New Year's Eve Rescue saves lives of cats and dogs

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

More than 30 animals received a second chance at life last week during Animal Friends' annual New Year's Eve Rescue.

The Ohio Township facility was teeming with paws and cries of “Aw” as volunteers reacted to the dogs and cats that came through the doors during the rescue event that offers an 11th-hour reprieve to lost and stray pets that are slated to be euthanized at local animal-control facilities by the end of the year.

“It's a super opportunity for the dogs,” said Diane Friske, of Shaler Township, who volunteered her time to wash the dogs on New Year's Eve.

“I always think when you look in the dog's eyes, you can see their history.”

This year, a total of 34 dogs and cats came from Feree Kennels in McKeesport, the Greene County Humane Society in Waynesburg, Hoffman Kennels in Delmont, Monroeville Animal Control in Monroeville and Secreet Animal Control in Canonsburg.

Each of the new Animal Friends' residents received a new name and collar upon entering the facility.

This year's theme was candy, in honor of all the candy companies in the Pittsburgh region.

Animals were given names such as Taffy, Lollipop and Butterscotch.

After admission, the soon-to-be pets received a bath, were groomed and underwent a behavioral evaluation.

The animals were made available for adoption as of last Friday, after their spay or neuter surgery.

The New Year's Eve Rescue is a long day for the volunteers charged with caring for and preparing the animals for adoption. But many say it is worth it to see the change in the animals and know that they will soon be part of a family.

“I'm thrilled to see them because they're going to get a new home and be nice and clean,” said Judy Faiello of Ross Township, who was busy volunteering her time at the pet washing station.

Mary Schuler of McCandless has volunteered with Animal Friends for six years and said many of the animals that come in during the rescue — such as Sugar Pie, a small, white Maltese-poodle mix — are scared and neglected,

Sugar Pie came to Animals Friends as part of the New Year's Eve Rescue with matted fur and unsure of the human attention.

Volunteers stayed with the dog, talked to him and played with him as he waited for his turn to be pampered by volunteers in what they call the “doggy spa.”

In the short time it took for volunteers to shear and bathe him, Sugar Pie had transformed into a playful pup rolling around on towels.

“A lot of these dogs don't know love,” Schuler said.

“A lot of them are scared and haven't had good human interactions.

“It's great when they come in and you show them love and attention, you see such a transformation.”

Jolene Miklas, director of communications for Animal Friends, said she hopes the annual rescue brings attention to the number of animals that are euthanized each year and the importance of adopting a pet as well as licensing and tagging the pets people already own.

“We're able to save lives today because we had empty cages,” Miklas said.

“We always say you save two lives when you adopt, the one you adopt and (the one that receives) the empty cage.

“We wish we could save 30 animals every day.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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