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North Hills Monthly

Animals, Community to Benefit from ARL/WPHS Merger

Dec 01, 2016 07:41AM ● By Vanessa Orr

On January 1, 2017, the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center (ARL) and the Western PA Humane Society (WPHS) will officially merge to become one entity, with the goal of rescuing even more animals and finding them forever homes. 

“We’ve flirted with the idea of merging the two organizations in the past, but the timing just wasn’t right,” said ARL Executive Director Dan Rossi, who will become CEO of the merged organization. “There are a lot of reasons why mergers don’t go through, but this time, the stars aligned perfectly.”

There are many benefits to the merger, according to Hala Nuemah, who is currently the managing director of WPHS, and will serve as chief administrative officer of the new organization. “The merger will increase efficiencies, cut costs and allow us to streamline processes,” she said. “For example, we will be able to pay fewer dues as one organization, and share the costs of infrastructure; we will also have more purchasing power. 

“By doing this, we will be able to do more for the animals in our care, and in our region, than we were able to do before with limited space, staffing and resources,” she added.

A new name for the organization is expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2017, but post-merger plans are already moving forward. The Animal Rescue League will be moving into its new East End facility in early 2017, and there are plans underway to expand behavioral classes and low-cost clinic options. 

“We are definitely looking at adding new services, though we’re not sure what that looks like yet,” said Rossi. “With more veterinarians working together, we do expect to increase efficiencies in our spay and neuter program, which is important for the local community.”

In addition to providing services out of its new facility, the ARL will continue to operate its wildlife center in Verona, and the WPHS will continue to provide services from its location on the North Side. 

“The wildlife center, which is unique to ARL, enables us to rehabilitate injured animals so that they can be released back into the wild,” said Rossi, adding that the center treats approximately 4,000 animals a year. “But now we’ll also have access to humane investigations which is one of the unique services that the WPHS provides; together we’ll be delivering a very holistic service program that meets the needs of all of the animals in the community.”

Once the merger is completed, the new animal rescue organization will have approximately 110-120 employees, and about 500 volunteers. When the new East End facility opens, even more volunteers will be needed for duties including dog walking, cat cuddling, fundraising, event planning and more. 

And of course, donations are always needed. 

“We hope that people will still realize how important it is for the shelter to receive their help,” said Rossi. “If they used to send the ARL $25, and the Humane Society $25, we’re hoping that they’ll still send us that $50 or even more, which we’ll be able to use even more efficiently than before.” 

“Our goal is to rescue more animals and get them into their forever homes,” added Nuemah. “By joining forces, and with the community rallying around us, we will be able to impact even more animals in our area.”

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