PAWSibilities needs your help! Please read and share this story with everyone you can. We need your help to stay open!!!

[Disclaimer: The following is written by Brad Derstine and I have been a PAWS volunteer since 2010. I attended both township meetings, I host the PAWS website, and provide computer support for PAWS, and wanted to share the facts of the situation so everyone can understand what’s going on. I hope this story inspires you to get involved and help a great group with a great cause doing great work!]

Background

PAWSibilities Animal Rescue (our about page) operates out of the barn along Mainland Rd in Harleysville, PA, about 1 mile off the Lansdale exit of the PA Turnpike’s northeast extension. The 2.2 acre property has 2 main buildings and a number of parking spaces for customers and visitors. Currently, the main building is used by Sher Photography as a photo studio and office and the second building is a barn built in the 1700’s. The barn and the property has served a number of uses over the years as a blacksmith, to a coffin maker and funeral home, and as a barn for housing and storing livestock and is a part of the rich culture of the Montgomery County, PA area. The barn is a recognizable landmark when exiting off the turnpike that shows exactly how far back this area has agricultural roots. Over the years, the area has changed significantly with many new housing developments and commercial spaces, but the barn has served the county and township residents for over 200+ years and definitely shows its age. The main building on the property used by the photo studio was built in the 1770’s.  When the property was bought in 1995 by Sher Carroll, Sher was required to apply for a zone variance to allow for the commercial use by Sher Photography because of the residential zoning. She applied and was approved for the variance.  Sher made the required business improvements, to the house and the barn was used by her then 8 year old daughter Samantha to raise sheep and goats and participate in Montgomery County 4H program. Sam started PAWS in 2009. It was then used to house and support local cats, rabbits, ducks, and chickens who needed help or new homes, but was very much still a barn from the 1700’s, spider webs and all. But the cats and other animals didn’t mind so we did the best we could with what we had.

During 2011 and finishing in 2012, the part of Sumneytown Pike/Route 63 in front of PAWSibilities was moved to improve the intersections at Wambold Road and at Old Forty Foot Road. The old part of Sumneytown in front of our building is now identified as part of Mainland Road. Since they modified and moved the road, the end of Mainland now curves sharply to the left in order to intersect with Sumneytown before the Old Forty Foot Road intersection. During rush hour in the mornings, drivers use Mainland Road to cut around the backup that builds on Sumneytown Pike which brings speeders and distracted drivers through Mainland Rd. During the evening, drivers don’t notice the change in direction at the end of Mainland Rd, so if they are traveling any speed over 35 mph, they slam on the brakes and either skid to a stop or slam into the curb damaging their car. There are a lot of skid marks and we constantly hear screeching brakes and multiple accidents from plenty of distracted, speeding drivers.

During the summer of 2013, we were concerned for the safety of the people and the feral cats and ducks who cross the street, so Sher placed some cones and cat crossing signs near the road. When that did not seem to help, she moved a few cones into the middle of the road, however cars and trucks were still speeding and crashing. Eventually, someone called Towamencin Township who needed to come out and inspect. They told us to remove the cones from the road which we did.  They noticed our dumpster was in the wrong location (who knew?) and that cat adoption signs were posted without permits.

The Citation

Because the complaint was forwarded to the township, the township is required to come out.  The complaint and citation happened in June 2013, and the township sent out Bill Webb who was recently hired in May 2013 by Towamencin to serve as zoning officer. Bill determined the residential zoning with usage variance applied to only Sher Photography, not a business called PAWSibilities Rescue. Sher discussed the agricultural zoning of the property and the usage of the shelter being agricultural was not a violation of the zoning in her understanding. Mr. Webb disagreed and cited PAWS for operating without a permit in the township on a residential property.

The rescue has always operated with the expectation that the barn and the animals was considered agricultural and would be used only for the purpose of storing livestock which included the cats and other small farm animals.  If the barn was required to be compliant with residential or commercial building requirements, then that meant significant modifications to the barn that are unfeasible and unrealistic for a barn housing animals.  But that never stopped PAWS from investing in the safety of shelter volunteers and cats by ensuring the structural integrity of the barn and adding smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, exit signs and egress.

Neither PAWS or Sher Carroll realized a permit was required for businesses to operate in a township. Towamencin has no business guidelines book, as do some other municipalities.

