Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Best Gift of All

Tips for Giving a Shelter Animal a Home for the Holidays

The holidays are a great time of year for many reasons. Visiting with friends and family, time off of work and school and, of course, those shiny packages wrapped up with colorful bows! It’s also the perfect time of year to give a home to a shelter pet because you and your family will be spending more time at home with the newest addition to your family.

When bringing your new pet home, you’ll want to make the transition as pleasant and stress-free as possible. Whether you’re considering adding a cat, dog or rabbit to your family, keep these helpful tips in mind.


If you’re adopting a cat, the first recommendation each of our Adoption Counselors will make is to separate your cat in one room of your home until they’re acclimated to their new environment. This should be the smallest room in your home with the least amount of clutter. Cats can be overwhelmed easily, so it’s best to take your time building a relationship. Spend some time in the room with your new cat each and every day. When he or she greets you at the door and is no longer hiding, it’s probably time for more space and freedom!


Dogs are a constant source of fun and entertainment, but you’ll need to take steps to keep your new canine family member (and your house!) out of trouble. Your dog will need a dog-proof space to rest and chew appropriate items when you’re not around – a crate or small room is ideal. From day one, start teaching your pooch the rules of the house through positive reinforcement. Eventually, he’ll learn to be trustworthy in your absence and will excel at following the rules of his new home.


Bringing home a rabbit is a wonderful experience. Rabbits are social creatures who want companionship just as much as you do. Using an exercise pen is the best option as opposed to a cage or hutch because it gives you the option of making your rabbit’s area any size you’d like. A rabbit’s area should be at least four times the length of the rabbit or large enough for him or her to stretch out comfortably – while fitting a litterbox and food and water bowls.

Follow these tips and you and your new family will be well on your way to happily ever after. Patience is the key to building a strong relationship with your pet, it’s always better to take your time and be sure than to rush it!

We know that the greatest gift you can give to a shelter pet is a home. To make this wish come true for as many of our residents as possible this holiday season, we’re offering priceless* adoptions for each cat, dog and rabbit at Animal Friends through Dec. 31 thanks to the entire Fragasso family. Come to Animal Friends or click here to get started now!

*Standard adoption application procedures apply.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

"Almost" Doesn't Count

Two silken-coated puppies run circles around their foster family’s yard. The cocoa-colored blurs of bouncing ears and wagging tails were chasing a windblown leaf. After they lost interest, they pounced on each other and tumbled into a heap of playful yips and barks. Their antics constantly gave their foster parents a chuckle and – without a doubt – were the very definition of endearing.
Born in foster care just days before Christmas, these adorable pups were aptly named Hope and Cheer.
One look into their trusting eyes and you’d never guess that they almost didn’t survive ...
An anonymous tip about a house with too many animals led us there. No matter how many times our Humane Police Officers see these situations – it never gets easier.
With a search warrant and back-up from local police, our officers entered the residence. What they saw was truly heartbreaking.
Dozens of severely matted dogs and puppies were covered in feces. They were sleeping in drawers, hiding in closets and under beds. Some of the dogs swarmed the officers’ feet. Others ran away terrified. Some weren’t moving at all.
Instead of toys and leashes there were stacks of trash, stained carpets and empty food bowls. These dogs needed help – and fast.
We quickly filled crate after crate. Vehicle after vehicle.
After they were all safely removed, one last sweep of the house found more evidence to turn the situation from tragic to cruel.
The dogs – purebred Yorkshire Terriers – were never intended to be members of this family. They were simply a means for their owner to make an income. Bred and sold for cash.
But now, 27 dogs and two cats were on their way to get the help they so desperately needed. They were on their way to a fresh start. They were on their way to Animal Friends.
Word spread quickly that a big rescue was underfoot. Eager staff and volunteers came from every corner of the building to lend a hand.
You see, our kennels are always filled to capacity with homeless animals. So, we had to creatively make space for our emergency arrivals.
Temporary kennels were set up. Volunteer foster families were readied. We even equipped our Outreach Center as a triage area to provide medical care as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Medications were administered for the infections that plagued their tiny bodies. The mats that entombed them were sheared off. And the anxious cries that echoed throughout the building were met with words of comfort. Little did we know that this rescue alone would cost $70,000 – on top of our daily demands.

