Women's Animal Center - America's First Animal Shelter! | Lola The Rescued Cat
Friday, December 20, 2019

Women's Animal Center - America's First Animal Shelter!

Since I started this blog in 2014, many exciting opportunities have come my way. One in particular that I was thrilled with was (and still is!) volunteering for the Jackson Galaxy Project as a writer for their Cat Pawsitive Pro Program. One of the first shelters I worked with was Women's Animal Center (WAC) in Bensalem, PA. 

Women's Animal Center

I was so impressed with their reports and progress in the program, the quotes and heartfelt experiences the staff and volunteers shared with me, and the fact that they are America's first animal shelter, that I just had to visit them. I stayed in contact with Gwen Kaminski, Director of Development and Marketing, and originally had plans to visit in February of this year. Of course, we had a snowstorm and my plans had to be canceled. But I was finally able to visit in October, and I had a great time. 

Women's Animal Center

A big adoption event was underway the day I was there; the Dolls For Paws Free Adoption Event. Thanks to sponsors Doll Beauty 10, an international-selling cruelty-free cosmetics company, all adoptions during the event were free!  It was a fun-filled day for potential adoptees, complete with family activities, Doll 10 makeup samples, face painting, raffle baskets, and goody bags.

Women's Animal Center

In total there were 62 adoptions (which averaged one pet out the door every six minutes!), and Doll 10 Beauty wrote WAC a check for $5,205.00 to cover all of the adoption fees for animals who went home during the event. Pawtastic!

Women's Animal Center

The Grand Tour

Gwen gave me the grand tour of the facility. But before I get into the details, I want to say just how impressed I was with the facility from the second I arrived.

Women's Animal Center

The grounds are beautiful, and the building is spacious, modern, and absolutely immaculate. I wasn't quite sure what I was expecting, but I definitely wasn't expecting what I saw. 

Women's Animal Center

When I got off the highway, I knew I was in the right place by their fence. Isn't it cute?

Women's Animal Center

Now let’s get on with the tour!

The Dogs

Women's Animal Center

We started out in the dog run area. WAC received a grant to build four separate kennels and the outdoor space with separate yards. This space is used for meet and greets so the potential adopters can be separated from the other dogs with their new love interest. WAC has a team of dog walkers, and all dogs get out of their kennels at least once a day to run and play in this area. 

The yard, which is very pretty in person, is also used for fundraising events. 

Women's Animal Center

Next, we visited the kennels. Each kennel had a door that leads outside so the dogs can go in and out as they please. The dogs had a good amount of space! (There were about 50 dogs in house that day.)

This is Champ, the longest canine resident. being there for a year. Champ was a little shy and didn't come into the kennel when I was there. I did get a peek to see how adorable this Pitt Bull is, though! Champ was adopted and unfortunately returned since my visit. However, WAC is in the process of transferring him to a rescue where he will live a happy life. 

Women's Animal Center

The Cats

Adoption Room

There were 99 cats on the adoption floor, with a total of 150 in house. The cat adoption area was very crowded, which was nice to see! (I tried my best to get pictures when the crowd died down a bit.)

Women's Animal Center

Women's Animal Center

I was hoping to maybe get a glimpse of one of the cats doing a high five, but the staff and volunteers were very busy interacting with potential adopters. I did get to see the Cat Pawsitive room, though, where most of the training takes place. 

Women's Animal Center

Gizmo was the oldest feline resident at 16 years old. He was adopted on October 19! 

Women's Animal Center

Tiger was the longest term resident, entering the shelter on June 12 of this year. I remember thinking "that's not that long at all."  WAC has a very good adoption rate and quick turnover! This beautiful 13 year old senior was adopted on October 23! 

Women's Animal Center

This beautiful senior lady is Missy, who is estimated to be 13 - 15 years old. Missy was adopted on November 5 by a wonderful man who had recently lost his cat, also named Missy! ! Her new owner posted on social media that "fate brought us together." 

Women's Animal Center

There is a separate area for cats who need a special diet, which is spacious enough for a person to fit in there as well. This little fluffy, Moszy, was very happy in his special space. And great news - Moszy was adopted on November 9! In previous years, Moszy was adopted three times and returned to the shelter, by no fault of his own. My paws are crossed that Moszy has finally found the purrfect family that deserves his love. 

Women's Animal Center

Community Room

WAC has a beautiful Community Cat Room, which was funded by a grant. It's a very "zen" environment where cats can get some quiet time when needed.