PAWS hired a zoning lawyer and applied for a zoning variance or exception to have the township accept the shelter under the PA Commonwealth Right to Farm Act. Township officials did not seem interested in closing the shelter and seemed agreeable to work with us toward a resolution so the good work of PAWS in the community could continue.

The First Zoning Hearing

The first hearing was schedule for Oct 6, 2013. Taken from the Towamencin Township website…

The Zoning Hearing Board is a three member volunteer board appointed by the Board of Supervisors of the Township and they have one alternate. The Zoning Hearing Board, as provided by the Municipalities Planning Code of Pennsylvania, are empowered with exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide the following:

5. applications for variances;

6. applications for special exceptions;

A hearing was scheduled so PAWS could plead our case for the variance or exception and Sher and Sam were given a chance to testify about the operations of PAWS and the impact we had on the community and surrounding areas. They shared the entire background of the property, the changes made since the initial 1995 purchase by Sher, and how the barn was receiving minimal upkeep, until Sam started the animal adoption center in 2009. They explained how the barn is used only for storing and caring for livestock (sheep, goats, a horse, chicken and ducks) and included cats in that description based on the agricultural laws of Pennsylvania. And in 2010 when it registered for 501c3 non-profit status, the rescue started receiving money in donations that it was able to use towards improving the barn, for the housing and caring of the cats and livestock, and investing in the safety of the volunteers and groups who help keep it clean and running. They also explained the services they provided to the community including re-homing cats from homeowners who lost their houses, temporarily foster of cats for service members going overseas and the homeless, and offering community service and volunteer opportunities to groups and special needs programs for people with disabilities.  They have the support of the Christ Covenant Church which owns the property right next to PAWS, the large working farm to the rear, Stewarts Bird Farm, and many other animal rescue groups in the area including Philly ACCT and the PSPCA.

However the good work of the group does not outweigh the need to be legal and compliant within the Towamencin Township and Montgomery County so Sher and Sam applied to the township zoning board for that exception. During the hearing, there was some confusion about what requirements PAWS was required to meet. No one is living in the barn so it shouldn’t be considered residential, and we were not running a retail commercial business , so meeting commercial space needs is unrealistic. At issue is a barn built in the 1700’s used for agricultural purposes, on a property zoned for residential/agricultural purposes. The main building (covered by the original commercial variance) meets all requirements for commercial retail space, and includes some additional features like a bathroom and laundry room area for PAWS volunteers since there is no running water in the barn.

The township zoning officer, the zoning board solicitor (a solicitor is a lawyer for the township zoning board), and the 3 board members and 1 alternate member were reviewing the information provided including the testimony of Sher and Sam, and decided to have a continuance in order to have a building inspector do an inspection and get some clarification. A second hearing date was set and the first meeting was closed.

The Second Zoning Hearing

Following the first hearing, the building inspector came to visit the barn however he was not clear on what he was inspecting for, since it is a barn and obviously did not meet any residential or commercial zoning requirements. He did find the fire extinguishers proactively installed by PAWS, and the heat and a/c units which are provided to control the temperature in the barn during extreme hot or cold days, but there are not a lot of other features to the building since it’s a barn. The report he filed with the township said that the building did not meet commercial ADA requirements which is true, however it did not mention the fire safety items in place, only the lack of “lighted exit signs and an automatic door for ADA accessibility”. Unable to question the inspector since he did not attend the meeting, PAWS lawyer objected to the report.  A request for another continuance to get more clarification and have another independent inspection was denied and the hearing moved forward.

Additional information was presented during the second hearing that clarified some of the zoning confusion about the property. Sher was able to share a document that shows the agriculture zoning as listed on the zoning map dated 1992. The property and Harleysville-Kulpsville area in general where the barn is located at has changed significantly over the years, and issues like this are exactly why exceptions and variances exist. PAWS just wants to be able to operate as we always have and is willing meet certain requirements, within reason, and all as stated by the PA Commonwealth for farm buildings. The safety of the cats and our volunteers has always been very important and we have invested financially in the care and feeding of animals as well as safety needs for our volunteers and groups we work with. We presented all of this information and filled the hearing room for a second meeting in a row with supporters and township residents who wanted to see us stay open.

The following materials were submitted during the second hearing to help clarify PAWS use of the property…

Link to 2010 Samsel LLC vs Uniform Construction Code Board of Appeals defining agricultural buildings.

