Busy and heartbreaking year

The story below appeared in Monday’s Business Review Section B. The print version was edited for space constraints.

Don’t stop scrolling after the article or you’ll miss some awesome adoptables from Tri-County Animal Rescue.

Animal shelters, rescue groups work to curb overpopulation issues

By Anna Applegate

Last year was a busy and sometimes heartbreaking time for area animal shelters and rescue groups.

They faced funding and animal overpopulation issues. But by year’s end, many animals found homes and possibly thousands of unwanted animals were prevented through various spay and neuter efforts.

Venango County Humane Society


Lt. Dan

The Venango County Humane Society in Seneca dealt with a cat overpopulation and had several “special case” success stories in 2016, according to shelter manager Heather Hacherl.

“One of the challenges we face is the cat overpopulation. It seems like kitten season never ends,” Hacherl said.

Last year, the shelter started with a waiting list for cats to be surrendered as soon as the room became available, according to Hacherl.

She explained that when the shelter’s 26 cat cages are full, a waiting list for surrenders is started and cats are accepted as space becomes available.

Hacherl said the list will finally be caught up in February.

“We do not euthanize for space and we medically treat as many cats as we are able to,” she said. “We appreciate the public’s patience and understanding as we try to find homes for our many adoptable cats and kittens.”

Hacherl said the humane society encourages the public to help do its part to curb cat overpopulation by spaying and neutering their cats and kittens.

Cats can begin to reproduce as early as 6-months old and can have two to three litters per year, she added.

“There are low-cost clinics in our area to help the public with the cost of spaying/neutering,” she said.

Hacherl mentioned several “special case” success stories that the humane society was involved in last year.

One of which was a cute little fluffy gray kitten that was later named Lieutenant Dan with some help from the humane society’s Facebook page.

Lieutenant Dan was brought into the shelter by a good Samaritan and had a severely injured leg that was fractured and infected down to the bone, Hacherl said.

The Franklin Animal Clinic provided medical care for him which included a leg amputation.

“We had a public fundraiser to help cover surgery costs and many people graciously donated funds to help us and Lieutenant Dan out,” she said. “His recovery was remarkable and certainly didn’t slow down this active boy, who loves to run and play at any chance.”

“And the most exciting news of all — he was adopted by a wonderful family who fell in love with him,” she added.

Hacherl also related the story of Sport, a lab mix, who had been hit by a car and was taken to the Franklin Animal clinic.

The clinic fixed Sport’s fracture and then released him into the shelter’s care “where he was given special treatment by our staff as he healed,” she said.

Hacherl said Sport was adopted by a kind, loving couple who “continues to spoil this special boy to this day.”

Another case involved a kitten that was hit by a vehicle. The kitten was brought to the shelter by a good Samaritan. The feline had a banged up leg and other injuries.

“We rushed this sweet girl to the Franklin Animal Clinic who had her leg successfully amputated. However, during the night the kitten succumbed to the stress of her injuries,” Hacherl said.

The humane society also came to the aid of a few Italian mastiffs that needed some extra care and training before they could be adoptable to the public, according to Hacherl.

“Our senior kennel attendant worked with these dogs daily to socialize them and to have basic obedience instilled in them,” she said.

“These dogs were able to go to a wonderful mastiff rescue close to the Philadelphia area that continued the training and found them specialized homes,” she added.

Hacherl said the humane society has also had success rehoming senior dogs and cats to approved, loving homes and rescues like Safehaven Small Breed Rescue in Tionesta, as well as other rescues out of the area.

“We are grateful to everyone who has helped us and is willing to help with these special cases. We could not do it without you,” Hacherl said.

Looking ahead to this year, the shelter will continue with its microchipping and spay and neuter efforts.

“In 2016, we started microchipping every cat and dog that gets adopted. This helps with returning animals to their homes and owners should they become lost,” Hacherl said.

The humane society is hoping to offer rabies and microchipping clinics for the public this year at the shelter, she added.

“To help with the cat population, all of our cats — as well as dogs — are spayed/neutered before adoption,” she said.

“We now have a wonderful vet, two terrific technicians and some amazing volunteers who come to the shelter to spay/neuter our pets in our on-site surgical suite before (the animals) are put up for adoption,” she added.

“By having a vet, we are able to treat animals more efficiently without the stress of transporting them,” Hacherl said. “Although, Franklin Animal Clinic will continue to help us with our medical needs and/or emergencies.”

“Being able to treat and spay/neuter at the shelter will save us significantly and allow us to help more animals in need which is our overall goal,” Hacherl added.

