Christmas Morning Adopted Pet program delivers joy for Plum family

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

George Irwin felt horrible when his son's betta fish died a few weeks ago.

“I never realized how emotionally attached he (Aiden Irwin) was to the fish until he died,” said Irwin, 33. “If I could have bought a dog, I would have that night.”

The Irwins looked for a new fish, as well as a hamster, the next day at a pet store but didn't make any purchases.

George Irwin then thought of the Christmas Morning Adopted Pet Delivery Program conducted by the Animal Rescue League and decided to take his family to the shelter in Pittsburgh to find a pet dog. It didn't take long to find the right pet for Aiden, 6, and Ashleigh, 3.

Loki, a 9-month-old retriever and Siberian husky mix, quickly shot to the top of the Irwins' list and was delivered to the family's Carriage Boulevard home on Christmas morning.

Ann Yeager, marketing director for the Animal Rescue League, said the shelter's Christmas-morning pet delivery program is in its third year. Those who qualify complete paperwork, and Camp Bow Wow delivers the pets on Christmas morning.

“We are rethinking the myth of don't adopt pets at Christmas,” said Dan Rossi, executive director of the Animal Rescue League. “We want to save more lives and use the holiday time to keep the celebration and enrich the lives of new adopting families, while adding some responsible pet owner education.”

“There was something about Loki,” Irwin said. “My kids were sitting on a bench (at the shelter), and he laid down underneath them. He chose to sit down next to the kids. There was a definite connection.”

Irwin said a family whose son left for college decided it was best for Loki to have a new home.

Loki's delivery was a surprise for Aiden and Ashleigh.

“We had told them we needed another year (before we got a dog),” Irwin said.

Loki arrived around 8:45 a.m. and was an instant hit, Irwin said.

“My son answered the door,” Irwin said. “He was shocked. He asked if we got to keep him.”

Aiden and Ashleigh walked Loki through the house to familiarize him with his new home, Irwin said.

“It was an instant bond,” Irwin said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or

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