Friday, October 31, 2014

Animal Friends Providing Treats, Not Tricks, for Residents

In light of the Halloween season, Animal Friends is providing enrichment for its shelter residents based on this ghoulish holiday. 

Some of the things going on through Halloween are:

• New holiday scents, maple and pumpkin, have been brought into rotation to be sprayed in the kennels every day.  (Even the humans enjoyed the maple scent. It was reported our kennels smelled like pancakes!)

For dogs:
- Pumpkins as a new toy.
- Pumpkinsicles for a unique seasonal treat.
- Filling the wading pool with new items, such as Halloween-rubber ducks in water and filling the entire pool with fallen leaves. 

- Squash bowling.
- Orange Nylabones.

• For cats:
- Feliway (an artificial pheromone that copies those that cats produce in their cheeks and use to mark their territory as safe) ghosts.
- Orange origami balls with jack-o-lantern faces.
- Orange pipe-cleaner pretzel twists.

• For rabbits:
- Pumpkin pies for a unique seasonal treat.
- Broomstick-hay tubes (paper towel tubes with a fringed end filled with hay).

The goal of enrichment is to provide a daily environment that is varied and stimulating and to allow the animals to engage in natural behaviors. Enrichment activities that engage all of the animals’ senses are beneficial to their physical and behavioral health. The activities provide opportunities to think and to explore space – therefore providing a sense of control to shelter animals. More importantly, stimulating their brains reduces stress and is fun! See the shelter animals enjoying these enrichment activities.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

By the Staff at Petagogy

Halloween is just around the corner! While you’re gathering together your costume, stocking up on candy and transforming your yard into a graveyard, remember that holidays like Halloween can be stressful times for your pets. Pets don’t understand why their best two-legged pals are wearing funny masks, or why people keep ringing the doorbell over and over again.

To keep Halloween fun and safe for everyone in the family, consider the following pet safety tips:

• If you and your children are going to dress up in costume for Halloween, allow your dog and cat to see and sniff the costume before putting it on to prevent them from being frightened. 

• Keep candy, especially chocolate and gum, away from your pets––chocolate, candies containing Xylitol (a sugar-alcohol sweetener), wrappers and other ingredients can be poisonous and even fatal for pets if they ingest it. According to Petplan, a leading pet insurance company, pets are 140% more likely to suffer from chocolate-related poisonings during the week of Halloween than any other time of year.

• Raisins are becoming a popular alternative for trick-or-treaters; however, raisins are just as bad as chocolate for pets—even in small doses, raisins can cause kidney-failure and should be kept far away from your four-legged friends.

• Don’t bring your dogs trick or treating––the costumes, noise, music, yelling kids, lights and decorations can be frightening and stressful for many dogs. 

• Beware of outfitting your home or yard with decorations that can cause a hazard to your pets, such as corncobs and stalks, cobwebs, glowsticks and plastic decorations (which can look like toys but are a choking hazard). Also, be sure to cover and hide all electrical cords. 

• If you are giving out candy on Halloween night, consider keeping your pets blocked off from the front door by either putting a pet gate in the doorway or sequestering them in another room of the house. The constant doorbell ringing and kids yelling in costume might be stressful and cause a dog or cat to escape out the front door. Also, fear may trigger your normally friendly dog’s instinct to bark, possible scaring your young Halloween visitors. 

• Make sure your pets have proper identification, including tags and/or microchips, in case they do escape out of an open door so they can be safely returned home. 

• If you dress your pet in costume make sure it fits well enough to allow for breathing room, visibility and does not restrict movement. Also, be aware of loose or hanging parts that your pet can reach, chew and possibly choke on, including fringe, feathers, buttons and stuffing. Costumes can cause undue stress for pets, so if you decide to dress up your pet make sure he likes it first. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, try something simple like a festive bandana instead.

• Keep candles (free standing and those in pumpkins or luminaries) away from pets to prevent them burning themselves and/or starting a fire.  

Petagogy (pronounced pet-uh-go-jee) specializes in premium and natural pet foods, treats and supplies for dogs and cats. Petagogy is located at 5880 Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Visit their website at

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Looking For A Home: Rickon

Guest Blogger: Lisa Bartel

All of the adoptable animals at Animal Friends are wonderful, potential pets for the right family. One of those dogs is Rickon: a dog who stole my heart. 

He came to Animal Friends as a puppy with two of his litter mates. They were each adopted, but Rickon was brought back due to his high energy. His family was growing and didn’t have the time to give Rickon the adequate amount of exercise he needed. Although not much is known about Rickon’s background, we can see that something has made him fearful.

You will fall in love with Rickon at first sight, but it may take a few slow meetings for him to fall in love with you. Once he does, he will love you forever. I am lucky to have the opportunity to spend time with Rickon each week as I volunteer at Animal Friends. I love to play with him in the play yards, do mental enrichment activities, walk around the campus and just snuggle and nap with him in his room or the backseat of my car. Oh, did I mention he loves car rides?!

After a year of being around Rickon, I knew that I – along with my husband and our dog – wanted to explore the option of fostering Rickon with the hopes of adopting. With the help of his other volunteer friends, we did meet-and-greets and walks together until everyone was comfortable. We brought Rickon home.

Upon bringing Rickon into our home, we learned very quickly that our dog needs to be the only dog in our home. Unfortunately, there was no way for us to adopt Rickon despite him being a wonderful dog in the home. He is very inquisitive and explorative. He also likes most other dogs. He enjoys one-on-one play and is a part of the weekly play groups at Animal Friends. He is smart and responsive to training with positive reinforcement.  Rickon is housebroken and will lead you to the door when he needs to go outside. Rickon has a healthy chewing habit but knows what and what not to chew. In my home, he only chewed the toys we gave him and never on anything else. He respected the boundaries we set up for him with baby gates and never tried to jump over them. Rickon really seemed to love my husband and this demonstrates his potential for making new friends. 

Rickon responded well to a daily schedule that included a walk, outside time, mental enrichment, training, naptime, and just being around us when we watched TV – Rickon snores when he sleeps and it’s adorable!

We know that Rickon will need to be in an adult-only home, possibly with another dog. This home must be patient and provide the mental and physical exercise and positive reinforcement that he requires. Rickon has some fear issues but once you get to know him you will be able to read his body language to know when he is feeling stressed and can help him to remain calm. 

The volunteers at Animal Friends have been worked tirelessly with Rickon on coping mechanisms to help with his anxiety and fear, loose-leash walking and how to go to his mat. All of these activities, as well as the mental enrichment games Rickon enjoys, can be shown to you when you meet Rickon.  We encourage you to continue these activities at home. 

If you have a patient, loving, adult-only home with time to give, please come meet Rickon. If you are looking for a companion that will love you unconditionally, consider making Rickon a part of your family. 

I look forward to each and every time that I see him. I wish I could have adopted him because he holds a special place in my heart.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Animal Friends Home-to-Home Adoption Program presents: Abby!

Abby is a beautiful one-year-old Tortie who had a rough start in life.  She was found as a stray, emaciated and with an enormous gaping wound on her side.  She has recovered well and turned into a friendly, playful cat. 

 She loves the cat teaser and to look out the window and cuddle in bed.  She tolerates my friendly dog. However she does not like other cats and would need a home where she would be the only feline.  She would probably do best in a home with older children.  

Abby is spayed, FIV and feline leukemia negative, and up-to-date on all of her shots.  Please contact Meg at for more information.