Thursday, 27 August 2015

Animal Friends presents: Critter Camp Wrap-Up

Guest Blogger: Casey Stuver, Critter Camp Intern

Animal Friends is pleased to announce a successful close to the 2015 Summer Camp season. We held our biggest season yet - 15 sessions over 8 weeks. A big thank you to our campers - our animals, staff, and volunteers enjoyed having you here!

Critter Camp
Over the course of four weeks, 32 kindergarten and first graders joined our camp teachers, Ms. Ashley Phoenix and Ms. Kelly Miller, and adult and teen volunteers for a three-day camp to learn about and tour our shelter, meet many animals, and create crafts for the bunnies, rabbits, and dogs to enjoy. The camp followed a three-day themed schedule including Bunny Day, Cat Day, and Dog Day.

Bunny Day

Kerri Nevills, an Animal Friends volunteer and foster parent for rabbits, has been a guest speaker at Critter Camp for many years now. Kerri comes to talk to the campers about foster care and how to handle rabbits. This summer, Kerri brought in her own therapy bunny, Aubrey, along with her foster bunny for the children to meet and ask questions about. After meeting Kerri’s rabbits, the campers were given a healthy snack plate that included a blueberry, a carrot slice, and parsley to feed to the rabbits currently living at the shelter. For all the rabbits that didn’t get a snack, the kids made a small treat bag, filled with timothy hay, that they got to watch the bunnies open and eat. 

Cat Day

At each Critter Camp session, the children were able to meet several foster kittens around the age of 8-10 weeks old that were brought to the shelter by their foster moms, volunteers Diane Friske and Jewell Jackson. Afterwards, the campers divided into two separate cat viewing rooms to take turns meeting and playing with two kittens living at the shelter during their camp session. The campers then made two different crafts including a ghost cuddle toy and a fringed toilet paper roll for all the older cats living at the shelter to play with. 

Dog Day

Each camp session ended with Dog Day. The day began with the campers making homemade biscuits for the dogs living at the shelter. While the treats were baking, Barb Gesmond, an Animal Friends Therapets volunteer, brought in her therapy dog Spartacus for the campers to meet and pet. Spartacus is a former Animal Friends resident, and he loved coming back to play with the campers. By the end of camp, Spartacus was so comfortable with the kids petting him, he began to immediately roll on his back to get his belly scratched. The shelter also had several litters of puppies living at the shelter over the course of our summer session. Using gentle petting techniques, the kids got to take turns petting the puppies that were brought into the classroom by dog handling volunteers. For the remaining dogs living at the shelter, the campers got to walk by the cages feeding each dog the finished biscuits they made earlier that day. 

Our teachers and volunteers had such a great time at Critter Camp this summer. We had several campers that had returned from last year, and we look forward to seeing all of our campers again next year!

Critter Camp is one of four Animal Friends camp options, based on the grade that the student has completed the prior spring. You can find more Critter Camp photos and those from our grades 2-11 camps posted on Animal Friends’ Facebook page.

Details about 2016 summer camp will be posted in February at, and registration opens in early March.

Help Them Heal Challenge: Teddy

“What are you doing here fella,” murmurs a Good Samaritan. He found a 10-year-old Chow Chow mix, Teddy, on his porch on a frigid, winter evening. Teddy was wearing a collar without tags and dragging some-20 feet of cable. This fluffy, little guy was someone’s dog. Without identification the man had no choice but to set out to find the owners.

Alas, his search was fruitless – so he turned to Animal Friends.

Upon Teddy’s arrival, it didn’t take long for staff to notice he was alarmingly head-shy. So much so, he needed to be muzzled to complete his physical exam. The medical team found his ear canals to be in terrible shape – it’s no wonder he was incredibly sensitive to touching on and near his ears. Despite knowing the origin of his sensitivity, his chances of being available for adoption didn’t look good.

Before all animals (dogs, cats and rabbits alike) can be available for adoption at Animal Friends, their behavior must be assessed by our behavior team. This includes a few tests to find out more information about each animal so he can be best matched with potential adopters. When it came time for Teddy’s, it took the team two attempts. There were reports of growly and snappy behavior. Odds were stacking against Teddy.

