Friday, January 28, 2011

Animal Friends Goes Black and Gold

It’s party time in Steelers Nation, and Animal Friends is kicking off a four-foot-ball celebration!

  • Animal Friends’ Free-Roaming Cat room has been turned into a Pittsburgh Porch for our yinzer felines to tail-gate.

  • Animal Friends’ on-site pet supply shop and boutique is Pittsburgh’s one-stop shop for the four-legged football fan. In addition to Steelers-themed pet sweaters and toys, Animal Friends raffling off a gigantic basket stuffed with everything a pet needs to enjoy the game: a cozy Steelers bed, black and gold toys, munchies and more. Tickets are $1 each or 10 for $5.

  • It’s a Bunny Bowl! On our home field, there’s no penalty for holding our furry tailbacks. Anyone interested in learning more about rabbits and why they make great pets is invited to Animal Friends on Saturday, Feb. 5 from 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm for the Bunny Bowl, where free-roaming, adoptable bunnies will kick around the “field” in Animal Friends’ Outreach Center.

  • Incoming residents are being given Steelers-themed names. So far, we’ve welcomed a puppy named Rooney and Lamar Hunt, an 8-year-old cat.

  • Animal Friends is hosting a pet photo contest! We want to see our alums (and their four-footed friends!) in their Superbowl gear! Send Animal Friends a photo your pet in football-themed attire. Photos will be posted on Animal Friends’ Facebook. The pet that receives the most “likes” by February 6 (Superbowl Sunday) will receive a basket of goodies from Animal Friends’ pet supply shop and boutique. Second and third place winners will receive an Animal Friends t-shirt, so get voting! Click here to learn more!

This week, we say a fond farewell to our friend Donner, aka Uncle Leo.

We first met Donner when homicide detectives made a special plea to Animal Friends. They were investigating a murder in a home. But, they told us, eight pets also needed help…right away.

Further investigation would be needed to determine the details of shooting. But, as Animal Friends’ Humane Officers arrived on the scene, it was clear that life had not been easy for anyone in this troubled home. As the officers picked through mountains of garbage and soiled debris, they discovered that four dogs, a mother cat and her kitten, and two small mammals called degus had been living amidst the chaos—but just barely.

Donner, a 12-year-old smooth collie mix, was found in a far corner of the house. A sweet, shy dog, he trembled and huddled to the floor as though willing himself to disappear. His weary bones poked through pink, hairless skin. Like the other animals he lived with, Donner was starving, emaciated, and suffering from severe flea infestation.

He couldn’t have known that, thanks to Animal Friends, someone was coming to save him.

While the homicide investigation went on around them, Animal Friends’ Humane Officers loaded Donner and the seven other animals into their vans and rushed them to safety and care. They brought them to Animal Friends.

After a lengthy rehabilitation, Donner was featured on our annual telethon, where a wonderful woman and her husband saw him for the first time. They knew that Donner need a very special home, and they knew that they could give him one. They adopted him and named him Uncle Leo.

This week, his adopter sent us this wonderful email:

"Sadly, we had to put Uncle Leo to sleep this afternoon. He was finding it so difficult to move about, and I’m sure the pain from his arthritis was great. I want to thank you and Animal Friends for so many things including ...

Giving him a place to live after the tragedy that struck his family. Any other rescue would have been forced to put him to sleep because of his advanced age.

Giving him a place to return to after his first adoptees returned him for counter surfing.

Showcasing his story on the telethon so that I had a chance to meet him.

And most of all, thank you for giving us the pleasure of Uncle Leo being part of our family for almost three years. We are so grateful that we had him in our lives. He showed us that no matter what happens in your life, you can still live with grace and dignity.

Thank you, Animal Friends."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Scaredy Cats (and dogs and rabbits!)

Guest Blogger: Christine Line, Animal Friends' Communications Team

What's something you're afraid of? Maybe you shudder at the thought of a snake (if this is you, sorry for mentioning it!). Perhaps you hate heights or get scared in the dark. But did you know your pets can have phobias too?

Your dog, cat or rabbit can get scared just like you do. Common phobias in dogs and cats include the fear of thunderstorms and lightning (or anything resembling them), strangers, water, appliances you use in your house, etc. My cat is really afraid of balloons – he won't even go into a room with a balloon in it.

Whatever the phobia, if your pet has one, what can you do?

1. Figure out what the phobia is. It may be really obvious, like with a thunderstorm, or it may not be. Is your pet just a little anxious, or she become upset and destructive?

2. Know your pet's "safe spot." It's where animals go when they are scared. Maybe it's under a bed, down to the basement, or in a quiet room. Make sure the "safe spot" has blankets or a bed and a favorite toy. Chances are your pet will feel safer when he or she is surrounded by comfortable and familiar things.

3. If you can, try to distract your pet with treats or play. Don't yell at your pet, and don't try to comfort her either. Comforting or babying your pet can indicate that her fear is justified, and may only reinforce her phobia.

4. Remain calm. Your pet can sense your nervousness when you anticipate a storm coming, a stranger visiting, etc. Again, you don't want to reinforce your pet's anxiety.

5. If you're worried about the seriousness of your pet's anxiety, talk to your veterinarian. There are lots of options to try to help calm your animal's fears, but you shouldn't try them on your own without talking to a professional first.

Above all, be patient. Just like fears stick with people, they don't go away overnight with animals either. Lots of love, staying calm, and positive reinforcement can do wonders.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year from Animal Friends!

2011 got off to a wonderful start at Animal Friends!

Every New Years Eve for the past 14 years, Animal Friends’ staff and volunteers have traveled to local Animal Control facilities to bring back the stray and unclaimed pets who are slated to be euthanized.

Most of the local Animal control facilities that pick up lost and stray pets do not offer adoption opportunities. These facilities work with organizations like Animal Friends to transfer as many unclaimed pets as possible. However, nearly 60% of unclaimed dogs are destroyed. (Dogs must be held for 48 hours after pickup. Sadly, there is no such law for cats.)

During the New Years Eve Rescue, Animal Friends welcomes each rescued pet with open arms at our resource center, where they're vaccinated, bathed, groomed, given a comprehensive medical and behavioral evaluation, spay or neutered, then readied for adoption.

Animal Friends does this for three reasons: to cast a light on the staggering number of pets who are euthanized every year; to promote the incredible rewards of adopting a homeless pet; and to educate pet owners about the importance of tagging and licensing their pet.

This year, Animal Friends was able to save 55 animals -- 47 dogs and 8 cats! Here is a video about our first rescued pet:

Check out this news story about the rescue, too!