Feltonville: Headquarters of America’s Second-Oldest Humane Organization

One of the dogs at the shelter resting

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Flush alongside Erie Avenue between B and D streets stands the headquarters for one of oldest organizations in the country. The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or PSPCA, is the second-oldest humane organization in the United States and the largest in the state.

PSPCA Headquarters
PSPCA Headquarters is located in the Feltonville section of the city.

Despite being located within city limits, the PSCPA services animals from the surrounding area as well.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that the P for PSPCA stands for Philadelphia,” said Sarah Eremus, the Communication and Marketing Manager at the PSPCA. “We do care for a large portion of Philadelphia’s animals but we actually get animals from all over the state, so from different counties as well.”

The PSCPA was originally founded in 1867 to protect animals used in the workforce, such as horses, against abuse. It has since expanded to protect all animals from any form of cruelty and has active law enforcement to prevent and punish mistreatment.

“We have a call center that’s really busy, and what happens is people will call in and make a report if they see something suspicious,” Eremus said. “Our officers will respond to that call and check out the situation.”

Eremus also added, however, the organization’s biggest goal is to teach people about the humane treatment of animals and it’s not always necessary to remove an animal from its home if its owners can be taught how to properly raise a pet.

Cats resting inside cubby at PSPCA
Cats have comfortable cubbies at the PSPCA.

The animals brought into the shelter have their wounds treated and are given a general medical evaluation as well as a behavioral assessment to figure out what kind of lifestyle is suitable for them.

Animals who are brought in through the organization’s Humane Law Enforcement undergo forensic testing to determine if there’s evidence to prosecute any cruelty cases in court.

“They see all sorts of abuses, whether its dogfighting, unsanitary confinement, lack of veterinarian care, abandonment,” Eremus said.  “There are various ways in which people are cruel to animals and we really see it all.”

Megan Reilly, a five-year volunteer at the PSCPA, said the shelter is important to the community because of the affordability of both the animals and their treatments.

“It gives people a place, if they are coming on hard times, to be able to bring their animals for the low-cost vet care,” Reilly said. “They bring awareness to spaying and neutering, which is ridiculously important in this area because so many people don’t do it or think they can’t afford it.”

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