Wednesday, August 22, 2012

John Weinstein, PNC Bank and Pirates Charities Help Animal Friends!

John Weinstein, Allegheny County Treasurer and long time Animal Friends supporter and board member, accepted a $5,000 PNC Achiever Award from the Pirates Charities prior to the first pitch of the season opener. When asked what charity would be the beneficiary, he announced,  "Animal Friends, of course! I’ve been fortunate to be actively involved with the organization and its lifesaving mission for animals for many years now and couldn’t think of a more worthwhile charity." 

The award, given on behalf of PNC Bank and the Pirates Charities, aims to recognize organizations in the Pittsburgh region for outstanding community service. It is presented to one noteworthy charity at the Pirates home opener each year. This year the check was presented to John Weinstein by Sy Holzer, President & CEO of PNC Bank, Robert Nutting, owner of the Pirates, and Andrew McCutchen, Pirates outfielder.

Animal Friends is grateful to have wonderful community partnerships with organizations like PNC and the Pirates Charities. Speaking as an Animal Friends board member, John Weinstein continued, "We truly appreciate the ongoing and invaluable partnership we have with PNC. It was a pleasure to work with the leadership of PNC Bank and the Pirates to make this meaningful donation to Animal Friends. It is because of the generous support of organizations like the Pirates and PNC, as well as the overwhelming support of the community that Animal Friends is able to continue our mission throughout the  region." 

It was a great day for baseball. And for Animal Friends!

Monday, August 20, 2012

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

This is Winston – 9 years old, affectionate, fun and playful.  He loves people and is a wonderful companion.  We’re moving to New Hampshire and unfortunately cannot take him with us.

Winston is long-haired, extremely soft and loves to be stroked.  He also loves to play “catch” and “chase” with soft cat toys.  He’s an indoor cat, neutered, litter trained and current on all his vaccinations.   He likes to sit on a stool and watch dinner being prepared, and simply to “hang out” with people.

If interested, please contact Russ (724-494-1079 or or Peggy (603-476-5221 or

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Help Animal Friends provide music for our shelter residents!

 We are all familiar with concept that animals respond to music and that it “soothes the savage beast.”  (Not that any of our animals are savage, but you understand our point). 

 It has been clinically shown that cats and dogs enjoy soft jazz and classical and there is a rumor that our rabbits enjoy Norah Jones. Music should be playing in the animal areas especially for them.  Music in the kennels will provide enrichment for the animals and help reduce stress.  

Thanks to our amazing friends on Facebook, the 4 CD players have been provided and our residents will soon be enjoying some sweet, soothing tunes.

Thank you for your support and for bringing the gift of music to our animals!

Animal Friends Hosts Temple Grandin, September 6, 2012 (NEW DATE!)

On Thursday, September 6 at 7:30 pm, Animal Friends will host an evening with Temple Grandin.

Dr. Temple Grandin goes by many titles: doctor, professor, educator, researcher, author. But perhaps her most important title is animal advocate.

On September 6, Animal Friends and Huntington Bank will bring Temple Grandin to the August Wilson Center, downtown, to speak about her work in the animal welfare field and the connection between people and their animals.

Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age, is a well-known autism and animal advocate. Grandin’s career and research into autism and animal welfare spans decades. Using her research, Grandin has pushed for and achieved better conditions for livestock and other barn yard animals. Her autism also grants her a special insight into how animals react and interact with the world around them.

Grandin has written numerous books on how we as humans can better the world our animals live in. In 2010, HBO premiered a movie detailing Grandin’s life and work in the livestock industry.  The film won numerous awards.

“I saw her speak for the first time at a Humane Society of the United States conference back in 2001 and I knew then she was someone special,” Joanne Moore, Animal Friends’ Director of Outreach and Therapeutic Programming, said.  “Her research—how she had dedicated her life and career to work for better conditions for animals—all of it is just amazing.”

An Evening with Temple Grandin will focus mainly on Grandin’s work in the animal welfare field and her book, Animals Make Us Human. Knowing what causes animals physical pain is usually easy, but pinpointing emotional distress is much harder.  Drawing on her own experience with autism, Grandin has identified and explored the emotional needs of animals.  This insight has led her to push for humane advances in livestock facilities. While her work with slaughterhouses and the livestock industry is not without some controversy, Moore thought it important to share the core of Grandin’s message.

“We need to think about the needs of our animals. We as a community need to hear and spread the message that animals are not things. They are living beings that command respect and dignity,” Moore said.

Tickets are available through or by calling 412.847.7000.  There are 3 different ticket packages available, one of which offers a special reception with Dr. Grandin. 

