New Organization Will Be One of the Largest Shelters in PA

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The boards of directors of the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center (ARL) and the Western PA Humane Society (WPHS) approved a merger of the two animal welfare organizations, effective January 1, 2017. Each board met and voted individually at a meeting on September 29, 2016. The merger will result in a new organization that will be one of the largest open-door shelters in Pennsylvania.

“Over the years, the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center and the Western PA Humane Society have become more alike with regard to philosophies on animal welfare and the programs and services we offer,” says Joseph Vater, President of the Board of Directors, Animal Rescue League. “A merged organization will provide greater efficiency in animal care processes, staff training and bringing best practices to one organization. We will be able to save more animals and serve more animals.”

Dan Rossi, currently the Executive Director of the ARL, will be the CEO of the merged organization, and Hala Nuemah, currently the Managing Director of the Humane Society, will serve as Chief Administrative Officer of the new organization. David Grubman, currently President of the Board of Directors of the Western PA Humane Society, will be President of the new Board of Directors.

“Our two organizations have a long history of collaboration,” Grubman says. “Now, by building on the strengths of each group, we will create a singular, more powerful voice that will enhance our outreach to the western PA region. It will be beneficial to adoptions, animal care, animal control and fundraising.”

With the merger, the locations of each organization will remain open. Business continues as usual at every location.

WPHS is located on the North Side, and ARL expects to move by year end from its current location to its new facility, both in the East End. ARL’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Verona also will remain open. No programs will be eliminated as a result of the merger, and staff reductions are not anticipated.

Work will begin immediately on the integration of the two organizations. “We have a lot of details to work out,” says Rossi, “but we will be launching this new organization with a talented, compassionate staff and a phenomenal group of volunteers. We’re excited about the expanded capacity and potential and the broad array of programs and services that will be under one organizational umbrella.”

 

About the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center (www.animalrescue.org):
The Animal Rescue League’s mission is to provide temporary shelter, food, medical attention, and comfort to all abandoned, neglected, and injured animals brought to us by the community; to restore lost animals to their owners or seek new homes for them, and to educate the public about the humane care of animals with a goal of reducing overpopulation.
About the Western PA Humane Society (www.wpahumane.com):
The mission of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is to provide the most comprehensive, compassionate and humane services to enhance the lives of companion animals for families and the community; to educate and to prevent the cruelty of all animals in the region we serve.

 

Questions?

Both the Animal Rescue League and the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society recognize that, after our long histories as separate institutions, our merger will raise many questions among our supportive community of donors and volunteers. Please read the following FAQ for more details.

 

Q: Will jobs be lost?
A: Due to open positions at each organization and the opening of the expanded facility in the East End, we do not anticipate layoffs. We will evaluate the combined organizations as we move forward and determine if any changes should be made within the organizational structure.

It should be noted that the organizations are not reducing programs or animal capacity; together we become one larger organization. This is a time of growth for a newly created organization.

 

Q: Will the locations change?
A: Currently, the Humane Society operates a facility on the North Side of Pittsburgh (adoptions, behavior/learning center, and a low cost clinic).

The Animal Rescue League is completing a new 35,200 sq. ft. facility in the East End area of Pittsburgh. Services will include adoptions, a low cost clinic, behavior and training. The Animal Rescue League also operates a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Pet Cemetery in Verona, PA.

All of these facilities will remain in operation. We will be evaluating the specific programs at the various locations as we move forward.

 

Q: Will staff be transferred?
A: Starting January 1, both facilities will be ‘our’ facilities, not ‘ours’ or ‘theirs.’ It is possible that staff will be asked to work from a different location, but we will not know that until the integration plan has been developed.

 

Q: What about salary and benefits?
A: Salaries will not be affected by the merger. The benefits packages will be analyzed to ensure that all staff receive equitable benefits.

 

Q: Will this mean staff will be working more or doing things outside their job description?
A: In the short term, jobs are not changing, either in what staff will be asked to do or how they will be asked to do it. Through the integration process, we will determine how to best use the talents of our staff. Longer term, there may be adjustments to staff responsibilities. Staff will have input into the integration process.