Speaking of funds, Hacherl mentioned that the humane society owns and operates a Thrift Store at the corner of Eighth and Liberty in Franklin.

The store “helps offset the cost of caring for our animals,” she said.

The humane society holds bingo Tuesdays and Saturdays at Lee Bessler Hall in Seneca, which also brings in additional funding.

“The support of both of these endeavors is greatly appreciated,” Hacherl said.

Meanwhile, 2016 turned out to be an award-winning year for the humane society.

“The Venango County Humane Society was honored to receive the Partner in Business 2016 Award presented by the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce,” Hacherl said.

Hacherl also reported that adoption numbers for the shelter in 2016 were very good.

Tri-County Animal Rescue Center


Tri-County Animal Rescue Center volunteers Emilee Dixon (left) and Hailey Schrecengost hold Ember, a beagle mix puppy.

Efforts by the volunteers and staff at Tri-County Animal Rescue Center in Shippenville resulted in 84 cat and 132 dog adoptions last year. Two cats and 21 dogs were returned to their owners. The shelter took in 117 cats and 162 dogs last year.

“The center is a community nonprofit organization that exists to support the no-kill rescue, rehabilitation, adoption, rights and welfare of companion animals in Clarion, Forest, Jefferson and surrounding counties,” board members said.

It is located at 9562 Route 322 in Shippenville.

Tri-County offers a discounted spay and neuter clinic and a pet food bank in addition to the lovable companion animals that it cares for and sponsors.

The Shippenville facility employs four part-time staffers — two for cats and two for dogs.

The staffers are “paid completely through and anonymous donor who specified the use for the funds,” Tri-County board members said.

“We maintain our organization through the generous amounts of time donated by a committed group of volunteers. New volunteers are always welcome,” board members added.

In fact last year, volunteers with the AmeriCorps and Clarion University helped clean, paint, trim, weed, mow and plant to spruce up the adoption facility.

“We operate on a shoe-string budget, receiving no federal, state or county support for our services. We are dependent on donations for everything we do,” board members said.

To help raise funds, Tri-County hosts various fundraisers throughout the year which include a Valentine’s Day fundraiser, Halloween and Christmas events at the Tractor Supply in Clarion and International Homeless Animals Day, which is held in August at Memorial Park in Clarion. It also holds yard sales and other informational events.

This year the shelter is planning to erect a covered outdoor exercise kennel in the spring.

“The project was made possible through the generosity of a prior adopter who donated in memory of their adopted dog,” the board said. “The blessings that come from Tri-County Animal Rescue cannot be measured in money and tax dollars — they are matters of the heart.”

“We provide multiple services to our community so that they can enjoy the quality of life that comes from being loved unconditionally by a warm, welcoming and non-judgmental animal,” members added.

Clarion PAWS


Mario is one of Clarion PAWS most unusual looking residents.

Clarion PAWS in Shippenville came to the aid of many cats and kittens in 2016.

The shelter started the year with 57 resident felines and it had 129 cats and kittens come in during 2016, according to Sharon Weaver-Floyd, who is vice president and treasurer for Clarion PAWS. Sixty-eight lucky kitties were adopted by their forever families, Floyd said.

Unfortunately, despite the shelter’s help, 23 kittens passed away from distemper.

“We had five litters from one area and lost almost all of them … very tragic and heartbreaking for us,” Floyd said.

There are still 91 felines available for adoption at the PAWS house that are looking for good homes, Floyd added.

maya 2016

Maya is one of Clarion PAWS longest residing residents.

“We currently have 69 in the actual shelter and another 22 from a relocated colony — some friendly, some semi-feral and one is very feral — being temporarily housed in another location,” she said.

Clarion PAWS partners with Frankie’s Friends to offer spay and neuter clinics.


Clarion PAWS rooms are decked in pink hearts that were each a donation.

Frankie’s Friends brought their mobile surgery unit to the PAWS house at least once each month during 2016, Floyd said.

In total, 218 male cats were neutered and 226 females were spayed, she said.

“Of those 444 surgeries, 73 of them were paid for by donations to our spay/neuter fund,” Floyd said. “Without those donations, the cats would still be out there breeding and, because most of them were outdoor and colony cats, stopping the breeding was essential.”

However, Floyd added that currently Clarion PAWS’ spay and neuter fund is very low.

“Without donations, we can’t help those that aren’t able to pay,” Floyd added.

Floyd said the center also relies solely on donations to for its day-to-day operational costs and more as it receives no state or federal aid. It also operates a pet food bank.

