Friday, July 27, 2012

Go For The Gold: Celebrate the 30th Olympic Games with Animal Friends

Animal Friends, in celebration of the 30th Olympic Summer Games, is offering an adoption special of Olympic proportions.

$30  requested adoption donations for all dogs, cats and rabbits aged 2 years and up, July 27 through August 12!

Whether you’re looking for a litter-boxer, high jumper, gymnast or swimmer, we've got a gold medalist waiting just for you! 

Visit Animal Friends to meet the adoptable animals and view their Olympic scorecards, proudly displayed on their kennels for competitions including:
  • De-cat-alon
  • Litter-boxing
  • High jump
  • Doggie Paddle
  • Freestyle wrestling
  • 10,000-minute nap 
  • Discus throw 
  • Floor exercises
  • and more!
If you’re not looking for an athlete, we have champion snugglers too!  

Be a homeless pet’s champion. Stop by Animal Friends and check out our Olympians’ scores to find that perfect – and furry – 10.

Animal Friends is open Monday through Friday, 11:AM – 7:00 PM, and weekends 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  View adoptable pets online at Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237. 

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

Dozer is a one year old male boxer.  He is a beautiful brindle with some white markings.  He is a very loving dog who loves human attention and affection.  He is up to date on all of his shots – Rabies, Distemper, Bordetella (against K-9 cough) and his heartworm/worm test is up to date.  He is also neutered and microchipped.  He is generally very gentle and easy going, though he does have a very rambunctious and playful side to him as well.  He may not be well suited in a home with cats, as he has a habit of chasing and wanting to play with them.  He has always been friendly and played very well with other dogs, though being a boxer he does play a bit rough!
                Dozer is working on his crate training, though he has not perfected it yet.  He has had an occasional accident when crated for a lengthy period of time.  He would do great with a family that has time to work with him and give him all the love and attention he deserves.

If you can give Dozer a forever home, please contact Melissa at

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thanks to Linda Mitzel and our Photography Volunteers

Volunteers are the backbone of Animal Friends.  Without their tireless efforts, dogs would go un-walked, cats would not be played with and there would be many bored bunnies sitting in cages.  Volunteers work in all capacities at Animal Friends.  Some walk dogs, some help with special events, some make phone calls and some organize bake sales.  Still others help with behavior evaluations, write biographies for the animal’s kennels and make sure that each and every animal gets the care it deserves and the love it needs.

One special group of volunteers makes sure that our dogs receive professional portraits every week. Every Monday, Linda Mitzel and her staff of helpers open their studio to our homeless dogs. These professional pictures are then used for the animalss informational write-ups and kennel cards and also for other promotional materials. 

These visits are made possible by a group of Animal Friends volunteers who help our dogs make the trip by chauffeuring them each week. In addition to great photos, great memories are made during these trips.  One volunteer, Karen Drosendahl, remembers previous long-time resident Jeannie’s photo shoot.  “Jeannie had a ball!  She got to the studio and took a long look at the steep stairs to go to the studio,” Karen said.  “She turned around and went up backwards, butt first!  That was a very Jeannie way to do it.”

The trips to the studio serve a double purpose: the dogs get a professional photo of them to look their best for potential adopters and they also get a break from being in their kennels.  Volunteer Sharon Mariani took this opportunity to take Augustus, a 9-year-old Miniature Pinscher, for ice cream.

“While we were at the window waiting, all the workers inside came to see him and say hello.  They thought he was so cute,” Sharon said.  “We sat outside to eat and halfway through his treat, he stopped eating and with vanilla ice cream all over his snout, he looked up and me and dramatically squinted.  It was like he was winking at me and saying, ‘thank you!’.”