Fact sheet about Pennsylvania Right-to-Farm Act

The outcome of the second hearing, Nov 7, 2013, was the zoning board denied the application as the two women on the board did not want to see the shelter in operation. Regardless of the 6 people at the head table, only three are able to vote. As far as we know it was 1 for the shelter, 2 against. A formal letter of rejection will be forthcoming. 

What Comes Next

We are organizing for our appeal to Montgomery County Court, however this will involve more legal fees (estimated $10k) and we need to come up with a backup plan to move the adoption center out of Towamencin, in order to keep operating. The leadership team of PAWS is reviewing our options and setting up plans to keep paws operating. For now our adoptions will be done out of the Harleysville Adoption Center on Hunsberger Road, across from the Wawa. This space has so far been kindly DONATED by Dr. Ross Ziegler, Orthodontist.  We also need more volunteers willing to work at the Harleysville Center to keep it open with more regular hours.

Please follow us on Facebook for more updates and information regarding the shelter and our appeal.

Please sign the petition to show Montgomery County your support for both the good work PAWS does and to help preserve the use of the barn as agricultural.

Please consider donating to help our legal fees. We hate the idea of using money donated to help the cats and other animals on this, so new donations are being taken to help with legal fees. We do plan on going after the township for legal fees if we win so any donation here will more than likely count for double. Our new goal for fundraising is $10,000.

We need your help so please keep an eye out for our updates . For now the best way to help PAWS is to tell your friends, share our story on social media, encourage donations, we still have cats to care for during all of this. Even if everyone you know gave $1 we could help finance this project and others for the animals. Our website has donation links and there’s always the US mail.

Thank you for reading this and following along!

-Brad

Testimonials

We wanted to provide an opportunity for our staff and supporters to share their stories of PAWS and vent their frustrations with the township. The following testimonies were submitted and are shared with permission.

Towamencin votes to shut down PAWS shelter, but ignores speeders

Cars crashing at the intersection of Mainland Road and the new Sumneytown Pike bypass is a common occurrence every week now. Last week, there were two crashes within one hour from speeders going so fast they cannot navigate the sharp turn on the road in front of PAWSibilities Animal Rescue and Sher Photography.

Penn Dot project engineers admitted they likely forgot to replace the speed limit signs located on Mainland Road, near Wambold Road. With a new lower speed limit, as they had assigned to the new bypass a speed limit of 40 mph, Mainland Rd. in Towamencin remained at the old speed limit of 45 assigned to the Old Sumneytown Pike. In Lower Salford, Mainland Road remains at 35mph. Lower Salford wisely put a stop sign up on Mainland Road at Store Road to slow down the speeders.

Pen-Dot officials pushed the problem to Towamencin Township, now in control of that section of road. Rob Ford, Towamencin Township manager, met with the Christ Covenant Church Pastor, Cathy Stanley-Erickson and property owner Sher Carroll. Agreeing it seemed an over-site, the township would have to bear the cost of new speed limit signs and he ordered a traffic study, per Pen-Dot regulations. Cars were clocked as fast as 80mph in front of PAWSibilities Animal Rescue. Between the speeders and those respecting the posted construction sign of 25mph, the average speed there is 47mph. Which in reality means the average speeder is doing 60!

Mainland Road is being used at a cut through to avoid traffic and lights on the new Sumneytown Pike bypass. In an attempt to slow down the speeders, and protect her property and clients, property owner Sher Carroll placed traffic cones in front of her barn, which houses PAWSibilities Animal Rescue, after a near fatal accident at the Covenant Church, when a speeder T-boned a church member in April.

Instead of lowering the speed limit, Township officials cited the rescue for placing the cones to slow down traffic and warn of the upcoming curve.

To make matters worse, the zoning board voted to close down the animal rescue, ignoring its amazing contributions to our community as well as the PA Commonwealth “Right to Farm Act”, and overwhelming support from residents.

To what end? The speeders are still crashing on Mainland Road, and where does the zoning board think the hundreds of free roaming cats in the township will go? I vote for their back yards!!!

Sher Carroll

Sher Photography

215-256-4215

EDITORIAL, SENT TO NORTH PENN REPORTER AND TOWNSHIP  NOV 7, 2013

I’m writing to you to let you know how deeply frustrating the actions of the Towamencin Zoning Board were last evening.  I’ve been a financial supporter of the Pawsibilities Animal Shelter for the last three years.  My company, Johnson & Johnson, has provided matching funds and resources to help develop the shelter into a truly inspiring organization which saves animals and provides a rewarding and meaningful source of work for a variety of people.  I’ve had several of the Johnson & Johnson lawyers review the Pennsylvania Right To Farm Act, and they are frankly exasperated by the lack of discipline by the Zoning Board and you to actually obey the law.  And, it is even more absurd that a community like Towamencin is not at the forefront of protecting the rights of agricultural business owners who are still trying to take care of animals in the state of Pennsylvania while housing developments are eating up every speck of open space and farm land.

