Sun. May 28th, 2023

Making your way through many towns throughout the United States, it is a large possibility that many of you do not pass through without seeing men, women, couples, moms and dads walking their dogs or have visited friends’ apartments who own cats. Ever wonder where these people went to purchase these animals? Some probably will say the animal shelter, but a lot of people visit breeders when looking for a dog or cat. Without realizing it, many people overlook the fact that there are plenty of cats and dogs that are waiting for homes at the local SPCA.

SPCA is the acronym for the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals. The SPCA is a place where people bring their animals for a variety of reasons. A large reason many people are against adopting dogs from shelters like SPCA is because they feel these animals are not trainable. Why else would someone drop their cat or dog off at the shelter?

When speaking with Chuck, the head of the SPCA in West Chester, he mentioned that the main reason they have dogs and cats in their shelter is because they are strays. Some of the top reasons people bring in their animals is due to allergies, housing, mortgage and foreclosure, and because of the lack of neutering and spaying for cats and dogs. Within the last year or so, Chuck has noticed with the amount of people losing their homes, people cannot afford to have an animal and are forced to give it up. With housing, many places do not allow animals living there.

He admitted himself that the reason he did not have an animal was because of housing rules where he previously lived. He has recently moved to a new home and has adopted a dog and cat.

The SPCA is an open accessed shelter, which means that it will not turn away any person who brings in an animal. Some shelters may not be open accessed due to different reasons. For example, they may not believe in euthanasia or may not have a license for euthanasia, causing them to run out of room because no one is adopting.

Euthanasia is painlessly killing a person or animal who is suffering from an incurable disease. Also, another reason may be that if a shelter does not have a contract with a township, it will not take an animal.

Many people have heard there is a specific time period that shelters keep animals before putting them down. Chuck, the head of the SPCA in West Chester located on Phoenixville Pike, stated that they usually have animals staying in the shelter from anywhere to a few months to a year before getting adopted.

They do different testing in order to see if the dog or cat is friendly. For example, they do temperamental testing in order to make sure the dog or cat is not too aggressive for adopting as well as medical testing to make sure they are medically well for adopting. As a Pennsylvania law, shelters are required to hold animals at the shelter for two days in order to allow time in a case where the owner comes to the shelter to claim their pet. At the Phoenixville shelter, they hold the animals for three days.

Many people believe that shelters only have mix breed dogs or cats at the shelters. In contrary to this fact, there are just as many pure breeds as mixes at shelters. Chuck also mentioned that there are many puppy mills and backyard breeders out there that are selling animals but the cruelty behind this is outrageous.

In both, the animals are kept in small cages and areas in backyards or basements to be looked at and are not taken care of properly. West Chester SPCA found 337 dogs in a puppy mill in Oxford and had found out due to cruelty complaints. This was taken care of and an end was put to this cruelty.

Rusty is a three-year-old basset hound and Labrador mix that was adopted about a year and a half ago by Sam and Carol Cost and their kids. Rusty was a rambunctious dog with plenty of energy that was left at the animal shelter in the Harrisburg area. With experience in owning animals, Carol, Sam and Sam’s son and daughter put time into training and walking the dog.

With classes once a week and thirty minute walks one a day, Rusty was easily trained within a few months. As part of his personality, Rusty is still a crazy dog who gets excited when someone new comes to the door or when mom and dad come home, but it is much easier to walk through the door and say “Rusty down!” then when he first came home.

My family dog was bought at a breeder 12 years ago. It cost four hundred dollars and a trip to Elmira, New York. We love our dog so incredibly much, but the price of Rigby in comparison to going to a shelter is a large difference.

To purchase a dog today from a breeder can cost anywhere from $600 – $1,000. This does not include the cost of the veterinarian bill that follows.

In order to adopt a dog at the SPCA in West Chester, it costs you $100 and then anywhere from six to eight dollars for their licenses.

For cats it is seventy five dollars and anywhere from four to six dollar for their licenses.

Even in comparison to prices to buying an animal 12 years ago, it is that much cheaper. Not only does it save you money, but you will be saving a life.

The SPCA allows people to look into animal shelters when buying a dog or cat.

“There are so many animals out there that need love, care and homes,” Chuck said. “These animals are great animals and are waiting here to get a second or third chance to have a good life. People aren’t spaying or neutering their animals. If there wasn’t such a market in breeding, puppy mills, and backyard breeding, it would help to eliminate the over population of animals and ending up in shelters.

Suzanne Brady is a West Chester student. She can be reached at

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