Thursday, June 30, 2011

Carrick Rescue Update

By: Christine Line, Animal Friends' Communication Team

At Animal Friends, we wanted to thank all who have followed the Carrick rescue story. Your support, donations, and thoughts have been much appreciated during this extremely busy time.

As many of you may know, the Carrick rescue made news headlines for several days. Dozens of cats and kittens were found in extremely poor conditions in the house. These felines were very lucky to get out of there alive, although help came a bit too late for just a few, who died shortly after being rescued. While our hearts have broken over losing these few, we are thankful that we were able to give them a couple days of cleanliness, caring, and love.

A few more positive updates: Close to 70 cats were removed from the house, although several remained at the residence after the initial rescue until we could corral them to bring them in. They were all scared, but many of them are warming up to the kindness they are receiving here at Animal Friends.

As of last week 16 were available for adoption, but many more are becoming adoptable every day. All of the cats were horribly flea infested upon rescue, and some have hair loss and sores from the fleas. Many were malnourished and are small for their age, and many also have intestinal parasites, which is very common in neglect and abuse cases. All are being treated for the parasites and will need to go home with medication if they are adopted before completing it.

However, after some much-needed TLC from our medical staff, these furry felines are waiting to be given a second chance at life. They've gotten treatment, baths, grooming, and plenty of cuddles from our volunteers. Some have even already been adopted! For the rest who are still at Animal Friends...all they need now is to find homes where they will receive the love and care they deserve. A special thank-you to some very generous volunteer groomers, who offered their professional services to get these little survivors looking handsome again.

We are so heartened by all who have followed our journey and these cats' journeys to a better life. If you want to learn more about the Carrick rescue or wish to make a donation to support these animals, you can visit our website or call the Development Office at 412.847.7052.

And be sure to check out our blog below, featuring several adorable photos of their special bathing and grooming sessions!

Bathing, brushing and grooming the Carrick Rescue Cats

Justine Cosley ( and Paula Brewer donated their time and professional expertise to groom our rescued cats and ready them for adoption into loving homes! We're so grateful!

View all the photos here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Letter to Animal Friends

We're going to miss our devoted volunteer, Lauren Foster, as she follows the next step in her life to Philadelphia, PA! Lauren has written a letter to our staff and volunteers, and we wanted to share it with you. Good luck Lauren!

Dear staff and volunteers at Animal Friends:

I’ve been contemplating the best way to say goodbye to all of you as I make my new journey to the other side of the state this month. I thought I could make cookies and leave a goodbye note – but to be honest, I’m not a great cook. And I’ve had an unfortunate amount of run-ins with stinkbugs in my kitchen lately--something the shelter can relate to, I think. But I do want to make sure that I’ve reached out to everyone I can before I go, in order to relate how grateful I am to have known you all during my time with Animal Friends. I’ll be moving to Philadelphia this month in anticipation for my graduate program at Bryn Mawr College, which I am beginning next Fall in the school of social work.

I began volunteering with Animal Friends in August of 2008 as I was also entering my freshman year of college at Pitt. I remember this time as my honeymoon period with the shelter (which never really did fade, by the way). There was a magnetic field that pulled me to the shelter every day and made it impossible to resist the temptation of the four potty break times each day. I found myself driving to the shelter from campus in between classes just so I could say hello to my favorite animals, or just to mop up some business in the kennels.

Soon I was addicted. In November I had moved home to Sewickley to commute to campus, making it an easy decision to start work as an animal caregiver. For almost a year I worked the 7-3 pm shift, savoring those early mornings when I would walk into the shelter, place my coffee in the prep kitchen, and head off to walk the dogs. I would usually start with the big dogs, but if there was a beagle on the floor… I always made a point to reserve her for myself. There’s just something irresistible about a beagle. That first walk of the day was my favorite thing about working in animal care. I didn’t even mind that my coffee sometimes tasted like dog food when I would retrieve it from the prep kitchen.

When I became a full-time volunteer again I started helping out in the adoption center. This was when I learned about the trials and tribulations of working with the public in a shelter setting. Ups and downs abounded – but mostly ups. There was a certain high I felt whenever I helped facilitate an adoption. Remember Sandy the lab mix that jumped fences? That was the happiest adoption I partook in.

Soon, I was beckoned forth by the behavior department in relationship to an internship I would complete at Pitt. I found my way into the behavior helpline world of the shelter – corresponding with local Pittsburghers about issues they were having with their animals. Occasionally I would receive an email from someone over in Philadelphia or even in Texas. I was proud to be able to help with this wonderful service that Animal Friends provides.