Women's Animal Center

The catification in the room makes Lola and Lexy very jealous! There is also space for human visitors to have a seat and relax as well. 

Women's Animal Center

The shelter's Story Tails Reading Program takes place here in the community room. I can't wait to visit again in the spring to observe and write a post about it! 

Two cats were enjoying the space, and this cutie pie loved posing for the camera! 

Women's Animal Center

His friend was a bit shyer, but that's okay. 

Women's Animal Center

The Hospital

Women's Animal Center has an onsite Veterinary Hospital that provides high quality, low-cost care for pet owners. WAC strives not only to find animals their forever homes but to keep them there by making pet ownership affordable for their forever families (and preventing animal surrender.) The hospital provides healthcare services for dogs, cats, and other small domestic pets as part of their commitment to maintaining the health and well being of animals in their community. 

Women's Animal Center

WAC is proud to be among only 12% of veterinary hospitals nationwide to be accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA.) Not only are they AAHA accredited, but they are also a Fear Free practice! (If you missed my recent series on Fear Free, you can catch up on it here.)

This state of the art facility has five exam rooms a holding room, an onsite pharmacy, and a surgical suite (which was funded through a grant.) Two surgery days are scheduled per week, for both the shelter and community pets. Free medical care is offered for community trappers and colony caretakers through their TNR program.

On staff are three full time veterinarians and eight vet techs, who provide medical services to approximately 10,000 patients a year.  If I lived in the area, I wouldn't hesitate to take Lola and Lexy here.

Women's Animal Center

In addition to all of that, there is also a comfort room, or euthanasia room, where families can have privacy during that most difficult time. 

Some Shelter Info

Here is some additional information regarding the animals at WAC:

  • In 2018, WAC had a total of 3,200 intake animals. 
  • In 2019, the shelter has seen 2,900 intakes thus far. 1,510 animals have been adopted, 346 have been transferred to rescue, and 416 lost pets have been reunited with their owers.
  • 90% of the dog intakes are Pitt Bulls. 
  • WAC is starting to see a pattern where kitten season is ending later in the year, and intakes are increasing during the fall season. Last October was their highest intake month, and they were on track for the same this October. (As a side note, there is such a need to educate people on TNR!)
  •  This year the shelter had 99 more cats this period than the previous year during the same period. 
  • The animals entering the shelter are primarily owner surrenders, and sometimes strays. 
  • Sometimes dogs are pulled from other shelters. 

About Women's Animal Center

WAC, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is celebrating 150 years of helping animals. Their founder, Caroline Earle White, opened their doors on April 14, 1869, in Philadephia, PA as the nation's first animal shelter! Since that time they have served pets and people in the Greater Philadelphia area, and have been instrumental in advocating for the welfare of animals throughout the country. 

The state of Pennsylvania dedicated a historical marker for WAC at 1320 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, the site of the organization's first offices. My niece went to college in Philly and I'm very familiar with this area. 

Women's Animal Center
Photo courtesy Women's Animal Center

Formerly known as Women's Human Society, WAC is the only open-admissions shelter in Lower Bucks County, PA, accepting all animals found or surrendered to them, regardless of age, breed, size or health. They provide shelter, veterinary care, behavior training, rescue transfer and adoption services for over 3,000 animals in need each year, and further assist the community through lost and found services, reuniting hundreds of lost pets with their families annually. 

WAC also collaborates with other welfare organizations in their area as a member of the Philadelphia No-Kill Coalition. Their collective goal is to end the killing of 100% of savable pets in shelters, reserving euthanasia only for those that are suffering terminally or determined to be a danger to the public. 

Education and Advocacy

Shortly after their opening in 1869, WAC established the nation's first humane education school programs and junior humane societies in the country. Their dedication to education and advocacy continues today through their community programs which include, but are not limited to, presentations and workshops, service learning, and the Mini Paws Club

In addition to their education programs, WAC also offers training classes, cat and dog behavior resources, and a working cats program

Women's Animal Center


There are many adoptable catsdogs, and other small pets at WAC waiting for their forever homes.      

The Adoption Center hours are: 

Tuesday through Thursday 12:00pm - 6:30pm
Friday 10:00am - 3:30pm
Saturday 10:00am - 4:30pm

For more information about the adoption process, application, and fees click here. (Adoption fees include spaying or neutering, vaccinations, flea and tick treatment, microchip, and free and discounted services in the Women's Animal Center Veterinary Hospital.) 

Women's Animal Center
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How You Can Make a Difference

There are several ways you can donate to help WAC in its mission. You can purchase items on their Amazon Wish List, and shop through Amazon Smile and choose them as your charity. 

