Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The "S Dogs" (part 2)

Read: The "S Dogs" (part 1)

Dozens of under-socialized dogs had made it through the doors at Animal Friends. So scared, they wouldn’t even make eye contact, it was clear they had never felt the loving touch of a human. They were filthy, trembling and some were in need of immediate medical attention.

One of the dogs, Scully, had a badly injured leg – likely an old fracture that never healed – that needed to be amputated. Serena, a timid and gentle girl, had an eye infection that had been left untreated for so long that her iris had fused to the cornea. These sweet dogs had been neglected for so long … until now.
One by one, each dog was treated by our Medical team. Topical medicine was administered to remove the fleas and ticks, followed by multiple treatments for those who had parasites. Some had giardia, others were dealing with ear infections. It was clear that these dogs had not seen a vet in a very long time … if at all.

While these deserving dogs had been rescued from their former “home,” their second chance was just beginning.

These neglected dogs didn’t trust people, but it was up to us to change that. We knew that classical conditioning and positive interactions would lay a solid foundation to slowly bring them out of their shells.

At Animal Friends, rescuing and rehabilitating animals, like Scully and Serena, takes a lot of time, energy and resources. And, no matter how long it takes – or what it costs – we know it’s worth every second … and every dollar. Right now, your dollar can go even further. Click here to have your donation matched!

stay tuned for The “S Dogs” (part 3).
At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to save a life.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Learning from Livey

When Livey arrived at Animal Friends more than 2 years ago, she began to earn a reputation. This beautiful cat with gorgeous green eyes and long gray fur was the subject of many rumors: “she is moody,” “she won’t sit on your lap,” “she only likes men,” “she hisses and swats if you try to pet her.” While there was some truth to these stories, Livey wasn’t a bad cat … she was simply misunderstood.
In February, Animal Friends began participating in Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Pawsitive initiative which was developed to reduce stress in cats who are overwhelmed by a shelter environment. The program works by associating positive behaviors with a clicking sound followed by a reward such as a treat or affection. But since Livey showed little interested in attention or treats, it was difficult to reward her for friendly interactions.
Those who knew her best saw the potential for Livey to grow into a friendly and outgoing cat, she just needed to be given the right opportunity. So, Livey was moved to a small free-roam room where she could seek attention on her own terms. If she chose to interact with guests, she was offered a click and a reward. The choice to interact with people was completely hers. Over time, Livey learned to enjoy being petted, having her ears scratched and even curling up on a lap for a cuddle.
Livey taught us that animals communicate their fears to us in different ways, but we don’t always understand. Once we understood what Livey had been telling us, her transformation began. And, now there is more truth to the rumors you hear about this sweet girl: “she greets visitors at the door,” “she’ll curl up and knead your lap,” “she likes hanging out with her female friends,” “she’ll give you a little head butt when she’s ready to be petted.”

Now, the only thing Livey needs is a loving family to call her own.
At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to change a life.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Breeding Change

A few months ago we met a man named Gary who lived in Pittsburgh’s North Side with his Shih Tzu, Sam. We introduced him to our Animal Friends for Life program, which focuses on specific communities in need of free services. Since Sam was behind on his vaccinations and hadn’t been neutered, we encouraged Gary to take advantage of the program. He was not interested in the idea of having Sam neutered, fearing that it would change his behavior and personality. So each time we saw him, we were able to teach him more about the many benefits of having his beloved pet neutered and hope that he would reconsider.

After some time, Gary agreed to have Sam neutered and vaccinated. In the following days, we picked up Sam and brought him to Animal Friends for his exam and surgery. We quickly realized that we were lucky to meet Gary when we did. Sam was cryptorchid, meaning that one testicle had not descended, putting him at a much higher risk of cancer.

Once he had recovered from surgery, we brought Sam back to his home. As we walked toward Gary’s front door, we met Nancy, one of his neighbors. She had seen us with Gary’s dog and was curious about who we were and what we were doing. It wasn’t long before we learned that Nancy wasn’t just a neighbor – she was a Shih Tzu breeder and had sold Sam to Gary.

As it turns out, Nancy had four dogs of her own. With no access to an affordable clinic, they had never seen a veterinarian. We told Nancy about the importance of spaying and neutering and explained that breeding could have a negative effect on the health and well-being of her dogs. Although she loved them dearly, these dogs were not just pets to her – they were her livelihood.

About a month and several conversations later, Nancy finally agreed to have her dogs spayed and neutered. After our compassionate staff performed the spays, neuters, exams and blood tests we learned that these sweet pups were in need of much more than routine surgery. One of them was suffering from severe periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the mouth. During surgery, another was found to have numerous cysts on her uterus and ovaries. Nancy’s decision to allow us to spay and neuter her dogs could have quite literally saved their lives.

