Monday, April 30, 2012

Animal Friends offers low-cost rabies clinics

With warm weather, outdoor activities and outings ahead, it is more important than ever to make sure your pet is vaccinated against rabies.  Rabies is a disease transmitted by the saliva of an infected animal, which enters the central nervous system and causes a brain infection. It is most commonly spread through a bite from an infected dog, cat, raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat. Left untreated, it is usually fatal in both pets and humans.

This is a serious but preventable disease. To help protect pets and people, we are once again hosting a series of low-cost Rabies Clinics throughout the area this summer. Pet vaccines will be available for just $10 each at the following clinics:
  • ANIMAL FRIENDS ON-SITE | Sunday, May 20, 2012 | 9:00 am - 11:00 am | 562 Camp Horne Road
  • McKEESPORT | Sunday, June 17, 2012 | 11:00 am - 1:00 pm| McKeesport Fire Hall on Eden Park Boulevard
  • PENN HILLS | Sunday, July 8, 2012 | 11:00 am - 1:00 pm | Public Works Garage, 6600 Leechburg Road
  • MT. OLIVER | Sunday, July 29, 2012 | 11:00 am - 1:00 pm | Hook & Ladder Co., 120 Brownsville Road
  • ANIMAL FRIENDS ON-SITE | Sunday, September 9, 2012 | 9:00 am - 11:00 am | 562 Camp Horne Road
  • MILLVALE | Sunday, September 16, 2012 | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm | Christ Lutheran Church, 910 North Avenue
All dogs and cats three months of age and over will be vaccinated on a first-come, first-served basis.  For safety reasons, all dogs must be on leashes and all cats in carriers. 
State law requires that all pets over three months of age must be vaccinated against rabies, with non-compliance resulting in $300 per day fines.

Animal Friends encourages pet owners to protect their pets from rabies by keeping them in the house or under their supervision at all times. If you notice an animal in your yard that is behaving in an aggressive, erratic manner, report the incident to your local police or animal control agency, as it could be showing signs of rabies infection. 

For more information about Animal Friends’ rabies clinics, call 412.847.7076 or click here!
You can also find printable posters to promote these events in your community.

Every Pet’s Fairy Godmother: Volunteer Alda Walker

By Siri Espy 

No, Alda Walker has not discovered the secret of human cloning! She really has worked in nearly every department of Animal Friends during her 11-year stint as a volunteer. Living out her childhood ideals, she got a head start on volunteering at age 13 as a Salvation Army bell ringer. And she grew up in a family of six children, each of whom had a pet.  

With this background, it’s probably no surprise that she gravitated toward Animal Friends when looking for a place to volunteer with her daughter, Nikki. Now 22, Nikki has remained involved with Animal Friends by completing a high school internship, working part-time as an animal caregiver and carrying on a family tradition.

Alda’s contributions to Animal Friends include working in our adoption and admissions departments. She also supports our medical department, where she assists on the mobile surgical unit to help bring low-cost spay and neuter services to the community. She’s often stationed Animal Friends’ greeter desk, sharing her cheerful outlook with all who enter the shelter. And she loves working with children, helping with summer camps and classes provided through our Humane Education Department.

While her personal menagerie is currently limited to cats, Alda is a member of our Dog Behavior Team, where she trains new volunteers and makes canine residents comfortable and ready to fit into new forever homes. She can also be found lending a hand at fundraising events, and she’s frequently recruited to represent Animal Friends in our commercials and TV spots.

“Alda is a wonderful ambassador for Animal Friends,” says Jolene Miklas, Director of Communications. “Her generous spirit shines through in everything she does. Our programs have truly benefited from her time and talents, and our staff and volunteers benefit from her warm, funny presence.” 
Although she once served as a full-time volunteer (sometimes logging up to 45 hours a week), Alda still gives at least 20 hours a week to Animal Friends. Every spring, she can be found with a tiny cat carrier in tow – she has become a foster mom extraordinaire to bottle-baby kittens, sometimes only days old, weighing in at a few ounces, and in need of round-the-clock feedings. She still cries every time one of her fragile charges doesn’t survive.

