Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why #GivingTuesday is better than Black Friday...10 Reasons

Thanks to Steph Drahozal from SalsaLabs for portions of this post.

For the first time, Animal Friends is participating in #GivingTuesday, a annual day of charity and goodwill that hopes to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

#GivingTuesday inspires people to take action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world.

This year, our Spay/Neuter Challenge coincides with #GivingTuesday. What better way to give back to your community than to fund low-cost spay/neuter options for pet owners who would otherwise have no opportunity to give this gift of health to their companion animals.  Your donations will even be matched!  Click here to donate now.

So now that you know what #GivingTuesday is, why is it better than Black Friday?

Well, here are 10 reasons why ...

1. #GivingTuesday is much safer than Black Friday. You can avoid a trip to the hospital after getting trampled by people just trying to get into a store.

2. You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn. You can donate at any point during the day, whenever is most convenient for you.

3. You can participate from the comfort of your couch, in your PJs.

4. You can eat ice cream and watch Netflix while donating. That's always a bonus.

5. You don’t have to break the bank to make a donation.

6. You can feel good about the money you gave, rather than regret the money you spent shopping.

7. Giving a gift on #GivingTuesday takes only a few seconds, where standing in lines could take hours...

8. Giving to charity gives you good karma points!

9. Lower your tax bill with these charitable contributions!

10. Most importantly, you get to help out a good cause. Choose some of your favorite organizations to donate to, and help be a part of a greater change. You could choose any cause to donate to - the impoverished people in your community, curing an illness, funding baby pandas, and so many more.

Adopt A Senior Pet Month: Hershey

Photo credit: Linda Mitzel

You can teach an old dogs new tricks but won’t have to with sweet Hershey, our 8-year-old Beagle/German Shepard mix. Hershey enjoys knowing and performing basic commands, especially for treats, and would enjoy a new family who will take advantage of her education. This smart lady is even a candidate for graduate school (or, well, advanced training classes!).

We have noticed that Hershey can take a little while to bond with new people, though once she does she is quite the cuddle-bug and we expect that she will enjoy many cold winter evenings cuddling with her new family.

Hershey has proven herself house trained and will not require lots of indoor clean up like some youngsters. She enjoys a good game of fetch and a lovely neighborhood walk, but does not require miles of jogging to keep her happy and healthy.

Adopting a mature dog who requires less time to settle in is certainly easier than training a puppy, and you have the added advantage of meeting their “adult” personality at the very beginning of your relationship. Becoming a senior pet parent is likely to lower your blood pressure and anxiety, but, in this case, without the added worry of chewed up furniture or potty training!

This November we are celebrating the advantages of adopting our mature dogs during Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month, and even at 8-years young, Hershey qualifies as what we refer to as a Red Collar Pet (think Red Hat Society!). This means that her adopters receive special benefits from Animal Friends. Additionally, if Hershey’s adopters are also mature (aged 60+) their adoption donation will be subsidized by Animal Friends Golden Age Retrievers Program. 

Hershey is up to date on all of her vaccinations, is microchipped and spayed. If you would like to share your home with a dog as sweet as Hershey, please stop in to Animal Friends today!

Happy Thanksgiving from Animal Friends!

With the holiday season quickly approaching, the dogs, cats and rabbits at Animal Friends are getting excited for Thanksgiving! We encourage you to include your pets at home to join in the festivities, but what's most important is keeping them safe and healthy. Here are some helpful tips from the experts at the ASPCA to help your pets enjoy a safe Thanksgiving!

Talkin’ Turkey
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don't offer them raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delicous, but just like many other herbs, it can contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal problems and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

Bread Dough-n't
Don't spoil your pet's holiday by giving them raw bread dough. According to the ASPCA, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in their stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become life-threatening and require surgery.

There's Not Always Room for Cake 
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs – they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don't allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with an upset stomach, diarrhea or even worse – pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best to keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner – perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy – inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for a while, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

We hope you and your pets have a very happy Thanksgiving! Take it easy on the turkey and please, be tasteful with the pilgrim costumes.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Adopt a Senior Pet Month: Snowball

With her unique appearance and gentle spirit, Snowball is a favorite among staff and volunteers here at Animal Friends. Snowball relishes in the attention from her adoring fans, hoping one of them will give her a home.

The future was uncertain for Snowball when she came to Animal Friends almost a year ago. When the children in her family developed allergies, Snowball and her sisters, Brownie and Shadow, came to Animal Friends for a second chance at a forever home. The three Lionhead rabbits quickly charmed their way into the hearts of many. Little did Snowball know, she would pioneer new programs at the shelter!

It was Snowball’s relaxed, quiet and mild-mannered nature that made her a perfect candidate to be Animal Friends’ very first Therapets rabbit.

Animal Friends’ Therapets program sends experienced volunteer teams to hospitals, nursing homes, residential treatment facilities, schools and libraries throughout Allegheny and Beaver Counties. On a recent Therapets trip to South Park Library, Snowball was calm and polite while children took turns petting her. She thrilled library patrons with her temperament and adorable looks.

Come speak with our Adoptions Team today and see how adopting a senior bunny can bring so much joy to your life.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Adopt a Senior Pet Month: Izzy and Jellybean!

Guest Blogger: Beth Mauder, Adoption Counselor

I’ve always been a fan of the underdog and senior cats certainly fall into this category. 

There is something about a round chubby black cat that just makes me smile. If you are looking for someone to keep you company as the snow falls in front of your window, come in and meet the mellow lap cats Izzy and Jellybean.

Izzy is nine years old and has the best purr in the world. She sounds like a pigeon cooing in the park. 

