Friday, December 28, 2012

Updated Low-Cost Vaccine and Microchip Clinic Dates!

Keep your pet healthy and safe! Animal Friends will host 2 more clinics to offer low-cost vaccine, microchip and flea treatments for dogs and cats. The following clinics will be held at Animal Friends at 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh PA 15237:

Thursday, January 17 - 1pm - 3pm
Thursday, January 31 - 1pm - 3pm

Rabies, distemper, Bordetella and FVRCP vaccines will be offered for $10 each. In addition to insuring your pet’s health, rabies vaccines are required by law.  All pets over three months of age must be vaccinated against rabies, with non-compliance resulting in $300 per day fines. 

Microchipping services will be provided for $20. Microchips are tiny chips, the size of a grain of rice, with a unique bar code. They are implanted under a pet’s skin and can be read with a scanner to identify your pet. Microchips can help reunite a lost pet with his or her family.

Flea treatments are offered for $5. There will be discounts for multiple services!

Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be in carriers.  Cash only please. No credit cards will be accepted.

Register today by calling 412.847.7029.  Spots are limited so call now!

Animal Friends' 16th annual New Years Eve Rescue

Eeyore came to Animal Friends during the 2011 New Years Eve Rescue

For the past 16 years, Animal Friends’ annual New Years Eve Rescue has been a Pittsburgh tradition—and a last-chance lifeline for pets. On Monday, December 31, Animal Friends will once again rescue pets who are slated to be euthanized by the years’ end. 

Animal Friends’ staff and volunteers will travel to shelters and Animal Control facilities to bring back the pets who would not otherwise live to see 2013. Then, each rescued pet will bask in TLC at Animal Friends’ resource center, where they will be vaccinated, bathed, groomed, given a medical and behavioral evaluation, and scheduled for a spay or neuter surgery.

This year’s rescue will have a candy theme, and every rescued pet will be named after a kind of candy. After all, Pittsburgh is a candy loving town! With the Good Ship Lollipop sailing the three rivers, Clark Candy Company downtown, Sarris in the South, Gene and Boots in the East, Betsy Ann in the West, and Baldinger's in the North, the Pittsburgh region is a veritable Candyland!

Animal Friends is happy to partner with Ferree Kennels, Greene County Humane Society, Hoffman Kennels, Monroeville Animal Control, Secreet Kennel and Clair's Kennel this year. 

Rescues like this one are a shining example of why adopting from Animal Friends–all year round—is so critical. For every animal who finds a home through Animal Friends, there are others who desperately await a space and a second chance in our kennels. The rescue also casts a light on the staggering number of pets that are euthanized in our community every year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wherefor Art Thou, Juliet?:A Community Rallies for a Dog’s Rescue

Guest Blogger: Holly Gumbeski

This is a story of young maiden named Juliet, who was banished to roam a cemetery high above the South Side Slopes. This strikingly beautiful black and white Husky was named Juliet not by a loving owner, but by a group of tireless volunteers who committed months to the safe capture of this damsel in distress.
We at Animal Friends first heard of Juliet when her photo was posted on a Facebook page dedicated to finding local lost dogs. The post was desperate: “Two stray dogs have been living in a cemetery for weeks. One has been shot in the leg. Animal Control has not been able to catch them. Please help.”

Quickly, volunteers hit the scene. They were all very experienced with trapping and saving lost dogs. But, no one knew that that the story of Juliet, the dog with the gunshot wound, and Romeo, her loyal Pit Bull companion, would be filled with as many twists and turns like the original star-crossed lovers.

So it began with a mountain lion-sized humane trap and motion-capture cameras fixed in several positions. The trap was set in quiet corner of the cemetery in hopes that it would only be a matter of days before Juliet would surrender to the smelly allure of rotisserie chicken. But, alas, our Shakespearean twists had only begun!  We trapped our first cemetery dog, but it was not Juliet, it was her boyfriend, Romeo.

Several volunteers had witnessed the affections between Romeo and Juliet and knew that their bond was not a passing fancy. Juliet was confused but steadfast as she sat on the hill above the trap, watching us take her boyfriend to safety at Animal Friends. She limped away, down the ravine with a look that could only be described as lovelorn.

Weeks passed and the cameras kept track of the dogs, cats, raccoons and foxes that visited the trap. Juliet checked regularly too and could be seen poking her head farther and farther inside, until finally we saw her going all the way in, turning around and coming right back out without setting off the trap! How was this possible?

We trapped another cemetery dog named Ollie, who was reunited with his owner during those anxious weeks, but Juliet would poke around inside and never set off the trip plate. We guessed that her abnormal gait from her injury was interfering with the tripping action. We altered the trap’s floor and installed mirrors in the back, hoping she would think it was a pass through. Juliet was sly and would have none of it.

Juliet was still not putting any weight on her wounded front leg. We knew it was only a matter of time before infection would set in. So, we reached out to neighbors to develop an alternative plan. After some investigating, we learned how she had been shot by her owner and left out on her own for more than a year. But, this elusive dog would only approach people to accept a few tossed pieces of food, then dart away. After she was shot, she kept to a tighter territory and never went far. Some neighbors even knew of a den that Juliet had constructed behind one of the houses.

Our best chance of capturing Juliet came from another Facebook connection. We learned that she stopped at specific houses along her daily routine. One of her favorite stops was a farmhouse-style house owned by a woman name Irene who offered her chipped ham/peanut butter balls. Juliet she would come close to the cellar door to nab a few before running back up the hills to the cemetery.

We began to focus our efforts at this house. Juliet had almost stepped through the basement door several times before, so with the help of her daughter, Irene rigged a pulley cable from the door to the back of the basement and set out food as a lure, with the hope of slamming the door once Juliet got past the threshold.