Even with the demands of her volunteer duties, Alda manages to have a full life away from Animal Friends. She has a flexible schedule as a corporate trainer, and considers herself fortunate to have a man in her life who supports and encourages her efforts. She can also be found at home with her seven felines, in her studio making jewelry and greeting cards and serving as a teacher and lector in her church.

During her years as a volunteer, Alda has poured her heart and soul into Animal Friends, and has found that giving is not just a one-way endeavor.  “I love both animals and people,” she explains.  “I just truly believe in what Animal Friends does, and I’ve come to see the staff and volunteers as my family.”

Friday, April 27, 2012

Trap, Neuter and Return program has returned!

Photo by Harry Giglio
Attention all Swissvale residents!  Animal Friends will be holding its annual Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) program for feral and stray cats in your area.  Everyone is welcome to attend an informational meeting on May 9th, held at the Swissvale Borough Building from 6-8pm. 

At the meeting, more information about TNR, how it works and how it can help the Swissvale community will be available.  Please bring your questions and concerns.  If you’d like to attend, RSVP by calling 412.847.7094.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Swissvale Borough Building
7560 Roslyn St
Swissvale, PA

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Put Your Paws Together For: 5 Fools Bar and Grill!

We'd like to extend a big thank you to 5 Fools Bar and Grill.  The fundraising event they held this past weekend raised over $1,600 for homeless animals.

We'd also like to give a big sloppy puppy kiss to their supporters:

Vocellis Pizza

Paul Beining Hair Salon

UPMC Passavant

New York Hot Dog

Pizza Roma

Bonnie and Clydes

J. Clarks
Jester's Court

Franklin Inn

Eternal Tan
Hair Symmetry

Hawian Tan

Rave Cinemas

Danny’s Bar

Republic Services

Koop Cones

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Rochester Inn


Healthy Pet Products

Baust Heating and Cooling

Thank you again!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Notes from our Humane Officer: Amazing Cats

By: Kathy Hecker, Humane Officer for Animal Friends 

Time for a cat story!

I was with another humane officer and we were investigating a case of alleged cat abuse and neglect.  But when we arrived at the property, we only saw one little, long haired orange cat in the field next to the house.  The owner denied having any cats and we were just about to leave when the orange cat ran up to us.  

We gave him some pets and some treats.  Then he took off across the field and stood by an overturned wheel barrow.  Several times he ran up to us and raced back across the field and stood by the wheelbarrow, a pile of bricks, some overturned flower pots and old rusty farm machinery.  Of course, we finally followed him.  What we found was heartbreaking.  

The owner, fearing prosecution, had chained her ten cats to cinder blocks and hid them in the field under all the junk.  This orange cat was clearly disturbed by this and sought our help.  When we had unchained them all and loaded them up in the van, we looked at each other in amazement!  "Are there any more?" we asked the orange cat.  He jumped in the van, his work done.  Amazing!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Your New Kitten: Starting Off on the Right Paw

Guest Blogger: Linda Snyder

Who can resist adding a mischievous feline imp to the family? Nothing is more comical than the antics of playful kittens discovering the world around them! But kittenhood is also the best time to train your energetic kitten so that she will grow into a well-behaved adult cat.  Here are some simple tips:

  • Hands are not toys.  Godzilla attacks on your fingers may be cute today, but those tiny kitten teeth eventually will grow bigger and bite harder.  If your kitten bites your hand in play, simply let your hand go limp as if it’s a dead mouse.  She will lose interest. Encourage her to attack a feather toy or a catnip mouse instead of fingers.
  • Scratch the surface.  Introduce your kitten to appropriate scratching immediately, with either a flat cardboard scratcher or a scratching post. Play with your kitten there, or sprinkle catnip or treats on the scratcher so that she’ll grow up loving her scratching post more than your sofa.
  • Tickle those toes.  If you touch your kitten’s feet often, that will make trimming her nails easier for you and for her for the rest of her life.  And please, never declaw those beautiful toes.  Declawing is painful and can cause other problems later, such as your kitten’s possible avoidance of her litter box.
  • Use counter intelligence.  You probably don’t want your curious kitten wandering across your kitchen counter next to that pot of boiling water on the stove.  Teach her to stay off counters or other surfaces by temporarily putting double-faced tape on the surface or by turning pieces of “spiked” plastic carpet runners upside down on the surface.  Nobody likes to walk on sticky or spiked surfaces.
  • Play ‘til the cows come home.  Give your fun-loving kitten plenty of interactive playtime every day, and you’ll both sleep better at night.  Plus, the more human interaction she experiences, the more sociable she will become.
  • Safety first.  Remember to kitten-proof your house. Remove toxic plants that might tempt your kitten’s taste buds, hide electrical cords that she could chew, and be sure that doors latch securely and that window screens don’t have holes in them.  Lead her not into temptation!

