Pets For Life: A lookback at 2014

Pittsburgh’s shelters and rescues are always overflowing with adoptable pets awaiting their forever homes. These organizations—including Animal Friends—are working around the clock to find homes for the pets in their care.

What if we could stem the tide of pets entering shelters by providing pet owners with the vital resources they need to keep the animals they love? This is where Pets for Life comes in. In January 2014, Animal Friends partnered with the Humane Society of the United States to launch the Pittsburgh satellite of the nationally-acclaimed Pets for Life program. This program targets under-served neighborhoods by providing free, quality spay/neuter
surgeries, pet supplies and basic veterinary services to empower pet owners to keep their pets in a loving home. Based on a community assessment, Homewood was selected as our first Pets for Life target neighborhood.

With the recent completion of the 500th Pets for Life spay/neuter surgery, we thought we’d take a look back at our first year and share some of our favorite stories.

Miracle, a poodle mix, was discovered by Pets for Life volunteers as they canvassed the Homewood area trapping cats.  After a short discussion with Miracle’s family, the volunteers found that Miracle had been living in a back bedroom, too frightened to come out from underneath a bed. The family was at a loss of what to do for her and relinquished ownership to Animal Friends.  Miracle was in poor shape when she arrived.  But after her matted fur was shaved and her rotten teeth removed, Miracle was a new dog with a new name, Harriet!  Harriet went into foster with Animal Friends’ Enrichment Specialist Suzanne and stayed put.  She’s now known as the “Big H” in her new home and gets along fabulously with her canine sibling, Snowflake.

Harriet and Snowflake, an Animal Friends’ alum

Another success story is that of Bella, a young, Maltese mix who came to Pets for Life volunteers with a broken front leg. Bella’s leg had been in a cast twice but was not setting correctly. Bella’s family could not afford the price of the surgery that Bella would need to fix her leg.  They were told to euthanize Bella. Not accepting defeat so easily, Bella’s family heard of Pets for Life and went to our second outreach program in September.  They asked for help and Pets for Life rose to the occasion.  

Bella shortly after her life-saving surgery

A local veterinarian offered to take a look at Bella.  While she could not save Bella’s leg, she offered to remove the broken leg, giving Bella a second chance at life.  Bella is doing just fine now with three legs and a family that loves her.

We are looking forward to even more success stories in 2015.  

If you’re interested in working with Animal Friends’ Pets for Life program, please contact Carol Whaley at 412.847.7094 or

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