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Animal shelter in Youngwood celebrates successes

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Cami DiBattista | For Trib Total Media
Animal Friends of Westmoreland volunteer Carrie Halas of McKeesport walks Regis in the shelter's play yard. The shelter has found homes for more than 850 cats and dogs since it opened almost four years ago.

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By Cami Dibattista
Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When a dog that was at Animal Friends of Westmoreland in Youngwood for nearly a year was recently adopted, shelter volunteers celebrated with a going-away party in his honor.

Owen, an Akita, found a home with an Ohio family earlier this month.

“Volunteers brought him treats and balloons,” Robin Stewart said. Stewart, an Irwin resident, serves as the shelter's manager.

“It was very heartwarming,” she said.

Owen's adoption is just one of the successes that Animal Friends of Westmoreland is celebrating.

Since its opening almost four years ago, more than 850 animals there like Owen have found homes due to the diligence and hard work of the nonprofit shelter's volunteers. Another 76 were reunited with their owners.

On-going renovations continue to improve the facility.

“It's a work in progress,” said Joe Kritz, a Norvelt resident and a shelter volunteer and board member.

“Our current project is resurfacing the kennel floors,” he said.

Volunteers are now focused on finding a good home for another longtime resident at the shelter. Regis, a black lab, has been at the shelter since November.

“Regis has spent his entire puppyhood at the shelter,” volunteer and Irwin resident Michael McDonald said.

“Through months of consistent sessions utilizing only positive training methods, socialization and love, Regis is ready for his new home. He excelled in puppy class, is super affectionate and knows many basic behaviors.”

Regis will be celebrating his first birthday at 11 a.m. Saturday at PetsMart in Greensburg — where shelter volunteers routinely bring the animals for meet and greets.

“Come out and bring a special treat for Regis or make a donation in honor of his birthday,” suggested Dana Milliron, a Jeannette resident who also volunteers at the facility.

“Maybe Regis will get the best birthday gift of all – his ‘furever' home,” Milliron said.

Shelter volunteers are also preparing for the 8th annual ‘Tie and Tails Auction,' scheduled for Oct. 18 at Ferrante's Lakeview in Greensburg. The $35 ticket includes dinner, drinks and entertainment.

“The event is the biggest fundraiser for the shelter, and helps us keep the doors open through the winter months,” said Candy Nelson, founder and president of the group.

Nelson added that anyone interested in helping with the event or donating basket items for the auction should contact the shelter at 724-925-2555.

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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