I can safely say the most invaluable thing I’ve taken from Animal Friends is the act of fostering. It first started with Barberry, my foster failure, in which a book is necessary to describe how much I loved that feline. It continued with four litters of kittens I helped traverse through two kitten seasons. Each had their own personality and each took a little piece of my heart with them to their forever homes.

There are certain experiences I never would have had if Animal Friends hadn’t moved from the Strip District to a mere five minutes away from my parents’ home: I wouldn’t have written a twenty-page paper on the O’Pits for a journalism class; I wouldn’t have travelled to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary with a great group of volunteers last summer; I wouldn’t have walked over fifty dogs in a two-hour period during the great snowstorm of 2010... for three days in a row; And I wouldn’t have met all of the wonderful people that make up this spectacular place. The list goes on.

I hope you all keep in perspective how much what you do here makes a difference. It can be easy to forget when equally good and bad things accompany a shelter environment.

But now I must bid you all adieu. Before I go, I’ll leave you with the following line from Annie: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard!”

Remember me!
Lauren Foster

Watch Lauren at work with Cleo the Beagle (who has since found her forever home!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Searching for a Very Special Adopter for Spencer

Guest Blogger: Becky DiLucia

This handsome guy is Spencer, an 8 year old Lab mix who came to Animal Friends from a rural shelter. Things were a bit precarious for Spencer for a while. You see, there isn’t a big demand for older lab mixes and there were lots of dogs coming in the door. Cage space was at a premium and Spencer’s time was drawing to an end. Luckily, Animal Friends had room for Spencer and a few of his friends and the rest, as they say, is history.

Spencer is a sweet dog who loves to spend time with people. Anyone with a leash in their hand and time to spend is his friend. A couple of treats never hurts either! He also enjoys the other dogs at the shelter. He might be 8, but we’ve seen him romp like a puppy when some young whippersnapper wants to play with the “senior puppy”. Of course, because he’s past all the puppy craziness (for the most part), he also enjoys his naps and cuddle time. He would love a nice bed and a soft blanket in his forever home.

We all know that our canine companions don’t stay with us nearly long enough. When you adopt a dog of any age, you know that it’s a lifetime commitment, but how long that “lifetime” will be is anyone’s guess. Spencer’s situation is unique in this regard because he has been diagnosed with cancer. Therefore, his adoptive family will know from the beginning that his time with them will be all too short. As sad as this may sound, Spencer does not know he is sick. He doesn’t know that he’s any different from any of the other dogs available for adoption. He doesn’t realize that the search for his forever family will be more difficult than usual. What Spencer does know is that he wants to go home and be someone’s forever dog. Animal Friends is dedicated to giving him that chance.

We would ask that everyone take a moment to ask yourself if you could be Spencer’s forever family. Hospice adoptions are difficult, but very rewarding. In all honesty, not everyone is able to do this. But there are those out there who can provide a final home to animals like Spencer and they are very special indeed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Volunteer Help Wanted! We have an immediate need for:

Cat volunteers needed for the PETCO store located in Bethel Park, PA!
We are in need of more folks interested in socializing our cats and finding them homes at this location. We are especially in need of help on the weekend! You pick the hours that work best for you but we are looking for people that can commit to at least 1-2 days per month. If you are interested in learning more about this, please contact Erica at Individuals would need to attend a training class at Animal Friends.

Animal Friends Needs Pet Food Donations

Animal Friends has an urgent need for donations of pet food, especially dog food.

Animal Friends’ Chow Wagon program provides donations of pet food to more than 20 local food pantries. But recently, donations and supplies of pet food have dwindled.

“I’ve never seen it this low before,” said Eula Houston, Animal Care Coordinator for Animal Friends. She states that Animal Friends has only been able to give partner organizations small rations of pet food to tide them over until –hopefully—the supply increases.

Over the past five years, Animal Friends’ Chow Wagon has provided nearly 100,000 pounds of food to over 1,300 pet-owning families in need. Through the program, fewer families are forced to sacrifice their own food budgets to feed their pets – or face surrendering their animals to an uncertain future.

Mary Kozik, who coordinates the West Deer Food Pantry, reports that her clients are delighted to receive the food and treats for their animals. Sue Otto, Director of the Center for Hope, further explains the value of the program: “It is heartbreaking to even think someone may have to make the decision to give up a pet for lack for food. We are very thankful for this donation from Animal Friends’ Chow Wagon.”