But there was still hope. Every now and again, Teddy showed glimpses of his personality. Staff knew to fully bring him out of his shell surgery was the only viable treatment option.

We couldn’t give up on this dog, so, his surgery was scheduled.

Just six short days after his surgery, Teddy was a completely different dog! Happy, bright, wiggly and affectionate are only a few of the wonderful ways to describe him. With each passing day, his spunk – showed more and more.

Teddy has since recovered from surgery and found a loving home. But we can’t be sure where he would’ve ended up without Animal Friends and quite honestly, we don’t want to think about that.

At Animal Friends, we promise to make an investment in the health of every one of our animals regardless of their level of need. Yes, every single one. But to be able to provide this kind of care we need your help. Now through Oct. 10 – thanks to the generosity of Bob and Janine Fragasso – every dollar you give in support of our residents’ medical care will be matched 50 cents on the dollar up to $125,000. Click hereto help more animals just like Teddy.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Animal Friends Home-to-Home program presents: Benni and Samson!

 Benni and Samson are both short haired Gemini kitties born on May 25, 2014. They could be considered fraternal twins that speak to each other in a code similar to the game marco-polo.

Benni is a curly tailed tabby that loves anything to do with laser pointers.  In fact if you say the word laser in front of him he starts seeking out red dots!  

 Samson is a black and white longer tailed cat, to make up for his brothers short stubby tail. He much prefers hanging out in the bathroom tub, licking moisture off of the shower curtain, or lounging atop shampoo bottles.  

 These guys are free to a good home, but CANNOT be split up. Benni and Samson have been glued at the hip since birth so to tear them apart is a big no-no.  They are also strictly indoor cats since they have never been outside.  A smaller home or apartment is fine, as long as they have plenty of toys to play with and the landlord is okay with pets. All we will need to place these 1-year-olds is proof that you are permitted cats and an overwhelming sense that they are in good hands.  

If interested please contact-
Claire Dorman: 724-518-7723
Or Colleen Amos: 412-758-7105

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Help Them Heal Challenge: Cerulean

Snip, snip, snip …

Cerulean’s foster mom is in her front yard snipping clover. Doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary, except it’s 1 a.m. and she’s worried sick that the young rabbit was refusing new food.

In her first year of life, Cerulean had already been to the ICU twice and seen by no less than six veterinarians. Her medical challenges proved to be a bit of an enigma but Animal Friends wouldn’t give up.

Normally, Cerulean responded well to her favorite foods (she’s even been known to beg for a banana!) but with every treat refusal, her foster mom’s worry only grew. Cerulean needed to eat. Her foster mom even ran to her local supermarket several times – an apple here, dandelion greens there – leading up to her 1-a.m. harvest.

Then it dawned on her – clover! The veterinary staff that cared for Cerulean during her ICU stay reported her love for fresh clover. Holding her breath with cautious optimism, foster mom offered her freshly picked, homegrown clover to Cerulean.

And she ate every last leaf, stem and blossom.

Two years later, Cerulean is still thriving in her foster home.

Cerulean came to Animal Friends as one of five 4-month-old English Spot rabbit kits, surrendered by an owner that didn’t want to care for them. She’s since been under the watchful eye of her foster mom and close monitoring of Animal Friends’ medical staff ever since.

Animal Friends still remains committed to provide Cerulean the care she needs to cope with and, hopefully, to one day overcome her medical challenges. So much so, that reaping a fresh batch of clover at 1 a.m. is not outside of the norm to prevent a sick foster rabbit from being hospitalized.

At Animal Friends, we promise to make an investment in the health of every one of our animals regardless of their level of need. Yes, every single one. But to be able to provide this kind of care we need your help. Now through Oct. 10 – thanks to the generosity of Bob and Janine Fragasso – every dollar you give in support of our residents’ medical care will be matched 50 cents on the dollar up to $12,000. Click here to help more animals just like Cerulean.

Please give generously. Please help them heal.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Help Them Heal Challenge: Violet

A little face poked out of a carrier. A face covered in open wounds and sores. Little did Violet know but being brought to Animal Friends was the one of the best things that could’ve happened to her. The couple that had her couldn’t care for her. They didn’t want to deal with her medical issues. Animal Friends staff sees these situations all the time, but this one was different.