We started Animal Friends for Life not just as a way to provide affordable and accessible wellness services, but to inform underserved communities about how to keep their companion animals healthy. By giving Gary information and resources, we were able to make certain that Sam was healthy. And, by helping Gary, we met Nancy and helped her pets continue to live long, healthy and happy lives, too!

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to alter a life.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Squiggy's Journey

Filthy from nose to tail and dangerously thin, Squiggy was rescued from a garage with four other dogs by our Humane Investigations team in 2013. She was incredibly sweet – despite the deplorable living conditions she was found in. Squiggy put on weight and slowly but surely regained her strength before finding a loving home.

Several years went by before Squiggy found her way back to Animal Friends. Her devoted owner had been battling health problems and – despite his best efforts – simply couldn’t give her the care she needed any longer. Devastated, he returned an 11-year-old Squiggy to Animal Friends.

Shortly after she returned, we discovered several masses on Squiggy’s head and neck. Tests confirmed that they were mast cell tumors, a product of a common, and potentially, aggressive type of skin cancer. Days later, she underwent surgery and the tumors were successfully removed.

Having fully recovered from her surgery, Squiggy is now cancer free and looking for a loving home to enjoy the rest of her days. This beautiful girl has truly become a staff and volunteer favorite at Animal Friends and after all she has been through, needs a family that will give her all the love she deserves.

From our Humane Police Officers and Medical team to our Admissions and Adoption Counselors and everywhere in between, Squiggy was given a second chance at a happy life thanks to the compassionate care of so many people. Now, she just needs someone to help her continue her story.

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to save a life.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Ollie Finds His Family

By Elliott Enzo, Ollie's Adopter
At just 3 months old, Ollie and his litter mate were brought to Animal Friends after they had accidentally been caught in a humane raccoon trap. Since he hadn’t experienced human interaction and was extremely shy and fearful, Ollie went to spend some time in a foster home where he would learn to trust people. After 6 months of a lot of love and socialization in the foster home, Ollie returned to Animal Friends in search of a very special family who would be patient and understanding of his needs. And, then, well we’ll let his adopter Elliott take it from here.

“To understand why I adopted Ollie, you must first know about my other cat, Blinkn who was 3 months old when I adopted her. She was nearly feral and her skittish nature had made it difficult for her to connect with potential adopters. When I first met her, I sat back and waited. Miraculously, she slowly approached me, put both front paws on my chest and meowed. Right then, I knew that I’d be the one to give her the home she needed.

“It took time and patience for Blinkn to grow to trust me, but slowly and surely over the years her bravery and confidence grew. Blinkn grew up with another friendly and outgoing cat in the apartment and it wasn’t until after he left us that I noticed how much she had benefited from his presence. Once he was gone, I knew I had to find a friend for her.

“I visited Animal Friends and explained my situation to an Adoption Counselor. I was looking for the same connection I had made with Blinkn 7 years earlier. We walked past a room where three cats were sharing a space – Ollie was one of them. Our eyes met – and just as Blinkn had reached out and put her paws on me – I felt that same connection with Ollie.

“I spent some time in the room, I knew Ollie was very fearful so I just hung out and softly talked to him for a while. I noticed that one of the other cats in the room was very nurturing to Ollie and also friendly toward me. I was able to pet her and Ollie cautiously followed her lead. Astonishingly, Ollie began to purr as I petted him. I knew that Ollie would be the perfect companion for me and Blinkn – and just as importantly, we were the right family for him.

“Ollie came home with me the next day. I was pleased to see him respect Blinkn’s boundaries and noticed that he was comforted by her presence. Now, they play together, sleep together, share nuzzles and Ollie will even touch noses with me. We’ve bonded as a family and it’s clear that Ollie is happy here. Just as importantly, Blinkn has benefited from having another cat in the house again. I’m so grateful to Animal Friends for helping to bring the three of us together.”

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to improve a life.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The "S Dogs" (part 1)

Anxious yips and whines seemed to fill every bit of space in our Admissions hallway. Crates upon crates upon crates filled with terrified dogs lined the walls. Staff and volunteers hurriedly went to work getting each dog … Severus, Sherlock, Saber, Sunday, Sage … checked out as they entered our collaborative network of care.

Each of these Collie mixes … Saxon, Sharon, Seger, Shea, Sergio … had been rescued as the result of a case that our Humane Police Officers had been working on for nearly a decade. Dozens of dogs had been living on a property without adequate food, water or shelter. Their “home” was reminiscent of a junkyard. They … Sally, Shiloh, Sasha, Sonny … lived under broken-down cars, among trash and in their own waste. They received barely enough human interaction to survive.

