Berks, Lancaster shelters to merge

The two largest shelters in Berks and Lancaster counties are seeking to merge to create a regional shelter with satellite locations in the two counties as well as Chester County.

The Humane Society of Berks County today announced its proposed merger with the Humane League of Lancaster County to provide pets and caretakers in both counties with strong adoption, veterinary and charitable programs.

Under the plan, which must be approved by the attorney general, the two agencies would retain their names but operate as a regional animal welfare organization with a single board under the name Humane Pennsylvania.

Current Humane Society Executive Director Karel Minor will oversee the missions of both groups as president and CEO of Humane Pennsylvania.

Joan Brown, president and CEO of the Humane League, is scheduled to retire in 2014.

Minor, who has served as executive director of the Humane Society since 2004, says that the merger makes sense for the organizations, their personnel, and the communities they serve.

“The Humane Society and Humane League have many of the same goals – pet adoption, quality veterinary care, support for pets and people in need – and Humane Pennsylvania will combine our strengths, our experience and our resources to enable us to do even more good throughout Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania,: he said.

Minor brings experience in regional animal welfare operations to the new organization after transforming the Humane Society from a single shelter in Reading into a multi-facility agency with a focus on adoption, veterinary and service programs aimed at reducing shelter populations.

The Humane Society’s fourth center - which will focus on cat adoptions - opened this month in downtown Phoenixville.

The Humane League of Lancaster stopped accepting strays last year as part of its "no-kill" philosophy. Berks shelters will continue to take strays for a $25 fee or equivalent volunteer work. Minor said Lancaster Humane will take serve as a "rescue partner" for the new Lancaster SPCA.

Minor also said the league will continue its relationship with the Pennsylvania SPCA and humane society police office, Keith Mohler who is covering Lancaster County.

The Humane Society of Berks County is a private, non-profit organization funded through donations and service fees. In addition to pet adoptions, It also provides full-spectrum veterinary services to the public; low-cost sterilization and vaccination; humane education, expert support to law enforcement in cases of animal cruelty and a host of charitable programs for pets and caretakers in need.

The Humane Society has four animal welfare centers located at 1801 N. 11th Street, Reading; 1201 Ben Franklin Highway E., Douglassville; 503 S. Center Road (Rte. 82), Birdsboro and 12 S. Main St in Phoenixville.