Linda Parnell used her trips to the studio as an opportunity to take a bit of a drive.  “Lizzie Marie is a sweetheart of a dog and she was more than happy to get out for awhile,” Linda said.  On their way to Linda’s truck, Lizzie spotted a tennis ball in the play yard and took it with her.  “We don’t normally allow dogs in the front seat but I broke the rules for Lizzie and she was a perfect lady!  She sat very quietly and watched intently out the window.  I took the long way back to Animal Friends so Lizzie could have more time in the car.”  Lizzie’s photos were very cute and we’re sure they helped her get adopted a few days later.

Trips to the photo studio are also a chance for a shy, timid dog to overcome fears of people and new places.  Anita DeBiase recalls Sunny, a very frightened and fearful dog that did not like being touched in any way.  Sunny's former vet and groomer said she would never be adoptable and recommended she be put down. “She growled and snapped whenever someone would approach her.  I am proud to say that myself and a dedicated group of volunteers worked with her to overcome her issues,” Anita said.

“She was the first dog I ever took to the studio and it was a great accomplishment.  She went and was photographed in her Christmas scarf,” Anita said.  A short time after her shoot, Sunny was adopted by an older gentleman who fell in love with her sweet spirit.

Elaine Natowich and Kay Yetter had the most fun spending the studio time with Virgil, Robert Downey, Mazey, and Braden.

Debbie Viducich recalls Janeway, a Boxer mix with an adorable under bite.  “We fostered her for over four months shortly after she arrived at Animal Friends.  She has the ability to light up the room with her cuteness and funny, happy personality and it is great to see people’s reactions upon meeting her for the first time.”

This dedicated group of people help our dogs week after week to ensure that as many dogs as possible get their photos taken.  From the bottom of our paws, to the tops of our ears, thank you very much to Linda Mitzel and our photography volunteers!

Cats with Moustaches

Photos and blog by Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant

Some cats sport a striking white moustache, much like Albert Einstien and Hulk Hogan. Other cats go for a more sleek black look, like Salvador Dali and Clack Gable.

Black or white, even or odd, male or female, our fashionable felines have their own marks of distinction, attraction, refinement and splendor. 






Monday, July 23, 2012

A Match Made in Heaven: BoPeep

Guest Blogger: Terry Kuehner

Nine years ago a litter of kittens arrived at Animal Friends.  One of them was a pretty little Tortie who was named BoPeep.  

It wasn't long before the kittens, including BoPeep, were adopted.   She went into a loving home with a nice family.  She lived a good life.  She slept with her favorite person.  She played and chased shadows on the walls.  She enjoyed sitting at the window and watching the butterflies just out of reach.  She grew up to be a beautiful adult cat.   

Almost 2 years ago, BoPeep developed a few medical problems.  Sadly, it happened at the same time the economy was making life difficult for many people.  Her family couldn't afford to take careof her and she was returned to the shelter.  Animal Friends never turns away one of our own, so we welcomed her back and began her medical treatment.    

It took about 6 months for BoPeep to feel better.  Her medical problems were treated with a special diet.  Physically, she did great and emotionally she enjoyed endless TLC and love from staff and volunteers alike.  She quickly became a favorite but she was also a cat with 'special needs, one that no one was interested in adopting.  Because of her special diet, she couldn't go to the free roam room so she lived in a cage.  BoPeep spent a year at Animal Friends until her angel walked through the doors. 

His name was Dan.  Dan came to Animal Friends asking to adopt an older cat who nobody else wanted.  He understood that kittens come and go very quickly.  Dan too had been adopted and knew what it was like to be waiting for a family.  He was lucky to find parents who didn't insist on adopting an infant.  Dan wanted to pay it forward.  I told him BoPeep's story and asked if he'd like to meet her.  

They met in one of our get acquainted rooms and within just a few minutes, Dan was ready to give BoPeep a home.  BoPeep didn't really 'show well'.  She just sat there looking at the door hoping to get out of that room. She paid no attention to Dan.   But this wasn't about Dan's needs.   BoPeep needed a home and her angel had arrived. 

