Category Archives: Community Leader

Community Leader Profile: Hillside SPCA’s Janine Choplick!

Janine Choplick from the Hillside SPCA does such amazing things in our community and we are truly grateful! We asked her a few questions so that we all could get to know her a little better:
  • Where are you originally from?
I have always lived in Schuylkill County. I have resided in the beautiful Friedensburg area for 28 years, previously called Deer Lake home, and was born in Pottsville.
  • How long have you been atHillside?
I’ve been with the Hillside SPCA for 11 years. (Wow! Where did the time go?)
  • Where did you go to school?
I graduated from Minersville High School and studied Printing at STTC.
  • Describe your role in the area pet community?
My role in the community is, I think, pet education and awareness. And providing assistance if I can. That’s the key to many of the needs that face animals and people together.
  • What would you say is the most important impact that Hillside has?
A safe harbor for all animals in need until they find a permanent home is what Hillside SPCA has done so very, very well over the years.
  • Was would you say was the one greatest pet related, community accomplishment that you have had?
Knowing we need stronger laws to protect animals, I am active in contacting legislators – even personally visiting Harrisburg- to let my representatives know how serious I am. When these many bills become laws (many times after years of hard work) those accomplishments are shining examples of what we all can do. And also becoming a Humane Officer to help enforce those very laws in our communities has been so important to me.
  • At what point in your life did you realize that you had such a deep connection with pets?
I tell my husband I was born to do exactly what I am doing. My connection with all animals has always been with me since I can remember!
  • List your pets and names throughout the years (including childhood ones):
Schultz, Breezy, Maisy, Scooby, Pip (dogs) and Bob, Hootie (cats) right now. Cody, Rekker, Sam, Roche, Stitches, Shadow, Shawnee, Colby, Zeke, Puddles, Kitty, Sox, Sox 2, Ginger and foster pup Opie in the past.
  • What kind of food do you feed your pets?
My pets all get Blue Buffalo food.
  • What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie is the classic Blazing Saddles – Mel Brooks is tops in my book.
  • What kind of music do you like?
Blues, Stevie Ray Vaughn style, is the best music ever.
  • What was the last book that you read?
The last book I read was John O’Hara’s ‘From the Terrace’. O’Hara was from Pottsville. But my ultra favorite author is Mark Twain!
  • What is your favorite TV show?
30 Rock is the only TV show I watch each week regularly.
  • Where was your last vacation?
My last vacation was motorcycling with my husband to the beaches for a week in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.
  • What is your favorite restaurant?
The BEST restaurant around is the Greystone Restaurant in Pottsville. Jerry and Mark are the greatest hosts and the food is sublime.
  • If you could meet with anyone in the world, who would it be?
I would love to meet Jane Goodall.
  • Other personal facts or hobbies that you think might be interesting:
I have completed dog training and management course at Kutztown University. I have been a Girl Scout and a Girl Scout leader in the past and always have a special place in my heart for working with children and animals. Photography is one of my hobbies and animals and nature are my favorite subjects. I have a marvelous circle of friends whom I love to laugh with. And mostly my family – husband Dan, sons, brother, nieces and mother are so very important to me because they support me and understand completely who I am!   To learn more about the Hillside SPCA, go to: www.hillsidespca.org  

COMMUNITY LEADER PROFILE: KEL HATT

We asked our friend Kel Hatt to share his story about some of the amazing things that he does in our community. We are continuously moved by his experiences and efforts :
  • Where are you originally from? Gouglersville, PA…I’ve lived in Berks County all my life.
  • Where did you go to school? Governor Mifflin and then West Chester University/Alvernia College
  • What pet related organizations do you support in the area? Locally I support the Berks County Humane Society whenever possible and also No Nonsense Neutering. I’ve been a proud Vanguard Society member of PETA for many years and just became an ARC Angel for the Animal Rescue Corps in Washington DC.
  • Was would you say was the one greatest pet related, community accomplishment that you have had? Six and a half years ago I decided to become a vegan (vegans do not consume or use ANY animal products of any kind). By doing this I spare at least 100 animals a year from needless pain and suffering.
  • At what point in your life did you realize that you had such a deep connection with pets? Probably at a very early age since my family always had a dog and we would take in any young or injured wild animal and care for them until they were ready to be released back into the wild. However, my animal rights activism has really blossomed since going vegan.
  • List your pets and names throughout the years (including childhood ones): Very early childhood – Garm (dog) childhood – two different Penny’s at different times (dogs) Lucky – my beloved main guy who was the family dog for years and then just him and I for years after our parent’s passed away, Lucky joined our parents this past May 17 currently – Lady and Chance (dogs), Stinker, Abby, and Minnie (cats), and Issac (bird)
  • What kind of food do you feed your pets? Science Diet, which I highly recommend.
  • What kind of music do you like? Classic R&R and New Age
  • What is your favorite restaurant? Dosie Dough, a little bakery/eatery type place in Wyomissing that makes me a special vegan wrap that is fantastic.
  • If you could meet with anyone in the world, who would it be? My beautiful and loving posthumous wife Lori. We were engaged to be married, but three months before our traditional wedding day she was killed back in March 2011 while we were walking Chance. We had a posthumous wedding on what would have been our traditional wedding day in June 2011. Posthumous weddings are legally recognized in about three countries but unfortunately not in the U.S.
  • Other personal facts or hobbies that you think might be interesting: I’m a certified dog trainer through the Animal Behavior College in CA. I enjoy helping dogs and their human companions to treat behavioral problems rather than teaching basic obedience cues. I go to the gym a few days a week and take Lady and Chance for daily walks. Also, even though I’m allergic to cats, I spend time each day with Stinker, Abby, and Minnie who were Lori’s children when we met.