The August Wilson Center is located at 980 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Animal Friends Presents: Primo

Every dog that comes to Animal Friends has its own story.  Some stories are happy but some have sad beginnings.  Some examples include families moving and being unable to take their pet with them. Sometimes an animal was found as a stray or abandoned.  Even though some of these stories start off sad, they usually finish with a happy ending. No story has ever had such a dramatic turn around than that of Primo, a black and tan Chihuahua mix.

Primo came to Animal Friends almost a year and a half ago, in March of 2011.  He was rescued from horrible, unsanitary conditions with his sister, Paquita by Animal Friends’ Humane Investigators.  Both dogs were severely under socialized, as they had spent their entire lives, about six years, locked in a basement with little human contact.  Neither had ever gone to the vet, the dog park, the groomers, went on a walk, played with other dogs, or had the chance to curl up and watch TV with their owners.

At the very sight of a human, they would both tremble and cower.  Everything was a challenge for them.  Leashes were scary and neither dog wanted anything to do with them.  Walks were difficult but Animal Friends staff and volunteers persisted.  Soon, Paquita went home with her forever family.  Poor Primo was left by himself.

Primo wasn’t doing well in a shelter setting and staff decided that he needed to go to a foster home where he could get some individualized TLC and his behavior issues could be addressed on a one-on-one basis.  Lynn Rothenberg stepped in and offered to take Primo home.

“I have pretty social and playful dogs,” Lynn said.  “I thought that Primo would really be able to learn from them and relax a little.”

It took Primo a few days to get adjusted to Lynn’s busy household but since moving in in November, Primo has made huge progress.

“He now will play with toys.  You can’t watch him play with them though!” Lynn said, laughing.  “If you’re watching him, he’ll stop and leave the toy on the floor.” 

In addition to toys, Primo also plays with Lynn’s other dogs.  The other dogs are a little wary of him because Primo used to reject their offers of playtime when he first moved in.  “They are a little shy because they’re not sure if he really wants to play.  Everyone seems to get along though and the other dogs will learn he really does want to play,” Lynn said.

Primo loves to go outside and run in the backyard.  He also loves Lynn’s neighbor.  “He dances for her!  He also will dance for treats. He’s very food-motivated,” Lynn said.

Primo is crate trained and will need to always have a crate as a “safe spot” but he has graduated from sleeping in the crate at night to sleeping with Lynn.

“He now will come and greet people, sniff them and likes to be petted,” Lynn said.  “He really does enjoy sleeping in bed with me.”

From a frightened and cowering to playing in the backyard and “dancing” for people, Primo has come a long way.

“He has made lots of progress, like night and day from what he was,” Lynn said.  “He will never be a typical dog but he has come so far.  And what’s a “typical” dog anyways?” 

Call today to find out more about Primo and set up a time to meet with him!  Or check out our other adoptable dogs on our website.  Click here!

A special thanks to Linda Mitzel for the photos of Primo. 

Help the United Way help Animal Friends!

This September, Animal Friends is partnering with the United Way to bring much needed support to our Pet-Assisted Therapy Program.

If you or your company contributes to the United Way, you can direct important support to Animal Friends. Animal Friends’ Pet-Assisted Therapy Program is recognized by the United Way as a Contributor Choice Agency, which means, if you or your company contributes to the United Way, it’s super easy to direct important support to this vital program.

Animal Friends’ trained volunteers bring the joy and gentle healing of companion animals to individuals in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and hospitals.  The contact encourages communication, socialization, independent movement for the immobile and memory stimulation. Since it’s birth in 2006, Animal Friends’ Pet-Assisted Therapy program has touched over 100,000 lives!

This important program would not exist without your support!

To designate your gift (or a portion of it) to Animal Friends, list one of the following on your United Way pledge form:

United Way of Allegheny County
Animal Friends Pet-Assisted Therapy, code #374

United Way of Washington County
Animal Friends Pet-Assisted Therapy, code #374

United Way of Westmoreland County
Animal Friends Pet-Assisted Therapy, code #374

United Way Tri-State Region
Animal Friends Pet-Assisted Therapy, code #039738

Friday, August 3, 2012

Food Intolerances and Allergies

By the staff at Petagogy

Folks come into our store everyday complaining that their pets are suffering from any number of maladies: constant itching and scratching, frequent ear infections, poor coat quality, loose stool, chronic gas, or red bumps on their skin, just to name a few. Frequently, these symptoms can be a sign of a food intolerance or allergy. Food intolerances and allergies can literally arise overnight, and the problem food could be something that your pet has eaten without problems for years. While it can be difficult to diagnose a food allergy or intolerance, there are a number of steps you can take to try to solve the mystery.