We got the call one early Saturday morning. Irene’s basement pulley had worked! Juliet was trapped inside a small bathroom—with Irene, who was still holding tightly to the cable! Irene started making calls on her cell phone, which fortunately, she had placed in her housecoat pocket. Volunteers and the dog warden arrived and calmed Juliet enough to securely get her into a truck. 

After six long weeks, Juliet of the Cemetery was captured and headed to safety at Animal Friends. The humane trap never did work. Instead, the promise of leftover Easter ham and gravy, the familiarity of an old farmhouse and the persistence of one concerned neighbor closed this chapter to our maiden’s tale.

Romeo has since been adopted into a loving family and Juliet has been receiving lots of TLC and medical care at Animal Friends. Through weeks of expert vet care and rehabilitation, she can now put full weight on her leg and is running and romping with new canine friends. We only hope that sly survivor’s next chapter for our will include the comfort of a lifelong home and loving family. 

Update: Unfortunately, Juliet’s adoption did not work out. Of course, she was welcomed back to Animal Friends with open arms. We’re committed to finding her loving, lifelong home! If you can help, please call Animal Friends at 412.847.7000.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gigi - A masterful mix of a breed

Most of the dogs that come through our doors here at Animal Friends are of a mixed breed.  We have Husky mixes and Pit mixes. Boxer, Beagle and Hound mixes. We take a close guess at what heritage our dogs have but sometimes, we know for sure.

Gigi, a supposed Pit Bull mix, came to Animal Friends from Four Footed Friends in Indiana, PA.  We recently got a great message from Kim, a staff member there.

My name is Kim and I am a staff member at Four Footed Friend in Indiana, PA.
I wanted to let you know about "Gigi". When she was at our shelter, we conducted a DNA test on her and I wanted to share the results with you. Not only for your use, but also for her future adopters. She came back as (one parent) full blooded American Bulldog and (second parent) Vizsla/Sheltie mix. I know! I know! Crazy, right?! Haha we are all so curious as to what breeds made up such a gorgeous girl.
Thanks again for everything! 

Gigi wants to remind you that now through December 31st, all pets are priceless at Animal Friends! We're waiving our $75 adoption donation for all pets age 2+.  Click here for more information about Gigi or click here to start your adoption application!

Adventures of a Foster Fur Mom: Part 3

Guest Blogger: Susan Gottfried
The e-mail went out a few weeks ago from Chris Whyle, the foster coordinator here at Animal Friends. A bunch of kitties could use a cage break.

I eyed Zenji. He'd been here over two months and had settled in so much, it was obvious he'd decided this was his forever home. Maybe he settled in a bit too much… after this escapade, I made sure to not leave my water glass on the kitchen table anymore. 

Chris and I pow-wowed and decided that it was time for another kitty to star on the blog (and, possibly out my questionable placement of my water glass). So while it killed me to put Zenji into his very own condo and see how terribly scared he was, it was also exciting to think my kids and I were going to have a new kitty adventure.
Enter Geronimo. He'd been stuck in the back rooms, where the public doesn't get to visit and where most volunteers aren't allowed, either. The poor guy has bladder stones, so medical has been keeping an extra close eye on him, but he'd been back there for months and could use some space to roam – and a lot of attention and love. With a couple of medicines and a special diet, Geronimo came home to take up residence in my foster room. 

We've had cats and kittens of all sorts here, but we have never had a cat who purrs the way Geronimo does. There was no shyness about this guy; as soon as we got him home and let him out of his carry box, he was over at the windows, looking at the view. He adores my kids and demands we pet him. He also gives the best head butts. It didn't take long before he was showing us his belly, a very clear sign of trust and comfort with the humans around him. 
Stay tuned. I've got to introduce Milo and Lucy to him, and then let him roam my house yet. We'll see how all that goes; Lucy is always a bit stand-offish when someone comes to visit, and Milo is always excited to have a new playmate. And Geronimo? I think he's excited to have some fur buddies again. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Animal Friends' Home-To-Home Adoption Program Presents....Drake!

This lovable lap dog is Drake a young Pit Bull mix. He is supposed to be 4 years old,  but he was estimated at the vets office as being about 2  or 2 1/2 years old. At a perfect 52 lbs, he is highly energetic, extremely playful and affectionate. One of Drake's favorite things to do is ride in the car.  He loves it! 

The ideal home for Drake is to have an active lifestyle where he is the only king of the house! Drake is very eager to please and needs a companion to share his life with! Please consider adopting this amazing boy!

Drake is:
-Crate trained
-Up to date on vaccines
-On flea/tick & heartworm preventative

If you can help Drake, please contact Jennifer Stampfel at 412.979.9914 or

Jingle Bun Run at Animal Friends

Animal Friends’ bunnies are used to having free-roam play times called “bun runs” frequently but they’ve never seen a bun run like this!  On Saturday, December 15, Animal Friends’ bunnies are welcoming the public to their holiday Jingle Bun Run from 2pm-4pm.  Hop on down and have some holiday fun with our resident rabbits.  Adoption Counselors and bunny volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about our rabbits.  Meet all of our bunnies and who knows?  One might just hop his way into your heart!

Win prizes in our ornament game and find great holiday gifts, not only for your rabbit, but for the bunny lover in your life.  Children are welcome with adult supervision.

Visit Animal Friends on December 15 for what is sure to be a hoppin’ good time!

Holiday Pet Hazards

Guest Bloggers: The Staff at Petagogy

The holidays are a wonderful time filled with family, friends, decorations and good food, but the holidays and cold weather also bring some potential hazards that all pet owners need to be aware of. Keep your holidays healthy and happy by avoiding these common seasonal pet dangers:

•Keep holiday decorations out of reach. Ornaments and holiday trimmings made from glass, metal, ribbon, tinsel and artificial snow can be dangerous if ingested. Pay special attention to low-hanging ornaments on your Christmas tree.

