Humane Society of Harrisburg Area enters into affiliation agreement with BVSPCA
Founded in 1929, the Brandywine Valley SPCA is the first open-admission no-kill shelter in Pennsylvania and Delaware. In 2023, the BVSPCA cared for more than 17,000 lost, stray, owner-surrendered, and abused and neglected animals while achieving a 93% live release rate. The BVSPCA provides animal protective services for Chester County and much of Delaware County in Pennsylvania, and it holds a five-year contract with the Delaware Office of Animal Welfare to provide state-wide animal services. BVSPCA animals are placed through adoption centers in Dover, Georgetown, and New Castle, Delaware, and West Chester and Plymouth Meeting in Pennsylvania. In addition, the BVSPCA provides families with safety net and low-cost veterinary services at its four Animal Health Centers in Malvern, New Castle, Dover, and Georgetown. The BVSPCA also operates the Animal Rescue Center (ARC), a facility dedicated to act as a bridge for animals with additional needs prior to adoption, such as cruelty cases, disaster victims, infants, and those with medical needs.
The Humane Society of Harrisburg Area is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a better community for pets and people through compassion, protection, education, and collaboration. HSHA accepts homeless animals regardless of their breed, age, medical condition, or behavioral condition. However, HSHA does not euthanize adoptable animals due to a lack of space or length of stay. The shelter assists thousands of animals each year through its residential care and adoption program, low-cost veterinary clinics and Veterinary Resource Center, pet food programs, and counseling services. Learn more at humanesocietyhbg.org.
Adam Lamb focuses his career on marrying open-access sheltering with no-kill standards. Lamb first came to Pennsylvania from Tampa, Florida where he worked at the SPCA Florida, Humane Society of Tampa Bay, and Hillsborough Animal Services. In 2014, Lamb was named executive director of the then-Chester County SPCA. His work led to the rebranding of the struggling County shelter with a live release rate of 65% as Brandywine Valley SPCA, which became the Commonwealth’s first open-admission no-kill shelter. His leadership as CEO of BVSPCA has brought expansion and growth to the now largest animal welfare organization in Pennsylvania, operating and serving in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties. He has also led BVSPCA’s expansion into Delaware where, in 2018, the BVSPCA helped lead Delaware to become the first no-kill state in the nation. Lamb recognizes the role Animal Welfare Organizations play in helping keep owned pets in their homes and cutting down on the number of homeless animals, and launched programs for pet retention, not only to serve BVSPCA adopters but the entire community. Free vaccine clinics, pet food pantry, low-cost spay and neuter surgeries, community cat programs, partnerships with rescue organizations, and humane education programs are just some of the ways Lamb has helped lead the BVSPCA to become a national leader in Animal Welfare and progressive programs. Lamb has served as the president of the Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania, and on the Best Friends committee to Save Them All 2025 and the Petco Foundation Leadership Forum. He has also become a nationally recognized leader in Animal Welfare.
Together, the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area (HSHA) and Brandywine Valley SPCA (BVSPCA) will expand life-saving initiatives in a unified effort, and create positive change for animals in need across the Commonwealth. The partnership will extend comprehensive services to a total of six Pennsylvania counties (Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Dauphin, Cumberland, and Perry) to amplify lifesaving resources for the combined 20,000+ animals cared for annually and the community.
An affiliation agreement, with operational terms, was voted on and unanimously passed by both HSHA and BVSPCA Executive Boards at the end of December. The agreement allows for operational measures, shared resources, programs, management, and governing oversight to begin immediately under Adam Lamb’s leadership as CEO for BVSPCA and acting Executive Director for HSHA. Over the next year, we hope to explore the potential combination of the two organizations, under one Governing Board.
The partnership will bring financial strength and sustainability to the work of making a difference for animals and the people who love them in Central Pa. No organization can fully serve animals and families in need if it is struggling with financial instability. By increasing financial stability and reducing overhead costs, donor dollars can be used more efficiently, making every gift even more impactful.
