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Action for Animals celebrates 30 years with 'Love'

Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
(from left), Kathleen Newill, Action For Animals Volunteer President, and LuAnn Hutcheson, Action For Animals Shelter Manager/Humane Officer, holding guest of honor 'Lucy', join event co-chairs, Laura Guskiewicz and Terry Zorch, at the Action For Animals 'Love is in the Air', held at the Latrobe Country Club on Friday evening, February 8, 2013.

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Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Action for Animals Humane Society celebrated 30 years Friday atLove is in the Air at Latrobe Country Club.

AFA president Kathleen Newill announced at the auction fundraiser that the RK Mellon Foundation will provide a $192,500 grant to the organization to support shelter improvements.

Newill said the shelter costs $1,000 a day to operate. Last year, AFA rescued about 1,000 animals (including an alligator), conducted more than 3,000 spay and neuter procedures and took about 500 phone calls a week.

Newill, who joined AFA 20 years ago after she rescued a kitten from a trash receptacle, said the shelter's work could not be done without the support of volunteers and the community.

“You can love those animals,” Newill said. “But love doesn't pay for the insurance, utilities or vaccinations.”

AFA's humane agent, LuAnn Hutcheson, has 40 years of experience in animal care and rescue. She has witnessed emergency responders rappel to remove a dog from a rocky cliff, and once found 10 cats hoarded in a clothes dryer.

She talked about Solomon, an emaciated, flea-infested Great Dane who survived long periods of abandonment by drinking water from a toilet bowl and eating biscuits tossed through a window by neighbors. It took a year for AFA to get official custody through the court system. As with many abused animals Hutcheson has seen, Solomon has demonstrated only love for humans and for his former owner.

“When you look in their eyes,” Hutcheson said. “They can tell you a story.”

Co-chairwomen were Laura Guskiewicz and Terry Zorch.

Seen: Eric and Michele Bononi, Vance Booher, Rita Whiteman, Sharon Peck, Veronica Brighton, Gretchen Kuhns, Ted and Mary Prettiman, Dr. Tricia Mucci, Regis Tomsey, Robin Schall and Mandy Hutcheson, with her daughter, Haydn.

— Dawn Law

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