 

Q: How will standard operating procedures be decided?
A: Work teams will be formed with representatives from both legacy organizations. The teams will evaluate the best practices for the new organization’s procedures.

 

Q: Why are you merging into one organization?
A: The ARL and WPHS have worked together since the early part of the 20th century. Throughout the decades the two organizations have collaborated to benefit the animals in Western PA and beyond. Over the years, we have become more alike with regard to philosophies on animal welfare and the programs and services we offer. Both organizations have adopted the rising trends in animal welfare: managed intake, pet care assistance for pet owners in need, TNR, and being more holistic community organizations.

As we continued to move forward in our evolution, it became very apparent that we could work together much more closely and effectively to create one, dynamic, industry-leading animal welfare organization in Pennsylvania.

 

Q: Who is going to be the head of the new organization?
A: Dan Rossi will be the Chief Executive Officer, Hala Nuemah will be the Chief Administrative Officer, and David Grubman will be President of the Board. He is currently the WPHS board chair.

 

Q: Why your two organizations?
A: Our two organizations actually have much more in common than not, and we have a history of collaboration. We each bring different and complementary strengths to the new organization. These individuals have the skill and experience to lead us into the future.

 

Q: What will be the name of the new organization?
A: The merged organization will have a new name and brand that will represent its expanded capacity and potential, and the broad array of programs and services under one organizational umbrella. We are in the process of developing the new name and will announce it at a later date.

 

Q: Will there be a new Mission for the organization?
A: New mission and vision statements will be developed in the near future, and will reflect the strong foundation and the exciting future of this combined organization.

 

Q: What are the benefits?
A: Benefits for animals:
• One organizational population means efficiencies in animal care processes, staff training, and bringing best practices to one organization.
• Expanded behavior and training offerings for animals while in the shelter and foster care as well as for pet owners and their owned animals.
• With combined staff we will have one message for adoptions, outreach, etc. This will help reduce the time in shelter for most animals, enabling the new organization to help even more animals than we do separately.
• Programs unique to each organization: Animal Care/Control, Humane Law Enforcement, Wildlife Rehabilitation, Training Programs will benefit from combined resources.
• Similar programs in each organization can be augmented: Adoptions, Humane Education, Community Outreach, and Spay-Neuter/Medical will benefit from combined resources and staffing.

Benefits for the community:
• Humane Education programs will benefit from additional staffing, multiple locations and a broader reach.
• Better combined resources for spay/neuter and medical care, will serve more people and their companion pets more efficiently and effectively.
• Training classes expanded to multiple locations, providing more opportunities for area residents and their pets.
• A singular, more powerful voice will enhance our outreach to the Western PA region, benefitting adoptions, animal care, animal control and fundraising.

Benefits for the bottom line:
• Administrative costs will be reduced due to the efficiencies of one organization
• Increased cost-savings will be realized as purchasing will be concentrated
• Donors will no longer be forced to choose between two organizations with parallel missions but rather can support one industry-leading local organization

 

Q: How will this affect the services we provide?
A: We believe our services will be strengthened. We will bring best practices to all of our services. We will be more efficient in our operations and, as a result, able to care for more animals.

 

Q: Isn’t ‘efficiency’ a code word for staff reductions?
A: No, it’s not. We will gain efficiencies in multiple ways, including expanded expertise and increased buying power. We believe we will be the largest open door shelter in the western half of the state, and second only to Philadelphia in the entire state.

 

Q: Why are we doing this now?
A: As you know, both the Western PA Humane Society and the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center have collaborated on a variety of programs, animal support issues and advocacy initiatives over the years. The Executive Committees of our boards thought that there might be advantages to merging both organizations to create one, dynamic animal welfare entity for our region. When it was put to a vote with both full boards, it passed.

 

Q: What’s the timeline?
A: The merger is effective January 1, 2017. However, we are hoping to complete it as expeditiously, efficiently and effectively as possible, while maintaining the industry-leading, life-saving care and comfort both organizations have long-provided for animals.