•Place holiday plants off the ground. Many season plants, including holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, lilies, as well as Christmas tree water, can be toxic if ingested by your pets.

•Make sure your pet has current ID tags and/or is micro-chipped. The flow of holiday guests in and out of your home can make it easy for your pets to escape. 

•A bite of plain turkey and vegetables are always great for your pet, but make sure guests keep most of their table scraps on their plates. Fatty foods can cause stomach problems and cooked bones may splinter and cause choking or obstructions.

• Keep Christmas goodies––especially those made with chocolate––away from pets as chocolate is toxic to dogs.

•Be aware of cold weather hazards. Antifreeze is extremely poisonous to pets; just one lick is enough to kill. Wipe your pet’s paws and tummy after walks to remove salt and chemical residues, and use pet-safe ice melt, like Arctic Eco Green (available at Petagogy) for your own driveway and sidewalks.

•Salt on the sidewalks can burn your dog’s paws after a winter walk. Make sure to use a paw protectant such as Musher’s Secret to protect those paws from salt and ice during the winter months.  

•Colder weather also means that most evening walks, and sometimes morning walks, occur in the dark. Make sure you or your pet is wearing some sort of light or reflective gear (such as Nite Ize LED collar lights) so that passing vehicles can see you.

With a few simple precautions, you and your pets can safely enjoy the holidays and winter season!

Petagogy (pronounced pet-uh-go-jee) specializes in premium and natural pet foods, treats and supplies for dogs, cats and small mammals. 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. Visit their website at

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Letter from our President & CEO

Dear Friend,

I write to you today with a pressing matter.

As I sit at my desk at Animal Friends, I have the exceptional privilege of watching our animals leave. I get to see them one last time…beside or in the arms of their adopter. While the 250 dogs, cats and rabbits in our care bear the sad burden of our region’s pet overpopulation problem, they are safe here. We will find them homes.

But still, we know...we'll never get ahead of the pet overpopulation crisis by placing one pet at a time. And conservative estimates state that 20,000 pets are euthanized every year in Allegheny County, simply because there are too many animals and too few adoptive homes. This is why Animal Friends took action. This is why we're committed to spaying and neutering the pets in our region who, otherwise, would produce litter after unwanted litter.

But as we begin the final month of this year, Animal Friends is struggling. Our low-cost spay/neuter program is financially strained. While we are on pace to perform our goal of 10,000 surgeries this year – our highest number in one year, ever!—the financial support derived from program users has lagged behind projected budget expectations. By year-end, our spay/neuter program may be more than $150,000 short of its goal of $790,000.

The cause of this financial shortfall is easy to see. As we continue to find pet owners and partner organizations that desperately need these vital spay/neuter surgeries for their pets, we also find that they can’t afford the requested donation of $25 - $150 for the surgery costs. In addition, we have made a concerted effort to provide services to feral cat caregivers without any funding source to support the surgery costs.

While both situations have been problematic, we can’t pull back. We are committed to providing these much needed services whether the surgery is subsidized or not. After all…who else will?

Now, the truth is this: Animal Friends needs your help.

So, while we continue spaying and neutering, every day, in the community and right here at Animal Friends, I’ve been trying to make ends meet…so that we never have to cut back on the services our region has come to count on.

And, thankfully, two anonymous donors –who understands that the absence of spay/neuter program would have a devastating impact on the pets in our region--has agreed to help us. They are offering a dollar-for-dollar match for every gift of $500 and above, up to $75,000, through December 31, 2012.

So, I write to you today for help.

As you consider your year-end giving, please seize this opportunity. Please invest where funds are so urgently, immediately needed to make a lifesaving difference. And please donate now, when your tax-deductible gift will be doubled by our matching donor.

Please click here to donate today. If you prefer to donate via stock gift or other method, please call Pat Hargest, Director of Development, at 412.847.7073. You can also mail a check made payable to “Animal Friends” to 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237.

Or, if you would like to talk about your gift in more detail, please don’t hesitate to call me at 412.847.7010.

Remember, this is an urgent request, as all donations must be given by December 31 in order to be matched. Animal Friends needs you now. Please come forward.

With warm wishes for happy holidays for you and your family,

David J. Swisher
President & CEO, Animal Friends
Animal Friends Caryl Gates Gluck Resource Center
562 Camp Horne Road | Pittsburgh, PA 15237 | 412.847.7000

Friday, November 30, 2012

Animal Friends Celebrates 2013 with “Happy Neuter Year” Special

Make a resolution to keep your cat healthy this year with Animal Friends’ Happy Neuter Year special.  For only $25, you will receive a wellness package that includes rabies and distemper vaccinations, Frontline flea application and nail trim.  Purchase one wellness package and you can get your cat spayed or neutered for FREE!

An unaltered cat can produce 3-4 litters a year with 2-10 kittens in each litter. Sadly, there are not enough homes for this many kittens.  In Allegheny County alone, conservative estimates show that 20,000 homeless animals are euthanized every year. By having your cat spayed or neutered, you not only take a step towards solving pet overpopulation but you also reduce your cat’s risk of cancer and infection, make your cat less likely to run away and ensure a calmer, happier companion.

This special kicks off January 3rd and limited spots are available. Please call
412.847.7004 to apply for your Wellness Package today!   This special is made possible through the support and generosity of the ASPCA. 

Animal Friends' Home-To-Home Adoption Program Presents....Ashes and Soot!

Ashes and Soot are 3-year old Russian Blue mix, indoor, short-haired cats. They are micro-chipped, neutered, and front de-clawed. 