Above all, hug your precious kitten as often as possible because that furry little sweetheart loves you with all her heart for giving her the best home ever!

Meet an Animal Friends’ Spay/Neuter Veterinarian

By Dr. Karen Phillips 

Even as a kid, there was no question. I was going to be a veterinarian. 

But after I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998, I struggled to figure out what direction I wanted my veterinary career to take. Moving from the sticks of Vermont to the bustling streets of West Philly was quite a culture shock for me—and so was the discovery that working in private practice was not fulfilling! I loved the animals, but I didn’t feel I was making enough of a difference.

I tried emergency medicine and relief work before I discovered shelter medicine and realized that helping abused and abandoned animals was what I was meant to do. Now that I’ve joined Animal Friends’ Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Program, I feel blessed to have finally discovered my passion. 

By being a part of the program, I am making a difference by fighting the pet overpopulation problem, and I know that reducing the number of homeless pets is the most worthwhile way to focus my career. 

And, there are so many other animals that need care and compassion! One day soon I hope to help farm animals by opening a sanctuary to allow them to live out their lives free of cruelty and abuse. I already have numerous abandoned creatures on my seven-acre “farmette” ranging from chickens, turkeys and ducks to a pig and a peacock. Not to mention the cats and my “son” the Boston terrier, Parker Vern Stevenson Phillips.  

Thanks to my work with Animal Friends and animals in need, I’m finally living my dream!  

Animal Friends’ Low-Cost Spay/Neuter program depends on donations from the community. Help us spay or neuter a pet in our region that otherwise wouldn’t be altered.  Sponsor a spay today!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Understanding Cat Behavior: Cranky Cats

By Guest Blogger Linda Snyder 
Cats are some of the most loving creatures on earth, so can be upsetting when a cuddly cat unexpectedly hisses or swats at you or a fellow feline. The good news is that cranky behavior in cats is often is temporary and can be resolved. 

Aggressive behaviors in cats usually stem from some form of stress. For example, a frightened cat may swat in self-defense. But cats also are territorial, so a swatting cat may be defending his favorite chair or his bowl of food.

Likewise, cats may exhibit redirected energy. For example, an indoor cat may be watching through a window as a bird hops on the ledge. If you approach the cat while he’s watching the bird, he may swat. Understand that in the cat’s mind, he’s focused on the bird, not you.

Perhaps an older cat is jealous of the attention being lavished on a new kitten. He may behave roughly with the kitten. Also, if a cat has a sore spot on his back, he may become grouchy with anyone who touches it. This is normal for any pet—and even people! 

So what should a caring cat owner do? If a docile cat suddenly becomes aggressive, take him to a veterinarian. Some medical conditions (e.g., hyperthyroidism) can make a cat irritable, leading to cranky behavior. Medication also can temporarily help a cat relax.

If the cat gets a clean bill of health, then it’s time to become a pet detective to find the source of the cat’s stress. Watch your cat’s behavior, especially immediately before he becomes aggressive. 

Is he grumpy with everyone or one person? Is he chasing all kitties or only one? How is he displaying aggression? Is his tail fluffed like a bottle brush, indicating fear?
Next, consider the environment. Has anything changed? Has someone moved out of your home? Have your work hours changed? Did you rearrange furniture or add a new sofa? Cats feel secure when they know their surroundings, so changes in the home can cause stress.

If one cat is picking on another, put a bell on the aggressor’s collar to warn the other cat of his approach.  If one cat is staring intently at another and getting ready to attack, toss something such as a pillow between the cats to break that stare.  (Never place your hand between the cats in this situation!)  Or, distract both cats by waving a feather toy on a stick between them so that the aggressive behavior may be channeled into play.
If one cat does attempt to fight with another, separate them in different rooms for a brief time-out. If the behavior continues, isolate the attacking cat in a comfortable room for a few days. Then slowly reintroduce the two cats by first placing a baby gate at the door of the confined cat’s room to see how they react.

