Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pet Adoption is PRICELESS at Animal Friends Beginning Nov. 29!

On what is traditionally known as the biggest shopping day of the year, Animal Friends invites you to do something that’s truly priceless. Don’t shop—adopt! at Animal Friends’ PRICELESS holiday adopt-a-thon beginning November 29.

If you’ve been considering pet adoption, Friday is the purrfect time to meet your soulmutt. From November 29 - December 31, Animal Friends will waive our donation request when you adopt a pet age 1 or older.

While Animal Friends typically requests $75 for dogs and cats and $60 for rabbits, we are waiving our adoption donation for all pets age 1 and up, through December 31. All pets are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and medically and behaviorally evaluated.

That Friday, you can join the retail frenzy, or you can save a life. Do something that’s truly priceless. Don’t shop—adopt! And make this a holiday season your family cherishes forever.

All adoption applications are thoroughly screened to ensure appropriate, loving and lifelong matches.

To learn more about Animal Friends or view adoptable pets, visit

Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horne Road in the North Hills, just 0.5 miles from Exit 8 off of I-279N. For details or directions, call 412.847.7000.

Happy Tails: Cindy Lou

Guest Blogger: Carolyn Amoroso

I met Cindy Lou when I volunteered at Animal Friends in Pittsburgh years ago. At first she was not eligible for adoption because she was being held for court. When I adopted her about a year later, Animal Friends estimated her age to be about 4 or 5 years old. I didn’t ask any details about her abuse because a big part of me was afraid to hear it. I knew this much: She had been used to fight. She had many, many battle scars, most in the front from her face down to her front paws. She had one on her shoulder that looked suspiciously like a cigar burn and a fracture in her foot that had never properly healed so it looked like a lump. Her foot was also deformed and facing to the side. The flaps of her ears had been torn off. It was obvious she had been bred too.

I was intimidated to take on a dog with such a past but we bonded right away. She was pure muscle when I got her but very afraid of everything and everyone. She enjoyed taking car rides but would begin to shake as soon as the car parked. I imagined the only place she probably went in a vehicle was to fight. If you told her “no” she would begin to shake very badly and I would then have to ensure her that it was ok and there was not further punishment. 

She was afraid to walk past houses. We lived on a street where there were some empty lots between our house and the next so she would happily walk the length of the empty land but would stop before reaching the house. One day I took her to a park and she was in heaven. She loved looking for trails to walk in the woods. Whenever we would approach another dog on a leash, Cindy Lou would become upset. She would stop in her tracks and want to go back the way we came to avoid the dog. I would make her stay in place and once the dog passed without incident; she would then begin to wag her tail and want to follow the dog as if she wanted to make friends. Once, a neighbor boy brought his Great Dane to our house while we were in the driveway washing cars. I put Cindy Lou in the car as a precaution and allowed the dog to approach the window. When he did, Cindy Lou began to show her teeth at the dog. I told Cindy Lou “no” and as usual she began to shake and I told her it was ok. She then sniffed the dog and became friends. I realized then that she didn’t “want” to be vicious; in the past it had been expected of her. 

I had Cindy Lou for the 5 remaining years of her life. She was a sweet, kind, gentle, loving dog that made me fall in love with the Pit Bull breed.  She was so smart. She seemed to have this magical affect on people, especially my ex-husband and myself. Cindy Lou was terrified of men but I knew that if she could warm up to any man, it would be my ex-husband. He tried to talk me out of getting her because he was afraid but she quickly won him over and the two fell in love with each other. Cindy Lou became very spoiled. Whenever I would look at Cindy Lou’s face and want to attack it with a hundred kisses, I just could not comprehend how someone else would look at that same face and do cruel things to her. To this day the thought brings me to tears.

It is 10 years since she is gone and I still miss her so much. I wanted to share Cindy Lou’s story because I know there are others like her. Michael Vick’s dogs were assessed by professionals and though some were deemed too vicious, some have gone on to become very valuable and loving members of families. Over time, Cindy Lou’s fur grew, covering most of the scars. Though her emotional scars remained more obvious, she became more relaxed and trusting of us with time. We knew she would never be like a normal dog but I found great satisfaction in the little strides that she would make. A rescue dog (even one with a scary past) can make a great pet. People used to say to me that Cindy Lou was lucky to have me and I used to say no, I’m lucky to have her. Cindy Lou brought great joy to our lives and I will always be grateful to her for it.

And I have Animal Friends to thank for bringing her into my life.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Keeping the Animals We Love Safe This Holiday Season

The winter months and holiday season have arrived! The holidays can provide wonderful opportunities to stay close to home and bask the companionship of our pets. But, as the holidays are also a time for eating, drinking, decorating, and being merry, they can also pose unforeseen health hazards that could be a concern for household animals. Before you deck your halls with boughs of holly, check out these helpful hints to keep your pets safe, happy and healthy this season.

This time of year, many people adorn their houses with holiday plants including Christmas trees, holly and mistletoe. While keeping a Christmas tree is a beautiful and time-honored tradition, be aware of the risks they can pose to your pets. If you put up a Christmas tree, make sure that it is well secured. If you have a cat who climbs or a large dog with a “happy tail,” anchor the top of the tree to the wall using a strong cord or rope. 

Ornaments, candy canes, light bulbs and tinsel can also be potentially dangerous to pets. Not only can ingested objects cause intestinal blockage and abrasions, but glass ornaments can shatter and cut soft paw pads. Be sure to hang fragile or edible ornaments safely out of a curious pet’s reach. If you have a ball-crazy dog, hang glass balls high on the tree, or take them off altogether. Cats are notorious for playing with and consuming tinsel and ribbon, which can bunch up in their intestines like an accordion. Worse yet, tinsel can slice an animal’s intestines, which requires surgery to correct. Dogs, cats, and bunnies have also been known to nibble on strings of lights or electrical cords, which can cause electrocution. 