Because they have been together since birth, we would prefer to place them together.  They both have beautiful gray coats. Ashes’ eyes are a more vibrant yellow, while Soot’s are a shimmering green. These cats love to play, both with each other and humans. Ashes loves attention all the time, while Soot likes to be petted when he’s in the mood. They are both good at co-habitating with dogs and children. Soot tends to run the other way from kids, but they do not stress him out. Ashes likes to be right in the mix, and has even tolerated some accidental tail pulling without incident. 

These cats would do well in most any situation, but Ashes in particular needs a lot of attention. We recently had a new addition to the family and do not have the time to give him all of the affection he deserves. If you are interested in these two wonderful cats, please contact Christine Smerker at 240-994-5737.

Animal Friends' Home-To-Home Adoption Program Presents....Papi-Chelo!

Papi-Chelo is looking for a new home!  He can by shy around new people but he is a lap dog once he learns you're a good person.  He is a 8-year-old, black and tan Papillon/Chihuahua mix. He loves to take rides in car and go on walks.  He would need to be the only dog in home.

If you can help Papi, please contact Nieves Michalek at 412.822.7027 or 412.443.2608.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy (and bittersweet) Tails: Woofer

By: Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant

It happened again.

This morning, I walked to my office at Animal Friends…past the cat condos and free roam rooms, ready to say good morning to my early bright eyes.

One of them was gone.

For over a year I’ve bid hello to Woofer the cat. His goofy eyes, crooked smile, and stained yet generous face was always a pleasure to see.

He reminded me of me. During our “School’s Out for Summer” promotion, he received a "D" on his report card in Home Economics…probably because of the relaxed, casual, and rather untamed way he kept his space. I too have been accused of having a relaxed outlook on cleanliness, and, much to my mother’s dismay, did not receive the highest accolades from my Home Ec teacher.

Woofer has a quirky and loveable personality. When I would photograph other cats in the free roam room, he would often tap my shoulder, then scatter when I turned. That’s just one of many elementary-school-style tricks he would pull.

Some called him loony and bonkers. But it is said the difference between crazy and eccentric is a million dollars. Well, my buddy Woofer is worth a million bucks.

If Woofer’s new family is reading this…. I’d love to hear how you’re doing in your new home, my fantastically funny feline friend. Keep those eyes bright, stay true, and rock on, you gorgeous goofball.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Animal Friends' Chow Wagon Needs Your Cat Food Donations

Animal Friends’ Chow Wagon was born 5 years ago to provide assistance to people and their pets. By partnering with local food banks, Animal Friends has been able to serve between 1,500 and 2,000 clients with monthly deliveries of food and treats. We understand that feeding a family during financial hardship can be difficult and that 2-legged family members are not the only ones who suffer.

We are currently running low on cat food.  If you can help needy pets this holiday season, please bring bags or cans of dry or wet cat food to Animal Friends at 562 Camp Horne Road.  Donations of other pet food and treats are always needed and welcomed as well but the need for cat food is great this month.

The Chow Wagon enables people to keep their pets in their loving homes and in turn, strengthens our community as a whole.

Animal Friends' Home-To-Home Adoption Program Presents....Sugar!

Sugar is a sweet, affectionate full-breed Labrador Retriever. She is 3-years old and loves to play with the tennis ball and go for walks. She is well-trained, such that she is able to have full run of the downstairs when I am not home. She is in excellent physical condition and would be a terrific companion to the right home. 

If you can help Sugar, please contact Kim at 412.302.0454.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kick-off the holidays with Animal Friends' Holidays with Heart!

Local vendors and crafters will be at Animal Friends for the Holidays with Heart craft show on Saturday, December 1 from 10am – 4pm. Looking to finish (or start) your holiday shopping?  Browse an extensive collection of handmade items, which includes everything from pottery to jewelry, handcrafted soaps, photography, candles, hand-blown glass and quilted items!  Pet supplies, specialty foods from Tastefully Simple and other health and home products will also be on sale. There is sure to be something for everyone on your list. Beat the mall rush and support Animal Friends at the same time! 

If you work up an appetite while shopping, don’t worry!  We’ll have chili, hot dogs and other tasty lunch items for sale.  So swing by Animal Friends on December 1 from 10am to 4pm and pick up some great gifts for your family, friends and yourself!

Stay tuned for a sneak peek of just some of the great items available at Holidays with Heart!

Celebrate Adopt a Senior Pet Month with Animal Friends!

By Amy Dukes, Adoption and Customer Service Coordinator

As I tried to relax and drink my coffee Monday morning, sitting in my favorite chair, I was hit with a Pug bomb and spilled my coffee everywhere.  The Pug bomb was launched by my German Shepherd, 9 year old Georgie, who had decided to chase the Pug back and forth through the house.  “Oh Georgie,” I said, “Will you never grow up and stop being a puppy?”  Georgie had a rough first year of life and never got to be a puppy when she should have, so this behavior started a few months after we adopted her 8 years ago, and hasn’t slowed down.  Age, after all, is just a number.

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month.  At Animal Friends, we define a dog as a Senior at age 5, a cat at age 6, and a rabbit at age 5.  Once an animal reaches this age, they become a part of our Red Collar Society.  

I wonder if Brooklyn, our spunky Pittie, would consider herself a Senior?  

Does handsome 8 year old Flame the kitty know that he should start looking for the Early Bird Special?  

Is Farfell the bunny considering retirement?  No!  

These wonderful animals are adults who love life and have so much love to give.  Are they less active than 6 month old puppies?  Thankfully, yes, but they are far from sedentary.  They have the maturity to be trained to be sidekicks for their humans and will make wonderful pets for people who are willing to give them a chance.

Having grown up with a grandmother who lived to be a healthy 103 and was so active that she achieved her goal of visiting her cousins in Ireland at age 94, I guess I have a skewed sense of what age means.  I grew up with 2 cats who lived well into their late teens and were spunky and active all of their lives.  

