Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Happy Tails: Kasper went home with our own Jeff!

By Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant
It happened yet again.

This morning while heading to my office at Animal Friends I walked past the cat condos ready to say good morning to my early bright eyes.

One of them was gone.

But this time wasn’t not bittersweet, just very sweet.

The cat you remember as Kasper was not in his kennel, but rather at my home, probably rampaging through the house having a grand ole time. It's only been a few days, but I can't get over his lively spirit, ultra quirky personality, and charismatic charm. I love the pink-eared little fellow.

Speaking of ears, he is no longer Kasper. I felt a creature of his exotic looks and distinction needed a new name for his new life - a name to match his superior intellect and prominent ears.

Being the Science fiction nerd that I am, I went right to the top. He is now Spock. In case you aren't familiar with this iconic sci-fi figure, Spock is both the science officer and first officer of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.

So to all those cared and loved Spock (Kasper) here at Animal Friends, we say “ Live Long and Prosper.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Bunny Connection: Reflections of a Mom

Beth Miller and Animal Friends bunny resident Farfell

Guest Blogger: Jane Miller
    It was during the Chinese Year of the Rabbit in 2011 when our daughter had a creative idea for a Girl Scout leadership project. She wanted to write parody lyrics to a popular song and film animals acting it out to promote adoptions at Animal Friends.
    She was too young to handle dogs (need to be 18) or cats (16 for that), but at age 13, she was just right for the bunnies, provided a parent came too. If I came with her, she could have worked with the dogs or cats as well but she chose bunnies. No, I wasn’t kicking and screaming, because she is our youngest, and I realize the importance of nurturing our children’s dreams. So we signed up for Rabbit Wrangling I through IV, including Bun Runs--when all the rabbits jump around freely as visitors pat them--and a “Bunny Spa,” where we learned brushing, toe nail clipping and how to clean out rabbits’ scent glands.  I could pass on that last one, but one more item my life’s resume!
    I wasn’t prepared for how those little bunnies would work their way into my heart. At the orientation we learned rabbits can be litter trained like a cat, and if it is bonded to a mate, it is for life. Calamity Jack was the first rabbit I wrangled. It turned out he was the most skittish, but a bunny mentor taught me to place one hand in front of his face and stroke his ears. He then trusted me to hop into a cage to be taken for a “Bun Run.”
    That was the best part. We met other child/parent teams, who mostly wanted to care for an animal that is prey to almost every other creature. We needed to attend a lot of bun runs, since Beth wanted to photograph the bunnies in action. It required a lot of patience on her part. After all, you can’t say, “Sit!” and offer a treat. Sometimes I arrived thinking, oh, I have so much to do at home,  but often got caught up in watching the funny antics.
    I noticed each rabbit had a unique personality. Sunday, a black lop with a white heart on her nose, would run and skid to a halt—and Calamity Jack loved the attention of children. We all  rejoiced the day he got a home! Our new friends loved the video clip where Beth’s voice said, “Come on Mig, run through the tunnel.” And he did!
    I noticed something else. The times when I had a hard time letting go of whatever it was that troubled my mind, it seemed the rabbits never came near. When I let go of wearisome thoughts, it seemed that was when a little furry creature quietly, and at first unnoticed, came by my side.
    “Last Friday Night—The Bunny Edition” with parody lyrics to the song by Katy Pery is finally finished and ready to launch on Animal Friends' YouTube. We plan to continue volunteering with the bunnies. We no longer rush by them on our way to visit the dogs or cats. And I will always treasure our memories of our “Year of the Rabbits” and their lessons in gentleness, as well as patience, they taught both of us.   

Click here to watch Beth's video and then visit for a list of all the events happening during Adopt a Shelter Rabbit Month.  Join us for one, two or all of our great bunny events.  It's sure to be a hoppin' good time!

Friday, January 25, 2013

How to Report Animal Cruelty Cases in Allegheny County and Beyond

With the recent drop in temperatures, Animal Friends' Humane Investigators have been receiving lots of calls about animals being left outdoors in the inclement weather.  With temperatures as cold as we have had recently, it is important that animal companions have a warm and dry place to seek shelter or be brought inside. 

It is also important that these cases be reported through the correct channels so that these animals do not have to stay in the cold any longer than need be.  Please read below for information on how to report suspected animal cruelty. 

Eye-witnesses to animal cruelty can call complaints in to 412.847.7066 to reach Animal Friends' Humane Officers.  Please do not Facebook or Tweet your complaint.  Calling is the only way to reach our Humane Officers.

