Meet Our Cover Star: Gator

The second of two winners of our cover star auction item at last year’s Black Tie & Tails was Kevin McCluskey, who is no stranger to getting the opportunity to have his beloved pet’s face showcased to the public! Gator, a handsome brown-haired boy who was rescued in southwest Virginia from living life on a chain, was also the spokesdog for last year’s Alley Up event!

Get to know Kevin, Gator and the rest of his four-legged family:

Tell us about your pets:
I currently have [four] – two cats and two dogs. I have had [my] two cats, Fiona and Mayhem, for 12-14 years. Both cats came to [me] from friends who could no longer care for [them] for various reasons. My two dogs are Alli and Gator. Gator rescued me on March 27, 2021 [when] I was going through a rough time. I had recently gone through some transitions in both my personal and professional lives and had recently lost Harper, a rescue dog from Humane Animal Rescue. [Gator came to me through] the sister of a friend from work who was a vet student at Lincoln Memorial University and also volunteers at a local animal rescue. [She met] Gator and thought we would be a match. Alli came to me through a friend of a friend. Alli’s human mother had passed away unexpectedly. My friend asked me to rehome Alli so that she wouldn’t be surrendered to a shelter.

Tell us about Gator … what makes him unique?
Gator (and Alli) love meeting people and getting attention from [everyone]. [Gator] loves to meet and greet anyone he encounters on our walks throughout the North Side. I think he thinks he is the mayor of the North Side out meeting his constituents. Both he and Alli love to cuddle and be the center of attention. Alli and, especially Gator, enjoy visiting local businesses on the North Side like Allegheny City Brewing, The Garden Café and East Street Beer Distributor that are dog friendly and are happy to shower them with treats.

Why is Gator so special to you? Any particular stories you’d want to share?
The main thing that makes Gator so special is that he was there for me and helped me get through some difficult times. Also of note, Gator was the spokesdog for last year’s Alley Up with Animal Friends. This past year I bid on Alley Up in the hopes of winning so Alli could be the spokesdog for this year’s event. Unfortunately, I was outbid. That’s the reason that I have some guilt that I did not make Alli the subject of this article (she can be very jealous).

Why do you support Animal Friends and would you encourage others to do the same?
I have supported different animal charities for years. I remember going to the Best Friends Ball for Humane Animal Rescue years ago [and] I have been supporting Animal Friends for years. Although I had pets growing up, I don’t think I had the passion for charities such as Animal Friends until the past 5-10 years. I think a major factor in my transition/evolution was when I adopted Harper from Humane Animal Rescue in January 2015. I never knew I could love an animal as much I loved Harper [and] she [has] a memorial bird bath and bench on the Animal Friends campus. She changed how I perceived animals from pets to soulmates. Another major factor that changed my perception on animals, dogs and Pit bulls was the documentary “The Champions” about Michael Vick’s dogs and how they were rehabilitated and overcame trauma after they were rescued. I contribute routinely to Best Friends Animal Society after watching this documentary and have
continued to contribute to organizations like Animal Friends that promote animal welfare and work tirelessly to save animals like Harper and Gator.

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