Friday, April 28, 2017

Filling Voids and Offering Safety Nets

Everyone finds themselves in a pinch now and then. Sometimes that pinch feels a lot more like a vice clamping down on your ability to keep heat on in the house or even to put food on the table – or in your pet’s bowl.
That’s the core reason we’re so excited about our new Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center. Opening in July 2017, the center will offer an expanded array of low-cost supportive services including spay/neuter, vaccines, basic treatments like flea prevention. And it will allow our Chow Wagon Pet Food Bank to expand and serve more hungry pets in our region.

Our new Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center isn’t meant to add competition in the veterinary community. We are simply filling a void. Meeting an unmet need. Our experience and hands-on work in our local communities has made it abundantly clear that there are still too many limited-income pet owners who cannot afford care for their pets. And it’s the pets who are suffering.

We see them at our low-cost clinics grateful for basic care that will stop the itch, the pain or simply keep them healthy.

We see them surrendered to shelters when their owners can no longer afford them and feel they are out of options.

We see them as stray cats fending for themselves on the streets unable to stop the endless cycle of unwanted kittens.

We see them through the exhausted eyes of those struggling to make ends meet at rural shelters and rescue groups who are drowning in the cost of medical care.

At Animal Friends we know we can do better. And with the Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center – and the support of the community – we will.

So whether you are eagerly anticipating our July opening so you can use our expanded low-cost services or you simply want to support a vision that ensures all pets have access to basic care, we encourage you to spread the word about our new Center. And, if you are able, please consider a contribution.

Because as long as there are pets who are unwanted, hungry, sick or simply need a safety net, we know our work is not done.

Visit to donate!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Home to Home Adoption Program: Rally and Uno

Rally and Uno were taken in by a Good Samaritan out of the kindness of her heart. Now, she wants to help them find families to call their very own through Animal Friends Home to Home Adoption program. Could you give one of these lovable guys the gift of a loving home?


Rally is a 4-year-old Mountain Cur dog. He is an energetic and lovable boy who can be found bouncing around outside one minute and sound asleep on your lap the next. He absolutely loves people and is one of the friendliest pooches you'll ever meet. Rally is also housebroken and neutered. Now, he just needs a loving family to give him the attention he deserves and the love he needs.


Uno is a 4-year-old Bulldog mix. He had a tough start to life when he was found abandoned with a broken leg while he was a puppy. Sadly, his veterinarian believes the break was likely from abuse. Thankfully, his leg has been all fixed up and he has since thrived, transforming into a goofy, lovable "lap dog" who loves everyone he meets. Uno is neutered, up to date on all of his vaccines and can't wait to find his perfect family!

If you can give Rally or Uno the loving family they deserve, contact Jennifer at

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Time is Tick-ing Away – Is Your Pet Protected Against Lyme Disease?

By Eleanor Miller, Senior Animal Wellness Coordinator/Medical Coordinator

April is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and with the warm weather just around the corner, Animal Friends wants to be sure you have everything you need to protect your pets. Lyme disease can quickly become a serious issue not only for the animals in your life, but for you.

Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing diseases transmitted by insects or other organisms in the United States. As the summer months quickly approach, it’s important to protect your pets against this debilitating disease. Lyme disease is more commonly found in dogs, but your cats, rabbits and other pets are also at risk of contracting it.

Because western Pennsylvania has plenty of densely forested areas and no shortage of wildlife living right in our backyards, it is among the areas where Lyme disease is most prevalent. As the temperature climbs, larvae that have spent the winter months dormant grow into adults that can transmit Lyme disease through a bite. The tick must already be infected and remain attached for at least 48 hours for transmission of the bacteria to take place.

Once infected, animals may experience intermittent lameness, fever, swelling of joints, loss of appetite, swelling of lymph nodes and lethargy. In severe cases, animals may even experience an acute onset of renal failure. While the symptoms can be managed medically, there is no cure for Lyme disease. The single most important thing you can do for your pet is to provide preventatives. There are also vaccines that will protect your four-legged family members against Lyme disease. Although they won’t prevent the disease from taking hold entirely, they can help to lessen the symptoms if the bacteria is introduced.

Thankfully, Animal Friends offers Lyme vaccines and flea and tick preventative treatments through our Low-Cost Vaccine Clinics. Don’t wait until it’s too late! With a mild winter coming to a close, flea and tick season is expected to be more severe and arrive sooner. Protecting your pets now could save them (and you!) from a lot of pain and discomfort down the road – not to mention your vet bills!

