By Lauren Leffakis, Chief Lifesaving Officer
A short while ago, I jumped in to help with morning walks for our dogs and signed out one of our newest dogs, Cher. The friendly 2-yearold pup was transported to Animal Friends through a brand-new partnership with Humane Animal Rescue Pittsburgh (HARP) and the ASPCA. This partnership allows both Animal Friends and HARP to bring large numbers of highly adoptable dogs to our region without overburdening the resources needed at any one organization to support the people and pets in our region.
Both Animal Friends and HARP work closely with pet owners and other shelters in our area every day. While we remain committed to providing this support, we know that there are many organizations in the country that are struggling with overpopulation and face heartbreaking decisions to euthanize healthy and adoptable dogs when they reach capacity. We also know that there are adopters in our area who are ready, willing and waiting to open their hearts and homes to a shelter dog, but struggle to find an appropriate match. By engaging in these partnerships, we are able to extend our lifesaving mission to shelters throughout the country without impacting our ability to continue to be a resource for our local area.
As Cher and I made our way up the trails for a walk, I started talking to him, welcoming him to Animal Friends and letting him know how happy we are to meet him. He enjoyed investigating and sniffing his new surroundings. When we stopped for a few minutes, I offered him some treats but he didn’t seem overly enthusiastic about them. I started to pet Cher and encouraged him to continue sniffing and enjoying the walk. But the moment I touched him, he started wiggling around and leaning into my leg, soliciting more attention. I knelt down to sit with him on the grass and he immediately melted into my lap, then sat up and placed his head on my shoulder. I was overwhelmed with his obvious love of people and the simple act of taking a peaceful moment for pets and praise. Seeing this, I knew that Cher would quickly win the hearts of potential adopters and find a loving home in no time.
But then I remembered that this young, beautiful and truly remarkable dog may not have had that chance if he had not made his way to Animal Friends. So many shelters in the United States are full of compassionate, caring, wonderful staff and volunteers who are dedicated to helping the pets in their community, but they are facing incredible odds because of the sheer number of animals in need. These groups are sometimes left with no options for placement of even the most adoptable dogs when kennel space runs out. Because Animal Friends and HARP have committed to supporting these groups and playing a role in rescuing these dogs, we are able to save the lives of dogs like Cher who deserve the chance to share all of the love they have to give. We are proud of our ability to balance the needs of our fellow animal welfare organizations and are excited to meet even more incredible dogs from near and far who deserve the chance to find a loving family.