Good Grief | Honoring Our Pets
Man's Best Friend

Influence Positively Interview Joan Smith-Reese


Joan Smith-Reese is Executive Director of Animal Care Sanctuary. Animal Care Sanctuary is 45 years old but for many years was not in the limelight, just caring for animals without the fanfare. They are located in very rural NE Pennsylvania. They care for approximately 700 animals daily, mostly cats and dogs but have some horses, pigs, rabbits, etc. too.

They work under Cornell’s Shelter Management Program through Maddie’s Fund and their goal is adoption, concentrating on senior pets. "We certainly get plenty of pups and kittens but it is the seniors we melt for. Our adopters come from all over the country and we are proud of our matching program."

After the animals are medically evaluated and cared for, they are behaviorally assessed. They have 35 employees and over 50 volunteers that help care for our animals and assist at adoption events, fundraising, etc.  Along with owner surrenders they work with humane shelters to pull animals when they are at capacity so that euthanasia can be avoided. Because they are all privately funded the goal was to forge a trust with the government funded organizations to assist where they can.

Previously, Joan was owner of Keystone Home Health Services, Inc. in Philadelphia and President of Keystone Hospice. Both organizations had over 200 employees. Joan has her Bachelors from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA and her Masters from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia PA in Holy Spirituality in Health Care. She resides in Waverly NY and has one son Drason serving in the Air Force.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Lying in bed in the evening and reading poetry to my three dogs that listen intently until I read them to sleep.

If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why?

I would come back as a dog. There is just not one I don’t love and they make so much difference in the lives of so many.

What is your pet’s most treasured possession?

Me! I think because they all were adopted as seniors, experiencing the worst life has to offer, and now because they are loved, adored and cared for, they think I am their hero. If they only knew they rescued me!

Your proudest achievement so far?

Creating a team of caregivers and leadership that understand that animals come first. They are not just compassionate but also have the critical thinking necessary to make Animal Care Sanctuary an exceptional place to work and play!

Who are your heroes in real life?

Jane Goodall - as a role model.

Etty Hillesum – for hope and inspiration even when the worst is about to happen.

My mother – cheerleader, listener, nurturer, always saying “Keep up the fight for what is right!”

All the animal and human caregivers across our globe that do the real work and are often the most overlooked.













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