If you witnessed animal cruelty in Allegheny County, leave a message explaining what you saw, the exact address, the neighborhood area, and your name and number, which will be kept confidential.  Animal Friends' officers are on-duty Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays.  

To report after hours complaints or emergencies, call 9-1-1 or the police. Because humane officers have limited jurisdiction, you must call animal control to report dogs running loose, a dog bite, nuisance barking, or issues with stray animals.

Keep in mind that Animal Friends' Humane Officers currently have jurisdiction only in Allegheny County.

If you are reporting an event that happened in a different county, please click here to be directed to the PA Department of Agriculture's website to search and find the Humane Society Police Officer (HSPO) on file for that county.  Their contact information and the organization they are employed by will be shown.

If there are no HSPOs listed for the county, you can call the police (local or state) who cover the area where the cruelty was observed, because the police have the same legal authority to enforce the cruelty laws that HSPOs enforce (Title 18, Section 5511 of the PA Crimes Code). 

If you are calling about a cruelty case in Lawrence County, please visit this webpage.  Lawrence County's Humane Officer is a police detective who has been assigned to handle animal cruelty cases.  You can also call their Animal Abuse Hotline at 855.870.8081.

In animal cruelty cases, especially when an animal has been left outside in inclement weather, time is crucial.  Please remember to use the correct channels to report suspected animal cruelty.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Transformation: Misty Blue

Guest Blogger: Misty Blue (with help from Lilian Akin and Becky DiLucia)

Hi! My name is Misty Blue.  I am a 4 year old Sharpei mix who was brought to Animal Friends thanks to their Humane Officers.  In the heat of August, I was chained out in a back yard with my sister Coco Marie, a German Shepherd.  It was so hot and we were in poor shape – no food or water.  Plus, I had a bad eye condition called Cherry Eye that had not been taken care of.  It was very uncomfortable and made my eyes feel funny.

As I was considered “evidence” in a court case, I had to be held at Animal Friends until November when I was legally cleared for adoption through the court system.  Coco Marie has been adopted but I am still here.

During the time I was held, the kind folks at Animal Friends saw some concerning signs of resource guarding – a condition in which a dog tries to keep people away from food and chew items.  Mine was pretty severe – I wanted to bite people who tried to take my food and rawhides away from me.  (Hey, I didn’t know any better.)  It was so bad that the folks at Animal Friends had concerns I would not be able to be safely placed.  But, the peoples there also saw how sweet and cuddly I was and therefore decided to invest the time and resources into fixing both my eyes and my behavior.

One of the volunteers, my good friend Becky DiLucia, decided to become my mentor and work with me.  Every time she was at the shelter she would take me somewhere and work with me to make me comfortable with people near my food bowl and rawhides.  She also let me snuggle and play with toys.  I never got to have that kind of fun before!  I even got to practice giving lots of kisses!  I love to give kisses.

In January, my eyes were finally fixed and I was ready to be placed for adoption.  The doctors said I was a perfect patient.  In order to assess my suitability for adoption and determine what type of home I should be placed into, staff members re-evaluated me.  I was a little nervous because I knew a lot was riding on this evaluation.

Well, they gave me a food bowl let me start eating. Then they approached me and I did nothing!  I got a little stiff but I didn’t growl, lift my lip or try to bite.  When they gave me rawhides, I found that it’s much more comfortable to chew my rawhide on my friend Becky’s lap.  My friend Nancy came in and she was able to take my rawhide from me and offered me another one.  Heck, I even play “throw the rawhide in the air and chase it” with my special people now. 

My friends at Animal Friends were successful in teaching me that I will always have a full belly.  I know now that people don’t always want to take my food if they come close when I’m eating.  When they give me rawhides, I don’t have to worry about bad things happening to me when they approach me while I’m chewing. 

I did such a good job that now it’s time for me to get one of those "furever" homes!  They tell me that my new family will love me and treat me well forever.  I’m so excited!  I can’t wait to meet them.

If you can help me, please call Animal Friends at 412.847.7002 or come meet me!

Cat Owners should “Beat the Heat” Before Spring with Animal Friends’ Spay Promotion

Pittsburgh, PA – January 22, 2013 –  Warmer weather may still be months away, but Animal Friends wants you to  “beat the heat” by spaying your cat in advance of her heat cycle and preventing unwanted litters from being born this Spring.  