They were so scared they were almost catatonic … Sheldon, Sedona, Salvatore, Scully … some needed immediate medical attention … Selena, Seneca, Sydney, Sanford, Shelly, Sargent … and were rushed to receive emergency care. Many were so fearful they wouldn’t even allow as much as the gentle touch of a compassionate staff or volunteer. We so badly wanted them to understand that they were finally safe, cared for and, most importantly, loved.

It was no easy task to get these pups to Animal Friends, but after more than 12 hours of working together, a team of staff and volunteers returned to our Resource Center. They were filthy, sunburnt and exhausted, yet overjoyed that these dogs would finally get a fresh start. Even after a full day of scouring the dilapidated property, there were still dogs in need of rescue. Over the next few months, our team returned to the property and one by one, brought back … Sean, Simon, Sierra, Steffan, Salem, Silas, Sanderson, Silchas … the remaining eight.

In all, 38 canines, lovingly dubbed the “S Dogs,” … September, Salma, Saturday, Sloane, Sal, Serena … were now in our care and ready to begin their second chance. At the time, physically getting them to Animal Friends seemed like the biggest hurdle we’d need to overcome. But had we known exactly what was ahead, we would have simply recognized that this was just the first step on the S Dogs’ long road to recovery …

Click here to read The "S Dogs" (part 2).

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to save a life.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

17 Puppies

With her voice trembling over the phone, Mary felt completely hopeless. She had no income, too many animals and nowhere else to turn. Mary and her husband shared a home with their five dogs – most of them had been rescued from unthinkable situations. The first had been recovered from the middle of the street as a puppy. Another was found in an abandoned building and one had been found tied to a vacant house on a rope that was just 6 inches long. There was no doubt that Mary and her husband loved their pets.

But as Mary’s panicked tone indicated, she was facing a crisis. Two of her dogs had become pregnant. Before she knew it, Mary found herself with more dogs … 17 puppies to be exact. Her landlord found out and threatened to evict her. So she painstakingly found homes for each of the puppies through trusted members of her church. Mary knew she needed to have her dogs spayed and neutered, but she couldn’t afford it. She had almost given up hope until she called Animal Friends.

A calm voice told Mary to take a deep breath and not to worry. Help would soon be on the way.

Knowing we had to act fast, our Clinic Services team jumped into action. Animal Friends is a proud provider of the City of Pittsburgh’s Free Spay/Neuter program which allows city residents up to five free spay/neuter surgeries for pets with a license.

That’s when the compassion of our staff and volunteers took over. An Animal Friends staff member drove to Mary’s house where together they filled out the application. They even walked down the street to her sister’s house to fill out an application for one of the 17 puppies and an adult dog.

Early the next morning, we picked up Mary’s dogs from her house. They were brought to Animal Friends where they underwent spay/neuter surgeries, and were returned home that evening.

We called Mary the next day to see how her pups were doing post-surgery and she broke down in tears. She was so grateful that we were able to give her the help and peace of mind she so desperately needed. Mary vowed to help the new families of each of the remaining puppies to get them spayed and neutered through Animal Friends.

Through the Animal Friends for Life program, we challenge ourselves to see each situation from our client’s point of view. This program is a core component of our mission to end pet overpopulation and unwarranted euthanasia in our region. Without this program, the underserved communities in our region would not have access to these lifesaving services.

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to alter a life.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Filling Voids and Offering Safety Nets

Everyone finds themselves in a pinch now and then. Sometimes that pinch feels a lot more like a vice clamping down on your ability to keep heat on in the house or even to put food on the table – or in your pet’s bowl.
That’s the core reason we’re so excited about our new Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center. Opening in July 2017, the center will offer an expanded array of low-cost supportive services including spay/neuter, vaccines, basic treatments like flea prevention. And it will allow our Chow Wagon Pet Food Bank to expand and serve more hungry pets in our region.

Our new Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center isn’t meant to add competition in the veterinary community. We are simply filling a void. Meeting an unmet need. Our experience and hands-on work in our local communities has made it abundantly clear that there are still too many limited-income pet owners who cannot afford care for their pets. And it’s the pets who are suffering.

We see them at our low-cost clinics grateful for basic care that will stop the itch, the pain or simply keep them healthy.

We see them surrendered to shelters when their owners can no longer afford them and feel they are out of options.

We see them as stray cats fending for themselves on the streets unable to stop the endless cycle of unwanted kittens.

We see them through the exhausted eyes of those struggling to make ends meet at rural shelters and rescue groups who are drowning in the cost of medical care.