Animal Friends asks you to help by dropping off donations of pet food, treats and toys at the Caryl Gates Gluck Resource Center at Animal Friends (562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237). You may also mail a check made payable to "Animal Friends." Donations are tax-deductible.

Many of our neighbors are counting on you to keep their families intact in hard times.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Animal Friends Saves Kittens and Cats in Hoarding Rescue

UPDATED June 11, 2011: Animal Friends’ Humane Officers and Police were called to a home in Carrick on Friday, June 10. They discovered a heartbreaking hoarding situation in which cats were suffering from severe neglect inside a garbage-filled home. The cats were in need of immediate care and rescue.

Animal Friends quickly mobilized to save the cats. So far, they have pulled 11 kittens and 7 cats from the house. The cats were dehydrated, malnourished, and completely covered with fleas, scabs and sores. Many suffer from infections. The cats basked in Animal Friends' veterinary team’s care. Those were are deemed severely medically compromised were taken to an animal hospital for more extensive treatment. Two of the females were found to be in labor.

Building inspectors have boarded up the home, which was completely filled with feces, garbage, and insects. (Click here to see photos.) but Animal Friends’ Humane Officer will continue to enter the property to care for and remove the remaining 15-25. At this time, the remaining cats are frightened and may need to be humanely trapped.

Community support of this rescue is critical! We anticipate expenses of up to $20,000 – on top of our ongoing daily care needs – in medical and boarding costs in association with this rescue.

If you have ever considered supporting Animal Friends’ humane efforts, we beg you to do so now. Your help is so needed as we work to make sure these kittens and cats can be saved and placed into safe, loving homes.

Please click here to donate now.

Updates on the situation will follow.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Home to Home Adoption Opportunity: Spunky

Animal Friends is pleased to offer an alternative adoption option: the Home-to-Home placement program (H2H). The H2H placement program was designed for those individuals and families who, finding it necessary to give up their beloved pets for adoption, want to take a more active role in the adoption process.

My cat pal, Spunky, is a 2 1/2 year old domestic short hair. I have had her since she was about 6 weeks old. I enjoy just about every minute I spend with her (the only times I don't are when she wakes me up early in the morning for food!). She is black and white (I've been told she is a "tuxedo cat") with incredibly soft fur and pink paws. She also has a black spot on her nose which is very identifiable and unique. At her most recent veterinarian visit, she was deemed a healthy weight and without any health problems. She is current on all her shots including both rabies and distemper. She is also spayed and is not declawed.

The reason I am forced to give her up is that I am planning on taking a travelling job at the end of summer and I do not want to subject her to constant travel. She has been on several car rides with me for a few hours at a time and has never enjoyed it. Also, with my work schedule as it is currently, I am barely ever home. When I finally do come home, she is so excited to see me that she practically knocks the door down. I just want her to be in an environment where she is given the adequate attention and love that she deserves. She is an incredibly loving and loyal friend to me, which is why I hate to give her up at all. However, after long consideration, I decided this was best for her. Thanks for your consideration in Spunky. Owning her will be a wonderful decision for you, just as it was for me.

If you can help, contact

Matt Nedresky

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Tail of the Red Collar Society

By Christine Line, Animal Friends’ Communications Team

Once upon a time, in our old home way back when, an idea was born – a dream to help older cats, dogs, and bunnies find their forever homes.

For so many years, these golden-aged companions watched longingly as the young ones left with their new families and thought, “Just because we’re older and wiser doesn’t mean we don’t need to be loved by humans of our own. Won’t anyone help us?”

And then the Red Collar Society was born.

Over the past four years the Red Collar Society has helped more than 1,500 senior cats, dogs, and bunnies find homes to call their own. Among its many efforts, the society has become a great educational tool and has become one with our mission here at Animal Friends.

If you’d like to see our Red Collar animals, you can visit our website or stop in and ask to see an Adoptions Counselor. If you adopt one of these very special animals, you’ll also receive a letter, a proclamation, and a coupon for discounts in our on-site retail shop. Plus, you’ll be mentioned in our publications for being a hero – both to us and to these animals who truly need a second chance.

Such is the story of the Red Collar Society, and there are many more ‘tails’ to come. Consider adopting a Red Collar pet, and you’ll both live happily ever after.

Lionel, one of our adoptable Red Collar residents!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Everyone loves a snugglebug!

By Christine Line, Animal Friends' Communications Team

Need something to make you feel warm and fuzzy on this dreary Tuesday? Check out these adorable photos of some of our residents in one of the free-roaming cat rooms!

