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Animal Friends leaders seeking support for spay/neuter program

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 1:23 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Animal Friends' new Director of Communications Christy Bostardi plays with Reyna, a 6-month-old cat up for adoption, at the Ohio Township facility Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Animal Friends' new Director of Communications Christy Bostardi lifts Reyna, a 6-month-old cat up for adoption, from her cage at the Ohio Township facility Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.

Animal Friends leaders say usage of a spaying and neutering program has exceeded the organization's goal for this year, but donations to the program aren't matching up to the need.

This year, more than 9,500 pets were spayed or neutered through the program as of the end of November, said Jolene Miklas, former spokeswoman for the Ohio Township-based nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter. Miklas had been director of communications for nearly 10 years before leaving earlier this month.

“The people this program serves are low-income pet owners,” she said. “They're wonderful people because they all want to do the right thing. We have no problem finding people who need this program. The phone rings off the hook. The problem is finding people who don't need the program but want to fund the program.”

The facility's goal is to perform 10,000 surgeries before the end of the year.

“We are on track to beat our goal,” Miklas said.

“We offer high-quality, discounted surgeries to pet owners who otherwise wouldn't be able to spay and neuter their pet. We lose money on the program, but the goal isn't to make a profit off of it, it's to end pet overpopulation.”

To help spur financial support for the program, shelter board member Bob Fragasso and his wife, Janine, have pledged 50 cents for every dollar donated to Animal Friends' spaying and neutering efforts — up to $50,000 — through the end of the year, Miklas said. Service prices vary based on income.

“That's a great opportunity for people making out their year-end giving,” she said.

In addition to supporting the spaying and neutering program, leaders are focused on increasing adoption numbers as the facility's annual New Year's Eve Rescue approaches.

“We are on target to not meet our adoption goal,” Miklas said. “There are a lot of amazing animals that — for whatever reason — are still here.”

New communications Director Christina Bostardi said the shelter has had 2011 animals adopted so far this year — about 400 short of its initial goal.

In an effort to increase adoptions, the shelter upgraded its “priceless” campaign for all cats and dogs at least 1 year old. Animal Friends typically requests a $75 donation to adopt a dog or cat and $60 for a rabbit, but it is waiving the donation for pets who meet that age requirement through Dec. 31, Miklas said.

While the shelter mostly is known for caring for dogs, cats and rabbits, it also rescues farm and exotic animals, Miklas said.

More than 60 chickens, pigeons, ducks and a peacock were rescued this year, she said.

Bostardi said those that could be placed in sanctuaries were transferred to those locations.

“We're used to the meows and barks, but not rooster crows,” she said.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 orrcherry@tribweb.com.

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