If we work to stay healthy and active ourselves and to also keep our pets healthy and active, age is of no consequence.  Now that two of the loves of my life, Georgie and her sister Gracie, are 9, I plan to take them to the vet for check ups religiously every 6 months, feed them well, keep them active and thin and enjoy their energetic and loving company for years to come.  But if it’s not as many years as I’d like (forever), I will always appreciate the wonderful time we have together and know that I have learned and grown from having them in my life.

So in honor of Adopt a Senior Pet Month, please browse our available pets and consider the wonderful personalities and ignore that number.

In Memory of Andrew Guzzi

Guest Blogger: Hannah Ketterman, Adoption Counselor

I have been blessed with a life of little loss. Until recently, I had never encountered the passing of a close relative or good friend. My first experience came when I was a senior in high school when our family golden retriever, Casey, passed away peacefully in our home. The next large loss I dealt with came one month ago when a previous foster dog of mine was taken by cancer. Though I could smile knowing that she was in a loving home for the last four months of her short life, it was still difficult to cope with. Nothing, however, could prepare me for the loss of one of my best friends, Andrew Guzzi.

Never in my life had I met such a selfless person. Everything he did was to please others and make sure that those around him were happy. He succeeded in this each and every day. Andrew had the most contagious smile and was such a pleasure to be around. He blessed the lives of all of those who came into his world. Not only did he have a large group of exceptionally close friends, but also a very tight knit family.

Visiting with Andrew's family last night, I was so pleased to find that they were requesting memorial gifts to go to Animal Friends in his name. I always enjoyed watching him interact with my two dogs, Bailey and Aspen. They both adored him and looked forward to his visits. I am certain that Andrew would be pleased to know that Animal Friends will benefit in his honor.

Donations to Animal Friends are a meaningful way to memorialize someone. We are happy to mail a keepsake card to let the family know that you have made a gift in honor or in memory of someone special. Click here to donate in memory of Andrew Guzzi, or someone who you have loved and lost.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Animal Friends' Home-To-Home Adoption Program Presents....Charlie!

Charlie is an 8 month old Cockapoo.   He is house broken and has all of his necessary vaccinations, etc.  He is very well taken care of.  Charlie is trained to follow numerous commands such as "sit", "down" "paw" etc. He is also crate trained and sleeps in his crate each night.  In addition, we can leave Charlie to roam free in the house when we are not home with no concerns about chewing on furniture as Charlie prefers to play with his many toys and has his favorites.
Like most puppies Charlie is very energetic.  He loves to go for walks and run around in the yard.  Charlie loves to be the center of attention so we feel he is best suited for a home without children.
We are interested in placing Charlie in a loving home where he will be very well taken care of as we have taken care of him thus far.
If you are interested in adopting Charlie, please contact Marisa Miller at 412-708-0155 or Matthew Miller at 412-708-0133.  As you can see by his photo,  he is an adorable puppy and we think he will be adopted quickly so act fast. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Who's Who at this year's annual Black Tie & Tails gala!

By Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant

Some of our wonderful adoptable residents will be attending this weekend’s Black Tie & Tails gala!

Homer, a happy yellow Labrador Retriever, will be sipping a Duff Beer and discussing philosophy.

Gardenia, a gentle black and tan Hound mix, will dazzle the crowd with her blooming personality.

Mr. Baker, a cute black Cairn Terrier/Pug mix and Taffy, distinguished tan Chihuahua/Pug, will be helping with dessert.

Lil Trooper, a sleek black cat, has been dressed for the event since she was born.

And we will have a hero join the crowd. Lady Meow Mix is a blind gray cat who carried her 4 babies to safety when they lived outside.

Kasper, the friendliest of cats, is not going to wear white, but rather his regal silver fur and glimmering golden eyes.

Gadget, a sweet gray tabby, will awe you with her Columbo impression.

Roxie requested something purple to help bring out her blond highlights.

Brooklyn requested something black. "As we say in New York City, black is the new color for the season."

And Bella, a beautiful brindle Beagle mix, will announce to all the celebrants “Andiamo!” and “Buon appetito!”

Come one, come all to the 15th annual Black Tie & Tails gala!

Thank you to Linda Mitzel, Angie Pulice and Jeff Geissler for providing beautiful photos of our party animals.

Adventures as a Foster Furmom: Part 2

By Volunteer (and foster mom): Susan Gottfried 

After a year of fostering kittens, the kids told me they wanted to foster some adult cats.

I tried to explain to them that it generally doesn't work that way. That Chris Whyle, the foster coordinator, tells us what she needs. We don't always get to pick and choose.

Karma bit me the day I was set to return our last foster kitten, in the form of an e-mail from Chris: they needed to empty some cages and make space to save more kitty lives. I e-mailed her immediately, letting her know I was bringing the kitten in and would be glad to help out.
That's how we came to take home Zenji, a gorgeous buff-colored Persian. Rescued from a supposed breeder, he's not a great example of a Persian, but as soon as Chris opened his cage door and he head-butted me and the kids, we knew he was the kitty we'd be taking home for awhile.

Zenji's a fascinating guy. The shelter staff says he's five, but he plays like a kitten. Once settled in the house and allowed to roam it freely, he's been spotted galloping up and down my upstairs hallway, possibly for the sheer joy of it. He attacks feet and hands under bed covers, steals my Pink Pet eraser and bats it around the floor, and has even been known to swipe the toy right off the end of the wand it's attached to.

That antic has caused some very shocked and confused kids around here, let me tell you.
It's also caused some uproar and laughter as three humans have tried to dive under beds to retrieve that toy, only to have a mischievous Zenji take off for another bed in another bedroom, the bell on the end of the toy jingling away as if it's taunting us.

The funny – and often frustrating – thing is that in most circumstances, Zenji runs, scared, when we walk into a room. Yet when he steals the green worm, look out. That fear disappears and it's one big game – and the Z-man, as I call him, loves it. He's a confident little scamp, and this is Zenji at his best.