If you’re playing with a cat and he nips at your hand, stop playing and give him time to calm down.   Spending more time with a cantankerous cat also may help calm him. Also be sure to close those blinds so that your cat can’t see the teasing stray cat or bird outside.

Another way to calm anxious cats is with Feliway®, a synthetic chemical product that mimics soothing cat pheromones. Humans can’t smell Feliway®, but cats can when it is sprayed onto a cat’s bed or used as a plug-in atomizer. Similarly, Bach Flower Remedies® are flower extracts that can calm agitated cats; simply place a few drops of Rescue® Remedy in the cat’s water bowl.

All cats are different, so what works to calm one cat may not work for another. Sadly, there may be personality conflicts where two cats will never get along and will have to be permanently separated. But in many cases, if you have the patience to find and minimize the source of the cat’s stress, that cranky cat should soon return to being the sweetheart you adore.

Animal Friends can help with other cat behavior concerns. Check out our cat classes in the enclosed Animal Friends University catalog, or call our Behavior Hotline at 412.847.7070.

Diana needs a home!

This little beagle girl has spunk! She was wandering all by herself in the woods, skinny, soaking wet and sprayed by a skunk. There was no one around to save her, so she took matters into her own hands. She heard some hunters and their pack of beagles, so she joined right in! Upon returning to the car, the hunters realized they had an extra pup in the pack, so they brought her to Animal Friends. Naming this little girl after Diana, Goddess of the Hunt seemed quite appropriate. Some TLC and medical care soon helped Diana to feel better, and off she went into a foster home to recuperate from her adventures.

Diana is now ready for the next chapter in her life - a forever home! We are looking for some very special adopters for her. You see, Diana has an inoperable tumor. No one has told her about this though, so she's living life to the fullest. In her foster home, she enjoyed running through the yard, taking walks and galloping through the house. Her most favorite thing of all is simply taking some time to roll on her back in the grass. Of course, naps on a big fluffy bed are right up there on the list of favorites too, especially if someone tucks her in with her very own blanket.

This particular chapter of Diana's life may be shorter than we would like, but there's no reason that it cannot be fulfilling and happy for her. If you want to open your heart and home to this very special beagle, please come to Animal Friends and meet her. Diana will be waiting.

Want to meet Diana? Ask one of our adoption counselors!

Animal Friends' Adoption Department
412.847.7002 ext. 1

562 Camp Horne Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15237

Monday-Friday: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00 pm
Or, apply for adoption online now!

To give a donation in honor of me, visit:

Feral Q&A: Gotta catch 'em all

Q: I have successfully had every member of the colony spayed or neutered…except one. I am having a lot of trouble trapping the very last cat.  Do you have any tips?

A: Some cats can take up to a year to humanely trap. But, all is not lost!

For two weeks prior to the date you want to begin trapping, set out the trap and wire the door so it can’t shut. Place food in front of the trap’s opening. Over time, move the food deeper into the trap until she’s entering and exiting the trap to eat. On the day you plan to begin to trap, withhold food long enough to ensure she’s good and hungry. Remove the wires and when she walks in to eat, the door will close. During this process, consider using a bike lock to secure your trap to something stationary so the trap can’t be stolen.

As for the food, the smellier the better! Many trappers have found success with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Remove the coating and skin and pull the chicken from the bones. Remember that cooked bones are extremely dangerous to both dogs and cats. They can splinter when eaten and can cause animals to choke or bleed internally when eaten. Other bait options include oil-packed sardines or tuna, Fancy Feast Fish and Shrimp flavor and catnip. 

Many trap-wise cats have learned to avoid setting off the pressure plate.  Consider camouflaging it by placing a small towel along the bottom of the trap and over the plate. This will also help to protect the cat once the trap door closes.

One innovative trapper I know hangs pieces of chicken from the top of the trap in the back, forcing the cats to look up (and step on the pressure plate) as they move toward the back. How ingenious is that!

Some careful trappers are able to catch mother cats with the aid of her kittens. They watch while the kittens sleep in a carrier that is attached to the back of the trap with bungee cords. They cover both the trap and the carrier so that the mother believes she can only get to her kittens through the opening of the trap.

