First of all, HAPPY PET PARENTS DAY this Sunday to all those lucky enough to share their lives with loving animal companions.
Second, celebrate Pet Parents Day AND help the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society with ceramics for the Pittsburgh Pet Parents Day Painting Party! Celebrate your best friend while helping other pets find their forever homes.
Paint a cool food bowl, treat jar, picture frame or memorial plaque for your special animal companion. $15 covers painting and firing time, refreshments, treat bag and a donation to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. There will be a wide range of pieces to choose from to accommodate various price ranges.
Color Me Mine is located at 5887 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15217, Squirrel Hill. Call 412-421-2909 today to reserve your two hour block of time. We may be able to accommodate walk-ins on a space available basis, but pre-register to guarantee your spot!
You are welcome to bring your well-behaved pet and enjoy an outing together.
As part of the fundraiser, Karen Litzinger will be doing a CD signing of the award-winning Heal Your Heart: Coping with the Loss of a Pet with profits going to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. Consider having one on hand to give as a sympathy gift to a dear animal lover friend or family member.
Karen Litzinger, author of Heal Your Heart: Coping With the Loss of a Pet is a sponsor and organizer of this event. I’ve written about her and her wonderful CD several times on The Creative Cat in Heal Your Heart and in A Remarkable CD and Guidebook. Karen’s website is Heal From Pet Loss.
Pet Parents Day was founded by VPI Pet Insurance and this year is offering free e-cards to send to Pet Parents.
The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is an open-door shelter on Pittsburgh’s North Side serving over 14,000 animals every year. In addition to providing shelter for every animal presented regardless of how it arrived, they provide low-cost spay and neuter and veterinary clinic services, dog training and owner education for any animal parent, humane investigations of animal abuse and cruelty cases, pet loss counseling groups and fun events of all sorts for animals and the people who love them. I donate to them and write about them regularly; read about them here on The Creative Cat.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.
The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is in a critical state—FULL of animals, but NOT ENOUGH adopters. People continue surrendering animals every day, but fewer are coming in to adopt them. This is probably true at other shelters as well at this time of the year. We need to do something about it today, and for the future.
Right now, can you foster, even for just a few weeks or a month? Can you adopt just one more? You will save lives immediately if you do. Consider it, even try to do something this weekend, the situation is that desperate.
Gretchen J. Fieser, Director of PR and Business Relationships at the shelter, offered figures comparing September 1 to 19, 2010 and 2011 in surrenders and adoptions of cats, dogs and rabbits when figures are often lower with people adapting to their new fall schedules.
- Owner Surrenders of Cats: 13.85% increase
- Owner Surrender of Dogs: 21.92% increase
- Owner Surrender of Rabbits: 300% increase
- Adoptions of Cats: 26.51% DECREASE
- Adoptions of Dogs: 17.37% DECREASE
- Adoption of Rabbits: 50% INCREASE
To put a real number behind that surrender percentage, I visited the shelter a month ago and Gretchen noted, “We took in 48 cats on Tuesday [August 23], and we adopted out 11.”
Late summer figures for total animal surrenders often surpass 1,000 animals per month adding up to over 13,000 animals per year coming into the shelter.
And right now, surrounding no-kill shelters are full and are not accepting any other animals until their numbers are reduced by adoption.
But the WPHS doesn’t have the option of closing the door until they can accept more animals.
“As an open door shelter (we are committed to never turning an animal away in need) we must have help from the community as far as adopting, fostering animals, and spaying and neutering,” Gretchen says. As an open door shelter, they are required to take in all animals that are brought to them, but the shelter has a finite amount of space and the WPHS cannot exceed occupancy.
Even with a dedicated group of over 100 foster homes, breed rescue groups taking animals into their care for adoption and other options for moving animals out of the shelter to be housed other than actual adoption, the shelter still needs help with adoptions and fosters.
Help! I’m being mobbed by kittens!
Not that I mind, in fact that’s kind of the point of the Cat Colony Room at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society (WPHS)—to get you in touch with your inner kitten, and hopefully with your next kitten or adult cat best friend.
I recently visited in order to drop off my donation to the WPHS Best Friends’ Calendar 2012 Preview Event upcoming on September 13 (details below), a certificate for me to create a commissioned portrait for the winner.
The Cat Colony Room
Of course, I couldn’t pass up a visit to the newly-developed room which opened just this past June with the purpose of providing more room for 10 or more kittens to live together and run and play, and a space for people to walk in, sit down on the floor and have kittens crawl all over them so they’ll just be able to get to know them a little better before adopting.
“This used to be a storage room full of cabinets to store food and things for the cats and rabbits and sinks to clean the litter boxes,” said Gretchen Feiser, Director of PR and Business Relationships for WPHS who took the time to give me a tour. “We had only one room for meeting cats, and on a busy Saturday people get frustrated with waiting—and we certainly don’t want that if they’ve come here to adopt!”
