Founded in 1929, the Brandywine Valley SPCA serves as a longstanding ally to animals across the country and as a leader in community partnerships and education on their behalf. The Brandywine Valley SPCA is the first open admission animal shelter to achieve no-kill status in the state of Pennsylvania and has found homes for well over 8,000 cats and dogs in 2016 alone. Its newly relocated Animal Health Center and Muhly Spay/Neuter Clinic in Malvern, PA will mark its first full year of operation in December 2016, making basic animal wellness services vastly more accessible and affordable to the local community.
For its pioneering efforts in community service, exemplary leadership, and tremendous positive impact on the community as a whole, The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce has selected the Brandywine Valley SPCA as recipient of the 2016 Community Service Award.
“It is truly an honor for us to recognize an organization so devoted to uplifting our community and transforming the way we care for our animals,” said Mark Yoder, GWCC president. “The scope of their services and the innovation behind their programs are nothing short of staggering. We commend them on the extraordinary impact they’ve had on the West Chester, Chester County and Brandywine Valley communities.”
Under the spearheading leadership of executive director Adam Lamb, the Brandywine Valley SPCA has initiated many powerful new programs and revamped former practices. Lamb’s experience in the field began early with a high school job as a veterinary technician before roles in progressive non-profit work and ultimately work as Director of Operations at an SPCA in Florida. In September of 2014 he took on his current role in West Chester and has relentlessly improved upon the Brandywine Valley SPCA’s solid foundation. Lamb chose Micaela Malloy, who has extensive experience in shelter work and animal protective services in Chester County as Director of Operations. Malloy sees Lamb’s set of prior experiences, particularly his own work in operations, as major assets to the organization. She explains, “We have leadership who understands what’s going on at the ground level.”
Perhaps most transformative for the Brandywine Valley SPCA has been the recent implementation of Safety Net, a set of programs aimed at providing alternatives to pet relinquishment. In the past, unwanted pets were dropped off at the Brandywine Valley SPCA, “no questions asked,” Lamb says. Now, Animal Admissions, which moved to Malvern in 2015, provides a set of intake intervention services, offering each owner and animal with individualized options for low cost veterinary care, behavior counseling and food assistance. Of Safety Net Lamb says, “Our approach with intake has changed everything. Before, no one was given an opportunity to be part of the solution. Our services were hidden. Now we’re very much a part of the community.”
Other new and thriving community-oriented initiatives of the Brandywine Valley SPCA include the Community Cat Program and Animal Protective Services. The Community Cat Program, funded by generous grants from the Petco Foundation, takes aim at reducing populations of free-roaming cats while allowing them to live out their lives where they’re comfortable. These feline populations have traditionally been overlooked and at great risk. Lamb says, “they were almost seen as disposable pets,” and they were frequently euthanized. Now, the Brandywine Valley SPCA traps, spays, neuters, tags and re-releases them into supported and educated communities who collaboratively feed and watch over them.
Similarly, the Brandywine Valley SPCA’s immense strides in Animal Protective Services has been augmented by community participation. The Brandywine Valley SPCA has taken over Animal Protective Services in the state of Delaware as well as most townships in Chester County and twenty in Delaware County. Community education has led to fundamental changes in the process, turning what was once a primarily enforcement and citations-based program into a responsibility the entire community shares with 24 hour access for reports and rescues.
The Brandywine Valley SPCA relies heavily on its incredible volunteer and foster home base within the community. Over 250 volunteers provide the animals with regular attention and affection and lend invaluable help during fundraising events. The well-oiled Foster Program provides essential and immediate relief to the shelter’s intake level by offering safe and nurturing homes to the neediest, most vulnerable animals.
Fundraising and adoption events allow the Brandywine Valley SPCA to highlight budgetary needs and showcase their adoptable animals. Annually, the two signature events are the family-friendly Walk for Paws race in April and the Forget Me Not black tie gala in June. The Petco Foundation will sponsor two mega adoption events in 2017, following the success of December’s Mega Adoption event in Philadelphia, which saw over 800 animals adopted in a single weekend.
As for the future, Adam Lamb has his sights set on the next generation. The SPCA’s strategic plan involves growth of its already burgeoning youth education program, which currently includes children’s birthday parties and Critter Camp for 8 – 12 year olds in the summer. Lamb would also like to find ways for the SPCA to partner with the school system in order to get young members of the community involved in the great responsibility of animal welfare. A father himself, Lamb sees great value in educating children about basic ownership of pets as well as skills for interacting with animals in their community.
Being recognized for their innovation and efforts means a great deal to Lamb and the Brandywine Valley SPCA staff. He says, “We are honored and thrilled to receive this year’s Community Service Award.”
The Brandywine Valley SPCA’s stated mission is “to put the ‘human’ back in humane animal treatment and advocate on their behalf.” Through its steadfast commitment to principled programs and accessible partnerships, this mission has become a clear reality. As an innovative leader and educator, a tireless champion of ethical treatment, and a model of civilian responsibility, the Brandywine Valley SPCA stands as a paradigm of community service in the greater West Chester area.
Story Written by: Leigh Green