And, an even sadder fact about this case is that the donated money which many of us spend much time raising for Pawsibilities is being spent defending the existence of the animal shelter from the Towamencin Zoning Board and the two women who couldn’t interpret any law if it hit them between the eyes.  I’ve counseled Sher Carroll to sue all of you when the county reviews the results of your zoning board opinion for the amount of money she has spent on legal fees.

One question that you  might want to ask the Towamencin Zoning Board is what exactly is the objective of this lunacy?  The result of their ineptitude is the inability of the shelter to get animals adopted and to provide a place of employment for those who have difficulty finding meaningful work.  The result is that a large number of helpless animals will be put out onto the street.  The result is that the Towamencin Zoning Board looks like a group of fools who can’t read a law or interpret even with your legal counseling.  I’m not sure what the win is for Towamencin.  I live in Lower Gwynedd and you can rest assure that I will never look at a piece of land or business in Towamencin and I will let every other person I know to stay away.  I’m sure scaring away land owners and businesses is an objective of the Zoning Board.

And, at Johnson & Johnson, we do community volunteer work at Pawsibilities.  And, the upcoming event I guess will have to be cancelled.  And, I will make sure to let my company leadership know what Towamencin spends their time doing at Zoning Hearings—ruling against citizens who try to do the right thing for the community and helpless animals.  I thought Congress was dysfunctional but I guess the whole system of government can be brought down by mean, moronic people unless the citizens vote them out and make their voices heard.  I commit to work tirelessly to oust the people who have failed so miserably in this situation.

Thank you.

Marisa A. Graziano

Director, Marketing Development

Commercial Analytics, Development and Operations

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Here is my opinion on this wonderful shelter!

I have previously volunteered at Pawsibilities and it taught me a lot. It taught me responsibility and how much help I can give back to the animals in need. The shelter you are running helps give homes to so many animals who desperately need it. Animals who were on there last hope. The shelter inspires me to one day open a location of my own. Without Paws, many animals would be displaced and hearts would be broken, including mine. I plan on incorporating Paws into my senior project this year in hopes that they can stay around giving homes to countless animals.

Devin Hughes

Pawsibilities took in our cat when we could no longer take care of her. They were a big help and gave her a good home when no one else could. Thank you Pawsiblilities!

-The Sciortinos

PAWS has benefited me over the past year by exposing me to such precious lives of the cats & other animals. As a volunteer, it is rewarding to care for the cats, learn their personalities & continue to have interactions with them each time I come back. After a couple months of volunteering, I, who initially did NOT like cats at all, came to love this one individual & adopted a cat, Nala, as my very first pet. She sits on my lap as I type this email. Without Pawsibilities, I would not have had the experience of a lifetime that would forever change my views. I’m sure I am not the only one with a powerful story. There are dozens of cats & families that come & go to expand their family. This no-kill shelter is essential to this community by keeping stray cats off the streets & giving them the medication & love they need to find a happy home.

Jessica K.

PAWSibilities Animal Rescue is a great organization run by very caring and well-trained people and is needed in this community.  This shelter cares for and saves the lives of many animals every year; especially cats.

My mother had a stroke and became institutionalized and I could not find a home for her beloved cat, Sam, and I was unable to care for her myself.  She was in my mother’s house alone, with me checking on her as much as possible, which gave her no quality of life.  Samantha Carroll, and the rest of the PAWSibilities team, took her in and cared for her until she passed away.  Because of their kindness and their expertise in caring for animals, Sam’s last months were spent being well cared for and loved.

Thank You,

Kristen Luczkowski

I am writing to tell you a story about the benefit of having the people of Pawsibilities in our community.

On September 13th, after only a three weeks my 60 year old husband of 27 years died from complications due to surgery.  We have three young adult daughters who were understandably stricken by this turn of events.  We have always been a cat loving family who for the first time in our lives are cat-less.  during this time of extreme trauma, my girls sought out the comfort of feline friends. I didn’t know where they were until I received the attached picture of my oldest daughter Susan completely covered in cats.  It was the first time in days that I had seen her smile. The next day, after a trying day of making arrangements for my husbands funeral, my youngest daughter put me in the car and drove me to PAWSibilities.  she told me I needed some Pet Petting Therapy. The people at PAWSibilities were kind and caring.  and for the first time in days, i forgot about my troubles for the hour i spent in the barn with the kitties.

