Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Third-Party Events Put the "fun" in Fundraise

By Kayla Seifert, Animal Friends Development Assistant            

Every year, Animal Friends is privileged to be the beneficiary of dozens of Third Party Events. These types of events are held by individuals and businesses outside of the Animal Friends’ organization that simply believe in our mission and want to hold a fundraiser to benefit our organization. These events vary greatly, consisting of everything from lemonade stands, jeans days at work, golf outings, and even our partnership with Hundred Acres Manor.

           A few weeks ago, Duquesne Law student Brendan Makarewicz decided to hold a third party event for Animal Friends. Influenced by his love of animals and his belief in the good work of Animal Friends, he planned and coordinated the Southside Bar Crawl.

            Bar Crawls are fun and unique events. The Event Coordinator approaches and asks if they would like to participate in the bar crawl. Patrons of the bar, then, can pay an admission fee to participate. The event holder can even find sponsors for their event to raise more money. In the end, a portion of all of these proceeds go to the cause the bar crawl is fundraising for. 

            Though the planning of a fundraiser of this size is often more work than meets the eye, Brendan was quite successful. He managed to recruit 13 bars on Carson Street to participate, including Double Wide Grille, which welcomes dogs on their patio. He also received a sponsorship from Miller Lite for the event. Brendan worked with Animal Friends to get the word out to the Animal Friends’ community through our website, Facebook page, and e-blasts. He also promoted the event at Duquesne University and set up a Youcaring webpage. Brendan even coordinated with CARMAA to promote his event at Dogtoberfest, an event they were holding downtown earlier the same day. 

            Animal Friends’ volunteers attended the Bar Crawl, along with one of our adoptable pups, to pass out flyers and spread the word about our programs and services. By doing this, not only did Animal Friends help bring in more participants, but we also were able to tell the public about our organization and give an adoptable dog a break from the kennel. It’s certainly a win-win situation!

            Though the weather was slightly rainy, the Southside Bar Crawl was a great success and brought in donations that will be used to further the mission of the organization. Brendan said that while hosting an event of this size was quite an undertaking, helping all of the animals in need was definitely worth the work.

            Animal Friends greatly appreciates all of the hard work that Brendan and all of our other Third Party Event holders, put into their fundraisers. These events are a great way for individuals and businesses alike to contribute to Animal Friends, both in holding these events and though attending the events as participants.

            If you would like to hold a Third Party Event of your own, you can fill out the Third Party Proposal Form on our website: or email

Understanding Your Pet’s Food: How to Read a Pet Food Label

By the staff at Petagogy

Walk into any pet supply store and you will see aisles of pet foods with eye-catching packaging showing fruits, veggies and quality proteins. Just like how you can’t judge a book by its cover, don’t fall for the glossy photos and fancy packaging; it’s what’s inside the bag that counts. Before trying any new pet food, be sure to turn the bag over and read the ingredient label to see if the food contains exactly what it is advertising.

The First Five Ingredients
The first five ingredients on a label are the most important when analyzing the quality of a pet food. Because ingredients are listed from highest content in the food to lowest, after the first five ingredients (some people say eight) the percentages of the remaining ingredients decrease dramatically. One of the most important rules of thumb is that a named protein should be at least one (preferably two) of the first five ingredients, and always the first ingredient. A named protein can include a named animal meal (i.e. chicken meal—check out our past blog, “What’s the Deal with Chicken Meal?”) but should not be ambiguous such as “animal fat” or “animal meal”––not naming the animal from which the protein is from is suspicious. The remaining four ingredients should be other sources of protein via named animal sources or whole ingredients, preferably low-glycemic ingredients such as lentils, sweet potatoes or peas.

Several Ingredients to Avoid
The list of most pet foods is too long to entirely dissect here, but there are some ingredients that you should be sure to avoid regardless of how far down they appear on the label.

·        Animal by-product. This ingredient is generally a rendered product of slaughterhouse waste and can include everything from beaks, hooves, feet and animals not fit for human consumption due to age or disease. 

·        Artificial Colors. Beyond making the kibble look more desirable to humans, artificial colors serve no purpose in our pet’s food except adding unnecessary chemicals.