As the excitement died down, the dogs settled into their kennels. Those who needed around-the-clock attention were placed into foster homes. Including a pregnant mom, Betsy, so she could safely give birth to small litter of puppies.
Hope and Cheer were almost born into a world of neglect and mistreatment. They almost didn’t receive enough care or human interaction to survive.
But luckily for them ... almost doesn’t count.
In foster care their personalities blossomed. Cheer became the little rebel. And, Hope was deemed the angel. Wherever foster mom went, Hope could be found padding along behind her peering up with soft, brown eyes.
And, by the time they came back to Animal Friends they knew how to walk on leashes and sit for treats. They knew how to love and be loved. And soon, they found their adoptive homes where they would become beloved members of the family.
At Animal Friends, our residents' pasts are filled with a lot of “almosts.” Almost starved. Almost left for dead. Almost didn’t survive. Almost.
We never want to see these almosts become realities. And because of you they never will.
Because of you, lifesaving rescues like this one are possible.
Because of you, spay and neuter is affordable and accessible so fewer pets end up unwanted or abused. Because of you, each year at Animal Friends 2,500 animals are given much-needed behavioral and holistic care.
Because of you, animals in crisis – like Hope and Cheer – are given another chance. But there are still other pets who need you to turn their almosts into happy endings.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Animal Friends' Annual Straw Drop: Free Straw for Outdoor Pets and Feral Cats

To prepare for falling temperatures, we're hosting our annual Straw Drop. Free bags of straw are offered to anyone who owns or cares for outdoor animals – including feral and community cats.

While Animal Friends encourages pet owners to make pets part of the family and keep them inside the home, we recognize that this is not always possible. Animal Friends urges those caretakers to obey the law by ensuring that outdoor animals have access to proper food and warm, dry shelters. Blankets, towels and pillows can retain moisture and freeze, which is why straw is the best insulation against the cold and wet weather conditions.

In addition to keeping outdoor animals’ living spaces insulated, there are other best practices pet owners should abide by, including:

• Using a car mat or rug as a flap over a doghouse door to keep the inside free of wind, snow and rain.
• Examining shelters carefully – and often – to ensure that there are no cracks or holes that will prevent the structure from keeping the animal safe.
• Taking extra care to provide adequate amounts of drinkable water and food at all times during freezing temperatures.
• Inspecting your pet's paws, ears and tail frequently for signs of frostbite – a very common occurrence. If you suspect frostbite, your pet will need to see a veterinarian immediately.
• Monitoring your dog's tether to ensure it is not frozen to the ground or tangled. A tangled, too-short chain can cost your pet his or her life in bad weather.

Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horne Rd. in the North Hills – just a half of a mile west of Exit 8 off of Interstate 279. 

Free bags of straw can be picked up at Animal Friends seven days a week. On a limited basis, straw delivery may be available for those without transportation. 

For more information, call Animal Friends at 412.847.7000 or visit

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holiday Pet Hazards: Keep Your Pets Safe This Season

By the staff at Petagogy
‘Tis the season for decorations, parties and food galore! It is a festive time with lots to smile about, but as you prepare your home for your holiday festivities keep in mind some simple safety measures to help keep your four-legged family members safe.

Christmas Trees and Holiday Plants
Cats and dogs may be (very) interested in the tree, and why not—it’s a little bit of the outdoors inside on those cold winter days. If your furry family member is interested in the pine tree in the corner make sure it is secured. A hefty cat on a branch or an excited jump by a pooch could topple the tree on to more than just the neatly wrapped boxes underneath. Also keep holiday plants off the ground as many seasonal plants, including holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, lilies, as well as Christmas tree water, can be toxic if ingested by your pets.

Be mindful of low hanging decorations. Jingle bells, tinsel, lights and ribbon might look like toys to your pets. A gentle swat with a paw could lead to chewing and swallowing, which could lead to an emergency trip to the vet.

Holiday Feasts
A highlight of the holiday season is the food. Serving sweets to your guests? Keep them up high out of your pooch’s reach. Chocolate and artificial sweetener (xylitol) are very bad for your pet. Although a few bites of plain turkey or vegetables are fine, the spices, sauces and butter used to make the turkey and sides delicious for your guests are not, so keep leftovers out of the dog bowl and encourage guests not to feed pets from their plate. No turkey or ham bones either—once the bones have been cooked they pose a serious hazard for your pets. Raw, uncooked bones are often safe, but when they are cooked they become hard and can crack, splinter or be come lodged in the throat. Still want to give your pet a holiday treat? Some high-quality food companies make special foods that you can give your pets around the holidays—try Merrick’s Venison Holiday Stew or Christmas Day Dinner for your pup. 

