Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
By Guest Blogger Holly Gumbeski, Animal Friends' Behavior Team
Animal Friends' Humane Officers rescued Eggroll, Essence, and Eldorado, three young Husky/Pit Bull mixes, in the Fall of 2010.
Of the three dogs, Eggroll stood out for a few reasons. First, he was the most fearful. Second, he had the strangest eyes. From far away, he looked like his eyes were crossed, but as you got closer, you could see that each eye was blue, and brown on the bottom. This defect was probably the result of improper breeding, but to the volunteers who encouraged his socialization over the next few weeks, Eggroll's unusual eyes made him special.
All three dogs had to begin the slow process of connecting again with humans. Through positive conditioning and kindness, they all made progress and learned to trust.
In time, Eggroll began to adjust to life inside a new place. However, going outside was another story. He was skittish on a leash and during a walk around the property with one of the volunteers who was working with him, Eggroll broke his harness ran.
His adventure lasted for about a week before we were able to lure him into a humane trap on a property near Animal Friends. We were so delighted to know that he was safe and had not suffered the fate of so many lost dogs before him. And what was most interesting about his return was that he seemed genuinely glad to see us all again. Maybe he realized that a life on the run for a domesticated dog was not all burying bones and romping through meadows?
So, weeks later we were all thrilled when a family adopted Eldorado and Eggroll together. And only weeks after his adoption, we were not so thrilled when we heard that Eggroll was on another adventure. This time, he got loose from his person while on a walk and took his red leash with him. And this time, he was not across the woods from Animal Friends. Eggroll's new home was in Penn Hills, a 40-minute drive from our area.
Fortunately, our ad hoc lost-dog team sprung into action quickly and moved into the area to distribute flyers and get the word to the neighborhood that "Crazy Eyes" was on the run.
Our team had done this many times before. We descend upon on area with Google maps, brightly-colored flyers and staple guns, ready to roll and get our dog back safely. But this time, temperatures were close to zero degrees and the rush to return Eggroll was complicated by ice and snow.
Even though the horrible weather had us all fearing for Eggroll's life, ultimately the snow was a lifesaver. Throughout the three weeks and four days that Eggroll was lost, we were able to follow his tracks with certainty because of one distinct marking: a leash drag.
So day after day, we went to Penn Hills and tracked our boy. We set up feeding stations, hoping to keep him in the area. The neighbors were so helpful and called us with sightings almost every day. We would pack our gear and head out to "Eggroll land" only to be 10 minutes behind him. He would move on, but never far from his original house.
We also had the help of the large construction crew who had taken over 15 plus acres directly behind Eggroll's house to build the new Penn Hills High School. These guys were just as invested in getting Eggroll as we were and spent many hours trying to trap him inside their work area. They threw their bologna sandwiches toward him hoping he would find their lunches irresistible, but still, he was too fearful to come close enough for someone to grab the leash.
About 12 days into the search, the construction foreman confirmed that Eggroll had been trapped inside the fenced zone and had spent the night sleeping under one of the backhoes. Again, we rushed to the area and followed his now-famous leash drags through almost every yard in a 2-mile radius of the construction site. Two of the volunteers eventually cornered him in a loosely fenced yard. We were sure that he would finally recognize one of us or remember our voices, but "fight or flight" had taken over our Eggie, and he bolted over a partially collapsed fence panel. One volunteer made the leap to grab the leash, but after weeks of dragging behind a running dog, it had become a leashcicle, and he slipped by.
For the next few days, we received no calls, no sightings, no evidence that he was eating from the feeding stations and finally, no hope that Eggroll was still in the area. We feared he had moved on to a quieter location and we had lost him forever, but then we received a call from animal control that a dog dragging a red leash had been seen in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery area.
I went out immediately and covered the streets with flyers. We waited for a sighting but no one called and more days passed. We finally got the ultimate breakthrough when a call came in from our Craigslist posting that the ubiquitous "dog with the red leash" was in Verona near St. Joseph's Cemetery. Perhaps Eggroll was beginning to feel most comfortable around people who had long since passed away? After all, those folks were a lot quieter.
So, for the next few days we spent hours and hours each evening passing out our "Eggie" flyers, and then the sightings came from almost every street in the Verona hilltop area. I stopped at the GetGo and gave the clerk our flyer. She confirmed she had seen him the night before--going through her garbage and eating chicken bones!