If you would like more information about tick prevention, Lyme disease and for a full schedule of Low-Cost Vaccine and Microchip Clinics, contact Animal Friends at 412-847-7004 or visit

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Flounder found his way to Animal Friends a little over a year ago with his brother Sebastian. We knew immediately that these lovable boys were inseparable. Despite being infested with parasites and suffering from severe dental disease, these amazing kitties never lost their sweet, friendly personalities. Even after they developed IBD, a disease that attacks the digestive system, Flounder and Sebastian leaned on each other and relied on the love and care of our compassionate staff and volunteers.

Sadly, at the beginning of the New Year, Flounder and Sebastian were separated in the worst way imaginable. Sebastian developed Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), an incurable and fatal disease and passed away. Being that FIP, although not contagious, has a genetic component, Flounder is potentially at risk of developing the disease.

Despite Flounder's health concerns we are dedicated to finding him a loving home. Nothing would make Flounder happier than a cozy lap next to a warm fire. It could be a few weeks or several years, but this sweet and affectionate boy deserves the best life possible for the rest of his days.

If you can give Flounder the gift of a loving home, contact Animal Friends' Adoption team today at 412.847.7002 or

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Home to Home Adoption Program: Toby

Toby is a 9-year-old Shepherd mix who was rescued by an older woman from an abandoned litter of puppies. Sadly, Toby's rescuer passed away about a year ago and he has been living with a foster family since.

He can be a little anxious at times, particularly when interacting with men. While he has been working hard to overcome his shyness and is happy and comfortable when the whole family is home, he is still a little uneasy when he's home alone with his foster dad.

Typically, Toby is a well-behaved, social and playful guy! Although he has had limited experience with children, Toby has lived well with cats and other dogs.

Toby's favorite activities are chewing his squeaky toys, enjoying a quiet night in with his most trusted human (and animal!) friends, and having his ears gently scratched. This handsome boy absolutely loves going for walks and despite his uneasiness, will even go for a stroll with his foster dad.

Toby is a low-maintenance pup who is content and well-behaved when left home alone during the work day. This lovable boy is really the best of both worlds, loving his playtime with both people and pets, but also appreciating the art of relaxation!

While he has made some significant improvements in trusting his foster dad, his current family doesn't want to continue to push him. Toby does have male human friends that he is quite comfortable with, but to help him thrive, his family wants him to find a loving home where he will be as comfortable as possible.

If you think your home would be a good fit for Toby, please contact Clinton at 412.345.3284 or

Monday, February 13, 2017

Animal Friends Presents Barney!

Meet Barney, an incredibly brave 7-year-old orange Tabby who wouldn’t give up to get his second chance at a happy life. After his previous owner left him outside to fend for himself, he tried to join a colony of community cats. But Barney was accustomed to life indoors and was not prepared to live the life of a community cat – thanks to a compassionate man who fed and cared for the colony Barney survived.
But, as the caregiver soon began to notice, life wasn’t easy for Barney. He began showing up on the man’s doorstep, each time with more severe injuries. It seemed Barney was not being accepted into the colony and couldn’t protect himself. He knew he needed to do something but didn’t know where to turn.

Help was not far off. Staff and volunteers from Animal Friends would soon visit his neighborhood. They were going door-to-door offering free spay and neuter services to the neighborhood residents through Animal Friends for Life. When we heard about Barney, we wasted no time and brought him to Animal Friends so his second chance could begin.
When he arrived, Barney was examined by our on-site veterinarian. She discovered that his battle scars were just the beginning of his troubles. Barney was also showing signs of an upper respiratory infection and tested positive for FIV. This meant he had a slightly weakened immune system. An indoor cat can live a healthy life with FIV when seen by a vet regularly. But an outdoor cat who had to contend with the elements would have a much harder time.
What was even worse, the veterinarian quickly noticed that Barney had a rare condition that causes the edges of his eyelids to invert. If left untreated, this could cause permanent blindness. Luckily, Barney was in the right place. He was vaccinated, treated for his upper respiratory infection and was neutered and microchipped. Barney also successfully underwent surgery for his eye condition and is now seeing perfectly!
Had Animal Friends for Life not met the colony caretaker, Barney would not have survived. Thankfully, help came just in time for Barney, but there are still more homeless pets in our region that need your help.

