WPHS Celebrates Senior Pet Month

With striking green eyes, long whiskers and a soft coat, Nico is obviously a good-looking kitty.  But this handsome feline has been waiting for his forever home for almost a month now.  Honestly, we cannot figure out why.  To be fair, Nico did come to us with a vision impairment (he is essentially blind).  But other than that, he is a normal kitty who wants someone to love him, and to love someone in return.

So why is Nico still here?  Our best guess is that it may have something to do with the age on the kennel card that hangs from his cage.  Since Nico was abandoned at the shelter, we had to estimate his age.  After taking a look, our veterinarians estimated this darling boy to be around 10 years old.  While kittens and young cats are quick to be adopted, often our animals in their senior years end up being in a shelter longer than their younger counterparts – simply for their age.

If you did not already know, November is “Adopt a Senior Pet” month.  If you have never thought about adopting an older pet – now is the time!  Nico is just one of the many animals at the WPHS who are in their “golden years.”

Like Sissy…

                                                       …. or Ram

… and Scamp!

With senior pets, there is no guess work that comes with these animals.  What you see is what you get.  The personality, health issues, quirks,  and behavior of each older animal is well documented and understood.  The truth is senior animals are who they are, and you know what you are walking into when you adopt one.  But they are just as loving and in need of a great home as younger animals. You just have to be willing to open your heart. Visit www.wpahumane.org  to see all of our senior pets waiting for their retirement home!


Who Rescued Whom?

You would think that after working in a shelter environment for 10 years, Assistant Director of Animal Services Jamie Wilson would have tough skin after seeing so many animals come through our doors with sad stories.  But Jamie is still able to open her heart to the more “challenging” pets that we have, and she was inspired to tell her story about a recent experience with a dog named Gabby.

Gabby, and her pals Jamie Wilson and Tammy Link

Gabby, and her pals Jamie Wilson and Tammy Link

At first glance, Gabby looked like your average Siberian Husky when she arrived at the Western PA Humane Society in February 2012, but she was extremely scared and a bit aloof.  The person that surrendered her explained that he had gone to a breeder for a puppy, but felt bad that she was being used just for breeding so he took her home instead.  Once he had her home, he realized that she was not used to human interaction and that she needed much more help than he could handle himself, so he brought her to us.  While at the shelter, Gabby shied away from most of our shelter staff; however, she immediately took to Jamie, living and sleeping under her desk.Thinking that going through a rescue would give her the best chance of finding an appropriate family, Gabby was matched with a very promising home.  Jamie had to coax a hesitant Gabby into their car, saying her final goodbye; or so she thought.

One year later on January 2013, Jamie arrived at work for a staff meeting.  There, she was told that Gabby was returned to the shelter. It seemed that in the year the family had her, Gabby was still uncomfortable around them and was not able to relax. After hearing the news, Jamie said her heart broke for Gabby and that in her ten years she had never felt so attached to a dog.  She immediately went to Gabby’s kennel and broke down, sorry for Gabby that she was having such a hard time finding her perfect match.

Gabby loves Jamie!It was then that Jamie made it her mission to make sure that Gabby’s next home would be her last.  She devoted her time at the shelter to socializing with Gabby (Gabby seemed to definitely miss her on her days off!).  Gabby, shy dog that she was, even helped socialize a litter of feral puppies that were brought to the shelter. Gabby was made available for adoption once again, but with an application only so that Jamie and other staff could make sure that it was a true fit.  Later in January, a woman filled out an application after meeting Gabby. Sitting next to Gabby, Jamie read the application, and at the bottom read, “Gabby gave me kisses.”  Jamie read it out loud to Gabby, who immediately showed her approval with a tail wag! The woman brought her own dog in for an official meet and greet which went spectacularly. Gabby was adopted again on January 27, 2013.  All it took was the right person (and pet sibling) for Gabby to blossom.  She no longer hides in corners or under furniture.  She loves to play and just be a dog!

