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.