Morris Animal Refuge and our furry friends can use some love


Right now, there are many people and organizations in need, including our furry friends in the city.

Morris Animal Refuge in Center City has been serving the City of Sisterly Love for way over a century—Elizabeth Morris first started her services to animals along with her friend Annie Waln in 1858, and their work was first known as the Morris Refuge Association for Homeless and Suffering Animals. The Morris Animal Refuge then opened its doors years later in 1874, and by doing so, Morris opened the first Animal Shelter in the United States and the Refuge has since provided many “firsts” for the nation when it comes to animal welfare.

“We take in all kinds of unwanted or abandoned pets throughout the Philadelphia region,” says Carly Gove, Volunteer Coordinator and Marketing Assistant for Morris Animal Refuge. “We’re an open admission shelter so we’re able to serve a lot of cases that would appear more adoptable to shelters that don’t have the ability to do that. Because we’re so small we are able to work one-on-one with a lot of animals to get them to the place where they need to be to be adopted.”

Judah, one of Morris’ animals was recently signed on to be fosteredProvided

When Morris first opened, 850 homeless and suffering animals were brought in. As the years have gone by, Morris now serves upwards of 1,500 animals annually. With the results of the recent pandemic, however, Morris has been hit hard.

“We’re completely privately funded, so we rely heavily on donations to fund all of our operations and staffing needs and animal needs,” says Gove. “I would be pushing donating now, we do really rely on them and we are certainly going to be taking a hit. If you go to our website, there is a donate button that you can click, and fill out all of that information. There’s also a way through—it’lle you right there. People can also sign up for our newsletter which is a good way to stay involved if you want to learn more about us before becoming part of the community.”

Donating is certainly a huge part of assisting the Refuge, but there are also still some furry friends who need a place to stay, especially if more strict lockdowns are implemented and Morris employees are no longer able to go to work.

“We do still have a few pets who need fosters,” says Gove. “Including small animals like hamsters and also cats. Email is the best way to find out more about those animals. [Those interested] can send requests to [email protected] and our foster coordinator can talk to you about what animals we still have left.”

Fostering will make a huge impact not only for the animals, but also for people who are staying home and may be getting a bit lonely. If there is a way to combat isolation and in turn help out an important organization, maybe there is a way to make this time seem a little more meaningful.

Fostering animals will come in a few different forms, and if you’re someone who has worked with animals before, you’re services are especially vital.

“[Our animals] can have a variety of needs—sometimes it will just be an animal that needs a home and nothing more than that, but sometimes pets don’t get along with other kinds of animals or maybe they have some kind of URI or something that requires you to administer medication. Those might be a little more complicated. It does depend, but if you have ever worked with animals or have been Vet Tech or something, being a medical foster is very helpful because you might have a better knowledge base to work with that. But really our foster coordinator can brief you on anything you need to know,” adds Gove.

Of course, fostering is one option, but adopting is also very much on the table at Morris Animal Refuge.


“We are closed to the public right now, but we are still doing adoptions if people are more interested in that than foster,” says Gove. “Adoptions are done by appointment only, and you can email us at [email protected] and fill out the application on our website.”

The world is unsettling right now, but with efforts from each and every one of us, we can make light of a difficult situation, and there is no better way to do that than to give back any way we can.

“It’s had a huge impact. We’ve had to scramble to figure out how we’re going to handle this in only a matter of a few weeks. That has involved efforts to get every single animal out of the shelter should it become necessary that we can’t go in at all,” says Gove. “That effort has been humongous and has required a ton of support from the community, so we’re just really grateful for the way our current fosters have rallied around us and our regular volunteers as well. It’s been a huge effort, but we are definitely in a good place to get through it.”

To learn more about Morris Animal Refuge, visit

More from our Sister Sites