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Western Pennsylvania Humane Society workers thrilled with empty kennels

| Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 12:25 a.m.
Woody Dziubek, 42, of McCandless and volunteer dog-walker for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society stops in front of empty cages to pet Jasmine, one of the dogs up for adoption, Thursday, November 29, 2012. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Linda Niedermeyer, volunteer dog-walker for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society pets Princess, Thursday, November 29, 2012. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review

In Gretchen Fieser's 11 years working at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, she's never seen the kennels so empty.

“Isn't it great?” said Fieser, the North Side shelter's spokeswoman, as she walked past the quieter-than-normal kennels, which can handle dozens of dogs. “What makes us most excited is that long-term dogs — dogs that have been here since July and August — found homes. ... This worked out really well.”

The canine exodus occurred on Monday during a promotion in which Mary Ryan, 59, of Fox Chapel donated money to cover adoption fees for up to 30 dogs at least 2 years old.

Fifteen such dogs found homes through the promotion, Fieser said, including staff favorite Molly, a 9-year-old mutt who found a home with an autistic boy, 6, and his family.

“I'm just thrilled with the way things went,” Ryan said on Thursday. “I emailed everybody, I was so excited. I feel like I got Christmas early.”

The promotion did not apply to puppies because the Humane Society generally has few problems finding homes for younger dogs, staff said.

Adoption fees range from $50 to $175, depending on the dog's needs. Ryan declined to say how much she donated.

“There are some real wins here, like Molly and that little boy,” Ryan said. “So many people are so happy. I just feel fortunate that I have the money to do this.”

Ryan has adopted two dogs from the shelter, including Scooter, a Shetland sheepdog that was 8 when her owners decided they could not pay for her dental care. Scooter died last year, but gave the Ryan family many happy years, Ryan said.

Among the dogs adopted was another staff favorite: Lucy, a 9-year-old shepherd mix that was so pudgy when her owners surrendered her that the shelter put her on a diet and walking regimen.

Volunteer Linda Niedermeyer brought Lucy to the Mall at Robinson, where a little girl fell in love with her.

“That little girl lay down with her and said, ‘Mom, I'm not leaving until you say we can have this dog,' ” Niedermeyer said. “Lucy's going to have a great home.”

Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com.

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