 BoPeep's name is now Gabrielle. Dan named her after the angel, Gabriel, not realizing that he was the angel in her story.  She is, once again, sleeping with her favorite person,  laying in the rays of the  sun, looking out windows and watching the butterflies just out of reach. Animal Friends has many cats like Gabrielle.  Through no fault of their own, they're at our shelter, in cages, waiting on an angel to call their own.  

Luckily, at Animal Friends, we believe in angels.

Friday, July 20, 2012

An Update from Atticus (and his mom, Katie Tontala!)

Guest blogger:  Atticus with help from Katie Tontala

Hi Everybody!

            I know it’s been quite a while since I gave yunz an update, but, as you can tell by my picture, I have been keeping very busy… and am very tuckered out!  After months of listening to my unrelenting whining and banging on the screen door, my hard work finally paid off! I now get to wear my leash outdoors and explore the backyard.  I love to walk around all the paths in the garden, drink out of the pond and frequently “stop and smell the roses”.  This drives our neighbor dog crazy and she runs up and down the fence to try to keep track of me.  I secretly love to tease her up by playing hide and seek in the bushes. Dogs can be so silly sometimes.  Mom said that since my harness is getting tighter and tighter around my belly, we are going to start practicing walking down the block.  Sounds like fun to me!

            More happy news! I have a new brother, Ezra!  Guess what?  He is also blind.  I have been trying to teach him the ropes, but he is not quite as brave as me yet.  We had a little bit of a rocky start.  At first, because we couldn’t see each other, we would literally run into each other scare the bejeebies out of each other.  But now we know each others scents and can recognize the jingle of the bells on our collars, so no more surprise meetings!  He doesn’t hiss at me too much any more and he knows I like to nap in the hallway, so he just walks right around me.  Blind cats really are the smartest!

            Because of all the comments written on the blogs, my mom took your advice and wrote a children’s book.  It’s called “I Can See with My Ears, Nose and Whiskers”  and guess who’s the hero in the book?  She said the reason it took her so long to finish it was because I was such a critical editor, next time she is using Ezra.  Mom is working on sending it to publishers, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

            I want you all to know that I absolutely love my forever home. My only regret is that there are still so many special kitties at the shelter waiting to find a place to call home. Because they might be older or may have to eat special food or take medicine, they have a harder time finding their forever home.  There is a reason why we are called “special needs” kitties-it’s because we “especially need” a home. Give them a chance and they will show you how special they really are!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Shocking Goodbye: Animal Friends Remembers Sasha

Guest Blogger: Becky DiLucia

Sasha was one of the bravest dogs I’ve ever known.  She had absolutely no reason to trust people.  She was unwanted and surrendered to a local shelter at 8 years of age.  As a final parting gift, she was beaten on the way into the building.  She touched the hearts of the people at that shelter who saw the dog she could be underneath all the fear.  She was ultimately was transferred to Animal Friends with the hope that we could work on her behavioral challenges and captured more hearts here. 

Despite all she had been through, Sasha incredibly chose to begin trusting.  At first, it simply became easier to reach for her and attach her leash to her collar.  Soon, petting became more of a pleasure for her and less of a threat.  Brushing became possible and she began to look sleeker and more regal.  She learned that food was not something that had to be guarded and was able to trust enough to share.  The swimming pool was a special treat, and she even found a doggie playmate.  All of this in the course of about 5 weeks - things were looking up for Sasha!

The last time I saw her, Sasha was fun, sassy and feisty.  She chased and proceeded to “de-stuff” a toy.  She “stole” treats, chased balls, greeted people and generally had a good time.  The sight of her rolling on her back, paws in the air was heart-warming.  That night, which we could not know was her last, her burdens seemed lighter and she was simply having fun.  

Sadly, Sasha’s time with us was suddenly up on the morning of July 18, 2012.  This brave and inspiring dog unexpectedly crossed the Rainbow Bridge in the early morning hours.  Sasha may not have technically been my dog, but she certainly had my heart.  She was loved and will be mourned.