At the shelter, we always talk about having moments of “Who rescued whom?” Even though we as staff do not always adopt our favorite pets ourselves, they still leave lasting impressions on us.  Some of us, like Jamie, have a wall of photos of our success stories.  Others might just be able to tell you every detail of a particular pet.  Our feeling of success comes from knowing that when the next “Gabby” comes through our doors that we will be prepared to help them in their time of need.

A Challenge From Our Executive Director!


Spring is inching closer by the day, which means it’s time to get serious about this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon! As a team, we exceeded the goal for 2012, and I’m ready to set the bar even higher in 2013. As the new Executive Director of WPHS last year, I was motivated to prove my dedication to the organization. This year, I’ve got a new motivation, in the form of my newly adopted WPHS puppy, Astro.

In order to make an even greater impact on WPHS animals this year, I’ve decided to make a pledge to my supporters. Here it goes: If I am able to meet my personal fundraising goal of $10,000, I will go bald(yes, completely bald)- and the top WPHS marathon fundraiser, with help from a WPHS staff member of their choice, will have the honor of shaving it off for me!

Fundraising from last year’s marathon helped us buy new kennels and hire additional staff, ultimately expanding our offsite adoption efforts and allowing us to assist more animals than ever before. We are looking to save even more lives in 2013, so please donate what you can and spread the word!

To help me reach my goal, just stop into the shelter with your donation or visit http://www.crowdrise.com/teamwphspittsburgh2013/fundraiser/davidjanusek by March 1st, 2013.

Remember, every penny counts and all donations are tax deductible!

An Update from Two Unexpected Friends!

Chloe  Rooney

In October 2011, I adopted a 6-year old Mini Rex rabbit named Chloe. Chloe was already litter box trained and free roaming, and essentially the perfect pet for a college student with no space. There was just one problem; While rabbits tend to thrive in pairs, Chloe’s bossy nature kept shelter staff from successfully matching her to anyone else. Just one year later, I was able to find the perfect, but quite unlikely, match for my little furball– a Doberman Pinscher.

I found Rooney (then named Ivy) at the Western PA Humane Society last November at about 8 months old. I’d always adored dobermans, but upon my first interaction with the awkward pup, I knew she had to be mine! Within a week or so, this dog (surrendered for being “untrainable”) had settled into our home perfectly. She was already fantastic with potty and leash manners and had mastered about 10 commands. Most important to me, however, was Rooney’s total lack of reaction to cats, birds or small animals we encountered on walks and pet store trips.

I eventually felt comfortable enough to introduce my girls, first through a gate, then with Rooney on leash.  From the day they were allowed free roam together, Rooney and Chloe were great pals. Although I was surprised at how  quickly Rooney gained Chloe’s trust, I was not at all shocked to see all 6 lbs. of Chloe bossing around her new  friend with grunts and nudges. Luckily for us, Rooney responds well to Chloe’s “herding” and respects that the bunny is boss!!

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have such success introducing a dog to my Chloe, especially so quickly! I certainly don’t believe that there is a more perfect canine match for me and my family. Rooney and I are starting our first round of obedience classes at WPHS in order to earn a therapy dog certification. We hope to not only touch the lives of others through our therapy visits, but also to change negative misconceptions about shelter dogs and the doberman breed as a whole.

Thank you WPHS!

Author: Jamie Rempel

Brand New Program Benefitting W. PA Veterans

Western PA Humane Society Creates new Veteran’s Adoption Program

The Western PA Humane Society (WPHS) is excited to announce the creation of “The Western PA Society Veterans Program” at the Western PA Humane Society’s North Shore and Fallen Timber Shelters.  The program’s goal is to successfully match veterans with adoptable companion pets (dog, cat or rabbit) from the Western PA Humane Society’s North Shore or Elizabeth shelters.  The program provides financial assistance with adoptions, obedience classes and pet care supplies sold at the WPHS shelter retail stores.