At Animal Friends we know we can do better. And with the Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center – and the support of the community – we will.

So whether you are eagerly anticipating our July opening so you can use our expanded low-cost services or you simply want to support a vision that ensures all pets have access to basic care, we encourage you to spread the word about our new Center. And, if you are able, please consider a contribution.

Because as long as there are pets who are unwanted, hungry, sick or simply need a safety net, we know our work is not done.

Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/AWC to donate!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Home to Home Adoption Program: Rally and Uno

Rally and Uno were taken in by a Good Samaritan out of the kindness of her heart. Now, she wants to help them find families to call their very own through Animal Friends Home to Home Adoption program. Could you give one of these lovable guys the gift of a loving home?


Rally is a 4-year-old Mountain Cur dog. He is an energetic and lovable boy who can be found bouncing around outside one minute and sound asleep on your lap the next. He absolutely loves people and is one of the friendliest pooches you'll ever meet. Rally is also housebroken and neutered. Now, he just needs a loving family to give him the attention he deserves and the love he needs.


Uno is a 4-year-old Bulldog mix. He had a tough start to life when he was found abandoned with a broken leg while he was a puppy. Sadly, his veterinarian believes the break was likely from abuse. Thankfully, his leg has been all fixed up and he has since thrived, transforming into a goofy, lovable "lap dog" who loves everyone he meets. Uno is neutered, up to date on all of his vaccines and can't wait to find his perfect family!

If you can give Rally or Uno the loving family they deserve, contact Jennifer at maitlandjennifer@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Time is Tick-ing Away – Is Your Pet Protected Against Lyme Disease?

By Eleanor Miller, Senior Animal Wellness Coordinator/Medical Coordinator

April is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and with the warm weather just around the corner, Animal Friends wants to be sure you have everything you need to protect your pets. Lyme disease can quickly become a serious issue not only for the animals in your life, but for you.

Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing diseases transmitted by insects or other organisms in the United States. As the summer months quickly approach, it’s important to protect your pets against this debilitating disease. Lyme disease is more commonly found in dogs, but your cats, rabbits and other pets are also at risk of contracting it.

Because western Pennsylvania has plenty of densely forested areas and no shortage of wildlife living right in our backyards, it is among the areas where Lyme disease is most prevalent. As the temperature climbs, larvae that have spent the winter months dormant grow into adults that can transmit Lyme disease through a bite. The tick must already be infected and remain attached for at least 48 hours for transmission of the bacteria to take place.

Once infected, animals may experience intermittent lameness, fever, swelling of joints, loss of appetite, swelling of lymph nodes and lethargy. In severe cases, animals may even experience an acute onset of renal failure. While the symptoms can be managed medically, there is no cure for Lyme disease. The single most important thing you can do for your pet is to provide preventatives. There are also vaccines that will protect your four-legged family members against Lyme disease. Although they won’t prevent the disease from taking hold entirely, they can help to lessen the symptoms if the bacteria is introduced.

Thankfully, Animal Friends offers Lyme vaccines and flea and tick preventative treatments through our Low-Cost Vaccine Clinics. Don’t wait until it’s too late! With a mild winter coming to a close, flea and tick season is expected to be more severe and arrive sooner. Protecting your pets now could save them (and you!) from a lot of pain and discomfort down the road – not to mention your vet bills!

If you would like more information about tick prevention, Lyme disease and for a full schedule of Low-Cost Vaccine and Microchip Clinics, contact Animal Friends at 412-847-7004 or visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/Vaccine.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Flounder found his way to Animal Friends a little over a year ago with his brother Sebastian. We knew immediately that these lovable boys were inseparable. Despite being infested with parasites and suffering from severe dental disease, these amazing kitties never lost their sweet, friendly personalities. Even after they developed IBD, a disease that attacks the digestive system, Flounder and Sebastian leaned on each other and relied on the love and care of our compassionate staff and volunteers.

Sadly, at the beginning of the New Year, Flounder and Sebastian were separated in the worst way imaginable. Sebastian developed Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), an incurable and fatal disease and passed away. Being that FIP, although not contagious, has a genetic component, Flounder is potentially at risk of developing the disease.

Despite Flounder's health concerns we are dedicated to finding him a loving home. Nothing would make Flounder happier than a cozy lap next to a warm fire. It could be a few weeks or several years, but this sweet and affectionate boy deserves the best life possible for the rest of his days.

If you can give Flounder the gift of a loving home, contact Animal Friends' Adoption team today at 412.847.7002 or AdoptionInfo@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Home to Home Adoption Program: Toby

Toby is a 9-year-old Shepherd mix who was rescued by an older woman from an abandoned litter of puppies. Sadly, Toby's rescuer passed away about a year ago and he has been living with a foster family since.

