February 14, 2024

Giving Cats and Dogs a Second Chance with EASEL Animal Rescue League, Shelter & Pet Adoptions

Author Aly Semigran, Content Specialist

“There is no typical day at a shelter.” That’s how Mark Phillips, the Director of Animal Services for EASEL Animal Rescue League, Shelter & Pet Adoptions in Ewing Township, New Jersey, best explains the day-to-day operations of their organization. After all, how could there be a typical day when, at any given time, there could be dozens of animals in their care that desperately need adopting or fostering.

According to the ASPCA, around “6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year,” with approximately 4.1 million being adopted. These adoption rates are thanks in no small part to the efforts of best practices and no-kill shelters. EASEL is one of those very shelters.

No-kill shelters, which serve as a temporary residence for animals before being placed into a home, “have a benchmark save rate of 90%,” explains EASEL’s Vice President Dr. Georgia Arvanitis, adding, “EASEL has exceeded that and averages 95% or better each year.”

Established as a rescue group in 2008 and managing Mercer County’s only no-kill municipal shelter since 2015, EASEL (which goes by the motto “Every Animal Should Enjoy Life”) has been able to adopt out over 8,000 cats and dogs, saving nearly 1,000 animals in 2022 alone. The organization also provides essential veterinary services, such as microchipping, vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries.

It’s a small but mighty team at EASEL with two full-time and seven part-time staff members. Volunteers are crucial to helping EASEL and many shelters carry out their essential, life-saving work. With over 200 volunteers, Dr. Arvanitis credits these helpers for “making EASEL what it is and allowing us to accomplish all we do.”

These volunteers do everything from fostering animals to lending a hand at adoption events, and taking part in daily pack walks, in which the shelter’s dogs enjoy fresh air and exercise. Phillips says that these pack walks are essential for these dogs in that they are stress relievers and get them used to walking on leashes with people. “It’s essential for them socially and gets them acclimated to meeting different people, which can lead to them being adopted.”

Like the volunteers, another critical part of a no-kill shelter’s success is its philanthropic-minded animal supporters and donors. Dr. Arvantis notes that grants from donor-advised funds (DAFs), particularly, “have done some really great things for EASEL,” including allowing the nonprofit to manage their lab space, where animals receive veterinary care.

Dr. Arvanitis points out that unrestricted giving has been some of the “most important funding” for EASEL’s operations, as it allows the organization to be able to see where funds are best utilized in any given situation, whether it’s acquiring testing equipment or performing surgery for an animal to get them on track for adoption.

No matter how much donors have given or through what channels they provide funding, Dr. Arvanitis says that “every dollar that they spent had meaning, and it put an animal on track to be in a good home with a good life.” Like philanthropy, taking care of animals can be a catalyst for making positive changes in the world.

As Dr. Arvanitis puts it, “Pet ownership is important because it touches your soul and speaks to the human desire to give. And what better way to give than to give to animals?”

Additional reporting by Tom Miller

About the Author

Aly Semigran is a Content Specialist at National Philanthropic Trust. She has been writing and editing professionally for over 15 years, with articles in Billboard, Well + Good and Mic, among many other notable publications. In addition to her editorial background, Aly is currently getting her Master of Social Work degree from Temple University. She resides in Philadelphia with her dog.