Holiday Guests
Family and friends may be coming to visit over the holidays or perhaps you are planning a holiday party. Guests may enjoy a holiday libation and can become lax about making sure doors and gates are closed, or may leave their adult beverage within your pet’s reach--both can be dangerous to your furry friends. In situations where your guests may not be pet savvy or they may not make the “best” decisions, it might be best to board your pet, or keep them separated in another room for the evening. Also make sure they are wearing current ID tags and are micro-chipped in case they escape during the flow of guests in and out of your house.

Gifts for Your Pet
People love to spoil other people’s pets and may want to buy something tasty for your furkids. Be cautious; not everyone reads FDA warnings and may be unaware that certain chicken jerky and other treats made in China have been making pets sick. If you don’t trust the brand or know where the ingredients are sourced from, be gracious but don’t risk giving it to your pet just to be polite to the gift-giver. I promise your pet won’t rat you out.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Why #GivingTuesday is Better Than Black Friday

Taking place after popular shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season and encourages you to give.

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, here are the top 10 reasons why #GivingTuesday is better than Black Friday!
10. #GivingTuesday is much safer than Black Friday! You won't have to wait in long lines with freezing temperatures only to be trampled by your fellow shoppers looking for the best deal on a flat-screen TV!

9. 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.

8. You can participate from the warmth and comfort of your home, so keep those PJs on!

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

6. You don’t have to break the bank to make a donation, even the smallest gift can have an amazing impact!

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

4. Giving a gift on #GivingTuesday takes only a few seconds. You could spend hours standing in Black Friday lines!

3. Giving to charity gives you serious karma points.

2. Lower your tax bill with these charitable contributions!

1. Most importantly, your gift will make a difference in the lives of our region's homeless pets right now. What's even better ... if you donate $100 or more today, you'll receive a limited edition keepsake ornament to show your support of Animal Friends for years to come!

Head over to to join us and kick off the holiday season on a positive note. And remember, each and every dollar will help more animals in need!

Volunteer Spreads Cheer on the Chow Wagon

By Rachel Martone
Chow Wagon Volunteer Jim Stocker loads his van full of donated pet food to deliver to food pantries with the help of his dog, an Animal Friends alumni!
Since 2007, Animal Friends’ Chow Wagon program has delivered donated pet food to local food pantries. It started with just one pantry nine years ago. Since then, it has grown to serve 29 pantries and two Meals on Wheels programs! Each month, thousands of pounds of pet food are delivered to food pantries around the greater Pittsburgh area. This service is only possible with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers. Perhaps no volunteer better demonstrates this dedication than Jim Stocker.

Jim is from the South Hills and has been volunteering at Animal Friends for almost five years. As the Chow Wagon program expanded to serve more food pantries, he happily stepped in to lend a hand. Though he started out as substitute delivery driver, Jim has increased the number of locations to which he regularly delivers. Now he is able to deliver to not one, not two, but three food pantries!  

In addition to making regular deliveries, Jim also picks up Petco Foundation pet supply donations from multiple Petco stores. Whenever the donation bin at the store is full, Jim is there to deliver it to Animal Friends.

We at Animal Friends are grateful to all of our wonderful volunteers, like Jim, who are committed to improving the lives of all pets. If you’d like to help with our Chow Wagon program, contact Rachel at for more information.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Home to Home Adoption Program: Sushi and Pop Tart

Pop Tart and Sushi aren't related, but are just as close as a mother and daughter. Sushi took Pop Tart under her wing when she was just a kitten and the two have been together since. Because they are so close, they would love to find a loving new home together!

Pop Tart is a gorgeous tabby who is about 8 years old. She was adopted as a stray by Sushi and her family when she was just a kitten. She is a little shy but absolutely adores attention once she gets to know you. This kitty is a mile-a-minute and loves to chase anything, especially a laser pointer! Pop Tart has never been a big fan of dogs and would be happiest in a home where she won't have any canine brothers or sisters. This sweet girl isn't much of a lap cat, but every once in a while will jump up onto the lap of her favorite person ... those are the moments her family will treasure!