Clarion PAWS is located at 11348 Route 322, Shippenville on Clarion River Hill between Scrap Happy and Clarion Electric.

Precious Paws Animal Rescue


Marilyn Latchaw monitors a cat post surgery after being released by the vet.

Precious Paws Animal Rescue in Franklin worked overtime in 2016 to deal with many, many cats. Last year, the rescue was able to purchase the building that houses its SNYP clinic and use its Oscar fund to help animals and their owners.

“The absolute biggest problem our community faces is the cat overpopulation problem,” said Theresa Weldon, Precious Paws president.

“There is no one who takes in stray cats with an open door. You can call (the humane society) or Precious Paws and get on a wait list to surrender cats, but what do you do with the animal in the meantime?” she added.

“If the person who finds the cat isn’t willing to keep it, what happens to it? Does it stay outside or the finder dumps it somewhere else?” she asked.

“This is why a big part of our mission focuses on spaying and neutering of neighborhood strays that no one claims but people may feed … ferals who can’t be touched but who live in abandoned houses and woods and reproduce up to four litters a year,” Weldon said.

“We’ve got to stop them from producing instead of trying to deal with it after they’re already here,” she added.

Precious Paws’ SNYP clinic spayed or neutered 1,463 animals in 2016. That numbers includes both cats and dogs, according to Weldon.

“Cats account for approximately 85 percent of our surgeries and dogs just 15 percent. Of those, 62 percent were at our regular low cost and 38 percent were discounted (at a feral cat rate, $25 specials or others) or free,” she said.

Weldon said the SNYP clinic added another employee for the start of this year, a second vet tech, and is adding clinics to keep up with the demand for low-cost services.

Meanwhile, the rescue used its Oscar Fund to aid 26 animals last year.

“The Oscar Fund spent over $14,000 in 2016 helping animals who had no owners or whose owners could not afford to pay,” Weldon said. “Most of these were cats and the most common (issues) were eye removals, leg amputations and diseases.”

Weldon said that because most of the animals did not have owners, the rescue never gets any of that money back.

Readers may recall a story last year about a cat trapped in tire. Precious Paws aided in his rescue and he subsequently found a home with Weldon.

“Firestone was probably our most interesting rescue of 2016. We received a call on a Sunday afternoon of a cat stuck in a tire rim,” Weldon said. “The neighbors had tried everything to get him unstuck but he was stuck fast.”

The rescue paid for an emergency visit with Dr. Jennifer Andres at Happy Trails for the feral cat.

“The wonderful folks showed up with a cat in a milk crate with a really heavy tire around him,” Weldon said. “Dr. Andres extricated him from the tire … he wasn’t very grateful but he had nowhere to return to.”

“So I took him home, put him in a giant dog crate and worked with him every day to tame him,” she said. “He’s still a little wild around new people and he still hates the dogs, but he’s become the most loving cat you could hope for.”

“That’s the thing about animals — they forgive and love you with all their heart, in the purest of ways,” she added.

Precious Paws also came to the rescue of a kitty that was thrown out of a car and Ace the dog.

“Ace came to us from Butler County Humane Society, who surrendered him to us with the understanding that we would fund his eye surgery so he could have a normal life free from pain and irritation,” Weldon said. “His eyes don’t produce tears so he has chronic dry eyes.”



“Being in a shelter environment, the shelter had regular business hours so there was no way to get the drops in his eyes every three hours like he needed. That’s where a foster home comes in handy,” she said.

Weldon said Ace’s surgery was scheduled and is estimated to cost $4,100.

In the meantime, he is being fostered through Precious Paws and the Oscar Fund will be used to help pay for the operation. The rescue utilizes fosters to help find animals homes as it has no animal shelter.

Precious Paws adopted out 73 animals in 2016 which included 19 dogs and puppies and 54 cats and kitties.

Last year, Precious Paws undertook a $35,000 mortgage to pay for the SNYP building.

“This is significant because Precious Paws is run by all volunteers and we have no regular income other than our fundraisers. This has required us to plan more fundraising events and double up our efforts to raise more money so we can continue our programs without raising our costs,” Weldon said.

“The challenge in this area is that we have seen a lot of job reduction and economic downturn in this area, so people have less to give,” she added.

Weldon said that the demand for the rescue’s services, including its pet food bank, dog houses and low-cost spay neuter clinics, have gone up considerably.

She said the increased demand is evident in the number of people who are using Precious Paws’ pet food bank.

The year before, the rescue had 26 people on regular rotation and recently the number has jumped to 85.