A man at the counter overheard us talking and said, "You looking for a lost dog? Is he dragging a red leash?" "Yes!" I said, exasperated as I was just about to give up and return home. The guy continued, "Well, I just saw him running through St. Joseph's Church parking lot." I stood there and thought for a while. What was the chance of capturing him on a cold dark night? Should I go back to the streets I had just spent hours driving through hoping to catch a glimpse of Crazy Eyes? I did. I couldn't resist the chance that he would just give up and jump into my car with a thankful sigh of relief.
For a few more hours, another volunteer and I followed his tracks through alleyway after alleyway as he seemed to sniff every trash can, but no luck. More days passed with more sightings and more prayers and stories of lost dogs and loved dogs from concerned citizens.
So many people asked me how he could be surviving out there for so long. I'll never really know the answer but somehow he was and he did. And, I believe that the "dog with the red leash" was saved by the thing that most people feared would cost him his life: the leash.
It was Valentine's Day morning when I got the call from a staff member at Animal Friends that a man in Verona caught a dog with Animal Friends tags after finding him snagged in his front yard by his leash. There was no question that I was going to drop everything mid-workday and rush out to Second Street. I picked up another volunteer downtown and we headed to the location in disbelief. Could this be the end to Eggroll's East End Adventure?
We pulled up and the owner of the house came out to greet us. I don't think this man knew how long we had been following Eggroll and how far he had traveled. As we talked in his driveway, we filled him in on the details but I was getting too anxious to see Eggroll. What if it was the wrong dog? What if another crazy-eyed dog was running through Verona with a red leash? After all, red is a popular color. But, it was true. I was about to get the sweetest Valentine's day gift of my life. He pointed to his truck. "He's in the front seat. I was afraid I'd lose him if I walked him all the way to the house."
There he was, curled into a ball, calmly looking at us from the driver's seat like he was ready for a lazy Sunday drive with his master. We carefully attached a few more leashes and then transferred him into my car. I was so surprised at his body condition. He actually looked good, a little skinner but not to the point were ribs were evident. And, when he finally saw our now familiar faces up close and heard our voices, he remembered his friends and began a slow wag of the tail. He wasn't panicked at all when he jumped into the back of my car. In fact, he seemed calm and relieved and soon closed his eyes and slept for the ride back to Animal Friends.
The anticipation was high as we brought our boy into Animal Friends that day. Several of his past caregivers waited in the hallway as three of us came through, with three leashes attached to Eggie. At that point, he looked more like a convict than our beloved lost dog. It was only moments before the smells and sounds of this safe place got through to Eggroll when he burst into his favorite caregivers's arms and began a thankful slathering of kisses. We got him settled into a warm kennel with a bed and blankets. We all gave him kisses on his head and stroked his dried and smelly coat and then we let him sleep. I walked away but turned back to look for something. Where was the red leash? I found it on the floor and picked it up and pulled it through my fingers to the frayed spot where Eggroll had strained against it to its last threads. I said a silent thank you for staying with Eggroll until the end.
Egg relaxes in the back of Holly's car.
Eggroll is escorted inside. Do you think we were afraid of losing him again?
When Eggroll saw Debbie, our Animal Caregiver, he collapsed in relief!
Eggroll basks in love and attention from Holly and Debbie.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Guest Blogger, Christine Line, Animal Friends' Communications Team
Many people come into our shelter thinking that we only have cats and dogs for adoption, but it's important to know that we alo have adoptable rabbits who are looking for their forever homes too!
Why adopt a rabbit, you may ask? Take a look...
Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Bunny
10. Rabbits are unique! Cats and dogs are the "typical" household pets, but if you like to be a little different, a rabbit is the way to go.
9. There are several breeds of rabbits, so they can suit people with different situations and personalities.
8. Bunnies are quiet. If you like your home peaceful and serene, they are perfect additions to your home.
7. Because they don't need a lot of room to roam, rabbits can be perfect apartment pets. In fact, many landlords who won't allow a dog or cat will welcome a bunny...just ask!
6. Don't have time to walk a dog? (Or, don't like the idea of going outside in these frigit Pittsburgh winters?) Rabbits can be litter box-trained!