Now, you can help more animals just like Barney receive the lifesaving support they desperately need by purchasing Sarris Candy. Click here and use Group ID# 10-0375 and designate Animal Friends as your organization when placing your candy order and you'll be supporting Animal Friends in the sweetest way possible!

Don't delay! The deadline to place your online order is April 7.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ease Cabin Fever with Indoor Enrichment for Your Pets

Animals need ways to stay active – physically and mentally – all year long. With the weather turning from cold to colder, here are some indoor tips that will help to ease cabin fever and give you and your pets endless entertainment on those cold winter days!

Build a Cat Activity Center
Things that would typically be thrown away can easily be made into an entertaining play station for your cat! Everyday items such as toilet paper tubes, pipe cleaners, clean medicine cups, ribbon spools or egg cartons can provide hours of brain-stimulating fun! Use a shallow cardboard box as the base and securely glue your items in place.

Once your activity center has taken shape, add a few pinches of catnip, jingle bells, toys or treats. Your cat will enjoy exploring the textures, smells and sounds and her brain will be put to work! Once she has lost interest, refill the goodies and move it to a new location. Your cat will think she has made a brand new discovery and you’ll be able to reuse your activity center time and time again!

Put Your Dog’s Sniffer to the Test

Dogs are great at detecting smells and their superior sniffers are a great way to help them have some fun when it’s too cold outside for their typical activities.

Bottles in a Box
A large box filled with empty water bottles can really put your pup’s brain to work. Drop in a few treats and let your dog sniff, search and dig for them. Since the bottles make lots of noise, try crumbled newspaper for fearful dogs to help them build confidence.

Scent Trail
Take a page out of Hansel and Gretel’s book and lay out a trail of tiny treats. This game can be played inside in any amount of space – use your imagination! After leading your pooch through the kitchen, around the couch and up the stairs, leave a jackpot (a small pile of treats) at the end of the trail as a reward for your little explorer!

Create a Foraging Game for Your Rabbit

A rabbit in the wild must search for his food. By creating a foraging game you can easily encourage your indoor rabbit to get some exercise while searching, sniffing and thinking to find a treat.

Show your rabbit a treat and then hide it in your hand, under your leg or behind a toy. Let him sniff out the treat. Next, make a trail of fresh greens across the room, hiding some of the pieces. If your bunny makes quick work of the trail, you can take it to the next level by slowly dragging one leaf across the floor and hiding it at the end. Your rabbit’s mind will be working to follow his nose all the way to the treat. The better you hide the prize, the harder he’ll have to work to find it!
These are just a few of the countless enrichment activities you can use to keep your four-legged family members active all winter long. You can have fun thinking up other games to exercise your pet’s body and mind – the only limit is your imagination! For inspiration and more great ideas, go to

Friday, January 6, 2017

Home to Home Adoption Program: Baby Girl

Meet Baby Girl, a 3-year-old tabby cat that has become an unofficial member of her family. A couple of years ago she showed up at their home and has since taken up residence in the neighborhood, calling the garage home at night. They have grown very fond of her over the years and she has truly become a member of the family.
Her temporary family will be moving away from their home and are unable to take Baby Girl with them. Since they've gotten to know her so well over time, they want to do anything they can to help her find a loving home that can provide her with the love and attention she needs. Baby Girl is a phenomenal cat who is spayed, up-to-date on her vaccinations and is litter trained. She's friendly with other cats, dogs and people – all she needs now is a home of her own!
If you would like to give Baby Girl a loving home, contact her foster mom today!

Debra Marcocci
724.591.2293 |

Monday, January 2, 2017

Home to Home Adoption Program: Toby

Toby is a 2-year-old boy who was found by his current family as a stray. This handsome boy has long black, brown and white fur. Toby likes to play quietly with his toys and loves to use his scratching post! He also enjoys passing the time giving himself a nice grooming!

He hasn't had an opportunity to interact with cats, but gets along very well with the Rottweiler that currently shares his home. Although he is a little skittish, Toby is slowly but surely learning to be more confident. This docile kitty doesn't mind being handled and is a great sport about ear cleaning, medication and nail trimming. Toby is also a true gentleman about using his litterbox!

Though he's not quite a lap cat, he is very affectionate on his own terms and follows his foster family around like a shadow! If you're looking to give a fun cat with just the right amount of energy a home, contact Toby's foster to meet him today.

Brigitte Biklodeau

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.

Friday, November 18, 2016

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.

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 Kellie at

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