“Our position is precarious because without community support, we have no way to pay our mortgage. Every time we do a fundraiser or event, your support is critical,” Weldon said.

Looking ahead to this year, the rescue is planning on adding more spay and neuter clinics, the continuation of its Senior for Seniors program and, of course, more fundraising.

The Seniors for Seniors program began with the placement of two cats at Sugar Valley Lodge. The program involves Precious Paws placing some of its older animals as live-in companions for residents of senior residential facilities.

Precious Paws provides any veterinary care they might need for the life of the animal and the facility provides food, litter and love, according to Weldon.

Weldon also said the rescue is looking into providing hospice fostering.

A place to call home

Tri-County Animal Rescue has a special needs pup, a sweetie and a couple of beagle boys who could use a forever home.

A special home needed



Have you ever been so hungry that you ate paper towels? This little girl has. When Cinder came to Tri-County Animal Rescue in Shippenville, she was so malnourished that her ribs, hip bones and the dome of her skull protruded from underneath her coat.

Thanks to good medical attention and an “urgent care” diet, Cinder is a now a busy, bouncy, beautiful 5-6-month-old Lab pup.

In her foster home, Cinder has been friendly and playful with six other dogs and a cat. At a recent outing to a local park, Cinder was the unofficial greeter and love machine, wagging her tail non-stop and sharing dozens of Lab kisses.

The shelter said she rides well in the car, walks well on a leash and loves to run, jump and play with sticks.

However, the rescue cautioned that if not supervised, Cinder can be an enthusiastic counter surfer, but she has not acted out any resource-guarding behaviors and responds well to correction.

Cinder is making good progress with her potty training. She does have some mild separation anxiety, the rescue said.

Because of her early ordeal of being both abandoned and nearly starved to death, Cinder is a Special Needs pup who will do best in a home with a Lab or dog experienced person or family, where she is rarely left alone and where there are no small children.

So sweet



If ice cream sundaes were made with dogs, Karma would be the cherry on top, according to Tri-County.

Karma is a sweet, 4-year-old, 10-12 pound Chihuahua cross who will hop up and land gently in your lap before you even finish sitting down.

Her affection turns snuggling into an art form.

“Karma is a quiet little girl who loves company and shivers with delight when you take the time to sit with her in her kennel,” the shelter said.

“Being with ‘you’ absolutely makes her day! If you’re looking for a little something with 0 calories to make your life a whole lot sweeter, a spoonful of Karma is better than all the NutraSweet you can find on your grocery store shelf,” the shelter said.

Easy to love



Everything about Krypto is easy, the shelter said.

“He’s easy to be with because he doesn’t bark or rush at you when you come by to visit. He’s easy to walk because he doesn’t pull or tug on the leash, he just strolls along leisurely. He’s easy to love because he just sits in front of you, staring into your eyes and grunting sweet nothings as he gently pokes his head underneath your arm, hoping for just one more petting,” it added.

Krypto is a 9-years-young, male beagle who is probably in the 30 pound range. Krypto was surrendered, along with two other beagle boys, when their owner went to jail. When the shelter recently held an event at the local Tractor Supply store, Krypto made a big impression because he was so friendly with the public and with all the other dogs, the shelter added.

No downsides



Vern has absolutely no downsides. Like the rest of the Beagle boys that were recently surrendered to us, Vern is one of the ‘good fellas’,” the shelter said.

Vern rides well in the car and is friendly with the lobby cats at the shelter.

The shelter said that during his recent wellness exam, Vern thought being at the animal hospital was his best day ever because there were so many people there who wanted to love on him.

Vern is like the icing on the cake or the gravy on your mashed potatoes – he reminds us about just how good things can get; he reminds us that there’s nothing better than a homespun dog who absolutely adores you, the shelter said.

“If you could use that kind of goodness in your life, Vern is your man. Plain and simple,” the shelter added.

To meet Cinder, Karma, Krypto or Vern, contact Tri-County Animal Rescue Center on Facebook, call (814) 918-2032 or email contactus@Tricounty-arc.org.

Tri-County is located at 9562 Route 322, Shippenville.

Tri-County also has a Hoppy Easter event planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at Tractor Supply in Clarion. The event will feature pictures with the Easter bunny, baked goods, raffles and more.

All About Animals is a weekly blog that appears on Venangoextra.com and Clarionextra.com. Interested persons or groups can submit information to bigdogs.thederrick@gmail.com. Readers may also submit photos or stories of their animals to bigdogs.thederrick@gmail.com. More information about the blog is available by contacting Anna Applegate at 814-677-8364.