First, work with your veterinarian to make sure that your pet’s symptoms truly indicate a food intolerance or allergy and aren’t indicative of another medical problem. If your pet otherwise receives a clean bill of health, your vet will likely recommend eliminating certain foods to pinpoint the offending food ingredients. With an elimination diet, you feed a food that has different, unique protein and carbohydrate sources from what your pet currently eats, and you remove as many excess ingredients you possibly can while still maintaining a complete diet. Your vet may also discuss allergy testing as a possibility; while this will most likely uncover am allergen, trying the elimination diet method first may offer a less expensive (and less painful) way to test for allergies.

When looking for unique proteins, try thinking outside of the box. If your pet has been on a chicken or beef diet as long for as you can remember, try lamb, duck, turkey or fish. If you need something even more unique, there are options such as buffalo, venison and kangaroo. Make sure your new food is a single-source protein. This makes it easier to figure out if the allergy is caused by a particular protein. And always look at the ingredient list; even though a food says “lamb” on the front of the package, the ingredient list will tell you if it’s supplemented with other protein sources such as chicken meal. Carbohydrates can also be the source of an allergy or intolerance. Stay away from anything in your pet’s current food and try something a little more unique, such as potato, tapioca, quinoa or chickpea. Better yet, opt for a grain-free food.

High-quality foods that are billed as “limited ingredient” can also be a good option, as they try to remove as many extraneous ingredients as possible while maintaining a complete diet. Higher quality foods can also contain fewer ingredients. If feasible, consider trading up from a kibble to a canned diet or, better yet, to a frozen, dehydrated or freeze-dried raw diet. Raw diets do not require any fillers or preservatives, which eliminates several ingredients that are common in kibbles. Additionally, make sure you are not giving your pet treats that may contain the problem ingredient. During this experiment consider feeding the new food as a treat (for example, canned diets can be frozen or baked, then turned into chunks and fed as a treat).

For those pets with severe allergies, the best option may be to temporarily feed a homemade diet. In consultation with your vet, feed a single-source protein with as few additional ingredients as possible. In these cases, there are vitamin and mineral food supplements available that can turn a piece of meat into a complete diet.

Within a few weeks you should be able to see whether the elimination diet is working. Once your pet is symptom-free, you can begin to figure out what foods caused the allergy or intolerance. Slowly reintroduce foods, one at a time, perhaps one every other week, and watch closely for the return of any symptoms. Alternatively, once your pet is stabilized, try introducing different food brands to see if any one of them contains the ingredient causing the allergy.

After going through this process, you should have an idea of what ingredients to avoid in pet foods, as well as which particular brands or recipes do not cause problems for your pet. Once you have a couple of these, feed them on a rotating basis, switching the food every couple of months. It is thought that this can help your pet avoid developing other allergies in the future.

This can be a long and frustrating process for both you and your pet, but, in the end, you will be rewarded with a happy and symptom-free pet. And if you have any questions or issues along the way, the friendly folks at Petagogy are here to help you through the process.

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jules the Cat: A Rescue Story

By Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant  

For a feral cat colony caretaker, a routine case of TNR - Trap, Neuter and Release - turned into a lifesaving mission.

Sarah McKean, a board member at Animal Friends, cares for two feral cat colonies in the Pittsburgh area. Not only does she feed the cats, but she makes sure each cat is vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

Jules, a 5-year-old orange tabby, showed up at a feral colony near downtown Pittsburgh last fall. He meowed and kept a safe distance, but never fled when Sarah visited. Feral cats tend to be silent and extremely skittish when a person approaches. Jules did not act like a feral cat, leading Sarah to believe he had lived with people and had not been homeless long enough to become feral.

He wasn’t neutered so Sarah set out to catch him. But trapping the elusive Jules proved impossible – he was too fast and smart. Then winter came and Jules disappeared.

About six weeks ago the orange tabby returned, but he did not look well. His half-closed eyes looked empty and hopeless. His mouth looked slightly distorted and injured and his fur was dingy and matted. Also, Sarah smelled the painful stench of infection from within just a few feet from the feline.

For Sarah, Jules became a catch-and-rescue mission. She tried traps again and attempted to lure him close with treats in the hopes of grabbing him but neither worked.

Finally, a few weeks ago, Sarah placed food in a dog crate near the colony. She drove her car about 50 feet away then carefully and quietly walked to the crate where she quickly snapped the door shut with Jules inside.

The medical staff here at Animal Friends quickly discovered a huge ulcer on his tongue which made eating and cleaning himself extremely painful. He was also covered in so much grease and oil that he’s had four baths so far and still isn’t completely clean. We think he lived in abandoned car.

Today he’s resting in our cat recovery room, where he’s healing under the careful eye of everyone at the shelter. Soon, Jules will be available for adoption. 

“I really think he wanted me to rescue him. He knew his time was running out,” Sarah said.

To help Jules and other cats like him, donate today. Jules' medical care costs are covered by caring individuals like you!  Click here to donate now.