MU SPOTLIGHT 20/20
Community Partner Spotlight: Peaceable Kingdom
Rami Khouri, Volunteer
Tell us about your work and your mission.
Peaceable Kingdom Animal Shelter, an animal shelter serving the Lehigh Valley. Our mission is:
- To provide care, protection, and assistance to animals who are mistreated, injured, abandoned, or otherwise in need.
- To offer low-cost veterinary services providing all pet owners a place to get care for their pets
- To minimize animal overpopulation through low-cost spay/neuter clinics.
- To create community awareness and gain support of animal needs through educational efforts.
What is your role at your organization and what is something many may not know about the work you do?
I am one of many volunteers working with our shelter dogs. Volunteers take shifts taking care of the animals in the shelter. This includes taking them out on walks, feedings, cleaning the shelter, laundry, and of course socializing the dogs (i.e. playtime!). I also occasionally work on coordinating people who want to volunteer as groups, that's how I came to know about Moravian's Heritage Day!
Something people may not know about our work? You have no idea how many friends you can make cleaning up dog messes! You get to spend time with nice people who share some of your interest doing meaningful work towards a common goal, so it’s no wonder volunteers are quick to build a little community. Volunteering stops being a chore and you start to look forward to it.
What projects were completed on Heritage Day?/How Did volunteers on Heritage Day support your work?
At PK We hang tarps on to kennels to break the dog's sight lines to each other (helps the animals relax). Although the tarps get the job done, they are plain and drab and give the shelter a sort of industrial look. The aesthetics of a location really make a difference, that’s why every organization sets aside a budget for this category. We wanted a bit of help improving in this category.
On Heritage Day PK asked students to paint these tarps to create pieces of art that better reflect the mission and atmosphere we are trying to build at PK. We asked the students to make art piece that would assure people surrendering animals that this was a place that loves animals, to motivate our volunteers to faithfully fulfill our mission, and express to adopters our hope that every animal finds the right family. I was quite surprised at how quickly this group self-organized, and how creative they were. The resulting art pieces were amazing and are hanging at PK right now!
I had a great time at Heritage day, and the artwork the students made blew me away! I could not wait to get back and install the tarps, and the reaction from other volunteers was very positive. The Moravian folks were fantastic, but really, should I expect anything less from a school with a dog as their mascot?
What's your favorite spot in Bethlehem?
Mainstreet, Not many places like it around, where you can walk around, get a nice meal, browse quirky shops and take in some history. The bookstore certainly doesn’t hurt either.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Whenever a dog is adopted a picture is shared with the volunteers of the dog on its way out of the shelter with its new family. That visual of a dog leaving us to go home to a good life and family…hold on I have something in my eye...it’s real dusty in here…next question! Next question!
How does Moravian University support your mission?
We’ve already had a few group visits from Moravian each time taking on a different activity from general cleaning to wire brushing the rust off of kennels. Moravian students are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get things done, so we enjoy having them and I think they like visiting us.
How can Moravian University—and the greater community—be more involved with your organization?
As a volunteer run organization, we depend on people from the community to step up and take up the mantle of our mission. Whether it’s working directly with animals, administration, maintenance, leadership positions …etc almost all is done by volunteers. As such we welcome dedicated people who are interested in contributing to contact the shelter directly. We also have groups visit the shelter for short-term project. Of course, if you want to do some fundraising on our behalf or donate directly to the shelter, well we won’t be offended either ;-). Finally, raising awareness helps too: the more people know that adopting is a fantastic way to add a pet to your family the easier it is for us to home the animals.
What is the biggest challenge your organization faces?
Overpopulation & over breeding in the “pet industry.” I think most people don’t realize just how prevalent puppy mills are in the areas surrounding us. Puppy mills over breed animals in terrible conditions in order to lower their costs, and do their best to masquerade as “legitimate breeders”. There have been instances in the past where authorities discovered and shut down puppy mills, bringing the animals into our care and they were in awful shape. These places put frolicking puppies in the front, while sick and malnourished mothers suffer in cramped cages in the back.
What do you hope for the future of your organization?
I hope for the day when the norm is to have a waiting list of people who want to adopt animals because our shelter is empty rather than a waiting list of animals waiting to get surrendered because we are full. Absent that, I hope we can expand our ability to care for animals and to increase the inflow of adopters so we can do more to home animals, especially the ones that have been with us for a long time.