How to Be a Better Philadelphian: Rescue an Animal

Save Whiskers, Adopt a pet, or donate to PAWS Philadelphia.

Take Your Pet to Visit Someone
Pals for Life’s pet visitation program brings unconditional love, warm (and fuzzy) happiness, and enthusiastic companionship to those who need it most — residents of area nursing homes, rehab centers and mental health facilities — and sometimes even to schools. If you’ve got a pup, cat, bunny or guinea pig, and one hour to spare Monday through Friday at least once every six months, sign up to share the love. 610-687-1101,

The Philadelphia Zoo
Besides being a leader in the usual activities (you know, housing animals), America’s first zoo is particularly concerned with conservation programs, recreational opportunities, and educating the public.

DO: Anything from meeting and greeting visitors as a member of the hospitality team to being a docent, giving guided tours and staffing the Just Ask carts located throughout the Zoo.

GIVE: Any contribution helps — $70 covers an animal vaccine; $12,000 buys a serum chemistry analyzer. 215-243-1100,

PAWS Philadelphia
This portion of the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Association is out to save homeless and neglected animals — and is completely donor-funded.

DO: If you don’t want to adopt, volunteer to foster an animal until someone else does.

GIVE: Allocate funds specifically for the Lucky Fund, which goes straight to sick and injured animals that need medical treatment upon arriving at PAWS shelters. 111 West Hunting Park Avenue, 267-385-3800,

Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
PSPCA rescues animals from homelessness and abuse, providing them with care, treatment and, eventually, a loving home.

DO: Adopt! Stop by the headquarters, or the PetSmart at 11000 Roosevelt Boulevard. (The cost is $75.)

GIVE: A $25 donation helps low-income pet owners with clinical fees. $150-$200 pays for all of an animal’s care while it awaits a new home. 215-426-6300,

Dogs Deserve Better
This organization is dedicated to getting dogs off chains (where they’re often neglected, attract parasites, and eventually become aggressive and dangerous) and into loving homes.

DO: Become an area rep to get out the word.

GIVE: Make it a no-brainer by signing up to contribute $10-$100 per month through PayPal. 814-941-7447,

Saved Whiskers Rescue Organization
Voorhees veterinary technician Pamela Ott started Saved when she rescued a cat named Whiskers from an abusive owner. Today, it relies on donations to rescue abandoned and abused cats.

DO: Sponsor a feral cat or rescued kitten, or be a kitty foster parent.

GIVE: Just $5 a month defrays vet costs for cats in foster care. Or donate, not just funds, but items on the Saved website’s wish list — cat food, litter, toys, etc. 856-719-0512,

Special Equestrians Therapeutic Riding Program, Inc.
For 25 years, this nonprofit has been providing children and adults who have physical and mental disabilities with therapeutic riding and hippotherapy, to help fine-tune motor skills and boost self-confidence and discipline.

DO: Sign up to lead horses during sessions, help with horse and barn maintenance, or join the marketing and events team.

GIVE: Got a spare horse? Donate it. If not, you can sponsor a specific horse or child, to make sure therapy is available even to those who can’t afford it. 215-918-1001,

Spay & Save, Inc.
It’s all about dogs and cats for this organization, which is out to make sure all owners can afford to spay, neuter and care for their pets. It also matches animals with those looking to adopt.

DO: Volunteer to work adoption days, answer phones or transport animals.

GIVE: Not just funds, but Wall Street Journals, for lining cages in the shelter — drop them off at PETCO in Exton or King of Prussia. 610-279-9714,

Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines
This “retirement farm” takes in elderly horses whose owners can no longer afford to keep them, as well as abused and injured horses. Minimum admittance age is 20 years, and the waiting list is 350 horses long.

DO: Visitors are welcome (and encouraged to bring carrots and quartered apples); the website has photos and life stories of the residents. Or join the Ryerss Auxiliary, to help plan and run fund-raising events, from horse shows to paper chases.

GIVE: Room, board and medical care for a horse for a year can easily top $8,000; $30 a month sponsors a resident horse; memorialize a stall in honor of a loved one for $3,000; buy 10 feet of replacement fence for $50. 610-469-0533,

Animal Coalition of Delaware County, Inc.
This nonprofit organization dedicated to finding new homes for homless animals doesn’t exactly have a headquarters—their network is all-volunteer and all-foster, meaning animals under their care areplaced within a home until a permanent one is found for their adoption. With virtually no overhead, donations go towards veterinary care.

DO: Be a foster owner to an animal as it awaits adoption; volunteer to staff the adoption center at the Springfield PetSmart.

GIVE: Not just funds, but supplies—cat food currently and frequently tops the list. 610-876-1479,