Be careful not to let your pet drink the water from the Christmas tree stand, which may contain preservatives, or sugar or aspirin additives to keep the tree looking fresh. These can cause gastrointestinal upset in pets. Keep in mind that some dogs (especially males!), may be inclined to break the rules of housetraining on a freshly cut tree—why else would anyone bring a tree into the house?

Many pets will ignore the Christmas tree, but if yours do not, then be sure to make the tree off-limits when you’re not home to supervise. Put a small decorative fence around the tree, or keep the tree in a room with a door that can be closed to limit a pet’s access to the room.

Other decorative holiday plants may look intriguing to your pets, but they can be toxic.  Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems. Both poinsettias and holly, if ingested, can cause illness including vomiting and diarrhea. Again, the best cure is prevention: keep all dangerous plants out of your pets’ reach.

Burning candles should also be closely watched when pets are around. Do not leave burning candles on coffee tables and other surfaces that your dog, cat or rabbit may jump onto. With one exuberant tail wag or swat of a paw, the flames or hot wax could quickly cause disaster. Position candles securely and away from curious faces and feet.

While most pet owners know that chocolate contains theobromide, a chemical that is fatally poisonous to dogs, many other favorite holiday foods can also can give your four-legged family members a tummy ache. Uncooked yeast dough can rise in the stomach and cause severe pain. Pets who have eaten bread dough may experience abdominal pain, bloat, vomiting, disorientation and depression. Since the breakdown product of rising dough is alcohol, it can also cause alcohol poisoning.

What if you don’t have a pet…yet? Through the years, movies, television and media have depicted happy children waking up on Christmas morning to find an adorable puppy or cuddly kitten wearing bow beneath the tree. In reality, many pets are abandoned after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Animal Friends does not recommend giving pets as gifts for the holidays. Remember that the first few weeks of life in a new household are a critical and sometimes scary time for your new pet. If your family’s holiday celebrations involve travel, houseguests or long hours away from home, the holiday season would be the wrong time to acclimate a new pet to your home routine. If your family is planning to adopt a pet, come to Animal Friends to purchase all the supplies you’ll need. Then after the holidays have wound to a close, your loved ones can return to carefully select the perfect pet for their lifestyle. This will provide the happy new pet owners time to invest in their new lifelong commitment.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”  This is especially true when it comes to our pets. 

On behalf of all of us at Animal Friends, Happy Holidays to you and your pets!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Champ - part Chihuahua, part charmer

Champ is a Chihuahua Mix. He is 7 years old, around 17lbs. and tan in color. He's a medium energy dog who loves to play, go for walks and be around other dogs. He is very sweet, gentle and loving. He is great around children and is housebroken. Champ is current on all vaccinations, he is neutered, and has recently had a dental cleaning. He is in great health. 

Last year Champ's owner died and he is looking for someone to give him the attention he deserves. 

Interested in Champ? Call John at 412-491-9362 or email him at JONNYVETTE@YAHOO.COM

Tails of a Foster Fur Mom: Nikki

Guest Blogger: Susan Gottfried

"Little girl, where is your OFF switch?"

It's not a question I often ask my foster kittens. In fact, to be honest, I don't think I've ever asked a kitten where its OFF switch is. Truly, I don't think they have them, although in Nikki's case, I sometimes wish she did. You know, like when she's trying to turn my sleeve into a chew toy. Or when she decides to lunge for my hair. All typical kitten behaviors and, in most cases, easily taught that this is undesirable behavior.

But Nikki's not a typical kitten. She's a hoot and a trip and a lot of fun and a dear and a doll, all rolled into one. She's also a thief – a thief of your heart.

You've been warned.

I've never met a kitten more people-centric. In fact, it is her love of humans that sent her to my house in the first place. I got a call: "Every time one of the staff walks past her, she sticks her paws out and mews at us. It's pathetic. Please. Take her home!"

I laughed, figuring she had simply been smart enough to recognize the shelter workers as the people with the power to take her home. But… no. This girl loves humans. On a few—very few—occasions over the past month, she's slept on me. She purrs as soon as you pick her up, or as soon as I let her out of the foster room in the mornings. I don't let all my fosters out, but Nikki made it clear from the first time I walked in and she walked out that one room wasn't enough to contain her.  We compromised by keeping her in for two weeks, time for her to grow big and strong and ready to meet Milo and Lucy, my permanent cats. 

I'm not sure my house is, either. She spends her time racing at top speed around the house, often chasing Milo and Lucy. They've figured out where she can't jump, and those are the "I've had enough" spots. Lately, my office has been on that list because as I've been trying to work, Nikki has taken to rolling through the nest of cords on the floor. Today, she managed to jump right on my surge protector so perfectly, she flipped it off. My computer was plugged in to that protector. You can figure out what happened. Personally, I'm still trying to figure out if I should laugh or cry. (Thankfully, I am a compulsive saver—a habit brought on by a preschooler who used to demand my attention by flipping the power switch on the computer itself.)

It's like living with the Tazmanian Devil from the Looney Tunes cartoons, only Nikki is black with a white splotch on her chest. I truly am not sure this kitten sleeps.

I'm taking her back in a few days; she's big enough now to find her forever home. Whoever takes a chance on this baby in constant motion is in for a lot of fun. She simply can't get enough of the humans around her (and she loves other cats, too). And I bet that whoever takes her home will find they can't get enough of her, either.

But if they find her OFF switch, I hope they let me know where it was hiding.