WEST CHESTER (October 4) – State Senator Andy Dinniman and local attorney Jim McErlane have selected 16 individuals to serve on the board of the Chester County SPCA and to provide a new start for the 85-year-old organization.

From a list of more than 50 individuals who expressed interest in a board position, Dinniman and McErlane late Thursday informed the following that they have been picked and entrusted with addressing the operational challenges and philosophical differences that shook the all-access animal shelter headquartered on Phoenixville Pike in West Goshen.SPCAslider

  • Peter Barsz, of Delaware County, a certified public accountant with experience on municipal, state and nonprofit advisory boards.
  • Steve Bazil, of Chester County, a local attorney who has worked with animal rescue organizations on legal matters and fund raising efforts.
  • Patricia Sons Biswanger, of Montgomery County, a commercial attorney from Bryn Mawr who is active in dog rescue and anti-puppy mill efforts.
  • William R. Bock, of Chester County, a businessman and Chester Springs resident whose family dogs, Argus and Fiona, were gunned downed by neighbor when the wandered into his yard.
  • Joseph Daly, of Delaware County, police chief of Springfield Township.
  • Tom Garg, of Chester County, a local veterinarian and legislative and policy chair for Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association.
  • Tom Hickey Sr., of Chester County, is member of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board and founder and chairman of political action committee, DogPAC.
  • David Long, of Chester County, a companion animal training consultant, owner of rescue dogs and former chief executive officer of the Coatesville YMCA.
  • Buzz Miller, of Montgomery County, founder and president of PACT for Animals.
  • Jennifer Muller, of Philadelphia, a veterinarian who owns her own practice in Philadelphia, serves on the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board, and co-founded the Alliance for Philadelphia’s Animals, which seeks to create a no-kill shelter system through spay/neuter and adoption services.
  • Howard Nelson, of Philadelphia, a former executive director of the Washington D.C. Humane Society and former chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania SPCA.
  • Karen Overall, of Chester County, a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, researcher, lecturer and editor in chief of Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
  • Marsha Perelman, of Montgomery County, a member of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board and board member of the Humane Association of the United States.
  • Paul Rubino, of Chester County, a managing partner of a Paoli law firm and a lifelong pet owner
  • Guy Donatelli, of Chester County, chairman of Upper Uwchlan’s Board of Supervisors as well as an      attorney and solicitor to local municipalities and school districts who has extensive experience with government and nonprofit boards.
  • Keith Pension, of Chester County, a board member of Natural Lands Trust.


“The quality of the pool of interested candidates was astounding, and that made the selection process that much more difficult,” Dinniman said. “But it was a good problem to have. It gave us the ability to select a new Chester County SPCA board of directors with a jaw-dropping level of expertise in everything from animal welfare to non-profit governance to fundraising.”

McErlane said, “The one obligatory qualification we had for all our selections was a deep and sincere love of animals and a sincere commitment to their well-being. After that, we selected board members who together will provide the Chester County SPCA a balance of expertise in the wide range of issues a kennel or any non-profit organization must confront.”

Dinniman and McErlane said their 16 selections plus the four current Chester County SPCA board members will fill 20 of the maximum 25 board positions. Their intent was to allow room for the new board to add to their ranks.

Dinniman became involved in efforts to revamp and revitalize the Chester County SPCA following reports of high euthanasia rates, unfilled positions and ineffective leadership. In September he successfully brokered an agreement with SPCA President Conrad Muhly whereby the Chester County SPCA would accept 11 new board members – eight nominated by Dinniman and McErlane and three nominated by Delaware County councilmember and Animal Protection Board Vice Chairman Mario Civera Jr., since it sends a significant number of dogs to the Chester County SPCA.

The selections fulfill the agreement that a majority of the new nominees be from Chester County. Conrad Muhly will remain SPCA board president until the newly constituted board elects its new leaders in the last week of March 2014.

The September agreement also called for the Chester County SPCA to immediately institute a program to increase the number of animals adopted from the Chester County SPCA by other rescue shelters.

In addition, the SPCA also launched a new initiative to review current policies, procedures and personnel; work more closely with certified animal behaviorists and shelter consultants; search for new leadership; create new staff and volunteer positions and communicate with complete transparency.

For more information contact Senator Dinniman’s Office at mindars@pasenate.com or 610-692-2112.