In addition, BVSPCA will expand innovative approaches and no-kill status to ensure even more animals stay in their homes and out of the shelters, remove barriers to adoption, and provide resources for the community like vaccine clinics, pet food pantry, low-cost spay/neuter services, and humane education to enhance operations in the Harrisburg area.
It won’t. HSHA and BVSPCA will operate under Adam Lamb, Chief Executive Officer BVSPCA and acting Executive Director for HSHA, allowing HSHA to leverage BVSPCA’s current resources and operational procedures. HSHA day-to-day operations will continue under Aspasia Yeager’s direction. A long-time HSHA employee and leader, Yeager has recently been serving as interim executive director. BVSPCA will continue to operate as is across the existing Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware footprint.
Adam Lamb, long-serving and nationally recognized animal welfare leader, and CEO of BVSPCA, will oversee both operations starting immediately. Adam will remain the Chief Executive Officer for BVSPCA and acting Executive Director for HSHA throughout the affiliation process.
Leadership in the form of the Executive Governing Boards will share oversight and governance. As of now, both Executive Boards will operate independently with three members of each organization serving respectively on the other board to ensure continuity, streamlined community, and the expressed shared goal of future unification. George Groves remains president of HSHA Board and Crystal Crawford will serve as president of the BVSPCA Board.
The BVSPCA’s no-kill work began in Chester County in Pennsylvania and has helped lead Delaware to become the first no-kill State in the nation. BVSPCA has been a leader in the no-kill movement and prides itself on continued average live-release rates above the national 90% standard year after year. HSHA has made strides towards no-kill, recently achieving an 83% live release rate. An important goal of the partnership is to bring BVSPCA’s no-kill standard of lifesaving to the Harrisburg area by the end of 2024, or sooner.
A community is considered to be no-kill when every brick-and-mortar shelter located within the county has a save rate of 90% or higher. No-kill means healing the animals who can be healed, treating behaviors that can be treated, and prioritizing the safety of both pets and people in our communities. When we value those objectives, humane euthanasia is used as a last resort in instances when an animal is deemed too ill or too dangerous for rehabilitation. The no-kill philosophy also acknowledges that euthanasia may be an appropriate choice in rare cases of irremediable aggression in which (1) a veterinarian has eliminated medical treatment as a solution; (2) rehabilitation by a specialist in behavior has failed; and (3) staff and public safety cannot be reasonably assured, or other management protocols would seriously compromise the pet's quality of life.
Find more from Best Friends Animal Society at bestfriends.org/no-kill-2025.
At this time, no. As part of the continued affiliation agreement period, name changes and a complete rebrand for both organizations will be evaluated. It is paramount that community and supporter feedback be gathered prior to any decision to move forward with name-changing.
At this time, HSHA staff will be retained, with the goal of scaling lifesaving and evaluating potential opportunities for more consolidated roles to maximize efficiency and eliminate redundancies across both HSHA and BVSPCA. This means both HSHA and BVSPCA staff could be re-evaluated, re-allocated, and tailored to accomplish this goal. There are no plans for any massive decrease in staffing.
Absolutely. Both BVSPCA and HSHA work hard to ensure funds are utilized with maximum efficiency across the organization, and all campuses are truly part of one life-saving team. That being said, we know some donors prefer their gifts to be solely earmarked to one location, program, or initiative, and we will gladly honor donors’ wishes and intent. Donations can continue to be made to the respective organizations.
BVSPCA and HSHA welcome adopters, donors, fosters, and volunteers to join this effort in expanding resources and care for the most vulnerable animals across the Commonwealth. Find the nearest location to support at humanesocietyhbg.org and bvspca.org. Register to volunteer, stop in to adopt or become a foster, drop off donations of supplies, make a financial contribution to this effort, start a social fundraiser on your social channels to support our work, and attend and support our upcoming events. Community support is vital to make this work possible.
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