Animal shelters commonly refer to spring time as “kitten season” because that is when they receive the largest influx numbers of unwanted litters that are difficult to adopt.

To help reduce the number of homeless cats born this spring, Animal Friends is offering a special “Beat the Heat” promotion sponsored by PetSmart Charities®. During the entire month of February, Animal Friends will spay female cats for a special rate of $20.

Spaying and neutering is one of the most effective ways to reduce the homeless pet population. While some worry that their pet may be too young for this procedure, spaying and neutering is safe for kittens as young as eight to 10 weeks old, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Spaying a female cat before the first heat cycle is actually beneficial, rather than waiting until after one heat cycle has occurred. The procedure is known to improve the health of the pet, including a reduced risk of certain reproductive cancers and infections.

“Female cats can have as many as three litters a year, and kittens can breed as young as four months old,” says Carol Whaley, Animal Friends’ Lost-Cost Spay/Neuter Coordinator. “Most people don’t want to see their cat get pregnant over and over again, so hopefully our “Beat the Heat” campaign will serve as a gentle reminder to cat owners to sterilize their cats before they go into heat and become pregnant this year.”

This special rate is even less than the organization’s normal low-cost price and is available to all residents of Allegheny County. Cat parents who wish to take advantage of this offer must mention the “Beat the Heat” promotion when they schedule their appointment.

Thanks to the PetSmart Charities grant, Animal Friends will provide cat sterilizations for $20 during February. Please visit or call 412.847.7004 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

About Animal Friends
Animal Friends is a non-profit companion animal resource center serving the needs of pets and people since 1943.  Our progressive programs have been nationally recognized and include humane rescue, shelter and adoption services for over 2,400 pets annually, humane education, pet behavior classes, pet-assisted therapy, wellness programs and more. In addition, Animal Friends is leading the way towards ending pet overpopulation in western Pennsylvania through comprehensive, community-wide spay/neuter programming. Animal Friends is supported by donors, 700 volunteers and a staff dedicated to ensuring the well being of companion animals, while ending overpopulation, abuse and unwarranted euthanasia. For more information, visit

About PetSmart CharitiesEstablished in 1994, PetSmart Charities, Inc. is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that creates and supports programs that save the lives of homeless pets, raise awareness of companion animal welfare issues and promote healthy relationships between people and pets. The largest funder of animal-welfare efforts in North America, PetSmart Charities has provided more than $165 million in grants and programs benefiting animal-welfare organizations and has helped save the lives of more than 5 million pets through its in-store adoption program. To learn more about how PetSmart Charities is working toward its vision of a lifelong, loving home for every pet, visit or call 1-800-423-PETS (7387).                                                                   

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy Tails: Macadamia

Guest Blogger: Terry Kuehner
On December 15, 2012 an incredible tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut.   The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School took twenty-six lives that morning, including 20 children.  We all vividly remember that day. Everyone I know was torn apart by that event.

On that same day at Animal Friends, a little gray and white cat named Macadamia went about her usual business, un-phased by the tragedy that had just occurred.  She had been at the shelter for 1-and-a-half years.  When Little Mac arrived at the shelter, she brought with her her litter of kittens.  They all went into a foster home until the babies were old enough to be weaned, spayed or neutered and put up for adoption.   As is so often the case, the kittens were adopted quickly but their mom was not.

When the kittens left Macadamia, we learned just how frightened she was.  We found her to be a very scared little cat that hissed and swatted out of fear.  We wondered if she could be feral.  The volunteers began to spend time with her & little by little she calmed down.   When we realized she was not feral the real work began.  The volunteers spent countless hours with Macadamia; talking softly, touching gently, using positive reinforcement with treats, and giving the little cat much deserved TLC.  Slowly, Little Mac began to respond.  She realized that she liked the attention and being doted upon.  She remained shy, but became very lovable and cuddly.  Then the wait for a family began.

About two weeks after the Newtown tragedy, Marti came to the shelter.   She told me she’d like a cat that could live with other cats and dogs.  She and her husband already had three dogs and two cats at home.  After talking with Marti for a while, I asked if she’d be ok with a shy kitty.  I knew Little Mac liked dogs and cats, so she was my first thought.  Marti was interested in meeting her.  I put them together in a get acquainted room and then left so they could get to know each other.  I went back about 10 minutes later and Marti had fallen in love.  She just needed to bring her husband in to meet Macadamia.

