Animal Friends Advocates

Community support and action is critical to achieving our vision to create a humane and compassionate future for companion animals. By providing the resources needed to enable advocates to take action, we can create more humane communities in our region.

We work toward cultivating an accessible and inclusive community of animal advocates to connect with local, state and federal representatives and leaders of humane policy. We believe that the animal-related needs of our community are intersectional and are entitled to regular communication between constituents and legislators in order to ensure inclusive animal protection policies.

Our work extends to offering a variety of humane training and development opportunities, providing resources and education to lawmakers and municipal agencies, conducting research and primary data collection.

Animal Friends aspires to foster an inclusive community that prioritizes pet retention and animal safety.

Compassionate Communities

Legislators and Municipal Leaders

Humane Legislation Blog

Advocate for Companion Animals

Your voice is a powerful tool in saving the lives of companion animals. One phone call to your legislator can bring real and meaningful protection for thousands of animals. Companion animal protection is truly a bipartisan issue.

  • Vote! Voting is an important step in advocating for companion animals. It’s impactful when you can say to your legislators that you are a voting constituent.
    • For Pennsylvania residents, click here to register to vote or update your registration.
  • Discover what animal protection measures are before your local, state and federal legislators. Attend local municipal meetings or check out your municipality’s website.
    • For additional information on Pennsylvania state legislation, click here.
    • For more information on Federal legislation, click here.
    • Join the Facebook page for HSUS – Pennsylvania.
  • Contact your legislators to ask them to support companion animal protection.
    • Find your federal and state legislators here.
  • Spread the word by using our shareable social media content.

Declaw Prohibition

The Stop Declaw Committee of Mt. Lebanon, comprised of residents and with guidance from Animal Friends, seeks to ban the declawing of cats in their community.

To place the ban in front of the Mt. Lebanon Commissioners, the Stop Declaw Committee of Mt. Lebanon must collect 4,100 signatures of Mt. Lebanon residents who are registered to vote by July 31. 

Are you a Mt. Lebanon resident who is registered to vote? Please email CWhaley@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org

If you are not a Mt. Lebanon resident, you can still help the committee by liking and sharing their Facebook page!

A huge win for cats in Pittsburgh!

With a unanimous (9-0) vote on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, Pittsburgh City Council passed legislation to ban the non-therapeutic declaw of its feline citizens. The passage of this legislation makes the City of Pittsburgh the first government in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to ban non-therapeutic declawing of cats. The ordinance, which was crafted in partnership between Animal Friends’ Humane Legislation Committee members and Councilman Bobby Wilson’s office, was signed into law on Thursday, Sept. 30.

Animal Friends has been a leader in advocating against declawing for decades. Through our programs such as behavior and adoption counseling, nail trim services, sales of scratching posts and sharing educational information on declawing, we have worked with owners to keep claws on paws where they belong.

This legislation recognizes that declawing is the amputation of all or part of the last phalanx in cats’ toes to remove their claws to inhibit natural scratching behavior. The procedure is inhumane, unnecessary and cruel. Alternatives to cat declawing include nail caps, regularly trimming nails and providing ample and appropriate scratching surfaces.

Behavioral problems frequently result from declawing, including biting and litter box aversion due to pain and ongoing physical trauma from the procedure. Declawed cats with behavioral problems often end up surrendered to local animal shelters, contributing to an already exhausted shelter system.

Passing the ordinance is an important step to not only protect cats, but to prevent further stress and compassion fatigue on shelter workers and volunteers. As well, Pennsylvania Representative Liz Hanbidge introduced a non-therapeutic declaw ban bill at the state level, House Bill 1624.

With the passage of the declaw ban in Pittsburgh, we are in a strong position to move similar ordinances through several local communities and, perhaps, the county. Building support at the local level also provides a good foundation for progressing the ban at the state level through House Bill 1624.

Compassionate Communities

Animal Friends strives to engage in meaningful, mission-based collaborative efforts with municipal agencies to address multi-faceted community issues related to companion animals. To achieve a more just and humane region for animals, we offer Compassionate Communities, a progressive program which provides protection for companion animals through resource sharing, education and legislation.

Since 2019, the Compassionate Communities program has partnered with municipalities willing to implement and promote humane solutions for companion animal concerns.

Why Compassionate Communities? Building strong relationships across social service, governmental and community-driven networks is a more efficient use of scarce time and resources as we seek to expand our reach.

Compassionate Communities make humane commitments to their animal residents.

  • Agree to humane method of controlling community cat (feral) population through Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return (TNVR).
  • Agree not to hire an Animal Control or Pest Control entity to trap healthy community cats for the purposes of euthanasia as a means to control population.
  • Allow for the proper feeding and care of community cats.
  • Agree to promote the programs and services offered by Animal Friends to their community members.
  • Remove language from existing ordinances which prohibit humane treatment of animals.

In return for enacting humane policies, procedures and ordinances, Animal Friends offers Compassionate Communities:

  • Discounts on spay/neuter surgeries at our Animal Wellness Center.
  • Discounts at our Re-Sale Store at our Animal Wellness Center.
  • Discounts on the adoption fee for cats, dogs and rabbits at our shelter.
  • Discounts on select dog training programs.
  • Partnership between Animal Friends’ Chow Wagon Pet Food Bank and a local food pantry.
  • Presentation for community stakeholders on TNVR and proper colony management.
  • Presentation for the police force on Pennsylvania’s Anti-Cruelty Statute.

Legislators and Municipal Leaders

Are you a local legislator or municipal leader interested in touring Animal Friends to learn about our programs and services, please contact Carol Whaley, Director of Humane Programming, at CWhaley@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org or 412.847.7094.

Humane Legislation Blog Articles

Why Cats Have Claws … and How to Live with Them! Print handout
Rabbits and the Law 
Paws Need Claws
Dog Law Funding
Libre’s Law