Springdale girl gathers gifts for shelter pets
A lot of girls for their 10th birthday would ask for Silly Bandz, Barbie Dolls or Nintendo Wii video games, but Isabella Walsh isn't one of them.
Instead, she requested from her friends at Colfax Upper Elementary School in Springdale something that she felt would have a deeper impact — something less selfish and closer to her heart.
“She didn't want presents,” said her mom, Michelle. “She just wanted to collect food and supplies for the animals in the shelter. She's always been a big animal lover.”
Walsh celebrated her 10th birthday on Sunday at the Bouquet Pool in Springdale with about a dozen girls, most of whom also belong to the Allegheny Valley Junior Girl Scout Troop.
Between them, the group collected more than 35 pounds of cat and dog food, 30 pounds of treats, 40 toys and about 35 food bowls, leashes and grooming supplies.
The items were donated the next day to Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley in New Kensington, where Walsh was able to spend some quality time with the beneficiaries of her party.
“This is my present — being here,” she said, rubbing her face against a shelter cat in her arms. “I always have loved cats. This is the only thing I wanted to do.”
Walsh's birthday — actually Thursday — arrives at an opportune time for the New Kensington animal shelter, according to office manager Jody Berisko.
Like all of the other shelters in the area, Animal Protectors is inundated with cats and kittens during their breeding season during the summer months, making it difficult to care for all of their animals.
“The number of cats we see always goes up this time of the year,” Berisko said. “With the pregnant cats everywhere, it's endless.
“We are so appreciative of Isabella's donation. It's inspiring to see someone that young care that much about homeless animals and do something about it. It helps a lot, especially now.”
Summer brings strays
The problems facing the Animal Protectors shelter in New Kensington are represented on a larger scale at the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania.
According to Executive Director Dan Rossi, the Pittsburgh-based shelter takes in about 1,000 cats per month between June and August.
That's more than twice the number they take in during the other nine months of the year, he said.
The increase is due primarily to the breeding season, but the warmer weather also draws more strays out of whatever structures they took refuge in over the winter. Others escape while their owners vacation, and some are left behind when people move.
“It's tough,” Rossi said. “We could build a building the size of Consol Energy Center and it wouldn't be enough to hold them. We're able to manage thanks to our foster program, through which about 300 households take in some of the cats until they're adopted.”
Orphans of the Storm, an animal shelter near Kittanning, experiences a 50 percent increase in the number of cats coming in during the summer.
The number of dogs coming in also increases, according to assistant manager Beth Ann Galbrith, by about 20 percent, particularly around the Fourth of July holiday when dogs frightened by fireworks run away from home.
To help combat the problem, Galbrith said, the shelter offers discounted spay and neuter programs from June through August. The shelter banks on receiving more community and personal donations over the summer and holds a handful of fundraisers, like its July 21 golf outing at the Kittanning Country Club.
“We're always looking for help,” Galbrith said. “We're always looking for foster homes, and obviously all donations help, whether they're monetary, food or supplies.”
Employees of Animal Protectors in New Kensington are hoping Walsh's donation inspires others to do the same.
Based on the expressions of Walsh's 7-year-old sister, Carissa, and friend, Morgan Fitzgerald, as they helped her donate to the shelter, it's entirely possible.
“I want to do this for my birthday next year,” said Fitzgerald, 10. “It's really cool. It could start a trend.”
Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Homicide suspect faces trial on tampering charge
- DUI checkpoints take on dangerous drivers
- Upper Burrell man accused of selling Suboxone
- Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation donates $12,000 to revamping middle school library
- Frankstown Acres parents pleased — kids stay at Center Elementary
- Rates rise for Upper Allegheny customers
- Middle schoolers stem STEM Challenge at Penn State New Kensington
- Allegheny Twp. residents challenge legality of drilling in neighborhoods
- Brackenridge high-rise infested with bed bugs
- Stretch of Route 56 to close
- Apollo-Ridge to limit any tax hike to 2.8 percent