Animal rescue is a passion for some—one that has spawned nonprofit organizations and even television shows. mtl photographer Beth Hruby McCabe has photographed dozens of homeless dogs to help her cousin, Erica Lenzi, find homes for some of the more than 200,000 street mutts, or “satos” that live on the beaches of Puerto Rico. Lenzi’s nonprofit, Second Chance Sato, which partners with Save a Sato to transport rescue dogs from San Juan to Pittsburgh, is giving a new lease on life to these dogs, which are often abused and have a typical life span of only two years. Once they arrive, Lenzi cares for them in her Finleyville home until she can find the best family for each dog.
If you’re looking for a particular breed or to find a cause, as Lenzi has, you can search far and wide to adopt a pet. But you don’t have to travel. Two Pittsburgh animal shelters—The Western Pa. Humane Society and Animal Rescue League and Wildlife Center, which have formed Humane Animal Rescue—try to make adoption easy while still ensuing they find “good fits” for pets in need. Here is some advice from those agencies that you may want to think about before adopting a pet.
Before deciding on a dog, cat, bunny or other furry friend, consider your lifestyle—how long you are away from home during the day, the size and location of your house and yard, your family and your finances—since you will want to provide the best care possible for your new best friend.
Websites and Facebook pages for adoption agencies are good resources for information on adoption and to see animals currently available. If you are genuinely interested in adoption, however, visit the shelters and see the animals up close and personal.
Area shelters follow similar guidelines. Anyone is welcome to browse the wide selection of animals, but if you select a pet, you’ll have to complete a pre-adoption form that includes, among other things, questions about how you plan to provide basic care. You also will need to either verify home ownership or produce a lease showing that your landlord allows pets.
If it seems you can provide a friendly, supportive environment, you will meet with adoption counselors who have worked with your animal and can help decide if it’s a good match. They can answer your questions, discuss the animal’s medical and behavioral history and tell you what they know about its past.
All members of your household must meet your chosen pet. If you have a dog, you must bring the dog to meet any prospective dog. Your current dog must be up-to-date on vaccinations or medications before entering the shelter. A 24-hour hold can be placed on an animal in order to complete these requirements.
An adoption fee helps cover a portion of the care the shelter offers. Dogs have been dewormed and checked for fleas, while cats are examined for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia. All animals are current on vaccinations, spayed or neutered and microchipped. Fees vary depending on the age, breed and desirability of the animal (Plan on somewhere between $100 and $250). The staff may recommend an obedience course for you and your pet (schedule found on websites), if they think it would be helpful.
You will receive email surveys following the adoption, to make sure your pet is fitting in without any major problems and to ask for any recommendations on how to improve the adoption process. If you encounter problems, you may return an adopted animal at any time for any reason. If within the first few months, you find something medically wrong with your pet that you were not informed of, you may be entitled to a refund and an exchange for another animal.
Shelters try anything and everything to get people to consider adoption, including special events and fund-raisers that introduce the public to adoptable animals. All the shelters are open on weekdays and weekends. For specific hours, call or check the websites.
562 Camp Horne Rd., Pgh. PA 15237
412-847-7000 · www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org
Second Chance Sato
Humane Animal Rescue
(East Campus) 6620 Hamilton Ave., Pgh. PA 15206
412-345-7300 · www.animalrescue.org
(North Campus) 1101 Western Ave., Pgh. PA 15233
412-321-4625 · www.wpahumane.org