"All of our animals are retaught to be re-loved," said volunteer Diane Doncheski while helping care for over 250 cats and 75 dogs available for adoption at the Hillside SPCA in Pottsville. The no-kill shelter, which serves Tamaqua and all parts of Schuylkill County, operates year round and provides shelter and love to thousands of animals.
"We are a very busy shelter with many animals in residence; our population can, and does, vary with the seasons, often increasing during spring and summer due to an explosion in unwanted animals caused by the failure of owners to spay and neuter and owners surrendering their pets because they are going on vacation or too busy to care for them," said Tricia Moyer, assistant manager. "In addition to cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens, we often also provide shelter for rabbits, guinea pigs and so on."
Moyer added, "Many shelters put a strict time limit on how long they will allow an animal to be in the shelter before euthanizing them. The Hillside SPCA does not. We have some residents here at the shelter who have been with us for years, even their entire lives. No animal at the Hillside SPCA is ever put to death for being here too long."
"The animals here are never sentenced to life in a kennel as in some shelters," said Becky Moyer, feline manager. "Dogs can run and play in a large fenced-in area and cats have large 'condos' and enclosed extended rooms, so that they can socialize and safely enjoy 'the outdoors'."
Volunteers and staff can be seen working non-stop cleaning and caring for the many cats and dogs at the shelter.
"Some of these animals come from pretty bad places," said staff member Zach Mont.
"Our outstanding adoption rate allows us to take in unwanted animals without putting a time limit on them, but the current unrelenting stream of unwanted, abused, and homeless animals arriving to take the place of those adopted stretches our resources," said Barbara Umlauf, who has been manager at the shelter for 26 years.
"We are able to keep our doors open for the animals who need us solely through donations from our supporters," stressed Umlauf. "The shelter does not receive government funds, nor is it affiliated with any national organization. Monetary, pet food, and supply donations are always welcome and deeply appreciated."
Staff pointed out that everything gets stripped clean everyday, even the walls and ceilings.
Kim Noel of Tamaqua was also seen volunteering her time with the animals at the shelter.
"Whenever I'm in the area, I stop at the shelter and take some of the dogs for a walk," said Noel. "Since I can't adopt them all, this is my way of helping."
If you would like to adopt a loving pet or volunteer some time to help make the day brighter for a homeless animal, stop by the shelter, call them at (570) 622-7769 or visit them online at www.HillsideSPCA.com.
The shelter is located between Pottsville and Cressona, just off the Gordon Nagle Trail (Route 901).
Staff pointed out that 70 percent of their adoptions are via the Internet and encourage anyone who is looking for a pet to visit their website.
Umlauf recalled a situation in which a lady dropped off a dog because it didn't match the color of their new rug.
"The lady didn't even look back as she left." Umlauf added, "We live in a throw away society."