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Hartland a friend to hounds and humans alike

May 6, 2019 GMT

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP — Jennifer Hartland has a nurturing personality. By trade and profession she is a lab tech at Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center in Windber, drawing blood and running tests for patients.

“I like meeting people,” she says.

So it should come as little surprise that Hartland, also an animal lover, makes time for others in need — in particular, some of the four-legged variety.

For the last two years, the 57-year-old Geistown resident has been regularly volunteering at the Humane Society of Cambria County. It began shortly after she picked up kittens being adopted by her daughter-in-law.

“I just wanted to be a part of it,” she says.

“Dogs need to walk. They’re stuck in that kennel and they bark, and that’s not who they are. They’re just sweet souls.”

Approximately once a week Hartland walks dogs being sheltered at the humane society and treats them with soup bones.

“You walk with a dog and it’s peaceful,” she says. “They’re just happy being a dog and happy going on a walk. I just haven’t met a dog I don’t like.

“I feel good about just getting the dogs out. I think dogs need to walk every day. Those dogs have so much energy built up.”

The lifelong dog owner also gives back to others by visiting nursing homes with her 6-year-old black lab, Lilly.

“She’s just perfect,” she says of Lilly. “She’ll go up to people — she’s calm — and she sits down.”

Hartland is originally from Greensburg and graduated from Greensburg Salem High School.

She started at the hospital in Windber in 1981, immediately after lab tech schooling.

When she isn’t walking dogs, she says she is often walking with her husband, Tom.

The pair especially enjoys the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail along Route 271.

Moving forward, Hartland hopes to organize “pack walks” at the humane society. This means assembling a group of volunteers to walk several dogs together, which helps to socialize the animals and decrease their aggression.


And Hartland — the mother of three sons, Brandan, Brennen and Cory — emphasizes that even those who don’t like dogs can be of service at the shelter, noting that “cat cuddlers” are sought and laundry assistance is appreciated.

“I think if people knew (they were needed) there’d be all kinds of people up there,” she says. “You don’t think about all the help that they need.”

“It’s nice to put light on the shelters. It’s good for people to realize the need up there.”

She adds that she still is sure to make time for Lilly and her Tamaskan, Torben.

“You think I’d be tired of it, but no. I come home and walk mine.”