Montrose shelter to change hands

Representatives from the Pennsylvania SPCA and the newly formed True Friend’s Animal Welfare Center gather to commemorate the transfer in ownership of the Montrose shelter, from left: Anne Dean, True Friends board member, Susan Cosby, CEO of the Pennsylvania SPCA, Dory Browning, President of the Board of Directors for True Friends, Julia Fagan, True Friends board member, and Peter Quigg, President of the Community Foundation of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties. PHOTO COURTESY OF LINDSEY BONNICE, UNFORGETTABLE IMPRESSIONS

BY STACI WILSON

Just over two years ago, the Pennsylvania SPCA planned to close its Montrose Adoption Center.

A group, dedicated to keeping the county’s only animal shelter open, convinced the PSPCA to give the community one more shot, and the shelter stayed in business.

In those two years, PSPCA has worked to stabilize operations and increase animal adoptions.

Pennsylvania SPCA CEO Susan Cosby recently announced that control of the Montrose shelter will be officially transferred to a team of dedicated, local residents on June 22.

The shelter will operate under the name True Friends Animal Welfare Center, a not-for-profit organization.

“The community has been tremendously supportive of the shelter, and we are grateful for that,” said Cosby.  “In order to optimize the operations, we believe now is a good time to turn over the shelter to a group that is locally based and better understands the needs of the community and could continue the positive trends. After several months of discussions, we believe that True Friends has the compassion, commitment and business expertise needed to make this transition successful.”

Dory Browning, who became involved with the organization as a volunteer dog walker, will take the helm as the shelter director.

“I’m thrilled about it,” Browning said. “It’s what I’ve wanted to do my entire life.”

She is joined by three others on the board who will oversee day-to-day operations at the shelter: Annie Dean, Julia Fagan and Janice Lobdell.

Pennsylvania SPCA, which owns the facility, to lease the building and grounds to the new organization for one dollar. It will also provide support and guidance to the newly formed management group to ensure a smooth transition.

Browning said, “PSPCA has been a huge help to us. They really want to see us succeed.”

“It’s so important we have a shelter in this area. There’s no where else to go to. It’s a tough situation,” Browning said.

The adoption facility will continue as a no-kill shelter, Browning said. She also said the board hoped to implement a strong spay/neuter program.

True Friends’ plans include making the facility more of a community center, with outreach and educational programs offered, Browning said.

She said she is also looking to create a friendlier, homey atmosphere at the facility and hopes to include artwork from area school children. “It’s such a beautiful facility, we want to take advantage of that,” she said.

True Friends is also looking for more volunteers to join the dedicated team already in place at the shelter.

Browning also said the organization is in need of more foster families, especially for the older dogs at the shelter.

“I hate to think of an older dogs living out the remainder of its days in a shelter,” Browning said.

Browning acknowledged, “We have a long road ahead of us.”

Along that road are financial concerns.

Financing will come to True Friends solely through community donations. “Any donations to our shelter will stay local,” Browning said.

She also noted the organization’s need for people to donate food, pet supplies, treats, leashes, etc.

But the board also plans to hold fundraisers that will help increase community involvement with the shelter.

Browning said plans for a fundraising challenge are in the works with Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. The natural gas drilling company has pledged to match community donations – dollar for dollar – up to $10,000.

True Friends has also partnered with The Community Foundation of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties to help manage its finances. Those wishing to support this initiative can send their tax-deductible donations directly to The Community Foundation at 270 Lake Avenue in Montrose, PA 18801.

Donations will be used to support the immediate daily operating expenses including food, vaccinations, and shelter for the animals, and to establish a permanent endowment fund which will provide long-term annual support.

For more information about this endowment, please contact The Community Foundation at 570-278-3800 or at Foundation@epix.net

In addition to the Community Foundation, the board also has a team of professional business, legal and financial advisors in place.

“We’re really excited about it. It’s a lot of work but we’re up for the challenge,” Browning said, “We’re really hoping to make (the shelter) an asset to the community.”