Before she left, Marti and I spent some time talking.  Marti told me why she was adopting that day.  One of the children killed in Newtown was a little red-haired girl named Catherine Violet Hubbard.  Catherine had loved animals and had said that she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up.  Her parents had asked that people honor her by donating to their local animal shelter.  Marti said she couldn’t think of a better way to honor Catherine than by adopting an animal who desperately needed a home.  Marti began to cry talking about the Sandy Hook children, so I joined in.

The next day, Marti and her husband, Ray, came to the shelter to close the deal.  They would definitely take Macadamia to their home.  Mac had been at Animal Friends for over a year.  Maybe she was just waiting for Marti and Ray all along. 

By then it was a week before Christmas and three weeks after twenty children, including Catherine Violet Hubbard, were killed.  Marti and Ray decided to make something good come out of something so horrible.   They adopted a tiny cat in honor of a beautiful little red-haired girl who loved animals.   That small gray and white kitty now has a wonderful family and is named Violet. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Animal Friends' Home-To-Home Adoption Program Presents....a super friendly stray!

This young cat (about 4 months I think) was recently found in a local park on a bitter cold day.  She was extremely affectionate from the start; lots of rubs and purring.  I took her to be checked for a micro chip (none was found) and to have her checked by a vet. All efforts to locate an owner have been unsuccessful.  

With hopes of improving her adoption chances,  I paid for her spay surgery,  her tests and vaccines. She is 100% healthy! She is a domestic short hair with sweet tabby features.  But, for certain, her best feature is her personality.  She has the sweetest temperament I have encountered in any cat.

I can foster her for a very short time but, unfortunately, am unable to offer her a forever home.

If you are able to help, please contact  Joanne Sullivan at or call 724.935.0079. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Run For a Reason with Team Animal Friends and the Pittsburgh Marathon

Join Team Animal Friends in its first year as a participating charity with the Pittsburgh Marathon!  On May 4 & 5, 2013 , lace up your shoes to run the City of Bridges and help raise funds to ensure the well being of companion animals and to help end pet overpopulation.

How it works:

  1. Register at  Sign up today.  Spaces frequently sell out by February.
  2. Then register with Team Animal Friends to start fundraising (link:
  3. There are NO fundraising minimums when you run for Animal Friends!  Choose a meaningful goal that works for you. Invite friends and family to help you reach your goals. 

All Team Animal Friends members will receive an Animal Friends t-shirt. For each donation you receive, you will be entered in to the drawing for an Animal Friends prize pack.

If you are unable to run but want to still help, click here to support Team Animal Friends! 

All gifts are tax deductible and go directly to support the care of animals in need. 

$50 – Underwrites one spay surgery and keeps 55 unwanted animals from being born.
$ 100 – Provides vaccines, a medical exam and microchip for a shelter animal.
$150 – Provides critical care to a rescued animal

Monday, January 7, 2013

Companies That Offer a "Matching Gift" Program

Make your gift count...twice!  Here are just some companies that have a matching gift program available to employees.




AMB Group, Inc.

American Eagle Outfitters

American Express

Babson Capital Management

Bank of America


Brink's Incorporated



CA Technologies

Cadence Designs Systems, Inc.


Chubb Group of Insurance Company




Del Monte Foods

Deutsche Bank Americas

Dollar Bank

Dollar Bank


EOG Resources


Equitable Resources, Inc.

Ericsson, Inc.

Erie Insurance

Fidelity Investments

First Data

Gannett Foundation, Inc.



Giant Eagle, Inc.


Global Impact

Goldman, Sachs & Co.



Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield

The Hillman Company

Invest in Others Charitable Foundation

Irwin Home Equity

J.C. Penny Company Fund, Inc.

J.P. Morgan Chase

Jones Lang LaSalle

Kemper Insurance Company

Key Foundation

Kraft Foods

Lehman Brothers


Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.

May Department Stores Company

McDonald's Corporation


Mead Johnson Nutrition


Merrill Lynch & Co.





Peoples Natural Gas

Pittsburgh Valve and Fitting Company

PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.


PPG Industries

Progressive Investment Management


Random House, Inc.

RedPrairie Corporation



The Livable Home

The Standard

ThermoFisher Scientific

Tiffany and Company

U.S. Bancorp

UBS Wealth Management

Unilever United States

USA Networks


Washington Mutual


Friday, January 4, 2013

Angel's Law: House Bill 2663 Makes Animal Cruelty Charges More Severe

Pennsylvania state Rep. Dom Costa is sponsoring a new bill that would carry heavy consequences for people who commit animal cruelty. Currently, animal cruelty offenses are low-level offenses, similar to a traffic ticket. Angel’s Law, House Bill 2663, would make acts of animal cruelty a misdemeanor 3.