Sushi is about 10 years old and is a total sweetheart! She is as pleasant as any cat you'll meet and quickly becomes a curious and outgoing girl when meeting new people. While her friend Pop Tart prefers a dog-free home, Sushi doesn't mind canine companions. Sushi has a very nurturing, motherly personality and takes the lead when she and Pop Tart are together. This girl loves her cat nip and enjoys spending time as a lap cat as long as it's on her terms!

If you can give these sweet girls a loving home, please contact Charles at 412.600.6603 or

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pets for Vets Pittsburgh: Our First Match!

We are thrilled to share Don and Louie's story as the very first match through Animal Friends as the official Pittsburgh Chapter of Pets for Vets!
With an enormous smile on his face, Retired Army Sergeant Donald Borland greeted Louie, a 2-year-old Jack Russell Terrier for the first time. Louie returned the sentiment with a wag of his tail, not knowing how much this moment meant to Don.

It all started about 7 months before their match day. Don, a lifelong dog lover, was looking online at some of the adoptable dogs at various animal rescues and shelters in our region when he came across the Pets for Vets Pittsburgh Chapter at Animal Friends. He immediately picked up the phone and took the first steps that would help bring him and his new best friend together.

Pets for Vets is a national organization that supports veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury by matching them with companion animals that have been carefully selected for them based on their lifestyle, personality and specific needs. While Don, a decorated combat veteran of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, would give Louie a loving home, Louie would give Don something just as important –the unconditional love and companionship only a pet can provide.

Louie is a sweet and outgoing little guy who loves just about everyone he meets. Don will tell you he’s quite the ladies’ man! These two became instant best friends after they met when it quickly became clear that Louie had found his family and Don had found the perfect sidekick.

The amazing bond that Don and Louie share is no coincidence. It isn’t the result of luck or chance either. It’s thanks to the skill, commitment and love of certified Pets for Vets trainer, Debi Meehan. Debi met Louie after he had been rescued from a high-kill shelter and placed into a foster home. After evaluating him, she knew that he would be a good match for the program and, more importantly for Don. Once Louie had been identified as a match for Don, he began a 6-week “boot camp” with Debi in her home where she taught him skills and behaviors personalized to Don’s needs.

After his match day, Don presented Debi with a Military Challenge Coin as a thank you. Don was given the coin by his General following Iraqi Freedom – he had been holding onto it to give it to someone who deserved it. Not only did Don find a new companion in Louie with the help of Pets for Vets and Animal Friends, he made what he calls a lifelong friend in Debi. When we asked Don about the program and what he’d want to tell other veterans about it, his words were short, sweet and to the point, “simply awesome.”

Don and Louie are the first of what are sure to be many successful matches made through the Pets for Vets Pittsburgh Chapter at Animal Friends, but to connect more vets with pets, we need trainers! If you’re interested in becoming a Pets for Vets trainer who can help us tell more Happy Tails like Don and Louie’s, contact Lauren Leffakis, Director of Placement Services at
or 412.847.7097. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Positive Thinking

Animal Friends is committed to doing everything possible to find loving homes for each and every dog, cat and rabbit that comes through our doors. This means making every effort to provide individualized care that certain animals may need while showcasing what makes each of them unique.

Among the most unique residents at Animal Friends are the cats that have feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Cats with FIV cope with a slightly weakened immune system and because of this, can be more susceptible to certain illnesses and infections—many of which are very treatable. Although these cats require a little more care from time to time, they’re just like any other cat; they simply need some extra help finding a good home.

Here’s a letter that was written by Carol, a cat lover who has adopted numerous FIV cats from Animal Friends over the years.