I don't know how long Zenji will be here with us. We're coming up on the six-week mark and he's happy with us, sure. But as with each foster we bring into our home, we're eager for him to find his forever home and people who will love him and play with him… well, forever.

Zenji is still available for adoption! If your family would like to meet this character, please call our Adoption Department at 412.847.7002 to make an appointment.  He'd love to meet you!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

By the Staff at Petagogy

Halloween is just around the corner! While you’re gathering together your costume, stocking up on candy and transforming your yard into a graveyard, remember that holidays like Halloween can be stressful times for your pets. Pets don’t understand why their best two-legged pals are wearing funny masks, or why people keep ringing the doorbell over and over again.

To keep Halloween fun and safe for everyone in the family, consider the following pet safety tips:

•    If you and your children are going to dress up in costume for Halloween, allow your dog and cat to see and sniff the costume before putting it on to prevent them from being frightened.

•    Keep candy, especially chocolate and gum, away from your pets––chocolate, candies containing Xylitol (a sugar-alcohol sweetener), wrappers and other ingredients can be poisonous and even fatal for pets if they ingest it.

•    Don’t bring your dogs trick or treating––the costumes, noise, music, yelling kids, lights and decorations can be frightening and stressful for many dogs.

•    Beware of outfitting your home or yard with decorations that can cause a hazard to your pets, such as cobwebs, glowsticks and plastic decorations (which can look like toys but are a choking hazard). Also, be sure to cover and hide all electrical cords.

•    If you are giving out candy on Halloween night, consider keeping your pets blocked off from the front door by either putting a pet gate in the doorway or sequestering them in another room of the house. The constant doorbell ringing and kids yelling in costume might be stressful and cause a dog or cat to escape out the front door. Also, fear may trigger your normally friendly dog’s instinct to bark, possible scaring your young Halloween visitors.

•    Make sure your pets have proper identification, including tags and/or microchips, in case they do escape out of an open door so they can be safely returned home.

•    If you dress your pet in costume make sure it fits well enough to allow for breathing room and visibility. Also, be aware of loose or hanging parts that your pet can reach, chew and possibly choke on.

•    Keep candles (free standing and those in pumpkins or luminaries) away from pets to prevent them burning themselves and/or starting a fire. 

Petagogy (pronounced pet-uh-go-jee) specializes in premium and natural pet foods, treats and supplies for dogs, cats and small mammals. 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. Visit their website at

Make a Double Difference with Animal Friends!

Make a DOUBLE difference! Tomorrow, October 27th, is National Make a Difference Day and you can help our shelter residents by giving them a double gift! The Retail Store at Animal Friends has partnered with several companies to match certain items that our residents so desperately need. Check out our web page ( for matching specials on dog items such as pressed rawhide, bristle bones, nylabones and kong toys. 

You can also click this link ( to donate a 40lb box of litter AND 25lbs of cat food for just $20 and your gift of cat litter will be matched! That's 80lbs of cat litter and 25 lbs of cat food for just $20!  

Just click to make a difference tomorrow! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Bunny Connection: Reflections of a Mom

Guest Blogger: Jane Miller, Volunteer

    It was during the Chinese Year of the Rabbit in 2011 when our daughter, Beth, had a creative idea for a Girl Scout leadership project. She wanted to write parody lyrics to a popular song and film animals acting it out to promote adoptions at Animal Friends.

    She was too young to handle dogs (need to be 18) or cats (16 for that), but at age 13, she was just right for the bunnies, provided a parent came too. No, I wasn’t kicking and screaming, because she is our youngest, and I realize the importance of nurturing our children’s dreams. So we signed up for Rabbit Wrangling I through IV, including Bun Runs--when all the rabbits jump around freely as visitors pat them--and a “Bunny Spa,” where we learned brushing, toe nail clipping and how to clean out rabbits’ scent glands.  I could have passed on that last one, but one more item added to my life’s resume!

    I wasn’t prepared for how those little bunnies would work their way into my heart. At the orientation we learned rabbits can be litter trained like a cat, and if it is bonded to a mate, it is for life. Calamity Jack was the first rabbit I wrangled. It turned out he was the most skittish, but a bunny mentor taught me to place one hand in front of his face and stroke his ears. He then trusted me to hop into a cage to be taken for a “Bun Run.”

    That was the best part. We met other child/parent teams, who mostly wanted to care for an animal that is prey to almost every other creature. We needed to attend a lot of bun runs, since Beth wanted to photograph the bunnies in action. It required a lot of patience on her part. After all, you can’t say, “Sit!” and offer a treat. Sometimes I arrived thinking, oh, I have so much to do at home, but often got caught up in watching the funny antics.

    I noticed each rabbit had a unique personality. Sunday, a black lop with a white heart on her nose, would run and skid to a halt and Calamity Jack loved the attention of children. We all  rejoiced the day he got a home! Our new friends loved the video clip where Beth said, “Come on Mig, run through the tunnel.” And he did!

    I also noticed something else. The times when I had a hard time letting go of whatever it was that troubled my mind, it seemed the rabbits never came near. When I let go of wearisome thoughts, it seemed that was when a little furry creature quietly, and at first unnoticed, came by my side.

    “Last Friday Night—The Bunny Edition” with parody lyrics to the song by Katy Perry is finally finished and ready to launch on Animal Friends' YouTube channel. We plan to continue volunteering with the bunnies. We no longer rush by them on our way to visit the dogs or cats. I will always treasure our memories of our “Year of the Rabbit” and their lessons in gentleness, as well as patience, they taught both of us.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

How To Become a Foster (Fur)Parent in 10 Easy Steps

By Volunteer (and foster mom): Susan Gottfried 
My journey into rescue began, really, in the spring of 1994. My sister, the vet, called me. She was still in vet school at the time and I was finishing up graduate school. For my graduation present, she was going to adopt me a kitten, one of the many who were given to the vet school with the instruction: adopt it out, or put it down.