Guaranteed Analysis
Every pet food label must state a guaranteed analysis of the minimum and maximum percentages of moisture, fiber, crude protein and crude fat. This analysis is a great way to determine if the food has enough protein, fiber or fat that is appropriate for your pet’s specific needs. Unfortunately, this label does not take into account the moisture content of the food, so reading it might be a bit misleading; frozen and canned foods contain more moisture than kibble or dehydrated food, making direct comparisons difficult. The best and most accurate way to compare pet foods is to compare the guaranteed analysis of the dry matter content only. To determine the percentage of dry matter content, subtract the moisture content from 100. Then, to determine the true protein amount, take the guaranteed protein percentage divided by the percentage of dry matter content and multiply that by 100.

For example, a can of Fromm Shredded Pork Entrée for dogs has a moisture content of 79.5% (max) and a protein of 8% (min). The true protein content is 39%:

Dry Matter Content = 100% – 79.5% (moisture content) = 20.5%
Protein Content = 8% (the guaranteed protein) ÷ 20.5% X 100 = 39%

Both plant and animal ingredients have protein, and the guaranteed analysis does not differentiate between them, making it doubly important to look closely at the list of ingredients to try and figure out the main source of protein.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to analyzing pet foods (ingredient sourcing and manufacturing processes also make a huge difference in pet food quality), but hopefully you now have the tools to begin assessing the quality of different products. There are plenty of resources available online and local, independent stores that specialize in healthy, natural and safe pet food and supplies--such as Petagogy!--can work with you individually to ensure you’re making the best choice for your furkids.

Petagogy (pronounced pet-uh-go-jee) specializes in premium and natural pet foods, treats and supplies. 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. Learn more at

Can Any Pet be a Baby-Ready Pet? Animal Friends Offers Baby-Ready Pets Classes

By Kristy Locklin

My cat, Hobbes, is a biter, as evidenced by my scarred appendages.

Throughout my pregnancy, he eyeballed my belly and licked his lips in anticipation of tasting young, supple flesh.

I bypassed the children's book "Pat the Cat" because I didn’t want to give my daughter the impression that she could actually touch our cat. But, banning all feline-themed literature didn't seem like a reasonable thing to do. So I consulted the experts at Animal Friends.

Each month, volunteers Ron and Mary Papik present "Baby-Ready Pets!" a free workshop that gives expectant moms and dads tips on preparing their critters for the new arrival.

The couple uses information provided by the Humane Society of the United States, as well as their own personal experiences –they're parents and pet owners—to ease fears and anxieties about bringing home baby.

Panky, an Animal Friends resident, served as a demonstration dog. When Mary pressed “play” on a boombox, the sound of a crying infant filled the room. Panky's ears perked up, he cocked his head to the side and began sniffing the colicky device. The Papiks encouraged the class to download baby sounds off the Internet and play them in the nursery to desensitize the animal to the strange noises.

Before little Sarah arrived, I logged onto and cranked the speakers to full volume. Hobbes—who gets freaked out by a ringing doorbell —looked up for a moment then went back to licking himself.

I took that as a good sign.

Practicing safe interactions between animal and infant is important, Ron and Mary said, so I put some baby lotion on my hands to get Hobbes used to the smell. He hissed and backed away like a vampire from a clove of garlic. I keep Sarah slathered in the cream to keep the furry bloodsucker at bay.

Once, he nipped at my ankle while I was dancing around the room with Sarah singing “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” I'm not sure if his aggressiveness was caused by jealousy or my awful Axl Rose impression.

The Papiks urged me to praise, pet and reward Hobbes. This way, he'll view the baby as some sort of wonderful, Meow Mix-dispensing goddess instead of a foul-smelling attention-stealer.

Over the course of the 90-minute workshop, I learned many things —the importance of constant supervision, how to keep the cat from jumping in the crib, etc. —but the handout on feline body postures is what really caught my eye.

The page boasts sketches of cats in various emotional states —neutral, alert, playful, fearful, agitated and aggressive. Even after eight years of co-habitation, I still can't read Hobbes' body language. I posted the flier on our refrigerator. I want my daughter to learn these signs and grow up to be a responsible pet owner. Hopefully, she can teach me a thing or two and I will no longer be Hobbes' favorite chew toy.

Animal Friends’ Baby-Ready Pets Class is offered regularly, with upcoming classes on October 15, November 20 and December 18. Seating is limited and registration is required, so visit the Animal Friends University page to secure your spot. This class is for people only, so please leave your pets at home.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Your Donation Will Be MATCHED!