5. Already have a cat or dog? Some rabbits get along with other animals and even become friends with them. Ask our Adoption Counselors about setting up a safe and harmonious multi-species home!
4. Bunnies can be loving, loyal, and even playful companions.
3. Our rabbits are examined by our veterinarian staff, spayed and neutered, and microchipped - in case your bunny should ever hop away from your house accidentally.
2. Because rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk, rabbits are perfect pets for people who work. They'll be glad to sleep all day while you're gone, and greet you when you get home at night.
1. Our rabbits want to find their forever homes just as much as our other adoptable animals. can you make room in your hearts for a heartwarming hopper this spring?
If you're thinking about adopting a rabbit and want to learn more, stop in for one of our Bun Runs. We release our adoptable bunnies into a large room to run and play - and give you a chance to see if one of our resident long-eared friends matches your personality and home environment. We have several spring Bun Runs scheduled, so stop in and get nose-to-nose with a bunny or two and get all your questions answered.
Oh, and check out our special Steelers-themed Bun Run. You might even catch a glimpse of Polamalu's hair!
Friday, February 18, 2011
Today for our Furry Friend Fact Friday, we have two facts:
- Anywhere from 5 million to 7 million animals enter shelters every year in the U.S. alone.
- The cost of spaying and neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year.
Why did I decide to talk about these statistics? No, not because I want to be a Debbie Downer on a Friday morning. It's because 5- to 7-million is an astronomical number, even with all the animal shelters that exist out there. Many people have no idea how many homeless pets there are just waiting for a loving home to call their own. And most of these animals would be amazing and devoted pets...they just need someone to give them a chance.
At Animal Friends, we know one of the best things we can do as a society to work toward solving the problem of animal overpopulation is spay and neuter our pets. The cost is quite manageable, and did you know we offer a Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Program?
We found homes for 2,267 homeless animals in 2010. Every furry friend that finds his forever home makes room for another to have the same chance. Will you help us double that number in 2011?
Source: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
Friday, February 11, 2011
Guest Blogger, Christine Line, Animal Friends' Communications Team
Guest Blogger, Christine Line, Animal Friends' Communications Team
Date: Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011
Time: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
5024 Curry Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Have a little time to…spare? Looking to do something striking this month? Want to have a ball with your friends and family? Then this event is right up your alley!
Okay, okay – enough with the puns. But I can't help it. I keep hearing all the humans around Animal Friends talking about the 7th annual Alley Up at Legacy Lanes in the South Hills! Tickets are $25 and include bowling, shoe rental, pizza, soda, and a t-shirt to help you remember all the fun you had! Plus, there will be raffles, Chinese auctions, and special guests like Cris Winter from WISH radio.
Best of all, some of my pooch pals and feline friends here at the shelter get to come out to the event too! (I wonder who will get to find their forever homes!) We can't wait to see who's the most stylish in those snazzy bowling shoes, who will knock down the most pins, and yes…even who may need bumpers!
You can also go VIP style for $40 per person ($195 for a lane of 5) and enjoy all the benefits AND a buffet-style meal and a pitcher of beer.
Just remember to hurry – space is limited, and you don't want to end up in the gutter! Get your tickets now!
Hoping to strike it big someday with a home to call my own,
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Guest Blogger, Siri Espy, Animal Friends' Communications Team
Can you imagine Romeo without Juliet? Bert without Ernie? Barbie without Ken? Neither can we! And during this Valentine season, when thoughts are turning to love, why not think about creating your very own memorable duo?
At Animal Friends, we believe so strongly in the benefits of adopting two cats that we're putting our money where our mouth is. To make your life “Twice as Nice,” one adoption donation covers two friendly felines.
When you adopt two cats, you soon find that you can’t imagine life without them. There are many benefits to having double the cat companionship:
- Having a constant playmate to chase and wrestle with helps keep cats lively, well-exercised and healthy.
- Often, destructive behavior in pets can be traced to boredom. The stimulation of a companion can help ward off inappropriate feline behaviors and scratching.
- Two cats will keep you laughing with their antics.
- Many cats are social creatures, and will happily groom one another and sleep cuddled together. People who work long hours, travel overnight or spend frequent evenings away from home will find a warm greeting upon returning, but without the guilt of leaving a beloved pet all alone.