When trapping a mother cat with her kittens, have multiple traps set side by side as kittens tend to follow their mother and are likely to enter a trap next to one that their mother enters.

You can trap more than one cat at a time with drop traps and trap-wise cats often don’t recognize them as traps. A very cool web site to visit is  It’ll answer all of your questions about drop traps and give you some pretty neat videos of drop traps in action.

But please, never leave your traps unattended. My fellow felines will be at the mercy of anyone that may find them.  Well, I wish you all the best of luck!

Do you have a question about feral cats in your neighborhood? Send your question to

Feral Q&A: Tamed Ferals?

Q. I am feeding a colony feral cats and would like to try to tame the cats. Is this a good idea?

A. This is a common question that arises when we talk about Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR). Because they are not domesticated animals, most feral cats can not be placed into homes. But, it is important to remove kittens less than six weeks old so that they can be socialized and placed into loving, lifelong homes. The same holds true for friendly cats that have found their way into a feral colony.

However, we must acknowledge that a cat older than six weeks who has had limited to no human contact is not likely to be tamed. She will not thrive in a conventional domestic setting. Trying to keep a feral cat inside will make her miserable and could put your safety at risk. In these cases, the most compassionate and humane thing you can do is sterilize her, inoculate her against rabies, and return her to her familiar surroundings outside—under your watchful eye with plenty of fresh water, food and shelter.

As time goes on, your feral colony will become comfortable with your feeding routine and with you. But, you should remain cautious. Feral cats are extremely fearful of humans and may bite out of fear if you try to pick them up. Remember—you can do them a world of service by trapping them, sterilizing them, inoculating them and caring for them. Don’t endanger yourself or them by risking a bite. Resist the temptation until you get home. Then pick up your own pet and give her a big hug!

Do you have a question about feral cats in your neighborhood? Send your question to 

Feral Q&A: TNR

Q.  I know Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) is supposed to be humane, but I worry about feral cats when they’re returned to the wild. How do they survive?

A. Understand that feral cats don’t thrive in the same situations that pets do. They've had limited to no human contact. They are very fearful of humans and that just isn’t going to change after they're more than six weeks old. The most compassionate thing you can do for ferals is to trap, vaccinate, sterilize and put them back in their familiar surroundings.

Whatever you do though, take care of them. Feral cats do depend on kind caretakers for a consistent source of food, water and shelter, along with veterinary care if they need it.

You may be concerned about your feral cats contracting one of the three major feline viral diseases: feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus or feline infectious peritonitis. You’ll be relieved to know that studies find no increased incidence of these diseases in feral cat populations over domestic cat populations.

Plus, ferals fare much better after they've been altered. Once they are no longer searching for a mate, ferals tend to wander less and are less likely to fight and sustain injuries. They also don’t have to worry about pregnancy and nursing, which are very hard on female cats.

So, continue on with your TNR plans with confidence and practice responsible stewardship of your colonies. Your ferals should enjoy a pleasurable existence in a place they call home, while chasing butterflies and lying in the sun. 

Do you have a question about feral cats in your neighborhood? Send your question to 

Feral Q&A: Cat Prints

Q. I’ve noticed cat prints in the snow in my back yard. What should I do?

A. It could be that a neighborhood cat is just taking a stroll, but more than likely, as is the case across the country, you may have a feral cat that is looking for warm shelter.
Find a place out of the wind and set up a small shelter for her. It should be waterproof, windproof, and camouflaged. Straw is the best form of bedding for the inside.

Ideally, there should be an electrical outlet nearby so you can provide a heated water bowl. If the bowl is not heated, the water will simply freeze.

Provide her with a consistent and adequate source of dry food.

Using a humane trap, catch her and have her sterilized and inoculated against rabies. Remember never to leave the trap unattended, especially in very cold or hot weather. The cats are vulnerable to mischief and extreme temperatures when confined in the traps.

Whether you need straw for the cat’s bedding, a humane trap, or even support for low-cost spay or neuter surgeries, Animal Friends can help. Call 412.847.7000 to learn more about these options. Animal Friends can be a great resource for you.