Friday, July 13, 2012

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

Marshmallow, better known as Mellow, will be 6 years old in August. He is a full-bred, neutered male English Setter who needs to find a loving home. He is trained to hunt, but has not had too much experience since his owner became sick and died this past February. 

Since that time, my children and I have moved to a home with a smaller yard for running. He had an electric fence at our old house and would enjoy running free at my husband’s cabin of 12 acres. The children and I would like him to find a loving home where he can run and just hang out.

He is a great dog and is house broken. He would make a loving companion for any adults who are looking for a obedient friend.  He is up to date on all his shots and in great health. There is no charge for him, we just ask that you love and take good care of him. If interested or have any questions, please contact me.

If you can offer Marshmallow a forever home, please call Peggy at 412 897-1597or email her at

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Perfect Match: Adoption Counselors Help Families Find Their Perfect Companion

By: Jill Harlan, Adoption Counselor

One of our tasks here at Animal Friends is to ensure a clean living area for our dogs, cats and bunnies.  While assisting someone who was cleaning the rabbit habitats one day, I simply picked up the bunny and placed her back in her freshly cleaned kennel.  Our rabbit expert said, “You are one brave lady!” because that particular bunny does not like to be held. I had thought nothing of it, because just looking at the rabbit didn't reveal its inclination to be moody.

This situation is similar to incidents that happen with many people who do not get to spend countless hours with the animals.  I was lucky that I did not get bitten or scratched. However, my “bravery” could have led to an injury that would have been completely my fault.  As an adoption counselor, it is my responsibility to learn and understand our resident animals’ personalities.

That's why one of the most disheartening duties that I have is telling someone that an animal they have fallen in love with would not be suitable for their home.  Sometimes, people get angry or upset, making it more difficult.  That’s when I have to remind our potential adopters (as well as myself) that we are trying to make the best possible fit for a forever home.

Ultimately, the stars all align and the perfect dog, cat or bunny presents itself for a family.  This makes it all worth it.  I can remember two families distinctly: the family that adopted Melody the cat and the family that adopted Jimbo the dog.  From my perspective, I don’t think that there could have been a better fit!

So, while we always have great animals here everyday, not every animal is perfect for everybody. But with patience and perseverance, everyone can find their absolute perfect match. That’s what makes it so rewarding to be a part of the adoptions team here at Animal Friends.

Want to get to know our animals a little better?  You can always come visit us.  Or even better get to know them more personally by volunteering!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pet Food Ingredients 101

By the staff at Petagogy
When choosing a pet food, the most important thing to do is to read the ingredients list. Quality and nutritious foods for both dogs and cats should have a named animal protein (like chicken, salmon, or lamb) or animal meal (like chicken meal or lamb meal) as at least the first two ingredients. Beware: many pet food ingredients SOUND fine, but may not actually be good for your pet. Here’s a list of a few ingredients you may find in your pets’ grocery store or large commercial brand food:

Animal or meat by-products – By-products usually consist of rendered and ground animal carcasses and parts including heads, brains, bones, feet and intestines. By-products are a cheap source of poor quality protein and are often sourced from “4D” animals, roadkill, euthanized animals or restaurant waste. Further, meat by-products can contain tumors and other diseased meats that are declared unsafe for human consumption.

Artificial colors – Just like in human food, some companies use dyes to color foods, including Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6, to mimic the color of fresh meats and other ingredients to make the food LOOK more palatable. These have no place in pet food.

Brewer’s rice – Brewer’s or “broken” rice is the dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacturing of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer. Brewer’s rice is an inexpensive form of carbohydrate and does not contain the full nutritional benefits of whole grain brown rice.

Corn, wheat, and soy – These ingredients sound nice and healthy to humans, but corn, wheat and soy are common allergens for dogs and cats. Although they are poorly digested by pets, they are often used as a cheap (but incomplete) source of proteins in inexpensive foods. Limited corn and wheat can be acceptable in some pet food as long as it’s not one of the main ingredients (the first five to eight on the label) and your pet is not allergic.