The mange that plagued Violet was one of the worst cases Animal Friends’ medical staff had seen. Despite being in as much pain as she was, her tail just wouldn’t stop wagging.

While there were many components to Violet’s medical needs, she wasn’t just another case to be treated. She was so much more than that! She was a puppy that didn’t know how to be a puppy. And Animal Friends was there to teach Violet that too.

In between diluted bleach baths (it helps to kill the mites) and shots of antibiotics and special vitamins, Violet learned to sit and give paw with some practice. And one day, Violet’s favorite staff member realized Violet had been in her quarantine room for 69 whole days. A puppy that had never felt the grass on her paws. So if Violet couldn’t be brought outside, the outside would be brought to her.

Leaves were gathered and piled onto her floor. Violet had never seen anything like them. Cautious at first but soon she romped in them and tossed them in the air – no one had ever seen Violet so happy!

And after what seemed like an eternity, Violet was medically cleared – 270 days after she had been brought to Animal Friends. The animals that make their way here aren’t perfect and all need some help. Some, like Violet, need more time than others. Whether it’s one day or 270 days.

At Animal Friends, we promise to make an investment in the health of every one of our animals regardless of their level of need. Yes, every single one. But to be able to provide this kind of care we need your help. Now through Oct. 10 – thanks to the generosity of Bob and Janine Fragasso – every dollar you give in support of our residents’ medical care will be matched 50 cents on the dollar up to $125,000. Click here to help more animals just like Violet.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Animal Friends' Volunteer Friends and Family Day

On Sun., Aug. 16 Animal Friends will welcome their volunteers to bring friends and family to the shelter for a special day highlighting the many achievements of Animal Friends volunteers.

Animal Friends became a certifying organization that was given the authority to recognize and present the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award. Animal Friends wanted to tremendously honor these lifetime achievers. By providing Presidential recognition to these 80 volunteers Animal Friends is hoping that their volunteers truly understand how much they mean to the organization.

From 2:30-3:30 p.m. 80 of Animal Friends volunteers will be awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteer service. This select group of volunteers will be recognized for giving more than 4,000 lifetime hours of service to Animal Friends.
In addition to the ceremony, visitors will be invited to participate in the behind-the-scenes tours on the hour from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tour participants will learn firsthand about not only the shelter’s programs but also in the ways volunteers are a part of every corner of the organization.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to tour the Mobile Resource Center (MRC). This mobilized unit enables our Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Department to take its services on the road and into communities that need it most.

And from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mission Mahi, Pgh Halal Food and the Pop Stop food trucks will be contributing to the celebrations of this special day!

So join us this Sunday and join the fun!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Animal Friends believes two cats are Twice as Nice!

When you adopt two cats, you soon find that you can’t imagine life without them. That’s why adopting two cats from Animal Friends is “Twice as Nice!” When you adopt one cat Aug. 8-16, your donation covers TWO feline adoptions!

There are many benefits to keeping two cats.

  • Having a constant playmate to chase and wrestle with helps keep cats lively, well-exercised and healthy.
  • Often, destructive behavior in pets can be traced to boredom. The stimulation of a companion can help to ward off inappropriate feline behaviors and scratching.
  • Two cats will keep you laughing with their antics.
  • Many cats are social creatures, and will happily groom one another and sleep cuddled together.
  • People who work long hours, travel overnight or spend frequent evenings away from home will find a warm greeting upon returning, but without the guilt of leaving a beloved pet all alone.
  • Two cats will bring their humans double the love. The only thing more heartwarming than the love of a pet is the love of two.
  • They make great lap warmers in winter and will offer an endless supply of purrs and head butts.
  • Adopting two cats actually saves four lives - the two you're adopting, and the two that will take their places on Animal Friends’ adoption floor, given a priceless second chance thanks to your adoption.

Animal Friends' Adoption Counselors will work with you to find exactly the right cats – two that are compatible with you as well as each other.

At Animal Friends, we believe so strongly in the benefits of adopting two cats that we're putting our money where our mouth is. Right now, one adoption donation covers two cats.

 Click the button below to take a look at our adoptable cats and find your new best friends.