Do you have a question about feral cats in your neighborhood? Send your question to 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Notes from our Humane Officer: Faithful Animals -- Amazing But True!

This is part two in an occasional series.

By: Kathy Hecker, Humane Officer for Animal Friends

I was recently reminded of the incredible, instinctual faithfulness of animals by Bailey, a Chow/Sheltie mix who ended up at another shelter.

She was constantly found running the streets was always picked up by the dog warden, who had gotten to know her pretty well. But one day, Bailey got loose and somebody else found her and took her to a local shelter. The dog warden found her there and knowing that she was a nice dog, he knew that even if no one came to claim her, she would find another good home. Which she home. Bailey was the perfect house guest at my home for about a month.

At the end of the month, I brought her to Animal Friends for her medical and behavior evaluations.  She passed both with flying colors and was ready for the adoption floor. Somehow, while waiting for her cage to be prepped, Bailey got loose in the shelter. She ran up a corridor she had never been in before and into our retail shop.  When her pursuers finally caught up to her, they encountered a customer there looking stunned and mumbling over and over again, "That's my dog.  I think that's my dog, Bailey." Bailey, meanwhile, was ecstatic.  Clearly, she was his dog.

Long story short: Joe and his wife owned Bailey and 3 years prior had divorced. The wife refused to give up the dog, but as soon as the divorce was final, she gave Bailey away. Joe tried to find Bailey, but lost track of her as she went through several placements.  I'll let you decide what the truth is here. Was Bailey constantly running away to find Joe? Did Bailey catch his scent as he entered our building?  Was she just looking for me and instead found him?  What are the chances of them both being in the same building at the same time?

In any case, Bailey will live happily ever after with her beloved Joe, who she never forgot over three long years.


Learn more about Animal Friends (and meet your own 'soul mutt!') by visiting

Take action for animals!

Exciting news!  McDonald Borough state representative Jesse White (D) is sponsoring legislation which will provide a tax credit of up to $300 for anyone who adopts a dog or cat from a shelter.  White is planning to offer this credit as an amendment to HB 1972.  Please call and e-mail your state representative and ask them to support the White Amendment to HB 1972.  Let your representative know that animal welfare is important to you!  It only takes a few moments.  Don’t know who your representative is?  Click here for a complete listing of all PA state representatives. 

For more information on this bill and others like it, please visit and like Humane USA PA PAC on Facebook.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Keep Your Pets Flea and Tick Free!

Brownie Boy says, "Say no to fleas and ticks!"

Guest bloggers The Staff at Petagogy

Spring is finally here, which means baseball, tulips, sunny weather and, unfortunately, the return of fleas and ticks! Thanks to the unseasonably mild winter, the flea and tick population in our area is much larger than usual, so we’re expecting a higher than average flea and tick problem this spring, summer and fall throughout Western Pennsylvania. 

It’s extremely important to make sure that both dogs and cats are protected against fleas and ticks. Although traditional flea and tick medications like Frontline and K9 Advantix are effective, there are many natural alternatives available. These alternatives lack the pesticides and chemicals that are in the normally prescribed preventatives. 

Simple remedies such as bathing your dog or cat often and giving your pet supplements, including omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and B complex vitamins, which boost your pet’s natural ability to repel insects, can help keep your pet flea and tick free. 

Another great supplement is natural brewer’s yeast, which, given daily, will help repel all types of bugs. Other dietary additions that will boost the ability of your pet to repel bugs include seaweed, fresh garlic (in small quantities), and organic apple cider vinegar. Further, certain scents and oils repel insects naturally, including rosemary, lemon, lavender, clove, thyme and peppermint. 

Before depending on chemical-based treatments for your animals this flea and tick season, give the following natural remedies a try: 

  • Bathe your pet with a shampoo made from ingredients that repel fleas and ticks naturally. Natural grooming product brands like Pal Dog and Cloudstar make lavender, rosemary, and mint scents that are both good smelling and effective for insect prevention.   
  • To check for fleas, brush through your dog or cat’s hair with a flea comb. Doing this above a white sheet or white paper allows you to see if there are actually fleas. 
  • After walks, thoroughly check you dogs for ticks. If you find any, use fine-tipped tweezers to remove them, being careful not to crush the tick. Tick removal instruments like the Tick Key also help you remove ticks without squeezing them and are the easiest and safest way to remove the entire embedded tick.
  • Both Ark Naturals and Sentry Natural Defense make safe and effective flea and tick sprays for both dogs and cats that contain ingredients like geranium, clove and peppermint oil. These sprays will protect your pets from fleas and ticks if sprayed liberally once a week or whenever your pet will be outside or in wooded areas.  
  • Sentry Natural Defense also makes a safe monthly topical application made entirely of natural oils and ingredients that will kill and repel fleas and ticks on contact. 