They made a decision in spring to create a second feline meeting room room in time for the dreaded “kitten season” to help with housing the overflow of kittens and the occasional backup of adopters.
“These kittens have come back from foster homes,” Gretchen continued, explaining that they try to get litters of kittens brought in for surrender into foster homes “until they are a good age and good weight for spay or neuter.”
Normally there are many more kittens in the Cat Colony Room, but this morning there were four, all girls, all spayed and ready for homes. The brown tabby who greeted us at the door and had a thing for my shoes was Zipper, at 11 weeks. The three orange kittens were all 12 weeks and all from one litter: Ringo, the orange and white girl; Lala, the orange tabby; and Sasha Fierce, the cream tabby—now there’s a name to tell you about a kitty!
The importance of foster homes
The kittens chewed on our shoes and pulled on our earrings and climbed all over us, apparently secure in the knowledge that humans are just big cat toys, as Gretchen explained the importance of foster homes for kittens and all other animals in the shelter.
Kittens often come into the shelter too young to adopt, even needing to be bottle-fed, they may have illnesses common to young kittens, may have been found orphaned and need nurturing, or they may have been born outdoors and never been socialized with people. Kittens do much better in a home situation in the hands of people who are willing to feed and cuddle and play with kittens to socialize them and introduce them to children and other pets and a true home situation so that when they are adopted they know how to behave.
“We have a great group of foster homes,” Gretchen said, adding that they numbered over 100 at the moment, ready to take pets of any age for wellness, socialization and cage breaks.
“But we need more, especially at this time of year,” she continued. “We took in 48 cats on Tuesday [August 23], and we adopted out 11.”
Those foster homes help take care of the overflow of animals, especially cats during the summer. A typical foster session may be only days to give an cat a break from being in the shelter, or it may be a week or two if they are being treated for an illness such as an upper respiratory infection and need medication, or it may be a month or two in the case of young kittens. In all cases, WPHS covers the cost of medication and veterinary care in their own shelter clinic.
“And then they come here like this, friendly, healthy and ready to play,” said Gretchen as she cuddled an orange kitten.
“If you want to adopt but can’t, or you want to help out but can’t come here to volunteer, you can always foster,” she added.
While we were there two Volunteer Cat Cuddlers, Siobhan and Sean, came in to play with the kittens.
“We come in about twice a week,” said Siobhan, “and we really do hug kitties!”
“We take them out of the cages and visit with them too,” Sean added as a kitten was hanging off his glasses and another was climbing up his back.
We continued playing with the kittens until they started piling up for a nap.
The wonderful adult cats
Next we visited the cages in the main cat room and played with as many kitties as we could.
Yoshi, a long-haired tortoiseshell, 8 months, and Miko, a long-haired tabby, 2 years, had come from a home where there were “too many cats”. They were a beautiful pair of kitties, playful, gregarious, curious—anyone who adopted these two would have a home instantly full of the loving and playful companionship of two cats who were best buddies, ready to be best buddies with you.
Peaches, white with a few orange spots, looked cool and distant at first, until she fell down on her side and began begging for pets, nearly falling out of her cage!
Gizmo is a big and quiet kitty, long-haired tabby with white, but I could tell he had a lot of mischief in him, and the way he made direct eye contact told me he’s ready to be best friend with a human.
I could hear Ursula purring all the way down the row of cages, and while she appeared to be a plushy gray kitty rubbing back and forth and being as cute as possible, on closer inspection I could see she was a dilute tortoiseshell. Unfortunately, her photo didn’t come out well. It’s a shame I can’t sometimes be Lakshmi with several extra hands to hold kitties and take photos at the same time!
Of course, there were other kitties, and I visited last Thursday, so there may be new kittens and adult cats for adoption, but I can assure you that any of the cats I met would make a wonderful companion! Stop over at the shelter to visit, adopt if you can, or consider being one of the Humane Society’s wonderful foster homes.
The 2012 Best Friends’ Calendar
Each year the WPHS creates a wall calendar featuring photos of wonderful pets as a fundraiser for the shelter through sponsorships and sales. The Preview Event on September 13, 2011 will be at the Fox Chapel Yacht Club from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will feature hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar, calendars for sale and an auction of donated items, such as my portrait certificate, to benefit the shelter. For all this, tickets are only $25.00 each. Visit www.wpahumane.org or call 412-321-4625, ext. 248.
Open Door Shelters
“Being an Open Door Shelter means we never turn away an animal in need. We currently take in over 14,000 animals each year and have been helping people and pets since 1874. Visit the Open Door Shelters website.”
Donation of Commissioned Portrait Certificates
As my way of giving to shelters, I donate a limited number of commissioned portrait certificates to shelters and rescue groups every year to sell or auction in their fundraisers. The certificates are worth $125, the minimum cost of a portrait, and typically auction for well more than that. The winner receives a presentation folder with the signed certificate, a thank you letter from me for supporting the organization, one of my brochures and the invitation to begin the process of a portrait of their design.