Thanks to steadfast supporters Bob and Janine Fragasso!

From November 1 through the end of the year, your donation to Animal Friends’ Low-Cost Spay/Neuter (LCSN) program will save even more lives, thanks to a matching gift from our good friends Bob and Janine Fragasso.

We couldn’t be more grateful. Because, Let’s face it. Fundraising for spay and neuter programming isn’t an easy sell. It isn’t cute and fuzzy. But it is critical.

And if we, as a community, are truly committed to putting an end to needless euthanasia, we have to take action. We can’t be fooled into believing that we can adopt our way out of pet overpopulation. We have to stem the tide at the source.

And that’s just what an extraordinarily generous challenge from Bob and Janine will allow us to do. They have pledged to give fifty cents for every dollar donated to Animal Friends’ LCSN program, up to $50,000, from November 1 - December 31.

Bob explains, “We decided to step up to offer this funding challenge because spaying and neutering companion animals and feral cat colonies is the only way that we can eventually control overpopulation and thereby eliminate thousands of unwarranted animal euthanasia each year in our region. Animal Friends is a nationally recognized animal and human welfare organization and now it is accepting the challenge to eliminate those unnecessary deaths. Euthanasia of companion animals is a legitimate issue for all caring humans, but it also extends to quality of life and public health concerns that impact all of our citizens. We invite others to join in the successful effort now ongoing at Animal Friends and make us spend all of our matching money by contributing now.”

Animal Friends has always been this region’s leader in animal welfare – consistently raising the bar on how we collectively care for and value our animal companions. Animal Friends’ Chief Operating Officer, Kathleen Beaver, states, “We were the first to offer progressive low cost spay/neuter in this region. We were the first to take a stand against traditional, status-quo animal sheltering by opening a true companion animal resource center. We were the first to put a mobile spay/neuter clinic on the road serving struggling pet owners and rural shelters who had no other options. And since 1994, we have altered over 100,000 animals! At Animal Friends, we have the experience, we have the highly skilled staff and veterinarians, and most importantly, we have the passion to save lives.”

We need your help to maximize this challenge set by Bob and Janine. If our donors come forward, Animal Friends will raise $150,000 for the lifesaving LCSN program. To make your donation, log on to beginning November 1.

Friday, October 25, 2013

In Memory Of: Dr. Dawn Marcus

It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Animal Friends Volunteer and Pet Assisted Therapy advocate, Dawn Marcus, MD.  Dr. Marcus was  a diplomat of the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry and a professor in the Anesthesiology Department at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She authored over 100 articles on chronic pain and headache, gave training sessions and was an invited lecturer nationally and internationally.  Dr. Marcus was the author and principal investigator of numerous studies related to chronic pain.  She was the author of 17 books and was a dedicated physician.  Dr. Marcus had a keen understanding of the strength and true healing power of the human-animal bond.  Through her 2008 book, Fit as Fido, Follow Your Dog to Better Health (iUniverse 2008).  Dr. Marcus encouraged us to use our relationship with our dog to improve our general health.

However, at Animal Friends, she was known as “Wheatie and Toby’s Mom”.  Since 2007, Dawn (to those who knew her) was an extraordinary volunteer in the pet therapy program.  With either one or both of her cherished Wheaton Terriers, she made regular visits to UPMC Presbyterian and Montefiore Hospitals, the Hillman Cancer Center and many other venues.  She loved to join in on the special holiday therapy visits especially with the Vincentian Sisters of Charity.  Here, Dawn made certain that each Sister received a small gift from Wheatie. Such was the level of her generosity.

Moreover, Dawn exemplified the power of the human-animal bond.  She often spoke that in her very early days of visiting with Wheatie, she was skeptical about what she was experiencing.  She very quickly came to understand the small miracles that were happening when patients and her pets connected.  A published author, Dawn often wrote of the simple connections that Wheatie or Toby would make, usually when it was felt that no one was looking.  The nonchalant scratch of Wheatie’s ear from a doctor, busily reading, standing next to them in an elevator;  the brush to the head from the reach of a fragile wheel-chair bound patient who wanted to pet the dog; or the obvious physical relief shown by hospital staff so happy to see the canines and have a furry break in their busy day.  Meaningful connections made in silence. 

