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Community Conversations

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Join the conversation on animal welfare.

You care about animal welfare just as much as we do. So, we are bringing you into the conversation. Our quarterly virtual event, Community Conversations: Demystifying Animal Welfare Practices, will be a virtual gathering of York County SPCA staff and community members to discuss important, complex topics related to animal welfare practices. In these meetings, we will discuss the York County SPCA's practices, how the community can support our mission, and matters involving animal welfare on a national or international level. In other words, we want to pull back the curtain to show our community the Who, What, Why, and How of the animal shelter world. These conversations are meant to be interactive. We will answer as many participant questions as we can during the conversations. Folks who sign up can either send their questions to us ahead of time, or they can chat their questions to us during the virtual event.

Every meeting is free and open to the public. Due to current COVID-19 policies that have kept our staff, volunteers, and animals safe and healthy, we will be hosting Community Conversations online via Zoom. To register for any of the Community Conversations meetings, please click on the button below the event description. You will be directed to enter your name and email. Once you submit that information, you will be sent the Zoom link for the event via email with further instructions on how to send questions to us prior to the event. If you do not receive the link or if you have any questions, please email

February Conversation:


February 23, 2021


How does the adoption process work? What happens after I submit an adoption application? How does adoption and animal meet and greets work given COVID-19 safety restrictions? How do we prioritize adoption appointments for dogs with lots of interested adopters? What do you do if the animal you just adopted isn’t working out in the home? How do I learn about available animals in the shelter? Should you give animals as a gift? What are the adoption requirements (fenced in yard, home visits, kids vs. no kids in the home…)? Can we make animal recommendations based on your lifestyle? What if you cannot afford the adoption fee?

In 2020, the York County SPCA implemented Adopters Welcome, an initiative designed to remove barriers to adoption and be more inclusive to all potential adopters. Because of Adopters Welcome and the new website launched in 2020, our adoption rates have nearly doubled. These topics and others will be covered, plus we will answer your questions.

This meeting will feature Executive Director Steven Martinez, Operations Director Kari Herchelroth, and Client Services Manager Glory Rivera.

This event has passed. 

April Conversation: 

Animal Cruelty and Neglect

April 14, 2021


The York County SPCA investigates hundreds of animal cruelty and neglect cases every year. In fact, in 2020, our Humane Society Police Officer, Otto Cruz, completed more than 600 animal welfare checks and nearly 200 cruelty investigations. In this virtual meeting, we will discuss the following questions and more.

How does the York County SPCA manage cruelty and neglect investigations? What is considered cruelty and neglect according to Pennsylvania animal cruelty law? How do you report cruelty and neglect? How does York County SPCA animal investigations support local law enforcement’s peace keeping efforts? Is there a tie between animal cruelty and an escalation to human cruelty? How do you know when to report cruelty or neglect (it’s not always obvious)? What are common signs of neglect? How many welfare checks, charges pressed, and convictions does the York County SPCA achieve each year? These topics and others will be covered, plus we will answer your questions.

This meeting will feature the following panelists:

  • Otto Cruz, Humane Society Police Officer, YCSPCA
  • Steven Martinez, Executive Director, YCSPCA

View the recording

July Conversation:


JULY 7, 2021


What does it mean to be an open admission shelter? What species of animals do we accept in our shelter? What do you do if you see an animal roaming around? When do you bring an animal to our shelter verses “leave it be”? What is Trap-Neuter-Return and how does the program work (and how much does it cost)? If I bring an animal to the shelter, will you euthanize it? What should I think about before surrendering my pet to your shelter? What happens to pets once they are surrendered? How many animals get surrendered or returned to your shelter each year? What is the average length of stay for an animal at your shelter? How does the York County SPCA control pet population growth rates? What steps do we take to ensure a healthy population of shelter animals? How do we avoid an overcrowded shelter?

In July's Community Conversation, we will talk about the York County SPCA Managed Shelter Admissions Policy. This policy outlines our protocols and process for accepting animals into our shelter.  These topics and others will be covered, plus we will answer your questions. 

This meeting will feature Executive Director Steven Martinez, Operations Director Kari Herchelroth, and a very special guest - Christine Arnold. 

Christine Arnold founded Nobody's Cats in 2012 and has served as Managing Director since its inception. Highly active in the Trap Neuter Return (TNR) strategy since 2004, Christine served for six years as a weekly cat shelter caregiver for the Helen O. Krause Animal Foundation, and on the boards of and as a volunteer for PAWS, the Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance, Rehabitat, and Wind Ridge Farm Equine Sanctuary. A native of south central Pennsylvania, she is a former corporate communicator and freelance writer with professional experience in all aspects of business and marketing communication. She lives in rural northern York County and is an avid birder and gardener.

View the recording.

November Conversation:


November 10

5 - 6pm

What does it mean to be a no kill shelter (hint, nearly all no kill shelters humanely euthanize animals)? Who classifies a shelter as no-kill? What is the no-kill methodology and who holds shelters accountable? What is humane euthanasia? Do you euthanize animals that have been in the shelter too long? Do you euthanize an animal for bad behavior? How does the York County SPCA manage compassion fatigue? What are our euthanasia rates? What is our save rate? These topics and others will be covered, plus we will answer your questions.  

This meeting will feature the following panelists:

  • Steven Martinez, Executive Director of the York County SPCA
  • Dr. Natalie Weekes, Shelter Medical Director of the York County SPCA
  • Audrey Lodato, Senior Strategist in the Northeast of Best Friends Animal Society 

About Audrey Lodato:

Audrey is the Senior Strategist in the Northeast for Best Friends Animal Society. Through her role at Best Friends, she helps shelters maximize their lifesaving potential by providing support and empowerment in operational efficiency, relationship building, strategic planning and program development. 

Audrey has served in a leadership capacity in several shelters in both New York and North Carolina since 2006, including Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. As the Director of Animal Care for Brother Wolf, she began a mobile spay and neuter program, supported logistics for disaster response, provided operational support and assessments to municipal shelters, and managed the organization’s flagship adoption center and five chapter locations.

A bonafide shelter nerd, she enjoys all aspects of animal welfare and believes that success in the field requires being both a student and a teacher at all times. She has a particular fondness for mentoring individuals new to animal welfare, programs that keep pets with their families, grumpy old dogs, and watching teams achieve their goals together.

Audrey lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley in New York with her husband Greg, her dogs Rumble and Mac, and her cats Paper and Shoshi.

View the recording.