  • COMPLIMENTARY ONE YEAR WPHS MEMBERSHIP (reduction in vet care      costs)
  • $50.00 TO $100.00 VOUCHER FOR WPHS STORE (depending upon type of      pet adopted)

“We are very excited about this new adoption initiative,” says Executive Director David Janusek.  “We have been building this program for a long time and looking at different organizations that have done this sort of match-making in their cities.  We are looking forward to bringing this special adoption plan to Pittsburgh and its large population of military veterans.”   For any active military personnel or honorably discharged military vet that is willing to adopt please visit our website www.wpahumae.org and click on “programs” to fill out an application and to find out more about adding a companion to the family.

The Western PA Humane Society is one of the oldest Humane Society’s in the United States, serving Pittsburgh for 138 years.  The Western PA Humane Society is an “open door” shelter, meaning that they take all animals into their facility without a waiting list or a required fee (although the shelter does ask for a donation when animals are being released to their care.)  Last year the Western PA Humane Society took in over 13,000 unwanted animals.  For more information about the shelter, its available animals, and on the Veterans Adoption program please visit www.wpahumane.org.

Tips For Summer Pet Care

Summer is almst here! Along with warmer weather come challenges for your pet’s health and comfort.  Help your best friend start summer on the right paw with a spring or early summer wellness visit to your veterinarian.   For optimum health make sure vaccinations are up to date.  If your dog does not take heartworm prevention medications all year make sure you ask your vet for a heartworm test before giving the first dose of these prescription medications.  Ask your vet about monthly flea & tick treatments. Take your pet’s breed, activity level and age into consideration when planning outdoor activities. Some dogs like short-nosed breeds, those with medical conditions, older or over weight dogs should be in an indoor air-conditioned environment.  Here are some other hot weather tips from the WPHS clinic staff to help you and your pets enjoy warm weather fun:

Coat & Grooming:

A clean coat can help to prevent summer skin problems. Keep your dog or cat well-groomed. Shaving a dog’s coat to a 1-inch length can help prevent overheating. A dog’s coat also helps protect them from the sun. Shaving down to the skin can cause problems like sunburn and other discomfort.

A cat should be brushed frequently to keep their coat tangle-free.

The best quality food you can afford and frequent grooming will help control shedding.

If your pet plays outdoors wiping their paw bottoms and coats with a clean, dry cloth can help control environmental sensitivities. 

Sunburn & Skin Cancer:

White cats who like to sit in windows and dogs with pink pigmentation around their noses can easily become sunburned and have a skin cancer risk.

Ask your vet about applying sun block to sun-sensitive areas such as nose and ears and if they advise against using zinc oxide.

Contact your veterinarian if your pet does get a sunburn.

Heart Worm, Flea & Tick Treatments:

Dogs should be on monthly heartworm prevention medicine prescribed by your vet after a wellness examination

Make sure you do not use dog products on cats or cat products on dogs.

Check to be sure the flea & tick or heartworm products you are using are for the correct size and weight of your pet.


Always bring your own water and a water bowl on walks and for car trip.

Public water fountains often contain antifreeze which is poisonous.

Pumped decorative fountains are dangerous because of the powerful pumps that circulate the water. There is drowning danger for pets and people. These fountains also contain conditioning chemicals and other potential toxins so don’t let your pet drink from them. Bring your own fresh water and a bowl.

Plan walks and outdoor play time in the cool mornings or evenings and not in the direct sunshine of the afternoons.  Exercise is shady areas.

Barrel chested dogs should not work out after eating; wait for a minimum of 1 hour after meals before walks.  Eating and exercising is a bloat risk.

Gulping water on long walks in hot weather can also distend their stomach.   Plan cooler times of the morning or evening for exercise.


Do not allow your pet to over exert themselves in hot weather. A dog can become overheated quickly and without many warning symptoms. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and fatigue: weakness & lethargy, labored or heavy breathing, excessive panting, bright red gums, eyes or tongues, elevated body temperature, and collapsing, or suffering seizures or coma.