Sister-the-Vet debated on various kittens, but in the end, she picked a Devon Rex for me. When she called to tell me about him, she mentioned that he had a sister and, if no one else claimed her, I was going to have two.

I didn't argue...much. And sure enough, I soon got a phone call: "I have your kittens!"

Sister-the-Vet fostered my kittens until I moved back to Pittsburgh. For her, they were merely the latest occupants of her foster room. She was saving lives, and I vowed that one day, I'd do the same thing.

It was when that second kitten, the one I originally wasn't going to have, succumbed at age 16, after a six-year battle with Irritable Bowel Disorder that I called Animal Friends. Without his sister, Cooper was desolate. Fostering, I thought, would give him some companionship. After all, he'd never known life as an only cat. 

Unfortunately, I was still going through the training when Cooper died, literally, of a broken heart.
But that's when things got good. I fostered two adult cats before adopting two more kittens at an Animal Friends kitten shower. Lucy and Milo now share their home with me and my two kids and a host of foster kitties. 

At first, my foster room was my home office, complete with a spiffy screen door. Then, as life changed, a second home office turned into my new foster room. A better one, where I didn't have to inhale litter pan fumes all day. The downside, though, was that I didn't get to have the foster baby (or babies, as the case often was) in the room with me. On the other hand, the things in my office tend to stay put.

Over the next few weeks, months, or beyond, I'll bring you the adventures of a foster mom. I'm no one special, just a published writer and freelance book editor. I'm not a cat behavoralist, although I'd learn to be, and despite medicating a cat daily for six years, I'm not a trained vet tech. I'm just a cat lover with room in my home and my heart to help the cause.

So I invite you to join me as I introduce you to my cast of foster babies, all feline, and all wonderful and amazing. And, as soon as I return them to the shelter from the comfort of my house (and bed and couch), all adoptable.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Pie, Beer, and Jules the Cat

By Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant

Pumpkin Pie. This flavorful treat is synonymous with this time of year. Its nutmeg- and cinnamon-infused custard with a buttery crust makes the perfect hearty fall day delight. Pair a slice with a brisk and clove-ingrained pumpkin ale and you’ll have the ultimate fall treat.

Why am I writing about pie and beer so early in the morning? Because, like many of my mornings, I was greeted by Jules the Cat. His perky cheeks and slightly rounded ears make for the most lovable pie-shaped face. And he’s an orange tabby with shades of light tan ringed by darker tints of amber that perfectly resemble a tall, flavorful pint of harvest brew.

Jules is a domestic cat rescued from a feral cat colony. He came to us injured, sick and matted with car grease. With the tender care of our medical staff, and the loving attention from our volunteers, Jules is now healthy and living in one of our free roam rooms. And every morning he greets me with his pumpkin pie-face and relaxed, mellow eyes.

So in the spirit of the season we invite you to visit Jules and take in his autumn-like angelic looks, his sweet and savory character, and his intoxicating affection.

Click here to learn more about Jules!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Animal Friends Offers Free Straw for Cold Outdoor Pets

In preparation for plummeting temperatures, Animal Friends is once again offering free bags of straw to anyone who cares for outdoor pets or feral cats.

Animal Friends urges pet owners to make their pets part of the family and keep them inside the home. Dogs, cats and domestic rabbits are social animals, and just like humans, they suffer without interaction and companionship. Animal Friends offers many programs, including low cost spay/neuter and behavior training, that may help overcome issues that sometimes prompt a pet owner’s decision to house a pet outside. Call 412.847.7000 to learn more about these options.

However, recognizing the reality that many pets do live outside, Animal Friends urges those pet owners to obey the law by ensuring that outdoor pets have access to proper food, drinkable water and warm, dry shelters. 

Because blankets, towels and pillows will only get wet and freeze, straw is the best insulation against the cold and wet winter. Free bags of straw can be picked up at Animal Friends, located at 562 Camp Horne Road in the North Hills, just 0.5 miles west of Exit 8 off I-279.  

A car mat or rug should be used as a flap over a doghouse door to keep the inside free of wind, snow and rain. If you are in need of a dog house, please contact Animal Friends to inquire about availability.

Extra care must also be taken to provide unfrozen water in not-metallic bowls and extra food at all times during cold weather.

Frequently check your pet's paws, ears and tail for signs of frostbite, a very common occurrence.  If you suspect frostbite, your pet will need to see a veterinarian immediately.  Check your dog's chain often to make sure 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. Also be mindful of salt and other snow-melting chemicals that can injure their paw pads.

Animal Friends' annual straw drop is also an important opportunity for feral cat caregivers to insulate feral cat shelters. Animal Friends is selling a limited supply of winter shelters for feral cats. The cost is just $5, and the houses will be available at Animal Friends, Mondays through Fridays between 11am – 5 pm.

For more information, call Animal Friends at 412.847.7000 or visit

Monday, October 15, 2012

Join Team Animal Friends for the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon

Do you love running? Do you love animals? Do something you love while helping homeless animals this year with the Pittsburgh Marathon and Animal Friends. 

If you or a loved one are planning to participate in the May 5, 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon races, consider joining Team Animal Friends!   Donations raised will go towards sponsoring spay and neuter surgeries and providing critical medical care for sick and wounded animals. 

To sign up to be a part of Team Animal Friends, you must first register at  When you register, you will be asked to choose what you want to run (i.e. full marathon, half marathon, 5k etc).  Make your selection and finish your registration.  After you are registered, visit our CrowdRise page at and make an account to start fundraising!