COMMUNITY LEADER PROFILE: ARL’S BOARD PRESIDENT BARRIE PEASE

For those of you who are not aware of the amazing things that Barrie does in our community, just read the interview below! • Where are you originally from? I was born in Reading, PA and have lived here most of my life with the exception years in the military and the State Police. • Describe your role in the area pet community? I got my start in the area of animal rescue about 20 years ago as a volunteer with Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue. I was then asked to serve on the Board of Directors for the Animal Rescue League of Berks County and am now in my 11th year as president of the board. In addition I serve as Chairman of the Animal Control Board for the City of Reading and am a member of the Board of Directors of Crime Alert Berks that will now pay rewards for tips on animal abuse or animal cruelty. One of my rescue dogs is also a certified therapy dog so she and I make visits to schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and many public appearances on behalf of the Animal Rescue League. • What would you say is the most important impact that your organization has? The Animal Rescue League is the only open door shelter in Berks County. It is the place where no animal is left behind – even the ones that other shelters will not take. We contract with all of the municipalities in the county for animal control, investigation of abuse and cruelty cases, perform large animal rescue, and handle between 10,000 and 11,000 animals each year. In addition we offer low cost spay and neuter services along with a low cost vaccine clinic each month. We work with various breed rescues, cat rescues, cat TNR programs, and have developed several new innovative programs to help keep pets in their homes and healthy and happy. Among these are our Grey Muzzle program which takes older or unhealthy cats and dogs and places them in foster homes until they are healthy and a forever home can be found for them. We also started a BARC (Beginning Animal Rescue Correctly) program which provides every adoptive family the opportunity to work with a certified animal trainer and learn about special problems adopted animals may face until they settle into their new home. • What would you say was the one greatest pet related, community accomplishment that you have had? I would say making the Animal Rescue League more visible in the community. By doing this we have reached and educated a good deal of the population and have changed many attitudes about animal welfare. We were able to get support that lobbied to pass the two “Puppy Mill” bills, and I feel we are now making an impact in the community by being more visible and partnering with several other community organizations • Does your organization have a big annual event? With have an annual Dog Days Gala, but have several other events throughout the year some fund raising some just fun and educational. • What is your organization’s biggest need? As I am sure is true in most non-profits our biggest need is always funding. We are never sure what will come into the shelter or in what condition that animal will come to us. So funding is always an issue. We started a Noel Fund named after a Jack Russell terrier that came to us after being struck by a car just before Christmas several years ago. That fund is restricted to paying expenses for injured animals that come into the shelter. As you can imagine making decisions on what to do with that fund is never easy so the more funding we get for it the more animals we can save. • At what point in your life did you realize that you had such a deep connection with pets? I have always loved animals. As a small child I remember my parents having a litter of Cocker Spaniels and of a special one named Twinkle who slept under my bed every night. • List your pets and names throughout the years (including childhood ones): Since there are so many starting in my childhood I will only list the current ones Lillie Marlene a five year old Great Pyrenees Certified therapy dog born at the shelter. Bubba a 14 year old Golden from DVGRR that we adopted when he was 7 years old and heart worm positive, and seven cats two in the barn and five in the house all from the ARL. Barn: Momma Cass and Stella, in the house Nittany, Aspen, who we got when they were 2 weeks old, Victoria, Heidi, and Nicholas. • What kind of food do you feed your pets? They all get Blue Buffalo food and treats, however Bubba and Lillie do get pizza crusts and Lillie loves ice cubes. • Personal questions: o What is your favorite movie? Casablanca o What kind of music do you like? Classic Country o What was the last book that you read? 10 Secrets my Dog Taught Me, by Carlo De Vito. o Where was your last vacation? The Pyrenees Mountains in France and Spain. o What is your favorite restaurant? Panevino Italian Restaurant in Downtown Reading PA o If you could meet with anyone in the world, who would it be? Since I am a WWII history buff I would have to say General Patton. o Other personal facts that you think might be interesting: My favorite wild animal is of course the Nittany Lion.

Community Leaders: Meet our own Paige Neiman!

Paige Neiman is the office manager of the Bernville Veterinary Clinic. We recently asked her to tell us about her background and why she cares so much about our local pets.       How long have you been working at Bernville Vet? 11 years Where are you originally from? Royersford How long have you been in the area? 26 years Describe your role in the area pet community? I manage the daily operations of our Veterinary clinic and Spa/Boarding facilities to ensure the health and welfare of our “clients” to the satisfaction of their owners. What would you say is the most important impact that your organization has?Keeping pets healthy and happy through proper and diligent client education. Was would you say was the one greatest pet related, community accomplishment that you have had? Educating friends and family on the importance of neutering their companion animals and catching/releasing of feral cats that they are feeding. At what point in your life did you realize that you had such a deep connection with pets? 13 when I started working on a local horse farm List your pets and names throughout the years (including childhood ones):
  • Poochie: Poodle
  • Brittany: Brittany Spaniel
  • Zac: Doberman
  • Maggie & Ranger: German Sheppard
  • Lucy, Bonnie & Clyde: Jack Russell
  • Tinker: Spaniel Mix
  • Lilly, Skittles & Willie: DSH Cat
  • Tigger: DMH Cat
  • Dolly & Linus: DLH Cat
  • Buddy, Rocky, Toby, Johnny, Rowdy, Banjo
  • Limo : QHorse
  • Impy: Thorobred Horse
  • Peyote: Paint
  • Koko: Shetland Pony
What kind of food do you feed your pets? Hills Science & Prescription Diets /Purina Horsemans Edge PERSONAL QUESTIONS What is your favorite movie? Too many to choose! What kind of music do you like? Old rock, old country, blues, classical What was the last book that you read? The Horse Whisperer Where was your last vacation? Cruise-the Caribbean What is your favorite restaurant? Too many to choose!