Founder and president of Pets Comes First (PCF), Deb Warner, is an avid animal lover. Ever since Deb was a small girl, she has been enamored with animals. As a child, she had several pets from dogs to horses (her favorite). Not much has changed since then, except that now she is the one who pays for the food; and these days, there is a lot of food for twenty horses, eight dogs, two llamas, a lot of barn cats, and one donkey. Deb’s family and friends have always supported her in anything she wanted to do, even if it meant that sometimes she would be bringing home another ‘roommate.’ Deb has a tender heart and deep love for animals; her life as an animal advocate and rescuer was predictable. The passion for animals is what drives her.
Since the inception of Pets Come First in 2005, the organization has been an all- volunteer, non-profit rescue organization located in Centre County. Since the beginning, PCF has been partnering with other local programs and rescues to coordinate monetary and volunteer resources in the region.
Each year in the United States, more than four million dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens are destroyed by animal control facilities. That’s about one animal every eight seconds. In addition to the number of animals that are destroyed, thousands more become permanent residents at shelters, never finding that forever home that they desire. These numbers are alarming, dismaying, and just plain wrong. “That’s too many, and it is so sad that people aren’t responsible.”
If Deb can do something to save an abused or abandoned animal, she will. She cannot see a creature in need and do nothing about it. She learned at an early age that dropping animals off at a nearby shelter was even more distressing knowing most of them would be euthanized. In early 2005, she began working with other like-minded advocates to reduce the 87% euthanasia rate at Centre Hall SPCA. As a result of their efforts, the facility has been a no-kill shelter since 2008!
PCF has come a long way. For the past two and a half years Deb has been doing nothing but managing PCF. Each month, Deb looks back in amazement as to how much this organization has grown. This growth would not be possible without the countless volunteers and relationships that Deb has formed with other rescues and pet-friendly businesses in the community.
Late in 2010 Deb received a call from the Pennsylvania SPCA asking if Pets Come First would be interested in taking over the Centre Hall facility since they were going to close the doors on December 31, 2011.
On January 1, 2012 Deb signed a lease for PCF to take over the Centre Hall SPCA facility. Pets Come First, The New SPCA! Adoption Center was born. This is an organization that is much needed in our community to care for local homeless, abused and stray animals. This is a great opportunity to educate the community on the importance of spaying and neutering animals and to ensure that every adoptable pet is given a fair chance to find a new home.
Running an animal adoption center is not an easy task. It takes more than good intentions. Management experience and marketing skills are always a plus, but what Deb has found most crucial is a passion for what she does. Work can stretch long into the night, sometimes around the clock. Some days are very discouraging; others are fantastically rewarding, but “if you don’t have passion, you won’t stick it out on the low days.” All of Deb’s time is spent dealing with people and vacations and free time are a thing of the past. However, it is very rewarding when adoptive families send photos of recent adventures with their rescued pets. Deb lives vicariously through the animals she and her crew of volunteers help. For the average person, it’s hard to comprehend why anyone would go to such lengths to save animals, but a typical response from those who realize her fierce commitment is that it is truly rewarding.
Along with passion, Deb has found innovation to be very important. A good set of contacts and the ability to get things done are two assets of which she is most proud.
“No matter the situation, I will find a way to make it work; however, I do not take all the credit. I will be the first to tell you how very grateful I am for my core group of volunteers. Without them, I would not have made it this far.” Deb claims that without a doubt, she goes crazy with the demands of such an enormous task, she gets overwhelmed, she may hyperventilate and most of all she wears her heart on her sleeve. No matter how bad things may get, she remembers what has been accomplished – the animals saved and the families whose lives have been enriched. Adopters who frequently stay in touch and relate warm stories of how rescued animals are now thriving motivate her to continue.
Finding good adoptive homes is essential. When you have found a good forever home, it is easy to let the animal go because you know that you are sending them to a family who will cherish them forever. Allowing them to leave also gives you an opportunity to save another animal.
It will not be an easy road to success at the adoption center and every day Deb learns something new. PCF has been given two years to make this journey a successful one and with generous contributions from the community PCF will make a significant difference in the lives of local animals and the people in the Centre Country region.
Deb Warner – email@example.com
Cheryl Sharer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Spence – email@example.com
Karleen “Cookie” Crissman − firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Stover − email@example.com