Dawn liked to refer to herself as “Toby and Wheatie’s  Chauffer”. She chuckled that her biggest role in the therapy job was “getting the dogs where they need to be.”  But she was even more than that, she was an advocate for their work.  In 2011, Dawn conducted and published  a groundbreaking study, Animal-Assisted Therapy at an Outpatient Pain Management Clinic. (Marcus,et al, Pain Medicine, 2012).  This study evaluated the effects of therapy dog visits at an outpatient pain management facility (compared with time spent in a waiting room). Data analyzed from 295 therapy dog visits (patients, family/friends and medical staff) showed significant reduction in pain and emotional distress for chronic pain patients and improvements in emotional distress and feelings of well-being in family and friends accompanying patients to appointments as well as clinic staff.  The study provided valuable, measurable data and served as the model for which the new Animal Friends, “Therapets”, program is based.

Dawn enjoyed coming to Animal Friends.  She loved to participate in our training program, and on-site therapy visits.  Most recently, she agreed to serve on the Peer Review Committee to oversee the successful implementation of the UPMC grant for the Therapets program. 

Dawn was witty, intelligent, fun-loving, generous and a genuine delight.  She will be deeply missed.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Canine Support Team’s Pawz for Wounded Veterans, P.O. Box 891767, Temecula, CA 92589-1767 or Arrangements by Simons Funeral Home, Inc.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happy Tails: Trinity!

It is an honor to have volunteered and adopted with Animal Friends over the years.

As a 93-year-old widower, the true value of my relationship with Animal Friends has been the love and companionship I have received from the dogs I have adopted. Recently after the death of my beloved wife of 65 years and my 12-year-old adopted dog Dusty; I decided to adopt again (even at my age).

With the help of Animal Friends; this past February – I was able to adopt a beautiful and sweet 8-year-old Lab mix named Trinity. Wow!  What a dog!

Thank you, Animal Friends.  You not only saved Trinity but you saved a 93-year-old widower.


James Brown

Friday, October 18, 2013

Microchipping Can Save Your Pet's Life

Microchips can help reunite lost pets with their families. If you adopted your pet from Animal Friends or another local shelter, your pet is already microchipped. If you didn’t, talk to your vet about microchipping today!

Microchips are a tiny chip, the size of a grain of rice, with a unique bar code. It is implanted under a pet’s skin and can be read with a scanner. When a lost pet shows up at an animal shelter, animal control facility or veterinarian’s office, most places will first scan the pet to look for a microchip, which can quickly identify the pet’s owner.

After microchipping your pet, submit your pet’s bar code number with your contact information to the company that provided the chip.               

Microchips are not painful. During the procedure, the pet feels a fast prick--similar to a vaccination.

Remember that microchips are not foolproof. If you move or get a new phone number, you must remember to update your pet’s listing in the manufacturer’s directory.

Microchips will  last the life of your pet. Be sure that your pet wears ID tags too!

Animal Friends Offers Free Straw for Cold Outdoor Pets

 NOTE: We've received another shipment of straw!  This shipment was delivered on December 5th and is ready to be picked-up.  We will post another update if this delivery runs out.

If you need straw for your animals in a greater quantity than what is available through the Straw Drop program, please contact local feed stores, such as Best Feeds, which has bedding straw for sale.

In preparation for plummeting temperatures, Animal Friends is once again offering free bags of straw to anyone who cares for outdoor pets or feral cats.

We urge pet owners to make their pets part of the family and keep them inside their homes. Dogs, cats and domestic rabbits are social animals, and just like humans, they suffer without interaction and companionship. We offer many programs, including behavior training and low cost spay/neuter services, that may help overcome issues that sometimes prompt a pet owner’s decision to house a pet outside.

However, recognizing the reality that many pets do live outside, Animal Friends urges those pet owners to keep their pets safe (as well as obey the law!) by ensuring that outdoor pets have access to proper food, drinkable water and warm, dry shelters. 

Because blankets, towels and pillows will get wet and freeze, straw is the best insulation against the cold and wet winter. You can pick up free bags of straw at Animal Friends during our normal operating hours (11am – 7pm Monday through Friday and 10am-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays).

