Every animal has a story. The second thing I ask every pet parent (the first being, “Can I pet your dog?”) is, “Where did you get him/her?” It’s heartwarming to hear them detail the day they walked through their local shelter and discovered “the one.” Once we welcome our pets into our lives, they welcome us into their hearts. Our local shelters are filled with furry friends who have great stories and need rescued. We’ll be introducing you to some of them throughout the month of June right here. For now, read on about how can provide the best care for a pet in need!
By Rachel Jones
STEP 1: ADOPT
One of the best ways to help the pets who reside in our local shelters is to adopt them! You not only save that animal’s life, but you also create the opportunity for another animal to take its kennel. And, it’s beneficial to your health and happiness, too. “Studies have found that owning a companion animal — dogs, cats, and rabbits alike — lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and significantly increases the amount of laughter in a home,” says Shannon Tremblay of Animal Friends. “And, you’re guaranteed a happy face as soon as you walk through the door.”
Some pets don’t do well in a shelter environment. In these cases, the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society arranges for families to foster them on a temporary basis. Providing the pets with enrichment, training, and lots of love helps ensure they’ll be able to share that same affection with their new families, too. “There are so many wonderful animals that are in need of loving homes and can provide so much love in return,” says Kristen Lane of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. “You are saving them, but that animal can be life-saving for you as well.”
If you don’t have the space or resources for a new family member at the moment, there are still plenty of ways to make a difference. Volunteer projects offer the chance to spend time with these lovable souls while still spreading their message to potential pet parents.
MEET THE SHELTERS:
Animal Friends | 562 Camp Horne Road, North Hills | 412.847.7000
In 2014, volunteers contributed more than 267,000 hours to the nonprofit’s work. “Our volunteers are so incredibly important to furthering the mission of Animal Friends,” Tremblay says. “They are here, alongside staff, contributing to every aspect of the organization.
- Work special events and fundraisers
- Greet guests who arrive at Animal Friends
- Visit schools to educate future generations on caring for animals
- Socialize and train adoptable animals
- Help the Humane Investigations Department rescue animals in need
- Provide administrative assistance across various departments
Western Pennsylvania Humane Society | 1101 Western Ave., Northside | 412.321.4625
Without the dedication of its volunteers, Lane says the shelter would be unable to be as successful with placing animals in forever homes as it is. “They really are the backbone of our organization,” she adds.
- Become involved with the animals in the shelter
- Get trained to be a dog walker
- Cuddle with cats
- Exercise and interact with bunnies
- Read to the animals to help them relax
- Participate in events
- Sign up today to join the nonprofit at Pittsburgh PrideMarch on June 14!
Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center | 6620 Hamilton Ave., East Liberty | 412.345.7300
By providing personal attention, hands-on care, and love, volunteers enrich the lives of the animals at Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center. More than 500 individuals choose to donate their time, hearts, and energy to the nonprofit every year, and in turn, help rescue thousands of animals!
- Animal handling at the shelter (after completing a safety and training program!)
- Working to modify behavior problems and fearfulness
- Hand feeding and spending quality time
- Helping injured wildlife heal
- Connecting potential parents and adoptable animals
- Spreading the word about the shelter’s great work
STEP 2: PREVENT FLEAS + TICKS
During these warm days of summer, we find our cats stalking flowers in the yard and our dogs sniffing out adventures in the woods. “Being outside more makes them more susceptible to fleas and ticks,” says Susan Merenstein, pharmacist and owner of Murray Avenue Apothecary. Keep them safe from any hazardous hitchhikers with this Flea & Tick Spray. The compounding pharmacy boutique’s natural concoction even repels mosquitos and flies, for fun in the sun without the bother of bugs. And, increase overall health with multivitamins. Available for cats and dogs, the supplements provide crucial nutrients that may be missing from their everyday meals. “The multivitamins are good to use all year round, but it’s really beneficial to use them in the spring and summer months,” Merenstein says. “Since our pets are more active at this time, we want them to be healthier, too.”
> 4227 Murray Ave., Greenfield. 412.421.4996.
STEP 3: STOCK UP ON TREATS + TOYS
We know your dog is “such a good boy!” Reward him these treats and toys from Petagogy:
STEP 4: FIND THE PERFECT DAY CARE CENTER
As we pack up for family picnics or retreat to beach vacations, we can’t always bring our dogs with us. We can, however, take them for a car ride to one of the five convenient Camp Bow Wow locations across the Pittsburgh area! The newest camp opens this month near the Murrysville and Monroeville border on Route 22. The Pittsburgh East space offers large and fun indoor/outdoor play areas, a minimum of one certified Camp Counselor per 15 campers, grooming, training, and the cozy overnight Cabins that Camp Bow Wows are known for. Plus, this camp features upgraded HD live camper cams, so you can keep a close eye on your pup during your travels. (The other four locations are upgrading this year, too!) “We are excited to expand our paw print,” Danielle Mashuda of Camp Bow Wow says of the new camp. “Our new Pittsburgh East location will be celebrating with a one-month of free daycare offer.” Don’t miss out on this great deal!
STEP 5: STAY HEALTHY
As pet parents, we do everything we can to keep our companions happy and healthy — from long walks in the neighborhood, to fewer scraps under the table. The Dog Stop shares our commitment and draws attention to the cause with its newest program: Fido Fitness. The program starts by asking clients to fill out basic questionnaires about their dogs’ eating habits, exercise routines, and medical history. Qualified canines are then fitted with fitness trackers that monitor their activity levels. “It’s essentially a Fit Bit for your dog,” explains Sara Ruth of The Dog Stop. They’ll also enjoy nutritious snacks during their visits to the dog day care center. A staff of trained handlers ensures that the building of activity levels and increased incorporation of healthier eating habits are both done at a safe and steady pace. “Our hope is to positively transform the lives of our clients,” Ruth says. “We want to achieve smaller waistlines, higher levels of energy, healthier diets, and never having to tell our pups, ‘Of course you’re not fat; Your collar must have shrunk in the wash.’”