He can be a little anxious at times, particularly when interacting with men. While he has been working hard to overcome his shyness and is happy and comfortable when the whole family is home, he is still a little uneasy when he's home alone with his foster dad.

Typically, Toby is a well-behaved, social and playful guy! Although he has had limited experience with children, Toby has lived well with cats and other dogs.

Toby's favorite activities are chewing his squeaky toys, enjoying a quiet night in with his most trusted human (and animal!) friends, and having his ears gently scratched. This handsome boy absolutely loves going for walks and despite his uneasiness, will even go for a stroll with his foster dad.

Toby is a low-maintenance pup who is content and well-behaved when left home alone during the work day. This lovable boy is really the best of both worlds, loving his playtime with both people and pets, but also appreciating the art of relaxation!

While he has made some significant improvements in trusting his foster dad, his current family doesn't want to continue to push him. Toby does have male human friends that he is quite comfortable with, but to help him thrive, his family wants him to find a loving home where he will be as comfortable as possible.

If you think your home would be a good fit for Toby, please contact Clinton at 412.345.3284 or info@bluenovember.info.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Animal Friends Presents Barney!

Meet Barney, an incredibly brave 7-year-old orange Tabby who wouldn’t give up to get his second chance at a happy life. After his previous owner left him outside to fend for himself, he tried to join a colony of community cats. But Barney was accustomed to life indoors and was not prepared to live the life of a community cat – thanks to a compassionate man who fed and cared for the colony Barney survived.
But, as the caregiver soon began to notice, life wasn’t easy for Barney. He began showing up on the man’s doorstep, each time with more severe injuries. It seemed Barney was not being accepted into the colony and couldn’t protect himself. He knew he needed to do something but didn’t know where to turn.

Help was not far off. Staff and volunteers from Animal Friends would soon visit his neighborhood. They were going door-to-door offering free spay and neuter services to the neighborhood residents through Animal Friends for Life. When we heard about Barney, we wasted no time and brought him to Animal Friends so his second chance could begin.
When he arrived, Barney was examined by our on-site veterinarian. She discovered that his battle scars were just the beginning of his troubles. Barney was also showing signs of an upper respiratory infection and tested positive for FIV. This meant he had a slightly weakened immune system. An indoor cat can live a healthy life with FIV when seen by a vet regularly. But an outdoor cat who had to contend with the elements would have a much harder time.
What was even worse, the veterinarian quickly noticed that Barney had a rare condition that causes the edges of his eyelids to invert. If left untreated, this could cause permanent blindness. Luckily, Barney was in the right place. He was vaccinated, treated for his upper respiratory infection and was neutered and microchipped. Barney also successfully underwent surgery for his eye condition and is now seeing perfectly!
Had Animal Friends for Life not met the colony caretaker, Barney would not have survived. Thankfully, help came just in time for Barney, but there are still more homeless pets in our region that need your help.

Now, you can help more animals just like Barney receive the lifesaving support they desperately need by purchasing Sarris Candy. Click here and use Group ID# 10-0375 and designate Animal Friends as your organization when placing your candy order and you'll be supporting Animal Friends in the sweetest way possible!

Don't delay! The deadline to place your online order is April 7.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ease Cabin Fever with Indoor Enrichment for Your Pets

Animals need ways to stay active – physically and mentally – all year long. With the weather turning from cold to colder, here are some indoor tips that will help to ease cabin fever and give you and your pets endless entertainment on those cold winter days!

Build a Cat Activity Center
Things that would typically be thrown away can easily be made into an entertaining play station for your cat! Everyday items such as toilet paper tubes, pipe cleaners, clean medicine cups, ribbon spools or egg cartons can provide hours of brain-stimulating fun! Use a shallow cardboard box as the base and securely glue your items in place.

Once your activity center has taken shape, add a few pinches of catnip, jingle bells, toys or treats. Your cat will enjoy exploring the textures, smells and sounds and her brain will be put to work! Once she has lost interest, refill the goodies and move it to a new location. Your cat will think she has made a brand new discovery and you’ll be able to reuse your activity center time and time again!

Put Your Dog’s Sniffer to the Test

Dogs are great at detecting smells and their superior sniffers are a great way to help them have some fun when it’s too cold outside for their typical activities.

Bottles in a Box
A large box filled with empty water bottles can really put your pup’s brain to work. Drop in a few treats and let your dog sniff, search and dig for them. Since the bottles make lots of noise, try crumbled newspaper for fearful dogs to help them build confidence.