Until recently Jellybean was residing in a cage where she acquired many fans among the dog walkers who she greeted cheerfully every day.  She recently moved into a staff member’s office where she is receiving visitors and enjoying lounging on a desk. 

Both ladies would love to be only pets and the center of someone’s world. If you have never adopted a senior pet, stop in and meet some of ours! They still have lots of love to give and we are sure you will fall in love after just a few minutes with these wonderful cats.

Mondays with Myrtle - The first in an occasional series

Today, we introduce you to Myrtle. We wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look of an animals journey, start to finish.

Myrtle began her journey with Animal Friends on Oct. 11, 2014. She was transferred from another animal welfare agency.

Myrtle is estimated to be about 11-1/2-years old. For the first eight years of her life, Myrtle lived with her owner in an apartment.  

When Myrtle was about 8-years-old, her owner had to move in with her sister and left Myrtle alone. Once a week or so, she would stop in and provide food for Myrtle. This was the only human interaction Myrtle had for three years. The apartment was not heated or air-conditioned, there was no litter box and the only available water was from the toilet.  

Myrtle was severely matted when she was rescued, but acted in a friendly manner to her rescuers. Unfortunately, the veterinary care she required was uncomfortable and her behavior turned to distrust of humans. However,
resolution of her medical issues (such as hyperthyroidism and a urinary tract infection) may bring about a change for the better in Myrtle’s behaviors.

Prior to her admission, Myrtle lived in a foster home. Her foster mom stated that Myrtle would only eat food every other day. We think this stems from the rationing of food she was forced to use in her prior living situation. She overcame this and continues to eat well at Animal Friends.  

Myrtle is completely deaf and has some significant visual impairment so our Behavior Team is taking this into account while planning activities and enrichment games.  

Myrtle’s behavior change project will begin with trust and confidence building and will use a high-value reinforcement (we discovered she LOVES tuna!).  

Trainers will reward any desirable behaviors: eye blinks, ear movements, paw movements that are not swatting and changes in body position. Handing out some tuna when she exhibits these actions will reinforce them and help Myrtle learn that humans are here to help.

Myrtle is just one animal, of thousands, that has come through our doors with behavior and health issues. Because of our dedicated and talented staff, she has made progress already in her very short time at Animal Friends.

Please stay tuned and keep up with Myrtle's progress, hopefully sooner rather than later she'll be another happy tale in Animal Friends' book.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Adopt A Senior Pet Month: Why Adopt a Senior Pet?

Guest Blogger: Debbie Viducich

Having volunteered with various animal welfare organizations over the years, I am all too familiar with the incessant problems that plague those of us in animal rescue.   It was no different at the small, humane society in West Virginia where I was a volunteer and a member of the Board of Directors. 

In the spring of 2004, the shelter, in typical fashion, housed several cats and kittens awaiting adoption.  One of these cats, a huge, male Siamese mix with the most beautiful blue eyes, resided in a small kitchen that connected the dog and cat kennel areas.  His name was Bubby and he was 13-years-old.   


Through no fault of his own, Bubby had been a member of various households over the years. When he should have been living out his golden years in a nice home, he instead resided at a small shelter where, due to his advanced age, the odds of him finding a forever home were not favorable.  Did I mention he also had an eye infection that would result in the surgical removal of that eye?  For a senior, one-eyed cat, the chances of a forever home were slim.

My family and I, which at the time consisted of two adults, two young daughters, two dogs and two other cats, adopted Bubby, making him a permanent member of our family.  We had eight absolutely wonderful years with Bubby, before he passed away peacefully at the ripe old age of twenty-one years. He was quite possibly the most loving and laid-back cat we have ever known.  While some may lament that our time with him was relatively short, we were extremely grateful to have had those eight years.  

When we moved back to Pittsburgh, we adopted a senior Cocker Spaniel, named Fluffy, that had entered Animal Friends as a stray.   At the time, Animal Friends was in the process of moving from its location on Penn Avenue to its current location.  To ease her transition to the new facility, our family took her home, as a medical foster Shortly afterwards she too became a permanent member of our household.  

Fluffy with Debbie's daughters


Calvin, a now 14 ½- year-old Chihuahua joined our family 18 months ago. Just this week, we adopted Patches, now known as Cleo, a 13-year-old Toy Poodle mix.

Cleo - Photo by: Linda Mitzel

This is just the beginning of our desire to adopt senior pets.  My family’s philosophy is this:  we would rather have a few short years with our beloved animal companions than no years at all.   We like to think of our seniors as wise and gentle souls, not to be pitied but to be nurtured and loved for whatever time they have left on this earth.  

They give us so much more than we could ever give them, for they provide us their unwavering love and devotion in exchange for a gentle touch, a kind word, consistent meals, and a warm bed to lay their tired bodies.   As I write this, my fervent wish is that more people would consider opening their hearts and homes to senior animals. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Adopt A Senior Pet Month: Mahayla

Mahayla can seem like a dubious little kitty. She is shy and hides at first, but after some warming up she is truly loving and affectionate. She has never been around children and tends to hide when near them. Even so, she is used to a quiet yet occasionally noisy environment. 

When she trusts and knows you, she becomes very loving and enjoys spending time with you. She likes to lay on your lap, cuddle and sleep with you at night, and will follow you wherever you may go!

She is truly a lover of the peace and quiet. She is best for someone who is calm and nurturing. If this sounds like you, or the type of kitty you want to hang around with, come in and meet with Mahayla today!

 Animal Friends is celebrating Adopt a Senior Pet month all November long by highlighting some of our great senior pets!  Senior animals make wonderful companions.  A warm spot on the couch next to you and love is all they ask for.  If leisurely walks and afternoon naps are your thing, come visit any one of our senior pets today!