“Sadly, in April and May of this year I lost two dear friends, Andy and Sully. They had lived long, relatively healthy lives, which was especially wonderful because they were each affected with FIV. After Andy and Sully had passed away, I found myself with my one remaining cat, Little Bear, who also has FIV. Since he is a very social cat, I was worried about Little Bear being alone. Fortunately, the Saturday after we said goodbye to Sully was a gloomy, rainy day – perfect for finding a new feline companion to adopt. I visited Animal Friends and met with two adoption counselors and let them know that I was looking for another FIV cat that would get along with Little Bear. We spent some time getting to know some of the cats in the free-roam room where the FIV+ residents live and I fell in love with a pretty black and tan tabby. I adopted her and she is now known as Desi.
“For Little Bear and me, good fortune had struck. Not only has Desi’s integration into our home been seamless, but she and Little Bear have quickly become best friends. To Little Bear, the best bed is one with another cat in it and lucky for him, she has the same sentiment. Now, Desi livens up my days with her beautiful soprano voice, chirping and trilling when she has something to say. She’s fascinated by TV, and like me, enjoys binge-watching sci-fi shows. As I write this, Little Bear is snoozing on the desk and Desi is inspecting my office supplies – yes, as a matter of fact, I do store my pens on the floor.
“So why do I adopt cats who have FIV? Because for the most part they’re perfectly normal cats and with proper care, they can lead happy, healthy lives. These cats are often overlooked by adopters, because of health concerns. But I’ve learned from working with them (and adopting four of my own) that outwardly, FIV+ cats are really no different than any other cat – and they have just as much love (maybe even more!) to give.”

Right now, there are more than a dozen sweet and wonderful cats with FIV waiting at Animal Friends for the right family to come and scoop them up. While they cannot go to homes with other cats who are not FIV+ because of the possible risk of spreading the virus, there is no risk of them transmitting it to humans or other pets. If you have the right type of home for one of these special cats and have plenty of room in your heart, go to or stop by Animal Friends to learn more about how you change the life of an animal that needs it the most.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Home-to-Home Adoption Program: Aoife

Aoife turned up a few months ago on the porch of some Good Samaritans. They immediately took her to be spayed before bringing her back to their home. Once she was returned to the porch where they had found her, she took off only to reappear with four very tiny kittens. It seemed that Aoife knew she had found a safe place for them to stay. After fostering the entire family, Aoife's guardian angels found new homes for the four kittens.
Aoife's name is Gaelic for "Eve" and is pronounced "Ee'-fa." She is a very petite cat with white, gray and brown tabby markings. She has been spayed, microchipped and received all of her vaccinations. She has also tested negative for FIV and FeLeuk. According to the family's veterinarian, Aoife is likely less than a year old.
This little lady has a very sweet disposition and is very friendly and social. She is quiet, playful, likes being petted and brushed and always stays close to her human family members. She has been kept indoors for the majority of the time since she was found and would love to remain and indoor-only cat. Aoife gets along well with her housemate cats, but wouldn't mind going to a home where she would be the only feline.
If you're looking for a wonderful young cat who would make a fantastic companion, please contact to learn more about this very special girl.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Home-to-Home Adoption Program: Doyle

Doyle is a sweet little mutt who has been with the same family for the past 12 years since being adopted from a shelter. Unfortunately, due to a change in lifestyle for his family, they are in search of a loving new family that will welcome Doyle with open arms.

This Chow/Lab/Beagle mix is about 50 pounds and has a whole lot of love to give. He's very well behaved around children and adults alike. Doyle is never happier than when he's getting a nice belly rub or laying at your feet basking in the sun.

Doyle is alright to hold down the fort while you're away and is perfectly content to lay and listen to the radio. He also doubles as a great watch dog, barking when someone comes to the door but instantly becoming their best friend once they're inside.

If you think that Doyle would be a good companion for you, contact his current family. This lovable little guy comes complete with his own "Doyle" bed to help him feel at home right away.

Mary Ellen


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

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.  

Monday, October 24, 2016

Home-to-Home Adoption Program: Phoenix

Phoenix is an affectionate 5-year-old tabby. He found his way to his current home as a temporary foster, but is looking for a permanent residence where he can settle in!
This boy enjoys the simple things in life ... a good lap to snuggle on and a nice person to give him lots of loving pets. Phoenix likes to be in the same room as the people in his house, even if he's high up on a shelf or hidden under the sofa!
Phoenix has been an indoor cat his entire life and he's planning to keep it that way! He tolerates children very well and has impeccable litterbox etiquette. He is neutered, tested for FeLV and is up-to-date on all of his vaccinations. This inquisitive kitty loves to chase toys and is easily distracted with a laser pointer!
To this point, Phoenix has been living nicely in a foster home, but needs to find a long-term home that is more suitable to his needs (his kitty roommate isn't his biggest fan). In his perfect world, this sweet boy would just like to find a home with a warm lap and plenty of attention to go around!
If you think that you're the one who can make Phoenix's wish come true, contact Katherine at

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Home-to-Home Adoption Program: Brody and Sugar Rae

Brody and Sugar Rae have been best buddies since they were puppies and are in search of a family that has room in their home for two lovable pooches.

