(WYTV) – Trying to get a newly started non-profit organization off the ground isn’t easy, nor is trying to spread the word and raise funds during a pandemic. This week’s Hometown Heroes aren’t letting any challenges slow them down as they get their new animal rescue up and running.
“In the Mercer County area, we have several rescues who do a wonderful job but they’re overloaded. We have so many stray animals and so many owner surrenders,” said Jenny Falvey, vice president of the Animal Protection League of Western Pennsylvania.
With that in mind, a new rescue called the Animal Protection League of Western Pennsylvania began. Falvey and Stacey Squatrito serve as vice president and president… and what a year to launch.
“One of, I think, the biggest challenges is, in rescues, you typically have the ability to be out in front of the community and we don’t have that right now,” Falvey said.
But they aren’t letting the pandemic put their vision on hold. They began laying the groundwork for the rescue in May 2019, obtained their 501c3 status in January and held their first fundraiser last month, a socially distant pet parade.
“It was handled pretty well. It was all social distancing, masks, sanitizer everywhere for their hands, different pens for different functions. We probably had 75-100 people that day and raised about $2,000, but it could have been a lot more had it not been for COVID,” Squatrito said.
That inaugural fundraiser set them on their way, working on their two main goals: fostering adoptable pets and trying to keep pets from needing rescues in the first place.
“We really wanted to focus on taking a proactive approach in the rescue community with community outreach programs to sort of get ahead of some of the problems we run into with rescue,” Falvey said.
They hope to raise awareness and resources, targeting some specific areas.
“A senior assistance program, a program that works with the mental health community, a children’s education program, a trap and release program, things like that which we hope will help mitigate the number of animals that enter into rescues,” Falvey said.
Community outreach is part of their second phase of getting up and running. Right now, they’re pouring their efforts into fostering.
“That makes such a difference for these animals to go into a foster home. It allows us to learn about them, learn about their personalities and to place them appropriately, and it gives them a safe place. So we really need foster homes for cats and dogs so if anyone is interested, we’d really love to talk to them because that’s our top of the list priority,” Falvey said.
If you’d like more information on the rescue, how to get involved in their foster program or how to support their efforts, you can reach them at 724-301-7883. You can also message them on their Facebook page.