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2 Penguins players bring dogs to Mutts & Margaritas benefit in Harrison

Madasyn Czebiniak
| Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, 9:45 p.m.

Pittsburgh Penguins Matt Murray and Bryan Rust said no to domestic violence in one of the cutest ways possible Saturday afternoon — by cuddling with their pooches.

“We're both big dog lovers; we've got dogs of our own,” Rust said. “We thought it was a good cause to kind of just come out here and help raise some money and raise some awareness.”

The hockey players, their girlfriends and their dogs were among the crowd who attended the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center's second annual Mutts & Margaritas event at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 894 in Harrison.

Rust brought his miniature golden retriever, Cooper, who can chew through anything, and Murray had his Newfoundland, Beckham, who can swim better than he can, in tow.

Cooper is 5 months old and Beckham is 11 months old, the players said.

Michelle Gibb is the executive director of the HOPE Center. She said domestic violence can affect every member of a family, including pets.

The event was held to raise awareness for the HOPE Center, which is one of three emergency shelters in Pennsylvania with a SAF-T Kennel. The kennel allows victims to bring their pets with them and care for them while they are in the shelter.

Gibb said it's encouraging when high profile people, especially professional athletes, stand up for such issues.

“One of the parts of our mission that I'm most passionate about is the aspect of social change,” she said. “Until we all understand that domestic violence is a serious and widespread problem, it's never going to change.”

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.

Pittsburgh Penguins player Bryan Rust hugs Cooper, his mini golden retriever, at the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center's Mutts and Margaritas event at VFW Post 894 in Natrona Heights on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins player Bryan Rust hugs Cooper, his mini golden retriever, at the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center's Mutts and Margaritas event at VFW Post 894 in Natrona Heights on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.
Callie Fleming, 1, of Butler meets Cooper, Pittsburgh Penguins player Bryan Rust's mini golden retriever, as Callie's mother, Kayla Fleming (right), and Rust's girlfriend, Kelsey Burton, look on at the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center's Mutts and Margaritas event at VFW Post 894 in Natrona Heights on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Callie Fleming, 1, of Butler meets Cooper, Pittsburgh Penguins player Bryan Rust's mini golden retriever, as Callie's mother, Kayla Fleming (right), and Rust's girlfriend, Kelsey Burton, look on at the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center's Mutts and Margaritas event at VFW Post 894 in Natrona Heights on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.
Pittsburgh Penguins player Matt Murray pets his Newfoundland dog, Beckham, at the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center's Mutts and Margaritas event at VFW Post 894 in Natrona Heights on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins player Matt Murray pets his Newfoundland dog, Beckham, at the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center's Mutts and Margaritas event at VFW Post 894 in Natrona Heights on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.
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