Of course my daughters wanted to come home that day with multiple kitties but I had to say no. My life right now is too unsettled, but when the time comes to bring a new cat or two into my home, I hope that PAWSibilities will be there.

If it is one thing I have learned from my experience the last two weeks is that most people in this world will offer to do something for those in need, and then there are the people in this world who just DO what is needed.  I am so glad that there are people in this community who are willing to take on the task of caring for these sweet innocent animals with very little resources.  The world is a better place because of them.

Lois Berry

Scarlet is doing great!  She took to me right away and is often on my lap.  She is the sweetest cat I have ever had!  She lets me kiss her on her head and does the cutest little meow.  She still eats like a wolverine and is quite vocal when it its time to feed her.  She loves to play and run around the house and often “wipes out” on the wood floors.  I don’t know what I would do without her.  Thank you so much for letting me have her.

I will do anything I can to help you keep Pawsibilities.

Sharon

I have watched Pawibilities Rescue grow from a struggling unfunded seedling to a blossoming garden of hope for animals in need. Over the last four years it has not only saved lives, but it has educated and humbled the people in this community. It is a much needed resource for the homeless cat population in Montgomery County, and one of the few no-kill shelter facilities presently operating. While many organizations only place their animals in foster homes, Pawsibilities has created a physical shelter for the animals in its care, as well as providing foster homes as they become available. In addition to its obvious purpose, Pawsibilities educates the community on proper animal care, serves as a resource for the mentally disabled,  is partnered with the county’s 4-H program, and has greatly aided the area with its trap neuter release efforts. To ask Pawsibilities to close its doors now would not only be heartbreaking for the animals and people in this community, it would be irresponsible.

Sincerely,

Emily Broschart

My name is Kristin Messina and I have been a resident of Harleysville for 25 years.

Eight years ago my daughter and I met Samantha Caroll (owner of PAWS) and Spike (our newly adopted rabbit) at a local festival.  We were touched by the work that PAWS was doing right here in our own community.  After 3 more successful rescue adoptions both my daughter and I began to volunteer at the shelter.  Over eight years we have watched the shelter grow in size, staff and volunteerism –  truly the backbone of every successful business.  Through many difficult rescues and township setbacks (i.e Zoning, Construction, Lane widening etc) PAWS has overcome many adversities and continues to flourish.

PAWSibilities has taken a very active role in improving and protecting the lives of animals and educating the public about animal over population.   Not only can one adopt a pet which accounts for approximately 30% of all pet ownership (according to the National Council for the Safety of animals) but community members can inquire about spaying and neutering, temporarily shelter a pet in a time of need, surrender a pet (in lieu of leaving it on the streets), volunteer, or simply visit the shelter to find comfort in petting an playing with the animals.

Closing this shelter would result in the loss of jobs, volunteers, and could lead to the killing of many wonderful adoptable pets.

Kristin Messina

Pawsibilities rescue serves the community and the animals it rescues in several ways. They trap and house abandoned and feral cats which would otherwise die or become a nuisance to property owners. They provide temporary fostering of family pets while for whatever reason the family is in transition. They provide medical care for rescued animals who, without PAWS, would endure prolonged suffering and most likely death. Being a no kill shelter, unlike the SPCA, they give the animals the time they need to become healthy and acclimated to humans and other cats without fear of being euthanized because they’ve been there too long. Doing this enables individuals and families to find a pet which they can bond with, bring into their homes and make an important part of their family. Pawsabilities has operated at the same location without incident for years and has  become an integral part of the community. The service to the community and the animals that Pawsabilities cares for cannot be overstated and I would ask that they be allowed to provide these services for many years into the future and as long as they are so graciously willing to do so.

Sincerely,

Adam Ragaini

To Whom it May Concern:

I became aware of Pawsibilities Animal Shelter via an Adopt-a-Cat flyer I received in 2010.   I volunteered for the shelter beginning in the fall of 2011 and have had ongoing contact thereafter.

