A lack of funding forced them to scale back to 18 counties, so they no can no longer help near Pittsburgh.By Meghan Schiller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rescues animals from cruelty and neglect, eventually finding them forever homes.

But the Pennsylvania SPCA told KDKA that it does all that without any federal or state funding.

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

We’ve all seen the commercials with scared-looking animals and Sarah McLaughlin raising money for the national organization called the ASPCA. But does a donation to that organization wind up here at the Pennsylvania SPCA? KDKA found out the answer is “no,” because they’re not connected organizations.

Hundreds of animals call the nation’s second-oldest animal charity home.

“We really do consider that our bread and butter, that we rescue animals from cruelty and neglect and rehabilitate them medically and behaviorally and ultimately find them forever homes,” said Gillian Kocher, the director of public relations for the Pennsylvania SPCA.

Kocher works in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania SPCA. A lack of funding forced the organization to scale back to 18 counties. They no can no longer help near Pittsburgh.

“We do not receive any city, state, or federal funding. So all of our funding comes from donations,” said Kocher.

And recently, she’s questioning the number of donations that don’t arrive because of confusion surrounding the relationship between the ASPCA and our state’s SPCA.

“We certainly do get people who say, ‘Oh, I donate to your organization all the time,’ or ‘I’ve seen your commercials on TV. You know, with Sarah McLaughlin.’ That is not our organization,” Kocher said.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller: Do you think that this is a branding dilemma that is impacting you?

Kocher: I do think it’s a branding dilemma and it’s very confusing.

Kocher said it matters because people need to know where their money is going.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller reached out to the ASPCA with four questions, including, “Does the ASPCA have any staff members currently working in western Pennsylvania?” and “How much of ASPCA’s fundraising dollars wind up in Pennsylvania?”

After more than a week of back and forth, ASPCA refused to answer the questions. Instead, the ASPCA sent a statement saying it supports and collaborates with hundreds of animal welfare organizations around the country, all working toward the same mission to prevent cruelty to animals.

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“It’s a common misconception that we’re all connected, and you know the cruelty work, at least on the ground in Pa., I can speak to is done by our organization,” Kocher said.

She told KDKA some statewide animal charities resorted to changing their names, removing the “SPCA” part. It’s something Kocher said won’t happen here.

“Unfortunately, for us, we’ve been around for 150-plus years, so I think we really are the Pa. SPCA and we’ll be staying that way,” Kocher said.

Kocher dreams of a day when the Pennsylvania SPCA can cover the entire state again. She wants more humane society police officers to help more animals, but she said she’s limited by the funds they can raise.

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In the Pittsburgh area, our area’s humane society police officers handle more than 1,000 calls each year. These humane society police officers investigate animal abuse and neglect across Allegheny County, and they’re the only two employed at Animal Friends in Pittsburgh.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller asked, “How much state and federal funding do you get?”

“Our team receives no state or federal funding. All of the resources that we have comes from private donations,” said Cody Hoellerman, chief community engagement officer at Animal Friends.

No public funding for what Hoellerman calls a very expensive job. He wishes people looking to donate knew this:

“Since a humane police officer has to be affiliated with a non-profit organization, organizations like us are paying their salaries, training, all of the tools and equipment and resources that they need comes from our funding and budget,” he said.

The full statement from the ASPCA can be found below:

The ASPCA, founded in 1866, is the first and oldest animal welfare organization in the country, and we support and collaborate with hundreds of animal welfare organizations around the country with all of us – whether local or national – working toward the same mission to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals. The ASPCA has supported and continues to support animal welfare initiatives and programs in Pennsylvania, including animal relocation, adoptions, anti-cruelty response, access to veterinary care, and shelter operations trainings. As a national organization, we tackle some of the biggest challenges facing animals nationwide, such as developing and disseminating behavioral rehabilitation treatments for victims of cruelty, championing federal and state legislation and policies that increase legal protections for animals, and helping make veterinary care more affordable and accessible to all.

Another statement from the ASPCA reads:

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“The ASPCA has provided millions of dollars of grants and other resources to animal welfare organizations throughout the state of Pennsylvania, however, that is not the only measure of impact. It also is measured by the many programs, trainings, research and other services we provide. We are a national organization and we work alongside and support many organizations around the country with all of us – whether local, regional or national – working toward the same goals.”

Meghan Schiller