Scent Trail
Take a page out of Hansel and Gretel’s book and lay out a trail of tiny treats. This game can be played inside in any amount of space – use your imagination! After leading your pooch through the kitchen, around the couch and up the stairs, leave a jackpot (a small pile of treats) at the end of the trail as a reward for your little explorer!

Create a Foraging Game for Your Rabbit

A rabbit in the wild must search for his food. By creating a foraging game you can easily encourage your indoor rabbit to get some exercise while searching, sniffing and thinking to find a treat.

Show your rabbit a treat and then hide it in your hand, under your leg or behind a toy. Let him sniff out the treat. Next, make a trail of fresh greens across the room, hiding some of the pieces. If your bunny makes quick work of the trail, you can take it to the next level by slowly dragging one leaf across the floor and hiding it at the end. Your rabbit’s mind will be working to follow his nose all the way to the treat. The better you hide the prize, the harder he’ll have to work to find it!
These are just a few of the countless enrichment activities you can use to keep your four-legged family members active all winter long. You can have fun thinking up other games to exercise your pet’s body and mind – the only limit is your imagination! For inspiration and more great ideas, go to ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/Enrichment.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Home to Home Adoption Program: Baby Girl

Meet Baby Girl, a 3-year-old tabby cat that has become an unofficial member of her family. A couple of years ago she showed up at their home and has since taken up residence in the neighborhood, calling the garage home at night. They have grown very fond of her over the years and she has truly become a member of the family.
Her temporary family will be moving away from their home and are unable to take Baby Girl with them. Since they've gotten to know her so well over time, they want to do anything they can to help her find a loving home that can provide her with the love and attention she needs. Baby Girl is a phenomenal cat who is spayed, up-to-date on her vaccinations and is litter trained. She's friendly with other cats, dogs and people – all she needs now is a home of her own!
If you would like to give Baby Girl a loving home, contact her foster mom today!

Debra Marcocci
724.591.2293 | dmarcocci@hotmail.com

Monday, January 2, 2017

Home to Home Adoption Program: Toby

Toby is a 2-year-old boy who was found by his current family as a stray. This handsome boy has long black, brown and white fur. Toby likes to play quietly with his toys and loves to use his scratching post! He also enjoys passing the time giving himself a nice grooming!

He hasn't had an opportunity to interact with cats, but gets along very well with the Rottweiler that currently shares his home. Although he is a little skittish, Toby is slowly but surely learning to be more confident. This docile kitty doesn't mind being handled and is a great sport about ear cleaning, medication and nail trimming. Toby is also a true gentleman about using his litterbox!

Though he's not quite a lap cat, he is very affectionate on his own terms and follows his foster family around like a shadow! If you're looking to give a fun cat with just the right amount of energy a home, contact Toby's foster to meet him today.

Brigitte Biklodeau

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Best Gift of All

Tips for Giving a Shelter Animal a Home for the Holidays

The holidays are a great time of year for many reasons. Visiting with friends and family, time off of work and school and, of course, those shiny packages wrapped up with colorful bows! It’s also the perfect time of year to give a home to a shelter pet because you and your family will be spending more time at home with the newest addition to your family.

When bringing your new pet home, you’ll want to make the transition as pleasant and stress-free as possible. Whether you’re considering adding a cat, dog or rabbit to your family, keep these helpful tips in mind.


If you’re adopting a cat, the first recommendation each of our Adoption Counselors will make is to separate your cat in one room of your home until they’re acclimated to their new environment. This should be the smallest room in your home with the least amount of clutter. Cats can be overwhelmed easily, so it’s best to take your time building a relationship. Spend some time in the room with your new cat each and every day. When he or she greets you at the door and is no longer hiding, it’s probably time for more space and freedom!


Dogs are a constant source of fun and entertainment, but you’ll need to take steps to keep your new canine family member (and your house!) out of trouble. Your dog will need a dog-proof space to rest and chew appropriate items when you’re not around – a crate or small room is ideal. From day one, start teaching your pooch the rules of the house through positive reinforcement. Eventually, he’ll learn to be trustworthy in your absence and will excel at following the rules of his new home.


Bringing home a rabbit is a wonderful experience. Rabbits are social creatures who want companionship just as much as you do. Using an exercise pen is the best option as opposed to a cage or hutch because it gives you the option of making your rabbit’s area any size you’d like. A rabbit’s area should be at least four times the length of the rabbit or large enough for him or her to stretch out comfortably – while fitting a litterbox and food and water bowls.

Follow these tips and you and your new family will be well on your way to happily ever after. Patience is the key to building a strong relationship with your pet, it’s always better to take your time and be sure than to rush it!