Please take extra care to keep your pets safe this winter. A car mat or rug should be used as a flap over a doghouse door to keep the inside free of wind, snow and rain. If you are in need of a dog house, please contact Animal Friends to inquire about availability.

Extra care should also be taken to provide unfrozen water in not-metallic bowls and extra food at all times during cold weather.

In addition, you should frequently check your pet's paws, ears and tail for signs of frostbite--a very common occurrence. If you suspect frostbite, your pet will need to see a veterinarian immediately. Also be mindful of salt and other snow-melting chemicals that can injure their paw pads.

For more information, call 412.847.7000.Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horne Road in the North Hills, just 0.5 miles west of Exit 8 off I-279.

World Rabies Day: Awareness is the Best Defense against Rabies

The world joins together for World Rabies Day on September 28th to raise awareness and understanding about the importance of rabies prevention. 

Rabies is the oldest and deadliest disease known to mankind, and Animal Friends is supporting this initiative.

Led by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control and supported by numerous human and animal health organizations worldwide, World Rabies Day is a unique campaign that brings together hundreds of thousands of people across the world.

Included in those people are the secondary students who participate in Animal Friends’ annual World Rabies Day videoconference to learn about rabies, both domestically and internationally.

In 2013, students from the Parkway West Career and Technical Center (Oakdale, Pennsylvania); Beaver County Career and Technical Center (Monaca, Pennsylvania); Lindsay Holy Family School (Lindsay, Nebraska) and National Dali School (Dali City, Taichung, Taiwan) took part in the event, titled “Rabies: Understand It to Delete It.” The students asked questions of the guest speakers: Dr. Erin Moore, DVM, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Animal Heath, and Dr. Louise Taylor of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.

“It was interesting to hear from students in Taiwan about how their country is currently fighting their first rabies cases in 50 years,” said Dana Schultz, Education Coordinator at Animal Friends.


Rabies and Children

The aim of World Rabies Day is to spread the word that rabies is a preventable disease that still kills 55,000 people needlessly each year, half of which are children under the age of 151.

“Rabies is primarily a disease of children, who are particularly at risk from this terrible disease, due to their close contact with dogs, the major global source,” said Dr. Debbie Briggs, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. 

“Children are more likely to suffer multiple bites and scratches to the face and head, both of which carry a higher risk of contracting rabies. Children are often unaware of the danger that dogs transmit rabies and may not tell their parents when a bite, lick, or scratch has occurred from an infected animal,” said Dr. Briggs.

Rabies is Preventable

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted to animals and humans. The disease is usually transmitted by a bite, but exposure may also occur through contamination of broken skin or mucous membranes with saliva from an infected animal.

Once neurological symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal to both animals and humans. The good news is that rabies is easily preventable. 

“Vaccination prior to possible exposure is a crucial part of health management of domestic animals, and is the single most important factor in rabies prevention,” said Dr. Briggs.

Animal Friends is pleased to offer periodic low-cost rabies vaccination clinics to the public.

Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner. Protect yourself, your pet and your community by taking animals to be vaccinated. Avoid stray animals and wildlife. 

If you are bitten, wash bite wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. 

If your pet is bitten, consult your veterinarian immediately. Prompt and appropriate treatment after being bitten and before the disease develops can stop rabies infection and/or prevent the disease in humans and animals.

The World Rabies Day initiative also raises money for rabies prevention and control projects. 

“Through the World Rabies Day campaign we continue to engage all the major stakeholders associated with rabies to take action,” said Dr. Briggs.  “We invite everyone to join the team that is Making Rabies History!” 

More information about World Rabies Day can be found at

More information about the videoconference can be found at

More information about the low-cost rabies clinics can be found at

 1 WHO.  Human and Animal Rabies, Rabies: A neglected zoonotic disease.  Available at:  Accessed on July 23, 2008.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Perlora is redefining the dog house!

Our friends at Perlora have rounded up Pittsburgh’s finest designers, architects, and builders to create designer dwellings for our four-legged friends. Join Perlora and Animal Friends on October 24 for a live auction to benefit our animals. Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on one of a kind doggie-digs and cat hideaways, learn about adoption services from Animal Friends, browse local vendors and veterinarians, and enjoy a catered reception alongside very special guests from the shelter! Their goal is to raise $15,000 that will be used help Animal Friends deliver outreach, education, and therapeutic programming.