- Two cats will bring their humans double the love. They make great lap warmers in winter and will offer an endless supply of purrs and head butts. The only thing more heartwarming than the love of a pet is the love of two.
- Adopting two cats actually saves four lives - the two you're adopting, and the two that will take their places on Animal Friends’ adoption floor, given a priceless second chance thanks to your adoption. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that between six and eight million dogs and cats enter shelters each year, about half of which are euthanized. Think of how much easier the work of shelters across the country would be if more families were willing to welcome not one, but two cats into their hearts and homes.
Having two cats doesn't require much additional effort. An extra food and water dish and litter box is worth the joy your instant family will bring. And, being rather compact creatures, cats don't take up much space. As long as your home can provide a bit of separation from time to time, there's no worry about needing a larger home with room to roam.
Often, Animal Friends has pairs of cats who have come in together and would love to find a home with room for two. But in any case, Animal Friends' Adoption Counselors will work with you to find exactly the right cats - two that are compatible with you as well as each other. Our free roam rooms are full of feline-friendly cats who cheerfully share their living quarters and would love to have a live-in friend. We'll give you advice on introducing your new cats to your home and giving them the time and space to bond.
So, it’s the perfect time to bring home two homeless cats! How can you resist? We recommend making the trip to Animal Friends at double speed, two-stepping all the way. After all, two cats certainly are twice as nice!
Animal Friends requests the following donations for cat adoption:
One or two felines 20 weeks or older: $75
One or two felines aged 20 weeks and younger: $100
One or two residents of our Cat Cottage: $20.11
Friday, February 4, 2011
Our Saturday, February 5 Bun Run is turning into a Bunny Bowl!
We love our Bun Runs, which are like rabbit recess hours. If you've never been to one of these, you really should come! During the Bun Runs, we release our adoptable bunnies into a large room to run and play to their hearts' content. If you’re thinking about adopting a rabbit, this is the perfect opportunity to experience each individual personality of our buns. Chat with seasoned bunny owners and get all your questions answered.
So, can yinz c'mon over?
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Many of Animal Friends' followers read and were touched by the story of Dorian, a blind 8- year-old cat whose eyes were removed due to life-threatening disease. We asked for an update, and were delighted to hear from him (with a little help from his new mom, Animal Friends volunteer Katie Tontala).
Hi Everyone! When many of you saw and heard about me on Animal Friends’ Facebook, I was overwhelmed by all your good wishes. So I just wanted to let you know that about a week ago I found my forever home, and things are just great for me now!
First of all, I am now called Atticus. My mom said a new beginning deserves a new name, so I was named after a character in one of her favorite books. She said she picked that name because the character was very smart and very handsome, just like me!
I am very lucky to have my very own room with my very own food and litterbox. My mom put out three different beds for me to choose from, but my favorite place is the leather desk chair. I am so proud because I found it all by myself and that is where I love to spend my lazy times, sleeping and hanging out.
Right now there is a big screen separating my room from the rest of the house. Mom says I have brothers and sisters to meet, but they need some time to get used to having a new kid in our house. Since I can’t see them, she doesn’t want them to scare me or give me the heebie-jeebies by sneaking up behind me. She said we shouldn’t rush - there will be plenty of time to get to know them.
Sometimes, I sit on one side of the screen and they sit at the end of the hall, checking me out. They seem nice enough, so I’m looking forward to meeting them when they’re ready. When my mom goes to work, she puts on music so I don’t get too bored. I listen to everything from classical to oldies to elevator music. Personally, my favorites are Springsteen and Talking Heads. My mom said, “That’s my boy!” and gave me a kiss on my head. She gives me about a million kisses a day and I give her about a million head butts back!
Tomorrow, I get to come out and start exploring the other rooms, and my new brothers and sisters can come in and start to explore my room! It sounds like so much fun, and I can’t wait! Animal Friends was a great place to spend a little time, but it’s so wonderful to have my own home and somebody who loves me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for another nap on my favorite chair.
Life is good.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Whether you're out of the area or a frequent visitor, take a moment to enjoy this virtual tour of the Caryl Gates Gluck Resource Center at Animal Friends.
Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA, 15237. We're open from 11am-7pm on weekdays and 10-5 on Saturdays and Sundays.