This would mean that every person, including first-time offenders, would be arrested, fingerprinted and photographed.  Their information would then be entered into a database, so that repeat offenses could be tracked.  Under the new law, repeat offenders could face felony charges, heavy fines or jail time if convicted.

Visit for more information on the bill itself and contact information for your state representatives.

Animal Friends' Home-To-Home Adoption Program Presents....Tani and Sashi!

Tani and Sashi are Japanese Chins.  I need to find a good and loving home for them due to an unexpected change in my life situation.  Tani just turned 8 years old, and Sashi just turned 9.  I have had them since they were puppies.  They are very friendly and make wonderful companions!  Both like to play, but they don't need constant attention.  Sashi rarely barks, and Tani attempts to howl when she hears a siren.  They are just under 10 pounds and in excellent health. They are up to date on all shots and were spayed as puppies.  I have complete and current vet records.

I would prefer to keep them together, but will consider adopting out separately under the right circumstances.  It is important to me that Tani and Sashi go to someone who really likes dogs, knows how to care for them, has the financial resources to provide for their care and grooming, preferably has a fenced yard for them, and will love them as much as I have.

If you can help, please contact Mike at 724.421.9810 or email at

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolve to Get More Exercise in the New Year…for Both You and Your Dog!

By the Staff at Petagogy

Is one of your new year’s resolutions to exercise more? One of the easiest ways to clock some more cardio time is to increase walks with your pooch. Not only will your body benefit, but your dog will be happier and healthier as well. Walking gives our dogs more than exercise; it also provides an energy outlet, mental stimulation, and much needed social interaction. You will need to make sure your gear is right for the weather. Read our list below to make sure your pup has the right gear so they can enjoy extra walks even more!

Poo Bags
One of the first requirements for walking your dog is to be a responsible pet owner. Pick up after your pet! Petagogy has a variety of poo bags and poo bag holders from OllyDog, Earth Rated and Doggie Walk to make this responsibility easier. Some are quit stylish, so don’t be afraid to keep the sidewalks and grassy areas in your neighborhood clean.

No dog owner should be without the Poo-Wrangler (a Petagogy original)! When you have a full poo bag, let the Poo-Wrangler hold it for you! Use it to clip the full bag onto your leash so you can finish your walk poo-bag free!

Premier Easy Walk Harness or Gentle Leader
Do you dread walking your dog? Do they pull at the sight of every dog, squirrel or human? Try an Easy Walk Harness. It’s different from most harnesses in that the leash connects in the front rather than the back like other harnesses, which controls the body’s direction. Harnesses that clip in the back allow your dog to get more power through the chest and all four legs, much like the ones horses use to pull so much weight. Clasping the leash in front removes this power from your dog and gently corrects their pulling behavior.

Gentle Leaders are head collars that also work very well. They attach over the nose and around the neck. Gentle Leaders work like a bridle for a horse; they can control where your pooch’s head points, and which direction they go.

Musher’s Secret
Protect your dog’s paws from salt and snow balls in the winter by coating their paws with Musher’s Secret, a natural barrier wax. Simply apply Musher’s Secret on and in-between their toes every two or three days to protect those sensitive paws. Musher’s Secret is also good for relief from sores, cracked toes, scratches and burns. 

Reflective Leashes and Harnesses
Unfortunately, it’s that time of year when the south steals our sun, and many of our dog walks occur in the dark. Protect yourself and your pooch with one of our reflective, colorful leashes from OllyDog or Nite Ize. Nite Ize also makes LED collar covers and lights that hang from collars so that you and your dog are more visible to the cars on the road. We also offer reflective Easy Walk Harnesses, which are just like the ones mentioned above except they have integrated reflective threads throughout the harness and leash.

Take the (Dog) Training Outside

Walks are a great time to practice basic obedience skills. All those distractions while walking can be great opportunities to take a few seconds to practice good behavior. Try to stop every couple of blocks and practice “sit and stay.” Be sure to have training treats, like Zuke’s Mini Naturals or Wet Noses Little Stars, to reward your pooch when they ignore all the distractions and respond to your commands. Petagogy also carries treat pouches from OllyDog, which allows you to easily carry treats and rewards for your dog on walks.  


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