Monday, May 22, 2017

Learning from Livey


When Livey arrived at Animal Friends more than 2 years ago, she began to earn a reputation. This beautiful cat with gorgeous green eyes and long gray fur was the subject of many rumors: “she is moody,” “she won’t sit on your lap,” “she only likes men,” “she hisses and swats if you try to pet her.” While there was some truth to these stories, Livey wasn’t a bad cat … she was simply misunderstood.
 
In February, Animal Friends began participating in Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Pawsitive initiative which was developed to reduce stress in cats who are overwhelmed by a shelter environment. The program works by associating positive behaviors with a clicking sound followed by a reward such as a treat or affection. But since Livey showed little interested in attention or treats, it was difficult to reward her for friendly interactions.
 
Those who knew her best saw the potential for Livey to grow into a friendly and outgoing cat, she just needed to be given the right opportunity. So, Livey was moved to a small free-roam room where she could seek attention on her own terms. If she chose to interact with guests, she was offered a click and a reward. The choice to interact with people was completely hers. Over time, Livey learned to enjoy being petted, having her ears scratched and even curling up on a lap for a cuddle.
 
Livey taught us that animals communicate their fears to us in different ways, but we don’t always understand. Once we understood what Livey had been telling us, her transformation began. And, now there is more truth to the rumors you hear about this sweet girl: “she greets visitors at the door,” “she’ll curl up and knead your lap,” “she likes hanging out with her female friends,” “she’ll give you a little head butt when she’s ready to be petted.”

Now, the only thing Livey needs is a loving family to call her own.
At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to change a life.
 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Breeding Change


A few months ago we met a man named Gary who lived in Pittsburgh’s North Side with his Shih Tzu, Sam. We introduced him to our Animal Friends for Life program, which focuses on specific communities in need of free services. Since Sam was behind on his vaccinations and hadn’t been neutered, we encouraged Gary to take advantage of the program. He was not interested in the idea of having Sam neutered, fearing that it would change his behavior and personality. So each time we saw him, we were able to teach him more about the many benefits of having his beloved pet neutered and hope that he would reconsider.

After some time, Gary agreed to have Sam neutered and vaccinated. In the following days, we picked up Sam and brought him to Animal Friends for his exam and surgery. We quickly realized that we were lucky to meet Gary when we did. Sam was cryptorchid, meaning that one testicle had not descended, putting him at a much higher risk of cancer.

Once he had recovered from surgery, we brought Sam back to his home. As we walked toward Gary’s front door, we met Nancy, one of his neighbors. She had seen us with Gary’s dog and was curious about who we were and what we were doing. It wasn’t long before we learned that Nancy wasn’t just a neighbor – she was a Shih Tzu breeder and had sold Sam to Gary.

As it turns out, Nancy had four dogs of her own. With no access to an affordable clinic, they had never seen a veterinarian. We told Nancy about the importance of spaying and neutering and explained that breeding could have a negative effect on the health and well-being of her dogs. Although she loved them dearly, these dogs were not just pets to her – they were her livelihood.

About a month and several conversations later, Nancy finally agreed to have her dogs spayed and neutered. After our compassionate staff performed the spays, neuters, exams and blood tests we learned that these sweet pups were in need of much more than routine surgery. One of them was suffering from severe periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the mouth. During surgery, another was found to have numerous cysts on her uterus and ovaries. Nancy’s decision to allow us to spay and neuter her dogs could have quite literally saved their lives.

We started Animal Friends for Life not just as a way to provide affordable and accessible wellness services, but to inform underserved communities about how to keep their companion animals healthy. By giving Gary information and resources, we were able to make certain that Sam was healthy. And, by helping Gary, we met Nancy and helped her pets continue to live long, healthy and happy lives, too!

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to alter a life.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Squiggy's Journey



Filthy from nose to tail and dangerously thin, Squiggy was rescued from a garage with four other dogs by our Humane Investigations team in 2013. She was incredibly sweet – despite the deplorable living conditions she was found in. Squiggy put on weight and slowly but surely regained her strength before finding a loving home.

Several years went by before Squiggy found her way back to Animal Friends. Her devoted owner had been battling health problems and – despite his best efforts – simply couldn’t give her the care she needed any longer. Devastated, he returned an 11-year-old Squiggy to Animal Friends.

Shortly after she returned, we discovered several masses on Squiggy’s head and neck. Tests confirmed that they were mast cell tumors, a product of a common, and potentially, aggressive type of skin cancer. Days later, she underwent surgery and the tumors were successfully removed.



Having fully recovered from her surgery, Squiggy is now cancer free and looking for a loving home to enjoy the rest of her days. This beautiful girl has truly become a staff and volunteer favorite at Animal Friends and after all she has been through, needs a family that will give her all the love she deserves.

From our Humane Police Officers and Medical team to our Admissions and Adoption Counselors and everywhere in between, Squiggy was given a second chance at a happy life thanks to the compassionate care of so many people. Now, she just needs someone to help her continue her story.

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to save a life.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Ollie Finds His Family

By Elliott Enzo, Ollie's Adopter
At just 3 months old, Ollie and his litter mate were brought to Animal Friends after they had accidentally been caught in a humane raccoon trap. Since he hadn’t experienced human interaction and was extremely shy and fearful, Ollie went to spend some time in a foster home where he would learn to trust people. After 6 months of a lot of love and socialization in the foster home, Ollie returned to Animal Friends in search of a very special family who would be patient and understanding of his needs. And, then, well we’ll let his adopter Elliott take it from here.

“To understand why I adopted Ollie, you must first know about my other cat, Blinkn who was 3 months old when I adopted her. She was nearly feral and her skittish nature had made it difficult for her to connect with potential adopters. When I first met her, I sat back and waited. Miraculously, she slowly approached me, put both front paws on my chest and meowed. Right then, I knew that I’d be the one to give her the home she needed.