Sugar Rae is a big sweetheart who will quickly become your shadow, following you everywhere you go. She is the perfect mix of sweet and sassy who isn't afraid to voice her opinions. If you let her in on the conversation, she'll happily talk your ear off! This affectionate girl also loves to play fetch with tennis balls and adores a nice long walk.

Brody is the gentler of the two. This sweet boy is a big baby who couldn't be friendlier! He loves kids and would love to have children to keep him busy with plenty of playtime. Much like his sister, Brody could spend hours playing ball outside and going for walks.

If you think this dynamic duo would be a good fit for your home, contact Michelle at 412.722.7370 or

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It's Hip to Be Tipped

In honor of National Feral Cat Day Animal Friends will be hosting It's Hip to Be Tipped, an educational event for colony caregivers and those who want to learn more about community cats.

Animal Friends' Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Department is working to help the community manage community cat populations (can include feral, stray and barn cats) by practicing Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return (TNVR).

We know we can peacefully coexist with community cats so we wanted to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about them.

Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return FAQs

What is an ear tip?

Ear tips are a means for identifying spayed/neutered community cat from a distance. During surgery, the top o one ear is tipped (commonly the left ear, but sometimes the right instead).

What is the difference between feral and stray cats?

Feral cats are the same species as your average house cat, but they have been raised without human contact. These cats still rely on human caretakers to offer proper food and shelter, but do not want to interact with people. Feral cats cannot be made into house cats and are happiest outside. Stray cats are typically cats that belonged to someone, but were either lost or abandoned. These cats may be very friendly or warm up to people slowly, and in some cases can be brought into the home as a pet.

What is TNVR?

TNVR stands for Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return. It is a means of humanely controlling cat populations. Community cats are trapped using humane box traps, spayed/neutered and ear-tipped by a vet, then returned to where they were caught for continued care by a colony caretaker.


Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return is the most humane way to deal with the problem of cat overpopulation. Euthanizing feral cat populations is not only inhumane but also ineffective.

Come to It's Hip to Be Tipped on Fri., Oct. 14 to learn how to make a feral cat house, speak with an expert, learn about Animal Friends’ services for community cats and have the first opportunity to make an appointment for our free spay/neuter clinic! You’ll also meet some adoptable kitties that were once part of a community cat colony. And, you won’t want to miss the launch of a new program for colony caregivers. A limited supply of free cat food and straw will be available.
Please RSVP to

Monday, October 10, 2016

Top 10 Reasons to Do the Muttster Mash!
At Animal Friends, we're so excited to be counting down to the spookiest day of the year. To help you get into the spirit we're throwing a Howl-o-ween celebration you and your pup will be sure to enjoy ... the Muttster Mash! In case you're not sure if it's right for you, here are the top 10 reasons to lace up your sneakers, find the perfect costume for your furry buddy and meet us on Oct. 16 in South Park for the Muttster Mash!

10. Pack Leaders

This year we have not one, not two, but three incredible pack leaders! Ashley Dougherty from WTAE will be starting off the 5k while her colleague Ray Petelin joins WISH 99.7 FM's Cris Winter to lead the way for the Hike for Hounds.

9. Tricks and Treats

We're going to rely on you and your pooch for the tricks, but we'll have lots of hauntingly good treats to offer in our vendor village and food truck alley.

8. Fall is Here!

The crisp autumn air is just around the corner and there's no better way to enjoy the last few warm days of the season than to spend some time outside with your best buddy.

7. Meet Adoptable Pets

Thinking about adding a new member to your family? We'll be joined at the event by some of our very own adoptable pets who would love to meet you.

6. Too Cute to Spook Costume Contest

Now is your chance to show off your pup's style! Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes including the most hair-raising, funniest and best owner/dog combo just to name a few!

5. 5k Run

The Muttster Mash will feature a 5k for the fitness nut in you. We ask that dogs sit out the run, but bringing a friend and your pooch to root you on from the sidelines is strongly encouraged. Who couldn't use their very own pep squad?!

4. Hike for Hounds

If a 5k isn't quite your pace, the one-mile Hike for Hounds is the perfect alternative. Enjoy a leisurely walk with your pup and plenty of other dog lovers and their four-legged friends.