Donations of the following can be dropped off in the lobby of the center: 

  • Towels – new and clean used
  • Kuranda Dog Beds
  • EZ Walk Harnesses (M/L and L)
  • Freedom Harnesses (M-XXL)
  • Scratch Pads
  • Kongs (XL and XXL)
  • Unopened bags & cans of dog & cat food - not past expiration date
  • Unopened sterile saline and IV fluid lines
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dawn Dish Detergent
  • Kitten Formula
  • Heating Disks
  • Cat Treats – not past expiration date
  • Soft Dog Treats – not past expiration date
  • Lo-odor pine chips or Yesterday’s News Bedding  (this type is important for animal health)
For other ways you can help, including volunteering, click here

If you'd like to read about WAC's progress in the Cat Pawsitive Pro Program, you can read my updates here. After visiting, I can honestly say they were the purrfect choice to participate in the program!

I had a wonderful time visiting the shelter, and I want to extend my thanks to Gwen for taking the time to show me around on such a busy day and for answering more of my questions afterwards. I was so impressed by everything! I wish I could write in detail about all of the programs they offer, but that would be a very long post. But I will visit again and will bring you some more first hand information. By the way, Gwen is owned by eight cats, five who were adopted from WAC. At one point Gwen adopted two senior cats who were 15 and 16 years old. They both lived with her for 23 months before they passed away. That's the kind of love I witnessed for all of the animals at WAC. 

Women's Animal Center

Women's Animal Center is located at 3839 Richlieu Road, Bensalem, PA 19020. Their main number is 215.750.3100 and the hospital's number is 215.750.5252. To stay up to date with all of their events and adoptable pets make sure to follow them on social media. 

                             Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I hope you enjoyed reading about WAC as much as I enjoyed telling you about them. 


Would you like to comment?

  1. That was a great adoption event. The sanctuary looks a lovely place and has a good success rate with adoptions. It is good to see that Gizmo was adopted as it is much harder for the older kitties to get their forever homes.

  2. Dawn, we are sincerely grateful and appreciative for this beautiful post and extensive highlight of Women's Animal Center's work, services and some of the deserving animals who have been under our care! It was our true pleasure to welcome you to our facility, and we look forward to having you back in the spring! Thank You for introducing us to your readers, but more so, Thank You for all you do to support and advocate for the work of shelters and rescues across the country, positively impacting the lives of thousands of animals in the process... Nothing we do would be possible if not for tirelessly compassionate, altogether amazing people like you.

  3. WOW! That really is a wonderful place and the caring and love certainly shows, hooray for all they do!

  4. Obviously, these folks LURV animals, which means I love them right back! Thanks for showing us!

  5. Wow, what a beautiful facility and wonderful center! That's awesome that you got to visit.

  6. They're doing great work and the photos show they are committed to keeping the animals healthy and engaged during their time in the shelter.

  7. Wow, what a nice facility! Paws up to them for all the good work they are doing for animals.

  8. How exciting that you stayed in touch with one of the Cat Pawsitive Pro shelters and that you got to visit too! (I'm writing for the program in 2020!) Looks like an amazing facility.

  9. Great post. That looks like a wonderful place for pets to wait for their forever homes. XO

  10. What a wonderful place ! They're doing a pawsome job ! Purrs

  11. Beautiful article, Dawn! This place is less than 30 minutes from where I lived in PA, and on the same street as my office. What a shame I didn't know about them. I really enjoyed reading about this.

  12. IT IS a beautiful, heart inspiring article and I read and re-read it several times. I love reading about these places. And seeing them. Your pictures are excellent.

  13. Thank You so very much for this post. We are only a hop and jump away from this center and will be visiting and maybe bringing Rumpy for a check up. He is so scared of the vet recently. Thanks again

  14. Amazing! What a wonderful shelter! Thank you for sharing about your visit. We really enjoyed it!

  15. Wow. WAC is an amazing place and filled with so much hope! I'd love to visit some time. At first, I thought it was a women's shelter (domestic violence) where animals are allowed. I would love to start a shelter like that! Given my past, I'm part of many groups for survivors and there are always posts from people desperate to get out who don't want to leave their pets.

  16. What an interesting post. We hope they continue their good work for years to come.

  17. Merry Christmas 🎄 & Happy New Year 2020 ❤️

    Puddy boy & Fameowly

  18. wow, how impressive is this shelter, i wish shelters were 1/2 has nice as this one. thank you for sharing.

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