WILKES-BARRE – For six decades, the SPCA of Luzerne County had provided a haven for the county’s unwanted or neglected domesticated animals.
But to Executive Director Todd Hevner, the SPCA is much more than a shelter, it is a place to connect with animals, provide them with comfort and find them a forever home.
Hevner said that the facility is not a “dog pound,” as many might envision, but instead a positive and safe spot for animals who don’t have anywhere else to go.
Its also not simple a place for dogs and cats, according to Hevner.
“We’ve had snakes, potbelly pigs, goats, birds and even an alligator,” he said.
Hevner, who has served a director since 2015, said he has worked for nonprofits throughout his career, and when the position became available, he saw the opportunity to incorporate his experience with nonprofits with his love for animals.
As director, he has engaged in beautifying the facility, with the addition of artwork and an updated courtyard to ensure an upbeat environment for furry friends and their human counterparts.
An important part of the organization’s mission, he said, is to connect animals with appropriate owners, even if that means thinking outside the box.
The Seniors Love Seniors program, connecting older adults with older animals, does just that.
In order to be eligible for the program, the person adopting the pet must be 60 or over, with pets being deemed “senior” by SPCA staff.
The program provides opportunity for senior adults to adopt at a discount, taking into consideration the likelihood that they have a fixed income and the possibility that older pets might need increased medical care.
“That’s not a special program,” said Hevner, “that’s something that we do all the time.”
Hevner also points to the very reasonable cost of adopting a pet, making pet ownership possible for approved applicants.
“The cost of adoption a dog is $120, which includes, among other things, a microchip, spaying and neutering, and a county dog license,” he said. “Cats are $65, which also includes a microchip, spaying or neutering, and other benefits.”
When asked about the facility’s euthanization policy, he said animals are not put down simply because there is a lack of room, but usually for health reasons or because the animals are aggressive.
“We’ve had animals here for years until they were adopted,” he said. “If we do get full, we reach out to other shelters to house the animals.”
The SPCA also partners with local pet stores to find homes for kittens and cats.
The SPCA was organized in 1957 by concerned citizens wanting to be the voice of abused animals, according to Hevner.
The were organized as a nonprofit, with no parent organization, and shortly after moved into their current location in Plains Township.
The SPCA also reached out to the community, providing education for students and adults about such topics as bite prevention and animal communication.
It welcomes volunteers, including high school students, with staff eager to offer both inspiration and information about animals, their care and the benefit they provide to the community.
The facility uses social media – a website, Facebook and Instagram – to provide information and a “snapshot” of what animals are available at the center.
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