Because of the tireless efforts of mother/daughter team  Sher and Samantha Carroll , the shelter has evolved.  The Carrolls and their team of dedicated volunteers care for and shelter hundreds of needy, homeless cats in the area.  It is round-the-clock, all consuming work that has been done tirelessly, without complaint and at great personal expense.

I adopted a cat from Pawsibilities in early 2011.  Trance had lived there for 18 months and was healthy and well adjusted at adoption.  He is a wonderful pet and surely the poster boy for the benefits derived from a well run shelter.  In addition, two of my friends have adopted cats from Paws and are equally thrilled with their pets.

Caring for homeless animals and linking pets with caring families is a compassionate act for both parties.  I hope that the value of this service is not lost as zoning hearings proceed.

Thank you

Lisa Lombardo

Westminster Ct

Towamencin Township

Dear Members of the Zoning Board,

I am troubled that there is any issue with the good work done by Pawsibilities at their current location.  This organization has filled a tremendous need in the community.  It is one of the best managed rescues not only in the area but anywhere.  It is clean. The animals are healthy and they are loved.

Pawsibilities takes animals who would otherwise be homeless or unfortunately end up in kill shelters.  These are cats who are abandoned or need to be surrendered, or kittens of feral mothers who have no other place to go.  These are cats who would otherwise end up roaming the community ill and hungry and contributing to the overpopulation of cats in the county.  This is a low-key organization which does not advertise and which operates largely on word-of-mouth.  They are highly organized, well managed and they serve a need.  Without them, there would be no local options for these cats.

Over the last 12+ months, Pawsibilites has helped to place no fewer than 8 kittens and cats which I have trapped in my neighborhood.  Thanks to their help, the population of feral cats in my small community has decreased exponentially.  Without Pawsibilities, these animals would be reproducing at an alarming rate (each unaltered female cat can have up to four litters a year with up to six kitten each).

This is a charitable organization which exists for the sole purpose of helping cats and other animals who have nowhere else to go.  They are a great asset to Towamencin and the larger community.  There can be no valid reason to end their operation at its current location, especially since the new road to the turnpike has gone in which makes their location even more off the beaten path and out of the way of everything.

If I can provide any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Theresa M. Blanco, Esquire

COHEN FEELEY ALTEMOSE RAMBO

To whom it may concern:

PAWSibilities is the reason I found the love of my life, Mia.  She is the sweetest, smartest, and funniest cat and I feel truly blessed to have her in my life.  I would have never found her if it wasn’t for PAWSibilities and my life wouldn’t be complete without her!  On top of that, the people who work at PAWSibilities are so kind and friendly.  You can also see how dedicated they are and how passionate they are about rescuing animals and making sure they find loving homes.  I highly admire and respect this organization.

Thank you,

Michelle Zach

The Pawsibilities Rescue center has been a part of the fabric of Harleysville and Towamencin Township for nearly 20 years.  First and foremost, they are a no-kill shelter to cats and farm animals and are valued for their high standards of protecting these innocent animals.  In addition, they are an organization that supports and mentors other community groups such as the 4H cat group and allows adolescents to come in – volunteer – and learn to treat all life with care and respect.  What is negative about that and exactly what zoning law changed?  This is a valued group within the community, please allow stay and provide their great services.

Sincerely,

Mary Joan C. Denisco

President, Grand Prix Pharma Solutions, LLC

Harleysville resident and Animal Lover

Dear zoning hearing board,

I’m Katie and I’m 11 years old, but don’t just stop reading there I have more on my mind than you would think. I think pawsibilities animal shelter is very useful to the community because of school credit, volunteering, and more. it helps some kids with school credit. they can volunteer there or they can do research projects with it. I personally have completed both. Right now I am working on a service project to get some of the animals adopted and I volunteer there. I know many people get there life long companions there. if you are considering moving them, that would put them out of business for a bit, so how are people suppose to help there? I would be bored on lots of the days of the week. to me animals mean a lot and that Is where I go to be with some. if they cant find a place for some of the pets, they might have to be put down and I love many of the animals there. if you moved them or put them out of business you’d be hurting more than just some children’s feelings, you’d be hurting everyone’s feelings who care about them. I think pawsibilities animal shelter  is useful to the community and should stay where it is.

Sincerely,

Katie Mina

Hello, I saw the information on Facebook pertaining to the upcoming hearing and would like to add my opinion for you to share with the Towamencin zoning board.

