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