Doesn't just LOOKING at them make you want to have a kitty or two to cuddle up with after a long day at work? Well, there's good news! Our felines are truly priceless from June 1-30!

June is National Adopt a Cat Month, and Animal Friends is celebrating by waiving the requested donation for cats ages 2 and up!

So if you're looking to add a little furry friend to your household, or even if you're just thinking about it, stop in to see our adoptable cats. We're less busy on weekday evenings and are open until 7, so you may even catch a glimpse of some feline friends curled up together for an afternoon snooze.

All of our adoptable animals have been thoroughly reviewed by our medical staff and are current on all appropriate vaccinations. All of our cats have been FIV- and FeLeuk-tested. Our animals also have been spayed or neutered and are microchipped so they can be located, should they ever get lost.

Won't you consider adopting your very own snugglebug this June? Giving one of our cats a forever home will surely be priceless…for both of you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Atticus and his big test

Atticus, a blind cat adopted from Animal Friends, continues to keep us updated on his adventures, with the assistance of his mom, Katie Tontala.

Last week, after days of banging on the screen door to go outside, mom decided it might be a good idea for both of us if I got out of the house once in a while. So she told me we were going to take a trip back to Animal Friends to be tested.

I must have gotten a goofy look on my face, because mom said, “Don’t worry. It won’t hurt a bit. You are going to be tested to be a therapy cat!” She said it so cheerfully that I knew it couldn’t be a bad thing. Mom explained that there are people who like cats but can’t have one. The visits brighten up their days and help them feel better. So all I would have to do is go on a visit and get lots of hugs and kisses for doing nothing? What a sweet deal!

I sat quietly during the car ride, crossed my toes and prayed I would pass my test. When I got to Animal Friends, a very nice lady did a few simple things to see if I would be afraid of meeting new people and allowing them to pet me. I wasn’t afraid at all! After my test, she told me I was a sweet, handsome and brave little survivor and she knew people would be thrilled to have me visit them. I passed my test! Our next step will be finding a place to visit.

When we got home, Mom told me that I would need to wear a harness on our visits. She had three that I tried on, but they were all a bit too snug on my belly. I guess there will be no extra treats for me tonight!

Bye for now,


Cat adoption is priceless this June!

June is national Adopt a Cat Month, and this year, Animal Friends wants to see no more catless homes! So, from June 1-30, Animal Friends is waiving their requested adoption donation for all cats aged 2 and up!

Cat adoptions include a feline companion, his or her neuter or spay surgery, a microchip and vaccines. As always, all adoptions will be screened to ensure loving, lifelong matches.

As Animal Friends knows all too well, times are tough for cats. Every spring, shelters are inundated with homeless cats and litters of abandoned kittens. As a result, wonderful, lovable feline companions like Ava, a 3-year-old Tortoiseshell who likes every person and pet she meets, and Lovebug, a 2-year-old white lap cat, wait and wait for a second chance.

Animal Friends knows that too many cats in our community are waiting for a lifeline. And, too few people know how important and how meaningful it is to adopt a shelter cat. At a place like Animal Friends, where a resident can live for as long as it takes to find the perfect home, this problem is all the more overwhelming.

So this June, in an effort to educate the community about the joys of adopting a shelter cat, and with a goal of finding qualified, permanent and loving homes for as many homeless cats as possible, Animal Friends putting their money where their message is: Cat adoption is truly priceless.

Animal Friends’ “Cat Adoption is Priceless” promotion is made possible in part by a generous donation from ARM & HAMMER® branded cat litter products. ARM & HAMMER is kicking-off the second consecutive year of their “Tag a Cat, Save a Life” initiative to increase awareness and educate cat owners about the importance of tagging cats. Launching to coincide with the start of Adopt a Cat Month, the pet tag initiative encourages cat owners to tag their cats to prevent them from becoming one of the millions of lost, unidentified cats that end up in shelters each year. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, between 2.5 and 3.5 million cats will end up in shelters each year, and less than two percent of lost cats make it home. To help ensure lost cats return home safely, cat owners have the opportunity to obtain a free personalized pet ID tag via mail with the purchase of any two ARM & HAMMER® Cat Litters including the latest ARM & HAMMER® Double Duty Clumping Litter. For more information on this offer, visit

Animal Friends knows that they must place their current residents into permanent homes, so that even more cats can have a chance. Please consider cat adoption this June.

Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horne Road in Ohio township. For more information or to view adoptable cats, visit