In addition to being safe, natural ways for preventing fleas and ticks, many of these remedies cost much less than the traditional flea and tick medicines. They are also safe to use around children and other pets. Prevention is the best way to make sure your pets are safe during the upcoming warm weather months when more time is spent having fun outdoors.

Petagogy 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.

One Adoption Counselor's journey to Animal Friends

By Jill Harlan, Adoption Counselor

One cold evening in December, my husband and I were shopping for equipment for his aquarium at PetSmart. Well, rather, he was shopping for the equipment. I stood there with the patience of a toddler, itching to leave the fish aisle and look at something fun.

Finally, he suggested, "Honey, why don't you look at the fuzzy things and I'll come get you when I'm done." Genius.

PetSmart partners with Animal Friends to showcase their adoptable cats, so I headed over to meet them. It was too late to visit the cats outside their cages, but one little brown tabby rubbed her side against the window while my hand touched the glass. The next day, I went back.

Never owning a cat, I wasn't sure what to expect. But Lily knew what she wanted: A forever home with me. It was difficult to complete the adoption papers because she wanted so much of my attention. Animal Friends worked at a stellar pace, thanks to the diligent work of our Adoption Counselor, Beth. Before I knew it, Lily was a member of our family.

So, Lily decided to make me a cat person officially. I wish every person could experience the joy I feel with my little girl. That's why I joined the team here at Animal Friends and became an Adoption Counselor!

It's a fun experience to learn the personality of each animal - and there are hundreds of them - but I get to share those experiences with others who visit Animal Friends. The best moments are when an animal finds its future "BFF" and forever home.

Visit our website to meet adoptable animals. You might find your next companion!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Notes from our Humane Officer: Amazing Animals

This is number one in an occasional series.  

By: Kathy Hecker, Humane Officer

I think that the staff here at Animal Friends are truly amazing people.  Dedicated, kind, hardworking, attentive and happy to be doing what they are doing for the animals in our care.  As the Humane Officer out in the field most of the time dealing with not-so-nice people, it's always a joy to return to this little bubble we call our shelter.

I know that most of the animals here are pretty amazing too, but the ones I remember most are some of the dogs and cats I have seen on their home turf, struggling to survive, to love and be loved, to find happiness in their unique animal way.

I will never forget of my first rescues.  Her owner let his dogs breed indiscriminately and when he felt overloaded, he would dump various litters of puppies at different shelters.  When we finally added it all up, we counted over 250 puppies that he had handed over to 6 or 7 shelters in just 4 years.  I responded to a complaint that a mother dog and her litter of puppies were seen about 100 yards from his house, near a burn pile.  The good Samaritan said that the puppies were newborns and didn't look good.  I was horrified to find these pups, not just near a burn pile, but in it. Clearly, the owner didn't want to be bothered to drive them to a shelter so he was going to just let them die and burn them up like so much garbage.  The mother dog was frantically tugging at them and looked to me for help.  I put the pups in a crate and this fuzzy, black dog I called Mia followed me to the van and without any hesitation jumped in the front seat.

Here's the amazing thing: Mia was not the mother of these pups.  Our medical team judged her to be only about 5 months old herself and not nursing.  Mia's instincts told her that these tiny newborns needed help.  She had been tending to them since the night before and never abandoned her vigil even to eat or find shelter for herself.  Amazing.

Click here to read more about our Humane Investigations program. Click here to donate in support of our work! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Animal Friends' Annual Easter Bake Sale...One Day Only!

For many, this time of year is particularly “sweet”.  Chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, Reese's Easter Eggs, Cadbury Eggs, Peeps, cakes and cookies…well, you get the idea.  Basically any kind of delicious baked good or candy is popular around Easter time.  If you haven’t been able to make a trip to your favorite bakery yet, stop by this Saturday 9:30am-4pm for the Animal Friends’ Annual Easter Bake Sale!