Your organization is needed in the community, as is evidenced by your ability to help the condo development in which I live. We needed the help of an organization such as PAWSibilities to help us control our feral cat population. I am certain with the continued efforts of PAWSibilities and the residents at Timber Creek Condos, we will see a great reduction of feral cats in the future, if we keep at this.

In addition to the activity above, an organization like PAWSibilities is needed in our community as a shelter and save haven for unwanted cats and other small animals who are looking for good homes.    I recently started volunteering and it is rewarding to help out this organization and its loving felines.   I was disheartened to read that the organization’s location might be in jeopardy.

I hope the Towamencin Township zoning board can see the importance and necessity of this animal rescue and its wonderful location.

Sincerely,

Jessica Berner

To Whom it may concern,

I am writing today to tell you about Pawsabilities rescue. My daughter, my partner and I have been involved with Pawsibilities for several years now and have found that they do provide a very positive impact to not only the community but also to the children and adults that volunteer with this shelter. This shelter helps save and find homes for animals that are either homeless or that no one no longer wants. It is already a terrible epidemic in this country relative to stray and homeless animals and shelters like Paws provide an opportunity for animals to find homes instead of being left homeless in the wild to fight for their existence or euthanized. In addition Paws provide for a safe and effective catch, Spay/Neuter, and release program for ferrule animals.  Paws also sponsors the Kit Kat club that is part of the Montgomery county 4H program. This is another way in which Paws provides a positive impact and influence on the community.

Also I wanted to tell you about the positive impact this shelter has had on my daughter. When my daughter was about 10 she exhibited a love for animals and wanted to volunteer at a shelter. Most shelters turned her away because they did not want children involved with their shelters, but Paws, as part of the 4H, provided opportunity for children to volunteer and participate in the shelter activities giving young people an avenue to contribute and learn about homeless animals. Not only did this benefit my daughter greatly, but it allows children to learn at a young age to help not abuse animals. This is the best time to teach them to do the right thing and volunteer. Trying to enlist people who are older is a much more difficult proposition and also may be too late to educate them about the homeless animal epidemic in this country. My daughter still volunteers at Paws and has helped many animals find homes and is proud of this accomplishment. If Paws was not around she would not have been able to make this contribution to society. I believe that this early learning opportunity has shaped her life permanently and that she will continue to volunteer for all types of beneficial community services in the future.

For several years, through my daughters participations and contact, she has helped the shelter raise many thousands of dollars to support its mission through donations and grants.

Paws rescue provides a temporary home for the homeless and is in a location that does not impact anyone now that the major road that passes by the shelter has been by passed. It is not located near other residential properties, and does cause a negative impact on the community in any way.

In short we fully support Paws and volunteer, donors, fosters, and adopters of homeless animals. In fact since our involvement with shelters we have personally adopted 5 cats and 2 dogs. We have also helped trap, spay/neuter, and find homes for other strays animals that would have been homeless and wild. We believe that the benefit to the community far outweighs any inconvenience caused by the location of the shelter. It would be very sad for everyone involved, including all the homeless animals that have been taken in and saved by Paws, if Paws were to have to close. I hope that this does not have to happen as the many many lives saved provide a needed service to the community.

Mark DeStefano

Collegeville, Pa 19426

Help Save PAWS!

We are organizing for our appeal to Montgomery County Court, however this will involve more legal fees (estimated $10k) and we need to come up with a backup plan to move the adoption center out of Towamencin, in order to keep operating. The leadership team of PAWS is reviewing our options and setting up plans to keep paws operating. For now our adoptions will be done out of the Harleysville Adoption Center on Hunsberger Road, across from the Wawa. This space has so far been kindly DONATED by Dr. Ross Ziegler, Orthodontist.  We also need more volunteers willing to work at the Harleysville Center to keep it open with more regular hours.

Please follow us on Facebook for more updates and information regarding the shelter and our appeal.

Please sign the petition to show Montgomery County your support for both the good work PAWS does and to help preserve the use of the barn as agricultural.

Please consider donating to help our legal fees. We hate the idea of using money donated to help the cats and other animals on this, so new donations are being taken to help with legal fees. We do plan on going after the township for legal fees if we win so any donation here will more than likely count for double. Our new goal for fundraising is $10,000.

We need your help so please keep an eye out for our updates . For now the best way to help PAWS is to tell your friends, share our story on social media, encourage donations, we still have cats to care for during all of this. Even if everyone you know gave $1 we could help finance this project and others for the animals. Our website has donation links and there’s always the US mail.

Thank you for reading this and following along!

-Brad