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New Year's tradition to find homes for shelter animals

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Thing One, a 1-year-old pit bull, is held by veterinary technician Jessica Farren as technician Marsha Koschik draws blood from his leg during Animal Friends' annual New Year's Eve Rescue at the Ohio Township facility on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. Each year, Animal Friends partners with animal control facilities to rescue animals that are slated to be euthanized. They are brought to Animal Friends where they are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, groomed and given medical and behavioral evaluations before being available for adoption. Thing One was rescued from Monroeville Animal Control. Every animal rescued was given a Dr. Seuss-themed name.

Despite Diane Friske's attempt to comfort the thin, mixed-breed dog, Mayzie tucked her tail between her legs as she warily eyed the water spray during her bath.

“She thinks, ‘If I don't look at it, it will go away,'” said Friske of Shaler, a volunteer with Animal Friends. Mayzie was among 59 animals — 23 dogs and 36 cats — rescued from six western Pennsylvania animal-control facilities on New Year's Eve as part of the Ohio Township shelter's 17th annual New Year's Eve Rescue. Animals came from as far east as Delmont and as far south as Green County, shelter officials said. Mayzie was the lone dog to come from Delmont's Hoffman Kennels, while three dogs — brothers Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Cindy Loo Who — came from the Monroeville Animal Shelter.

Volunteers rounded up the animals to save them from being euthanized, said Christy Bostardi, Animal Friends spokeswoman.

“During the holidays, many pets get separated from their owners, and if they don't have a license, it's difficult to get them reunited with their families,” Bostardi said. “Animal control becomes overpopulated, and they have to euthanize to make space for other homeless pets.”

Some shelters, such as the municipal-run Monroeville Animal Shelter, won't kill an animal for space. Animal-control officer Mike Strom said he offered three dogs to Animal Friends because they have a larger network.

“I wanted to see them find a good home,” Strom said. “There's a lot of great dogs out here.”

Animal Friends workers chose names from more than 40 Dr. Seuss books to christen each dog and cat with a new name. The Greene County Human Society sent the most animals — including 20 cats — to Animal Friends, Bostardi said.

In addition to baths, the animals received medical checkups. Those in good health became available for adoption Jan. 2, Bostardi said.

Unlike Mayzie, Horton, a Rottweiler mix, wagged his tail as he was bathed and had his nails clipped.

“These dogs need a second chance — and some, a third chance,” said volunteer Rick Novosel of Pine. “I just want to help them live out a good life.”

Horton has a good chance for that, Novosel said, because the dog takes to people quickly. But so many animals are left lingering at animal control to die, Novosel said.

“There's too many like him,” Novosel said. “If we can save just one, it's worth it. I wish we could save them all.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or

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