“It took time and patience for Blinkn to grow to trust me, but slowly and surely over the years her bravery and confidence grew. Blinkn grew up with another friendly and outgoing cat in the apartment and it wasn’t until after he left us that I noticed how much she had benefited from his presence. Once he was gone, I knew I had to find a friend for her.



“I visited Animal Friends and explained my situation to an Adoption Counselor. I was looking for the same connection I had made with Blinkn 7 years earlier. We walked past a room where three cats were sharing a space – Ollie was one of them. Our eyes met – and just as Blinkn had reached out and put her paws on me – I felt that same connection with Ollie.

“I spent some time in the room, I knew Ollie was very fearful so I just hung out and softly talked to him for a while. I noticed that one of the other cats in the room was very nurturing to Ollie and also friendly toward me. I was able to pet her and Ollie cautiously followed her lead. Astonishingly, Ollie began to purr as I petted him. I knew that Ollie would be the perfect companion for me and Blinkn – and just as importantly, we were the right family for him.

“Ollie came home with me the next day. I was pleased to see him respect Blinkn’s boundaries and noticed that he was comforted by her presence. Now, they play together, sleep together, share nuzzles and Ollie will even touch noses with me. We’ve bonded as a family and it’s clear that Ollie is happy here. Just as importantly, Blinkn has benefited from having another cat in the house again. I’m so grateful to Animal Friends for helping to bring the three of us together.”

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to improve a life.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The "S Dogs" (part 1)



Anxious yips and whines seemed to fill every bit of space in our Admissions hallway. Crates upon crates upon crates filled with terrified dogs lined the walls. Staff and volunteers hurriedly went to work getting each dog … Severus, Sherlock, Saber, Sunday, Sage … checked out as they entered our collaborative network of care.

Each of these Collie mixes … Saxon, Sharon, Seger, Shea, Sergio … had been rescued as the result of a case that our Humane Police Officers had been working on for nearly a decade. Dozens of dogs had been living on a property without adequate food, water or shelter. Their “home” was reminiscent of a junkyard. They … Sally, Shiloh, Sasha, Sonny … lived under broken-down cars, among trash and in their own waste. They received barely enough human interaction to survive.



They were so scared they were almost catatonic … Sheldon, Sedona, Salvatore, Scully … some needed immediate medical attention … Selena, Seneca, Sydney, Sanford, Shelly, Sargent … and were rushed to receive emergency care. Many were so fearful they wouldn’t even allow as much as the gentle touch of a compassionate staff or volunteer. We so badly wanted them to understand that they were finally safe, cared for and, most importantly, loved.

It was no easy task to get these pups to Animal Friends, but after more than 12 hours of working together, a team of staff and volunteers returned to our Resource Center. They were filthy, sunburnt and exhausted, yet overjoyed that these dogs would finally get a fresh start. Even after a full day of scouring the dilapidated property, there were still dogs in need of rescue. Over the next few months, our team returned to the property and one by one, brought back … Sean, Simon, Sierra, Steffan, Salem, Silas, Sanderson, Silchas … the remaining eight.



In all, 38 canines, lovingly dubbed the “S Dogs,” … September, Salma, Saturday, Sloane, Sal, Serena … were now in our care and ready to begin their second chance. At the time, physically getting them to Animal Friends seemed like the biggest hurdle we’d need to overcome. But had we known exactly what was ahead, we would have simply recognized that this was just the first step on the S Dogs’ long road to recovery …

… stay tuned for The “S Dogs” (part 2).

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to save a life.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

17 Puppies


With her voice trembling over the phone, Mary felt completely hopeless. She had no income, too many animals and nowhere else to turn. Mary and her husband shared a home with their five dogs – most of them had been rescued from unthinkable situations. The first had been recovered from the middle of the street as a puppy. Another was found in an abandoned building and one had been found tied to a vacant house on a rope that was just 6 inches long. There was no doubt that Mary and her husband loved their pets.

But as Mary’s panicked tone indicated, she was facing a crisis. Two of her dogs had become pregnant. Before she knew it, Mary found herself with more dogs … 17 puppies to be exact. Her landlord found out and threatened to evict her. So she painstakingly found homes for each of the puppies through trusted members of her church. Mary knew she needed to have her dogs spayed and neutered, but she couldn’t afford it. She had almost given up hope until she called Animal Friends.

A calm voice told Mary to take a deep breath and not to worry. Help would soon be on the way.

Knowing we had to act fast, our Clinic Services team jumped into action. Animal Friends is a proud provider of the City of Pittsburgh’s Free Spay/Neuter program which allows city residents up to five free spay/neuter surgeries for pets with a license.

That’s when the compassion of our staff and volunteers took over. An Animal Friends staff member drove to Mary’s house where together they filled out the application. They even walked down the street to her sister’s house to fill out an application for one of the 17 puppies and an adult dog.

Early the next morning, we picked up Mary’s dogs from her house. They were brought to Animal Friends where they underwent spay/neuter surgeries, and were returned home that evening.

We called Mary the next day to see how her pups were doing post-surgery and she broke down in tears. She was so grateful that we were able to give her the help and peace of mind she so desperately needed. Mary vowed to help the new families of each of the remaining puppies to get them spayed and neutered through Animal Friends.

Through the Animal Friends for Life program, we challenge ourselves to see each situation from our client’s point of view. This program is a core component of our mission to end pet overpopulation and unwarranted euthanasia in our region. Without this program, the underserved communities in our region would not have access to these lifesaving services.

At Animal Friends, every day is full of compassion. Visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/31Days to turn your compassion into action. After all, it only takes one day to alter a life.