Catch A Sneak Peak at Oxford Center

Visit a sampling of our Barkitecture submissions at Oxford Center in Downtown Pittsburgh! Structures will be on display until October 21.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Chow Wagon: Santa's Sack of Toys Needs Filled!

It's never too early to start your holiday shopping and what better way to give back this holiday season than with Animal Friend's Chow Wagon program.

Chow Wagon was born on April 16, 2007 to provide assistance for people and their pets.  Today, this pet food bank is currently partnering with 22 community food pantries and one Meals on Wheels group. The Chow Wagon supplies pet food and treats to these groups on a monthly basis. During the holidays, we like to treat the families that need our services with a new toy for their furry family member.  

Our Chow Wagon is planning to deliver 23 colorful sacks stuffed full with brand new cat, dog and bunny toys to our food pantries this fall and we need your help! 

Donations of new cat, dog and rabbit toys can be brought to the shelter during regular business hours and put in the chest in the lobby.  We’ll take stuffed toys, jingle balls, chew ropes, squeaky mice, wood chews and willow balls, Kongs, Nylabones and more!  Make this holiday a little brighter for a pet in need.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Digestive Solutions: Soothing Your Pet’s Problem Tummy

By the staff at Petagogy

We all hear about digestive problems that commonly occur in humans, but did you know that similar digestive issues can also plague your furkids? Digestive problems in cats and dogs can present in so many different ways, from the occasional soft stool to unexplained chronic fatigue. A healthy digestive system contributes to our pets’ overall health, immunity and nutrition absorption. No matter how high quality your pet’s food is, if your dog or cat’s digestive system does not work as it should the vitamins and minerals in your pet’s food will not provide the maximum benefit to their overall health. Several supplements are available to help improve your pet’s digestive system:

Pre- and Probiotics
Everyone – including our pets – has bacteria in their digestive system. The “good” bacteria that populate digestive tracts promote a healthy digestive system and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria. A decrease in beneficial bacteria – through taking antibiotics or due to immune problems, among other reasons – can lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics – which are live, “good” bacteria – may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria, aiding digestion.

If your pet is having tummy troubles, but there’s no reason to believe her digestive bacteria has been compromised, adding a prebiotic is a good first step to help promote a healthy digestive system. A prebiotic is a special form of fiber that acts as food for the bacteria already living in your pet’s gut. Just as humans introduce these healthy bacterias through supplements and foods like yogurt, adding prebiotics to your pet’s diet can support the growth of bacteria in your pet’s digestive system, which in turn aids in digestion and keeps the bad bacteria in your pet’s intestines down to an acceptable level. In Clover OptaGest prebiotic blend, Holistic Blend’s Probiotic and Animal Essential’s Plant Enzyme and Probiotic are some of our favorite supplements.

Goat’s Milk
Raw goat’s milk has many of the same benefits as breast milk. Goat’s milk is highly digestible and has a large number of nutritional benefits with naturally occurring minerals and vitamins. Because it’s so highly digestible, it is a great supplement for pets that are lactose intolerant or have compromised digestive systems and cannot tolerate other forms of supplementation. Goat’s milk is also a natural acid buffer; many studies suggest it is actually a more effective antacid then nonprescription antacid drugs. We LOVE Answers Additional Raw Goat’s Milk for Dogs and Cats.

Pumpkin is a common and easy-to-find supplement for fixing isolated digestives issues. Adding pumpkin to your pet’s meals can help loose stool problems, upset stomachs, constipation, diarrhea, and is great when transitioning your pet to a new food. Pumpkin is rich in many vitamins, fiber and minerals, and also helps promote healthy energy use during the digestion process. Pumpkin contains soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps eliminate waste from the body and absorbs water to slow digestion and aid in nutrient absorption. Insoluble fiber is considered a gut-healthy fiber that adds bulk to your pet’s diet, helping to eliminate or reduce constipation. Adding a spoonful to your pet’s meal provides many digestive benefits—the suggested serving size is 1 tablespoon per 10 lbs of weight as a daily food supplement. 100% Pure Organic Pumpkin from Nummy Tum-Tum is our favorite.

Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil is about 50% lauric acid, of which the only other abundant source found in nature is in human breast milk. The fats in coconut oil are similar to fats in mother's milk and have similar nutritional effects. When ingested, coconut oil has been known to improve digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as alleviate digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers and colitis. The bonus: it’s also great for skin and coat and immune health.

The recommended amount to give your pets is 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight, or 1 tablespoon per 30 lbs of body weight. Too much coconut oil can actually damage your pet’s pancreas, so it’s best to give it in small doses (about a quarter of the recommended amount), gradually building up your pet’s tolerance overtime. Any virgin coconut oil from health food stores can be fed to pets, but we love CocoTherapy’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil and Chips.

Petagogy (pronounced pet-uh-go-jee) specializes in premium and natural pet foods, treats and supplies. 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. Learn more at

Friday, October 4, 2013

Spay/Neuter Services are FREE for City Residents!

City of Pittsburgh residents, there’s still limited time to have your pet spayed or neutered…for FREE!

Animal Friends is grateful to partner with the City of Pittsburgh to make this important initiative possible.

All eligible pet owners or caregivers must prove they are city residents by showing two bills with a valid city address and a driver's license, or equivalent form of identification with a valid city address. If you are seeking services for feral cats, the cat colony must be located inside the city limits.

Up to five animals per household are eligible for free surgeries. All pets must be up-to-date on vaccinations. 

Ready? Call 412.255.2036! Visit here for more information. Or, if you’ve already altered your pet, spay it forward! Use the form on this page to underwrite a spay/neuter surgery for a pet.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Direct Axis is a Friend to Animal Friends

Imagine you’re watching a movie and the story is starting to get intense! The actors are delivering lines with feeling. Then, suddenly, music swells…your heart aches as the song fills the scene.  Before you know it, the music sweeps you away and the moment is drenched with emotion.

Good graphic design is like the soundrack to a movie. When you read a story about one of Animal Friends’ rescued animals, our graphic designers use photos, colors and images to convey emotion that puts you right inside the story. A talented graphic designer can turn a simple document into an experience that moves our donors to action.

When it comes to raising money and awareness for our animals, we count on a talented team. So, for more than a decade, Animal Friends has worked with the experts at Direct Axis to create effective mailings and brochures. You probably know their work -- this Pittsburgh-based firm provides the design for our flagship newspaper, the Petsburgh Press, as well as our direct mail pieces and annual Black Tie & Tails program. Direct Axis also creates websites, catalogs, brochures and more.

Jolene Miklas, Animal Friends’ Director of Communications, says, “They really ‘get us!’ The team at Direct Axis works hard to learn our brand, our mission, and our goals. This is immediately evident in the campaigns they create for us. Best of all, their staff is incredibly professional and fun to work with. I love brainstorming with them.”

Direct Axis has been a great friend to Animal Friends, and their creative mailers have helped us raise over a million dollars in the past decade.

Animal Friends wholeheartedly recommends the team at Direct Axis. To learn more about how they can help you or your business, visit, call 1.800.849.3056 or write to

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Minne for Mayor!

Linda Dickerson is a superb marketing professional and fundraiser who finds unique ways to support charities throughout the region. She is also well known for her talents and charitable work.  So it’s no surprise her dog, Minne (named for the city of Minneapolis) takes after her! Minne, age 3, is a Bichon Frise and is no stranger to helping those in need.  Minne even raises money for charities from his birthday parties!

This year, Linda and Minne raised money for Animal Friends’ Bark in the Dark event. They launched a unique and fun campaign to be the top fundraisers: "Minne For Mayor". 

While Minne is not actually running for government office, Ms. Dickerson crafted the campaign in hopes that Minne could be the top fundraiser for the Aug. 24 Animal Friends event, Bark In The Dark. Everywhere that she and Minne went, they passed out Minne for Mayor buttons and asked people to support the dog with donations to Bark in the Dark for Animal Friends. 

“Minne is delighted to raise money for all of his furry friends who aren't as lucky as he and who don't have furever homes,” said Linda.

Through the support of friends, family and supporters of Minne and Animal Friends, they secured the top fundraiser spot. Next year, Minne will be the Bark in the Dark coverdog -- on the brochure, posters and T-shirts at next year's event.

While Bark in the Dark isn’t for another year, you can support Animal Friends today by donating at or become a volunteer.  And don’t forget to keep an eye out for Minne!