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Animal Friends' holiday rescue saves record number of animals

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:01 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.

The 17th annual New Year's Eve Rescue at Animal Friends was one for the record books, as the Ohio Township shelter took in more cats than ever before.

Christy Bostardi, Animal Friends' director of communications, said a record-breaking 36 cats — most of which came from Greene County Humane Society — were welcomed to the shelter during the event Dec. 31. Bostardi credited volunteers who stepped up to foster cats for freeing up enough cages at the no-kill facility to allow for the new arrivals. In addition, 23 dogs were rescued.

As of the Sewickley Herald's deadline, 14 animals — six dogs and eight cats — have been adopted.

Animal Friends' communications coordinator, Suaz Forsythe, said there still are some rescued animals that need to be medically cleared before they are available for adoption.

The annual New Year's Eve Rescue at Animal Friends gives many animals who were picked up by local animal-control facilities a second chance at life. Without the rescue, those lost pets and stray animals would have been euthanized by the end of the year.

“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 at the event. “Animal control becomes overpopulated, and they have to euthanize to make space for other homeless pets.”

Upon arrival at the Ohio Township facility for this year's event, each dog and cat was given a Dr. Seuss-themed name. They then received medical and behavioral evaluations, were bathed and groomed, vaccinated and spayed or neutered, if needed.

Rick Novosel of Pine was one of many volunteers who lent a hand during the rescue.

“These dogs need a second chance — and some, a third chance,” said Novosel as Horton, a Rottweiler mix, was groomed. “I just want to help them live out a good life.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz contributed to this report. Kristina Serafini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1405 or

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