Centre County Gazette

Pets Come First: The New SPCA! Grand Opening
by Karen Dabney

CENTRE HALL–The former SPCA animal shelter in Center Hall is now officially Pets Come First. The transfer of administration occurred on January 1, 2012. In February, Pets Come First celebrated their Grand Opening with several fund-raising events, culminating with the official Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening Celebration on Sunday, February 12.

“Sixty animals were adopted since we opened,” said Cheryl Sharer, Pets Come First board member and former SPCA staff member. “Thirty-four dogs and twenty-six cats. Three animals were returned to their owners, and a pot-bellied pig was sent to an appropriate rescue organization. Right now we have fifty-one animals, including a bunny and two blind horses.”

During the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting, the all-volunteer, no-kill shelter attracted a sizable crowd of supporters, well-wishers, and potential adopters. Visitors had the opportunity to meet an adoptable white rabbit, the dogs in the kennels, and the cats in the beautifully refurbished cat room. The volunteer staff and foster parents answered questions about the pets, and counseled people about which animal might be a good match.

For the ribbon cutting, Pets Come First president Deb Warner was joined by eleven volunteers and board members at the red ribbon stretched over the front sidewalk. As Warner cut the ribbon, the group rejoiced.

Inside, the staff offered refreshments, and packages of free catnip and dog treats. Visitors could purchase Pets Come First T-shirts, benefit raffle tickets for Sheetz gas cards, and specially labeled bottles of Seven Mountains wines. Through February 29, the shelter will receive five dollars for each bottle sold, with a choice of three wines: All Razzed Up, a sweet wine; Tickled Pink, a blush wine; and Ten Point, a dry red wine.

The Sheetz raffle will continue into May, with prizes of $350, $100, and $50 gas cards. Tickets are $5 each or five for $20.

Pets Come First is also raising funds by recycling ink and toner cartridges, earning $100 so far.

The guests included two of the vets who work with the shelter, Dr. Fred Metzger and Dr. Bob Rider. Dr. Rider said, “I think that Pets Come First has done a great job of redoing the place and working with the animals. We at Metzger Animal Hospital are happy to work with them to adopt all these great animals. It’s fun, too.”

Pets Come First, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, seeks community support to help them meet the needs of stray and abandoned pets. They are actively fund-raising and recruiting volunteers to ensure the ongoing success of the shelter’s services, which include adoptions of abandoned pets, and a new program of spay/neuter discount certificates for approved low-income pet owners.

“Our biggest need is to have funds to pay a staff,” said Sharer. “Our volunteers are awesome and wonderful, but we need to have a core staff that is able to be here regularly and is dependable.”

To help pay expenses, Pets Come First increased the adoption fees. “Some people think we’re a little high, but you get about $400 of vet care,” said Sharer. “When animals leave here they have microchips, current vaccines including rabies, spay/neuter or an appointment, and a feline leukemia check.”

She said they were actively seeking volunteers. “We have a waiting list of animals but don’t have enough help to take care of them.”

Pets Come First is located on Route 322 in Centre Hall. For more information, visit www.petscomefirst.org, their Facebook page, or call 814-364-1725.

* Article was published in the February 17, 2012 issue of the Centre County Gazette.