Corn gluten meal – This is the dried protein by-product from making corn starch or syrup. It is used as an inexpensive source of protein, but is an incomplete protein source for carnivores.

Sugar – Sugar comes in many forms in pet foods, such as corn syrup and beet pulp sugar. It’s used to increase palatability and as a food preserver, but it can also lead to diabetes and weight gain in pets and contribute to behavioral problems like hyperactivity.

So, what ingredients should you look for?

Ingredient labels list foods in the order of how much of that ingredient was used to make the food. So, the first five to eight ingredients are the most important, since they make up the bulk of the food’s content. Named animal proteins and meals should always be at least the first and second ingredients in your pets’ food, followed by whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains (like barley, oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa) and named fat sources (like chicken fat, salmon oil and coconut oil). Additionally, ingredients like pumpkin, chicory root and blueberries are great sources of fiber, prebiotics and antioxidants.

Poor quality food will often result in health issues such as poor digestion and diarrhea, hot spots, itching, dandruff and other skin problems, lethargy (due to poor nutrition) or hyperactivity (due to sugars and simple/processed carbohydrates), oral and dental health issues, and joint and weight problems. Be sure to always look at ingredient labels when buying your pets food, or visit smaller, independent natural pet stores (like Petagogy!) where the staff is trained to assist customers in choosing foods.

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.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Black Cats Can Be Good Luck Too!

Guest Blogger: Terry Kuehner

To close out a great month of kitten and kitten adoptions, volunteer Terry Kuehner writes about a few of our feline residents that often get overlooked in shelter situations.  Happy Smitten Season everyone! 

In Great Britain and in Ireland, black cats are a symbol of good luck.  The Scottish believe that a strange black cat's arrival to your home signifies prosperity.  Black cats are also considered good luck in Japan. Furthermore, it is believed that a lady who owns a black cat will have many suitors.  

However, most of western and southern Europe still considers the black cat as a symbol of bad luck, especially if one crosses your path, which is believed to be an omen of misfortune and death.  In Germany, they're not too sure on the matter.  Some believe that a black cat crossing your path from right to left is a bad omen.  But from left to right, the cat is granting favorable times.  

So, what is the truth about black cats?  The truth is not what I've just told you.  Those are superstitions from centuries ago. Sadly, the truth is that black cats stay in shelters longer than their lightly colored brethren.  The truth is there are actually people who still believe in the superstitions.

The real truth is that each cat, whether its black or white or gray, is as diverse as the colors of its fur.  Some can be shy or fearful.  Some are outgoing and social.  Some are lap cats while still others prefer to play and chase toys.  My personal experience with black cats has always been positive.  At different times in my life, I've shared my home with many black cats: Alex, John, Dan and now, Hank.  Each has been unique but each has been very lovable.

Miranda lives in Animal Friends' free roam room.  She likes other cats but is a tad shy around new people.  She needs a home with adults and older children who will have patience and can give her the time she needs to warm up to them.  

Nigel is an all-around nice guy.  He's ok with being handled and picked up, but would really like to just sit beside you and relax.  He likes other cats too and always plays nicely.

Lazarus is a cat who is not afraid to speak his mind.  He knows if he meows long and hard enough, a volunteer will take him out of his kennel for a little bit of love.  (He has us all trained!) He has no teeth but that doesn't slow him down at all.

So why haven't these three been adopted?  They may be seen as uninteresting in their markings, a dime a dozen.  People don't look closely enough to see their personalities.  It is very sad to know that black cats get the short end of the stick in shelter situations when most of them would make wonderful companions.

If you can get past the superstitions, please consider adopting a black cat.  You can't judge a book by its cover!  Each cat has its own personality and would love to be loved by you.

And remember ladies: color coordination is very important and black goes with everything.  You'll just need to accessorize a bit.  (Our retail store can help you with that!)

We still have many great adoptable kittens and cats!  Visit to take a look at all of our adoptable cats.  Even if you cannot take one home, sponsor a spay and help make a difference in reducing the unwanted pet population.