We know that the greatest gift you can give to a shelter pet is a home. To make this wish come true for as many of our residents as possible this holiday season, we’re offering priceless* adoptions for each cat, dog and rabbit at Animal Friends through Dec. 31 thanks to the entire Fragasso family. Come to Animal Friends or click here to get started now!

*Standard adoption application procedures apply.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

"Almost" Doesn't Count

Two silken-coated puppies run circles around their foster family’s yard. The cocoa-colored blurs of bouncing ears and wagging tails were chasing a windblown leaf. After they lost interest, they pounced on each other and tumbled into a heap of playful yips and barks. Their antics constantly gave their foster parents a chuckle and – without a doubt – were the very definition of endearing.
Born in foster care just days before Christmas, these adorable pups were aptly named Hope and Cheer.
One look into their trusting eyes and you’d never guess that they almost didn’t survive ...
An anonymous tip about a house with too many animals led us there. No matter how many times our Humane Police Officers see these situations – it never gets easier.
With a search warrant and back-up from local police, our officers entered the residence. What they saw was truly heartbreaking.
Dozens of severely matted dogs and puppies were covered in feces. They were sleeping in drawers, hiding in closets and under beds. Some of the dogs swarmed the officers’ feet. Others ran away terrified. Some weren’t moving at all.
Instead of toys and leashes there were stacks of trash, stained carpets and empty food bowls. These dogs needed help – and fast.
We quickly filled crate after crate. Vehicle after vehicle.
After they were all safely removed, one last sweep of the house found more evidence to turn the situation from tragic to cruel.
The dogs – purebred Yorkshire Terriers – were never intended to be members of this family. They were simply a means for their owner to make an income. Bred and sold for cash.
But now, 27 dogs and two cats were on their way to get the help they so desperately needed. They were on their way to a fresh start. They were on their way to Animal Friends.
Word spread quickly that a big rescue was underfoot. Eager staff and volunteers came from every corner of the building to lend a hand.
You see, our kennels are always filled to capacity with homeless animals. So, we had to creatively make space for our emergency arrivals.
Temporary kennels were set up. Volunteer foster families were readied. We even equipped our Outreach Center as a triage area to provide medical care as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Medications were administered for the infections that plagued their tiny bodies. The mats that entombed them were sheared off. And the anxious cries that echoed throughout the building were met with words of comfort. Little did we know that this rescue alone would cost $70,000 – on top of our daily demands.

As the excitement died down, the dogs settled into their kennels. Those who needed around-the-clock attention were placed into foster homes. Including a pregnant mom, Betsy, so she could safely give birth to small litter of puppies.
Hope and Cheer were almost born into a world of neglect and mistreatment. They almost didn’t receive enough care or human interaction to survive.
But luckily for them ... almost doesn’t count.
In foster care their personalities blossomed. Cheer became the little rebel. And, Hope was deemed the angel. Wherever foster mom went, Hope could be found padding along behind her peering up with soft, brown eyes.
And, by the time they came back to Animal Friends they knew how to walk on leashes and sit for treats. They knew how to love and be loved. And soon, they found their adoptive homes where they would become beloved members of the family.
At Animal Friends, our residents' pasts are filled with a lot of “almosts.” Almost starved. Almost left for dead. Almost didn’t survive. Almost.
We never want to see these almosts become realities. And because of you they never will.
Because of you, lifesaving rescues like this one are possible.
Because of you, spay and neuter is affordable and accessible so fewer pets end up unwanted or abused. Because of you, each year at Animal Friends 2,500 animals are given much-needed behavioral and holistic care.
Because of you, animals in crisis – like Hope and Cheer – are given another chance. But there are still other pets who need you to turn their almosts into happy endings.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Animal Friends' Annual Straw Drop: Free Straw for Outdoor Pets and Feral Cats

To prepare for falling temperatures, we're hosting our annual Straw Drop. Free bags of straw are offered to anyone who owns or cares for outdoor animals – including feral and community cats.

While Animal Friends encourages pet owners to make pets part of the family and keep them inside the home, we recognize that this is not always possible. Animal Friends urges those caretakers to obey the law by ensuring that outdoor animals have access to proper food and warm, dry shelters. Blankets, towels and pillows can retain moisture and freeze, which is why straw is the best insulation against the cold and wet weather conditions.

In addition to keeping outdoor animals’ living spaces insulated, there are other best practices pet owners should abide by, including:

• Using a car mat or rug as a flap over a doghouse door to keep the inside free of wind, snow and rain.
• Examining shelters carefully – and often – to ensure that there are no cracks or holes that will prevent the structure from keeping the animal safe.
• Taking extra care to provide adequate amounts of drinkable water and food at all times during freezing temperatures.
• Inspecting your pet's paws, ears and tail frequently for signs of frostbite – a very common occurrence. If you suspect frostbite, your pet will need to see a veterinarian immediately.
• Monitoring your dog's tether to ensure it is not frozen to the ground or tangled. A tangled, too-short chain can cost your pet his or her life in bad weather.

Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horne Rd. in the North Hills – just a half of a mile west of Exit 8 off of Interstate 279. 

Free bags of straw can be picked up at Animal Friends seven days a week. On a limited basis, straw delivery may be available for those without transportation. 

For more information, call Animal Friends at 412.847.7000 or visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holiday Pet Hazards: Keep Your Pets Safe This Season

By the staff at Petagogy
‘Tis the season for decorations, parties and food galore! It is a festive time with lots to smile about, but as you prepare your home for your holiday festivities keep in mind some simple safety measures to help keep your four-legged family members safe.

Christmas Trees and Holiday Plants
Cats and dogs may be (very) interested in the tree, and why not—it’s a little bit of the outdoors inside on those cold winter days. If your furry family member is interested in the pine tree in the corner make sure it is secured. A hefty cat on a branch or an excited jump by a pooch could topple the tree on to more than just the neatly wrapped boxes underneath. Also keep holiday plants off the ground as many seasonal plants, including holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, lilies, as well as Christmas tree water, can be toxic if ingested by your pets.

Be mindful of low hanging decorations. Jingle bells, tinsel, lights and ribbon might look like toys to your pets. A gentle swat with a paw could lead to chewing and swallowing, which could lead to an emergency trip to the vet.

Holiday Feasts
A highlight of the holiday season is the food. Serving sweets to your guests? Keep them up high out of your pooch’s reach. Chocolate and artificial sweetener (xylitol) are very bad for your pet. Although a few bites of plain turkey or vegetables are fine, the spices, sauces and butter used to make the turkey and sides delicious for your guests are not, so keep leftovers out of the dog bowl and encourage guests not to feed pets from their plate. No turkey or ham bones either—once the bones have been cooked they pose a serious hazard for your pets. Raw, uncooked bones are often safe, but when they are cooked they become hard and can crack, splinter or be come lodged in the throat. Still want to give your pet a holiday treat? Some high-quality food companies make special foods that you can give your pets around the holidays—try Merrick’s Venison Holiday Stew or Christmas Day Dinner for your pup. 

Holiday Guests
Family and friends may be coming to visit over the holidays or perhaps you are planning a holiday party. Guests may enjoy a holiday libation and can become lax about making sure doors and gates are closed, or may leave their adult beverage within your pet’s reach--both can be dangerous to your furry friends. In situations where your guests may not be pet savvy or they may not make the “best” decisions, it might be best to board your pet, or keep them separated in another room for the evening. Also make sure they are wearing current ID tags and are micro-chipped in case they escape during the flow of guests in and out of your house.

Gifts for Your Pet
People love to spoil other people’s pets and may want to buy something tasty for your furkids. Be cautious; not everyone reads FDA warnings and may be unaware that certain chicken jerky and other treats made in China have been making pets sick. If you don’t trust the brand or know where the ingredients are sourced from, be gracious but don’t risk giving it to your pet just to be polite to the gift-giver. I promise your pet won’t rat you out.

Petagogy (pronounced pet-uh-go-jee) specializes in premium and natural pet foods, treats and supplies. Petagogy is located at 5880 Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Learn more at www.petagogypgh.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Why #GivingTuesday is Better Than Black Friday

Taking place after popular shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season and encourages you to give.

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, here are the top 10 reasons why #GivingTuesday is better than Black Friday!
10. #GivingTuesday is much safer than Black Friday! You won't have to wait in long lines with freezing temperatures only to be trampled by your fellow shoppers looking for the best deal on a flat-screen TV!

9. You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn. You can donate at any point during the day, whenever is most convenient for you.

8. You can participate from the warmth and comfort of your home, so keep those PJs on!

7. You can eat ice cream and watch Netflix while donating. That's always a bonus.

6. You don’t have to break the bank to make a donation, even the smallest gift can have an amazing impact!

5. You can feel good about the money you gave, rather than regret the money you spent shopping.

4. Giving a gift on #GivingTuesday takes only a few seconds. You could spend hours standing in Black Friday lines!

3. Giving to charity gives you serious karma points.

2. Lower your tax bill with these charitable contributions!

1. Most importantly, your gift will make a difference in the lives of our region's homeless pets right now. What's even better ... if you donate $100 or more today, you'll receive a limited edition keepsake ornament to show your support of Animal Friends for years to come!

Head over to ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/GivingTuesday to join us and kick off the holiday season on a positive note. And remember, each and every dollar will help more animals in need!