We’ve dusted off the baskets and carefully painted our eggs this year to give our bake sale a fresh new look.  Our volunteer committee has been working hard to give the bake sale a makeover this year and we have some delicious surprises in store for you!  We have Whoopie pies, S’mores, bite-sized bundt cakes, rum cakes, chocolate dipped pretzels, caramel cups and homemade hard candy.  A wide variety of the intensely popular (and delicious!) “cake pops” will also be on sale. 

Also available are pre-made Easter baskets for the unprepared among us.  

So, if you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth or want to pick up some goodies for the family dinner, drop by!  You’d be “hopping” mad not to.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear…Chow Wagon?

That’s right!  Animal Friends’ Chow Wagon is celebrating its 5th birthday on April 16th.  It seems like yesterday that the Chow Wagon made its first stop at Loaves & Fishes in Allison Park with a donation of 70 pounds of food.  Since then, the Wagon has grown tremendously thanks to community support and now delivers to over 20 different food banks and church groups. As of the writing of this article, a staggering 128,577 pounds of food has been delivered to hungry pets over the 5 years the Chow Wagon has been in service.

The Chow Wagon provides support to families who may be struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford to buy appropriate food for their pets. Choosing between feeding yourself and feeding your pet is something no pet owner should ever have to do.  The Chow Wagon helps keeps pets where they belong: with their families. Most of the food provided is donated by scout groups, schools and other community groups.

If you’d like to join in the celebration, please consider making either a monetary donation or a donation of wet or dry pet food. Open bags of food or treats will be accepted if they are tightly sealed and not expired.  Your donations will be met with full bellies and wagging tails.

So wish the Chow Wagon a happy birthday and make sure a hungry pet can stay with the people who love him.

When the Planets Align: An Adoption Story

Guest Blogger: Terry Kuehner 

Sometimes, the stars and planets line up in just the right pattern. That’s what happened in 1996 when I was adopted by an incredible dog. It was 1am and I had just come home from work. While opening the front door, something brushed against my leg. I looked up to see a golden dog standing in my living room. He was smiling and vigorously wagging his tail. I just looked at him and asked, “What the heck am I going to do with you?”  Of course, I already knew what I was going to do with him.

After searching in vain for his owner, I took him to the vet, who determined him to be about 1 year old.  I named him Nick at Nite, Nick for short.

Nick already knew all the basic commands and was housebroken. Somewhere, he had a family who had taken care of him, but he had no collar, tags or microchip.  He seemed to be a Husky/Golden Retriever mix.  He had the high-pitched bark, faint mask and cotton-like undercoat of a Husky. His outer coat was gold and red, long and feathered at the ends. He was a beautiful dog. At the time, I had another dog, Brady, who was, in shelter terms, a “black dog”. He was a lovable lab mix and Nick and Brady became instant friends.

Nick was an amazing athlete. He was fast, agile and could jump like a Jack Russell. He was also a cuddler and became so attached to me that I had to stand in the kitchen for him to eat. 

We were friends for over 16 years when it came time to say good bye. The most active of dogs still get old. Nick developed arthritis and lost both his hearing and his sight. When his pain was obviously hindering him, I knew it was time. I kissed him, told him I loved him and held his head as he left me. That’s when I swore I would never go through that again.  No more dogs for me! I decided to plant grass and flowers in my backyard. I had never lived without at least one dog though and something was missing in my home.  About ten days later, I heard about Duke of Earl.

The Duke (now Abe)

Duke had lived a life of neglect, in a backyard, chained.  His owner paid no attention to him.  The neighbors watched over him, fed him and even took him to the vet. When his owner passed away, Duke was lucky enough to find his way to Animal Friends. I knew he was the guy I was supposed to help. I also have several (much loved!) cats and they too have accepted Abe (as he is now known). I couldn’t ask for better friends.

The grass and flowers in my backyard have been ruined.  My backyard resembles the surface of the moon now but do I regret bringing Abe into our family? Never! The stars and planets were exactly where they were supposed to be the day I said good-bye to Nick and was guided to Abe.