Tuesday, 29 November 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 ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/GivingTuesday 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 RMartone@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org for more information.

Tuesday, 15 November 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 cschardong@verizon.net.

Monday, 14 November 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 LLeffakis@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org
or 412.847.7097. 

Thursday, 3 November 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 ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/Cats or stop by Animal Friends to learn more about how you change the life of an animal that needs it the most.

Tuesday, 1 November 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 john.olson1@att.net to learn more about this very special girl.