CrowdRise allows you to create your own personal fundraising page and share it with family and friends through email or your Facebook or Twitter page. You can set your own fundraising goal, post photos and share a personal story of why you are running for Animal Friends.

We’ll also be offering some awesome prizes and raffles throughout the fundraising season so be sure to check back frequently.

The first prize is a big one: an Exclusive Pittsburgh Marathon VIP Pass to the marathon. This prize is sponsored by Pittsburgh Marathon and is open to all fundraising participants.  What will a VIP pass get you?  Well…

- Early access into Expo
- Exclusive access to Post- Race VIP party
- Exclusive access to Pre & Post-Race VIP areas
- VIP seating for the best view of the race
- Pre-race continental breakfast
- Private gear check
- Post-Race buffet
- Sheetz coffee & smoothie truck
- Complimentary massage by Massage Envy
- Private photo area with one free photo
- Private restroom.  Really.
- And, lots of other awesome stuff... 
All you have to do to be entered into this raffle is to make your own fundraising page on CrowdRise and donate or raise any amount.  Even one dollar will get your name in the drawing!

Hurry though!  This contest only goes until 10/28. The winner will be contacted by email.

Run for a reason and support Animal Friends this year in the annual Pittsburgh Marathon!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Shelters Unite for "$30 @ 3" Dog Adoption Promo!

Pittsburgh’s three major shelters – Animal Friends, the Animal Rescue League (ARL), and the Western PA Humane Society (WPHS) – have stepped up in a united front to save pets caught in the middle of a licensing suspension at Triangle Pet Control Services. As a result, the 3 shelters are at capacity with dogs. They are asking for immediate help from the public. All 3 shelters are running a $30@3 adoption special, meaning any dog over the age of 2 years is available for just a $30 adoption donation – at all 3 shelters.  All adoptions will be thoroughly screened to ensure loving, lifelong matches.

David Swisher, President & CEO for Animal Friends, stated: “Animal Friends’ kennels are constantly filled at 100% capacity. Still, we have been committed, from the start, to providing safe haven to the pets caught in the middle of Triangle’s licensing suspension. Shelter adoption is always a lifesaving option, but now, more than ever, we need adopters to make room for more pets in crisis. The pets in our community need a lifeline, and we hope the $30@3 promotion will encourage families to adopt and be a part of this effort.”

“Since the closure of Triangle Pet, the Animal Rescue league has seen a spike in surrenders of both dog and cats. We are at the point where all of our cages are full, animals are being housed in offices, and all of our current foster homes are at capacity,” says ARL Executive Director, Dan Rossi.  

David Janusek, the Executive Director at WPHS, echoes that sentiment.  “In the past 3 days we had 34 dogs surrendered to the Western PA Humane Society North Shore Shelter.  We adopted out 15 dogs during that same time period.  We are very full.  We need the dog lovers of Western PA Humane Society to step up and help with adopting, fostering, and donating – food, supplies, or funds -- to care for these many animals.”

On October 1, 2012, Triangle Pet Control’s license to operate was revoked and the business was ordered to no longer provide animal control or kenneling services for dogs.  Animal Friends, the Animal Rescue League, and the Western PA Humane Society came forward to rescue pets from Triangle or offer veterinary assistance.  More then 20 dogs were transferred to Animal Friends and Animal Rescue League, while the Western PA Humane Society impounded a dead dog found on Triangle’s property.

On October 10, The Western PA Humane Society Humane Chief Humane Society Officer, Ron Smith filed citations against the owner of Triangle Pet, Bernard Dudash and Kennel Manager Paul McIntyre, for failure to provide veterinary care for a pit bull that had been in their custody since September 11 of this year.  According to the citations, the dog died in its cage on the morning of October 4 and was never taken to a vet, despite being told to do so by the Allegheny County Dog Warden on October 1.

For more information, visit the shelters’ websites at,, and  Pittsburgh’s animal shelters are non-profit organizations that rely on donations and community support.


About the organizations:

Animal Friends
Animal Friends is a non-profit companion animal resource center serving the needs of pets and people since 1943.  Our progressive programs have been nationally recognized and include humane rescue, shelter and adoption services, humane education, pet behavior classes, pet-assisted therapy, wellness programs and more. At Animal Friends, we know that shelter and adoption programs, while important, are a reactive solution to pet overpopulation and will never solve the overpopulation crisis. That's why Animal Friends has developed a comprehensive, community-wide spay/neuter initiative. By providing low or no-cost spay/neuter surgeries to low-income pet owners, feral cat colony caretakers, Pit Bull owners, and shelters and communities that lack spay/neuter programs, Animal Friends is well on our way to spaying or neutering over 30,000 pets in three years. Through these efforts, our goal is not just to relieve pet overpopulation and unnecessary euthanasia in southwestern Pennsylvania—but to end it.  Animal Friends is supported by donors, volunteers and a staff dedicated to ensuring the well being of companion animals, while ending overpopulation, abuse and unwarranted euthanasia. For more information, visit

The Animal Rescue League of Western PA
Our mission is provide temporary shelter, food, medical attention, and comfort to all abandoned, neglected and injured animals brought to us by the community; to restore lost animals to their owners or seek new homes for them, and educate the public about humane care of animals with a goal of reducing overpopulation.

The Western PA Humane Society
The Western PA Humane Society is proud to be an Open Door Shelter. This means we never turn away an animal in need. We currently take in over 13,000 animals each year. We have been helping people and their pets for over 135 years. We are proud of our role in the community and are always looking to improve the concept and perception of open door shelters. The Western PA Humane Society is not directly funded through local, state, or federal tax dollars and receives no financial support from donations made to any regional or national animal welfare organization. You can help in many ways. Consider adopting a pet. Make a monetary donation. Become a member of the Western PA Humane Society. Volunteer your time. Foster an animal waiting for a new home.  For more information, please visit our website at or visit one of our two shelters.