3. Bobbing for ... Hot Dogs?

While this might not sound like the most appetizing activity for people, you can be sure that it will be a big crowd-pleaser with the dogs! Your pooch will also have a chance to unstuff a scarecrow and participate in the pumpkin roll.

2. Halloween Comes Early

Just because Halloween hasn't officially arrived yet, doesn't mean you can't get in on the fun a little early with the Muttster Mash – we know it'll be a boneyard smash!

1. Support Animal Friends

With all the fun and festivities going on, you might forget that every dollar raised at the Muttster Mash benefits the dogs, cats and rabbits at Animal Friends! Don't just register yourself, ask your friends and family to support the cause ... every dollar counts!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Building Hope for Struggling Pet Owners

 By David Swisher, President & CEO, Animal Friends

If you’ve been to the Animal Friends campus lately, you have undoubtedly noticed there is something new and exciting going on. (Perhaps the cranes, dump trucks and bulldozers gave it away!) Construction on our new Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center has been underway since February – and is nearly complete. 

The Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center, with a grand opening of July 15, is designed to become a life-changing and life-saving destination for hundreds of thousands of animals – and the people who love them. It is the embodiment of our commitment to do better for the pets who are struggling most in our region. 

All too often we see pets relinquished to Animal Friends simply because their owners couldn’t afford basic vet care or food. We receive call after call about stray and feral cats who are relegated to a life on the streets fending for themselves and continually adding to the pet overpopulation problem. Or sadly, our Humane Police Officers are called to rescue pets who have become victims of neglect and abandonment because the pet’s owner didn’t know where to turn for help.

We believe affordable and accessible resources are the solution. And, that’s just what our new Animal Wellness Center will provide. 

With this progressive 18,400 sq. ft. facility, we will be able to increase our commitment to affordable spay/neuter from 10,000 surgeries each year to 15,000 surgeries. We will reach into underserved communities to provide spay/neuter and wellness services along with education and, when needed, transport to our clinic. Our heavily demanded Chow Wagon Pet Food Bank will benefit from a storage and drop-off/pick-up area to ensure donated food is quickly distributed to the regional food pantries where it is needed most. And our Humane Investigations Department will have the space they so desperately need for evidence storage, case management and review and animal holding spaces.  

The discounted services we will offer, targeting those with greatest financial need, are not intended to undercut private veterinary business in our region. Rather it is our intent to complement private clinics supporting those who may not be able to afford care any other way and referring clients to full service veterinary clinics for a proper continuum of care.

The grand opening of our Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center is fast approaching!

Every day brings more progress and the realization that in just a few short days we will be affecting the lives of so many more pets and pet owners in this region. The services and resources of the Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center will certainly allow us to deliver on our commitment to keep pets in their homes – healthy and supported – where they belong.

Visit or call us at 412.847.7000 to learn more about the Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center or to find out how you can get involved.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Andy Warhol Inspired Enrichment Trail

This month, our shelter residents unleashed their inner art enthusiasts with an Andy Warhol inspired enrichment trail. Not everyone had an eye (or nose) for the fine art on the trail, but the enrichment activities were a great way to expose our shelter pets to new experiences and to help them get some much-needed exercise for their brains!

The enrichment trail’s pop art flowers, based on the famous and playful Warhol silk screens, were scented with a variety of fresh herbs. Amber (left) and Gobi (right) got right to work sniffing the new scents.

First exhibited over 50 years ago, Warhol’s Brillo Soap Box sculpture was puzzling to those in the art world. Tatum checked out the mystery sniffing boxes filled with unique scents.

The Triple Elvis is a visual stimulation in the museum or on the enrichment trail!  Famous for turning celebrities into art, Warhol’s Triple Elvis sold for $80 million. Leiland did not find this Triple Elvis to be quite as valuable!

As Andy Warhol said, "art is anything you can get away with." Since the highlight of our monthly enrichment trail is always the famous cheese tree, we decided to take this advice to heart. Needless to say, Tatum was very appreciative!
The original Silver Clouds installation was an interactive collaboration between Andy Warhol and engineer Billy KlΓΌver. For Amber, the silver balloons were a visually stimulating and unexpected sight on a familiar trail.
Enrichment is much more than fun and games, it's the perfect opportunity to help stimulate your pet's brain and a great way to help reduce undesirable behaviors. By giving them some exercise for their body and mind, your dog, cat or rabbit will have less stress and more fun. Click here for some great enrichment ideas you can try at home!