PITTSBURGH — Two Pittsburgh animal shelters are combining to create what officials say will be the largest animal rescue organization in western Pennsylvania.

Officials from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and the Animal Rescue League announced that the merger was approved Thursday. It’ll take effect Jan. 1.

Rescue league Executive Director Dan Rossi says the merger will strengthen the organizations’ ability to serve the community. He says the organizations are expected to have a combined budget of about $7.5 million.

Humane society officials say the groups will save about $600,000 and no staff will be cut.

Rossi says the rescue league plans to move into a new East End facility by the end of the year. It will continue to operate its Verona wildlife sanctuary and pet cemetery while the humane society maintains its location on the North Side.

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