Dogs and cats have a higher body temperature than people do; 100 to 102 is normal for them. A temperature of 105 requires emergency medical care from a veterinarian.

First Aid for an over heated dog includes placing cool, wet towels over them. You can also cool them in a pool of tepid water. Avoid using ice since it can harm the skin.

Dogs pant to cool themselves, but prolonged heavy panting is not good for your dog.

It is more difficult for your dog to cool themselves by panting on humid days.

If your dog is receptive to this habit, use a spray bottle of water to spritz their face and paws.

Surfaces like concrete and asphalt become hot enough to burn your dog’s paw pads.

Hot surfaces can impair a dog’s ability to regulate their body temperature since paw pads are one way they dissipate heat.

Dogs who live outside:

Outside dogs need ventilated shelters and plenty of shade. A sturdy, ventilated shelter is necessary, even if there are abundant shade trees. 

Outside dogs also need unlimited access to water. Bowls should be heavy so they don’t spill and kept in the shade.

If you keep a pool of water for cooling it should also be kept in the shade.

Enjoy summer with your pets! The WPHS clinic veterinarians can provide this important care for your pets.  As a special thank you WPHS Caregiver Members receive a courtesy discount in our clinic on all services and products including flea & tick treatments and Heartgard among other benefits.  When you come to our low-cost clinic you help provide financial support the homeless pets we care for.

Run For A Reason!

 Did you know that running is good for your health and for your local shelter? At least, it is if you register with us!

 The 2012 Pittsburgh Marathon is set for May 6, 2012. The Pittsburgh Marathon includes multiple subsets and racing options for runners, from the 26-mile marathon run, to a half-marathon that’s 13 miles long, to a children’s course, and so forth.

 Not only is this an annual event locals look forward to – but, as always, runners also have the option of making a difference in their community by running for a local charity during the marathon. Charities that runners may race for include cancer research organizations, Team Livestrong, Urban Impact – and the Western PA Humane Society.

 This will be our second year of participation in the Pittsburgh Marathon. Our charity runners from last year raised $23,675 for the animals in need in our facilities. Now we’re looking for runners for this year’s marathon! We only ask that all runners raise a minimum amount of funding for the animals at our shelters by March 15th, 2012. As a runner, you’re raising funds that help us provide care and shelter to more than 13,000 animals that come through our doors every year.

 The fundraising goals are as follows: 

Join The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society Team!

     Marathon – $500 
     Half Marathon – $500
     Marathon Relay – $500 per Relay Member
     5K – $300
     Children’s Marathon – $50

 Once you reach half of the fundraising goal stated above for your particular event, the Western PA Humane Society will officially register you with the Pittsburgh Marathon using a charity-specific code that helps track your involvement with our charity. You will NOT need to register yourself with the Pittsburgh Marathon!

 (In the event you have already registered for the marathon but would like to run for the Western PA Humane Society, it is still possible to raise funds for our animal welfare organization. Please contact Sarah Shively at (412)321-4625 ext. 244) sarah.shively@wpahumane.org

 Everyone who registers will receive:

-An official running jersey from the Western PA Humane Society to let everyone know why you’re running and why our cause is important to you

-A personal fundraising page to help reach your fundraising goal

-Membership to the Steel City Roadrunners Running Club
Online Social Media Outlets
-Western PA Humane Society marathon newsletters

 Plus, in addition to doing some good for the Western PA Humane Society, the top fundraisers for our shelter will also receive gift cards to the mall at Robinson!

 By the way: you don’t have to be a long-time runner to participate in this event. One of my very own journalism professors, who never dreamed she would be able to do such a thing, trained for last years marathon and surprised even herself as she realized how much she actually enjoyed running. 

 However, if you still don’t want to run, you can participate as a Virtual Runner and help fundraise for the shelter. You can still make a difference in the lives of our shelter inhabitants!

 Now that you information about all of the ways you can help, please act soon to do so.  Our Goal Is $50,000!

by Larissa Gula