have nine runs here, it is a very small shelter with room for nine dogs and 25 cats, but in East Smithfield today they are feeding 415 cats and 60 dogs,” she said.

With the opening of a low cost spay/neuter clinic last year it has “helped to make a dent in the overpopulation problem in our county,” she said.

About 65 percent of the cats being brought in for spay or neuter services are strays that people have found and are taking it upon themselves to have them fixed, and vaccinated against rabies, according to Reber.

“These are the porch cats, the barn cats, the dropped off cats that make their way to the nearest house,” she said.

The cost is just $40 for spay or neuter services and $10 for a rabies vaccination, unless there is a special clinic then the cost for the shot is $5.

“2012 was a rewarding year. ACS Wellsboro adopted 147 pets and we have found homes for 17 so far this year. Since the inception of our Community Care Clinic here, we have performed spay/neuter surgery on 306 cats and administered 475 rabies vaccines,” Reber said.

The next rabies clinic is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 23, in the house at the shelter.