SPCA: Dedicated to improving the lives of animals

Vicky Stryker reads off a long list of services the Lycoming County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) provides while Elsa, her Dotson/German Shepard mix, rests in the executive director’s lap.

Stryker and her staff spend their days improving the lives of animals throughout the county with their furry friends at their side.

The shelter, located at 2805 Reach Road, was established in 1892 when it was a house that had kennels built in.

Today it’s a shelter designed to keep the animals it takes in happy, healthy and safe until they find their forever homes.

This Williamsport haven is the only shelter in Lycoming County that takes all domestic animals. Stryker said it’s housed a peacock, potbelly pig, sugar gliders, all kinds of snakes, birds, rats, mice, guinea pigs, hamsters and, of course, cats and dogs.

It also employs a full time officer, Larry Waltz, whose sole purpose is to investigate reports of cruelty to animals throughout the county.

“We’re the only shelter that provides investigations for the county. I’m an officer as well,” the executive director said. “We investigate every call that we get for cruelty, abuse or neglect. We can prosecute them in the court of law but in order to take animals away from somebody, we need a search warrant, unless the animal is in jeopardy of losing its life.”

Since 1998, when the new building was opened, over 4,000 animals have been through the shelter every year, except the last three years. That number is dipping and Stryker attributes that to effective spaying and neutering.

“We rarely get litters of puppies in anymore. We still have a problem with cat overpopulation and part of that is because there’s no laws in Pennsylvania about cats,” she said.

“Another big thing we do is education. We have programs for children teaching humane education, dog bit prevention. And we go into the schools or kids come here for tours and education programs.”

Another big part of the SPCA’s services is education. They have programs for children, teaching humane education and dog bite prevention. Staff goes into the schools or kids visit the shelter for tours and education programs.

The nonprofit also provides financial assistance for low to moderate income individuals to spay or neuter their pets, offers a pet cemetery, euthanasia and cremation for pet owners and sends groups of volunteers and animals into nursing homes to visit with residents as well.

Public misconception of the shelter’s euthanasia practices concerns Stryker.

“I had a conversation with a woman at a party and she said she heard we have ‘euthanasia Fridays’ where we go through the shelter and just picked out animals for euthanasia every Friday,” Stryker said, shaking her head. “The only animals we euthanize at this point are aggressive or very ill ones. So we’re able to find homes for all of our animals, even some of them that are senior citizens.”

For more information on the nonprofit, visit www.lycomingspca.org or call 570-322-4646.