Erie Animal Network provides many services to local community

Erie Animal Network provides many services to local community

Aiden Gromley and Gabe Allegretto

Erie Animal Network has been providing shelter for many cats around the city of Erie and has helped them to find good homes around the area. Founder Jessica Lybrook has had a deep passion for helping the animals in need and founded Erie Animal Network in 2011. Lybrook first started out with small, kind acts of helping animals, but continued to contribute larger acts as time had gone on.

Lybrook shared a story about how one particular night had inspired her to found and create Erie Animal Network. On one stormy night, Lybrook’s parents called her about a kitten that was assumed to be sick and dropped off at the foot of their house. She hurried over as fast as she could to go and helped the kitten, rushing to try and make sure it got the help that it needed from the veterinarian. Sadly, by the time she had gotten there, it had already been too late and the kitten has sadly passed away. Lybrook then knew in her heart that there were many animals that needed help, and that she had to do something to help them.

“All the way home, I had many emotions and realized I needed to do something bigger,” Lybrook said. “I wondered how many others were like me, trying to do the right thing on their own, and feeling helpless when they found an animal. I needed to find people who were like-minded and could work together to help. By the time I arrived home, I had the idea, concept, and the name. A place for local animal lovers to come together, network, and help. I founded Erie Animal Network that very night.”

Lybrook used her skills from public service to help spread the word about her new organization. Erie Animal Network started out as just a Facebook page, helping find homes for lost and found pets, but then it progressed into handing out pet food and running small operations out of a small garage they rented. After the location of an old local bar opened up, Lybrook took up the opportunity to rent it out and helped to fix up the place with the donations they received and small purchases from thrift stores. She and the volunteers have found the old bar to be a great home for animals in need.

“We find it to be very cheerful and eclectic, and the cats seem very happy,” Lybrook said.

Being a nonprofit organization has raised some concerns with raising money, but Lybrook and the volunteers have not let that discourage them from helping the animals in need. Although raising money could be an issue sometimes, she has a great belief in the strength of the team of volunteers they have so they are not cutting corners when it comes to the wellness of animals. Even without receiving a paycheck, the volunteers work hard to care for the well being of all the animals.

“We have a lot of programs and services, but our team does a fantastic job, all coming from the heart,” Lybrook said.

In working with cats and people, Lybrook puts a heavy importance on getting to know the animals and people personally.

“I think taking a moment to understand where they are coming from goes a long way to making a good relationship and a positive experience,” she said.

Lybrook hopes to launch new community-assisted programs to help focus on spray neutering for owned pets and helping out senior citizens to help take care of their pets.

Jessica Lybrook has made great strides towards helping the cat community in need. And with the help of the community, we can all join her in helping make sure cats are receiving the care they need by bringing more recognition to this great shelter.

List of Erie Animal Network Services:

Lost and Found Pet Alerts: They post approximately 6,500 alerts per year to help Erie County lost and found pets get back to their owners.

Pet Food Bank: They collect and hand out dog and cat food to pet owners who need a little help due to a temporary setback to reduce owner surrender or animal abandonment and keep those pets with their families.

Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return: This is a program to help reduce the outdoor cat population. Not every cat is nice or wants to be on our laps, but they need help and support too. Feral cats have lived among us for thousands of years and kind-hearted people often offer them shelters, food and water, which is wonderful, but there will be more homeless kittens born if not stabilized. We help their caretakers by trapping these unfriendly cats in a humane trap, taking them for spay/neuter and a rabies shot, and returning them. This way, they can live on their terms without adding to the homeless cat problem.

Safe Pet Program: In partnership with Safe Net Domestic Violence, Erie Animal Network has provided confidential, emergency pet fostering for clients leaving a situation of domestic violence. Animal abuse is often present in domestic abuse, so while the client receives the services offered by the Safe Net shelter, Erie Animal Network makes sure their pets are cared for and out of the situation as well. The pets are returned to the client once new, safe housing is obtained.

Pandemic Pets Program: Launched in December 2020 after a call from an ER nurse at a local hospital, we learned of an urgent situation that was not realized. At the peak of COVID-19, some patients needed life-saving hospitalization, but their pets were at home and not being cared for. We developed and launched the program in 7 days to fill the need. Our first client was a cat, and volunteers geared up in PPP and got the cat out, and EAN took care of him until the owner was well enough to go home. The cases began to come in quickly, but I am proud to say we filled every request and helped not only these pets but gave peace of mind to their owners so that they could recover.

Rescue Work: All EAN kitties were homeless street animals. We do not take owner-surrendered surrendered pets, as our focus remains on those animals on the streets who need our help. We respond to emergencies as they come up on nights, weekends, and holidays. There is never a dull moment in rescue work!

Community Classes/Humane Education: We offer no-cost community classes to the public on various subjects by subject matter experts, such as Pet First Aid, Bottle Feeding & Care for abandoned kittens, Pet Wellness, and Humane Education on the proper treatment and care of animals.