I have to limit the number of certificates I donate because of the amount of time I put into each portrait, but I also offer commissioned portrait certificates at a reduced cost to other shelters and rescues when my yearly quota is reached. I like to help as many organizations as I can, but the kitties need to eat too! Please contact me if you are interested.
All images used in this article are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.
Despite the rain during the day, the event had a good crowd of people milling around Station Square, tasting food, meeting adoptable animals and dropping tickets into bags to win their selected prize baskets, all to benefit the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.
Here’s the basket I donated, four boxes of animal sympathy cards, feline art cards and notecards with cute cat and pawprint pencils.
All together, there were well more than 50 baskets for guests to choose from, both cat and dog-themed as well as things just for people.
When you purchased your ticket, you received a “passport” with the logo of every restaurant and exhibitor participating in the event. As you visited each tent and restaurant you had this passport punched on that logo, and passports that had all the logos punched were entered in a drawing for even grander prizes, such as major event tickets and a vacation.
The event began at 5:30 and I didn’t get there until 7:00, when it began to rain softly then in earnest, so I didn’t get to meet as many animals and people as usual, but there were several friendly dogs.
And two gray kittens, Tops and Jinks, who were a little uncertain about the rain falling outside their awning, though they weren’t getting wet. They are brothers who had been rescued from someone’s basement, are six months old and ready to be adopted.
There were bunnies this year as well, but because of the rain many of the adoptable animals went inside or simply got ready to go back to the shelter a little early.
Three greyhounds for adoption from Going Home Greyhounds.
The dessert reception and auction took place on the dock and the Duchess and Princess of the Gateway Clipper Fleet.
Gretchen Feiser, Director of PR and Business Relationships for the WPHS, pulls the tickets from each of the bags and announces the winners via microphone onto the two boats. By the end of the event, many people were out on the dock to socialize some more.
And just a nice photo of a small portion of Pittsburgh at night from the water.
Join us at historic Station Square in Pittsburgh tonight for an event to benefit the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society!
The Western PA Humane Society and Station Square will be holding the 8th Annual Sample of Station Square Event. A ticket and map will help you explore beautiful Station Square and try menu items from its many great restaurants.
You can also browse donated items and bid to win.
And you can also browse very adoptable cats, dogs and bunnies! Perhaps you’ll meet your new best friend!
VIP Cruise 4:30 – 5:15 pm
VIP Cruise: Recommended time to be at the dock 4:00 pm, boarding 4:15 – 4:30 pm Boat leaves the dock promptly at 4:30 pm
Sampling at Restaurants: 5:30 – 8:00 pm
Dessert Party: 8:00 – 9:15 pm
Tickets are $35.00 in advance, $40.00 at the door and VIP tickets are $60.00.
I stopped in today to drop off my donation item and parked by the WPHS van:
Here’s the special entrance for the many volunteers who were out even today in 90+ weather to walk dogs!
And their new Woof, Purr and Hop Shop, right by the front door so people can purchase their pet needs before they even leave the shelter. Here’s the feline section.
Meet a couple more of the rescued kitties I’ve met in the past few weeks, these two from a house that reminded me of my own through the years!
Irina, above, and Isis, at left, had a period of homelessness in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan hit Western Pennsylvania causing catastrophic flooding in communities that hadn’t seen any in decades. Many animals were lost or displaced as the floodwaters rose in a matter of hours during the afternoon when people were away at work. In the aftermath many homes were uninhabitable and people needed to find other accommodations, either long-term temporarily or permanently, and many pets were surrendered to shelters when living arrangements didn’t allow a pet.
Here is the course of events. Irina and Isis were surrendered by their person to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society when a private assistance organization secured long-term housing for her while her home was rebuilt, but didn’t take into account her cats. FosterCat, an organization you’ve read about on this blog, took as many cats as they could find foster homes for after the flood, and placed Irina and Isis with their current mom, who was fostering for FosterCat at the time.
She had heard their story and decided they’d been through enough disruption for one lifetime and decided to keep them. This is otherwise known as a “foster failure”, but it’s not a bad test to fail since a kitty gets a home; she also kind of decided she wasn’t any good at fostering.
Lucky for Irina, named for Irina Vorobieva, Olympic Russian figure skater, and Isis, the goddess, of course, they made their way to this mom! The reason I’ve posted photos that aren’t so focused on the cat is that I wanted to show the environment—a really nice house, full of decorative things, and lots of happy spots left for the cats, Irina in her cabinet, the door always open for her, and Isis in the cubby by the front door where she quietly watches the house.
Irina is a little frightened of her doggy brothers, two harmless little Pomeranians, so she stays in the kitchen, but according to Isis’ mom she’s a bigger cat and somehow intimidating, so the dogs don’t mess with her. Could be that tri-color gene.
More rescued kitties to come from this house.
Not only is it Adopt-a-Cat Month but it’s also kitten season. The Western PA Humane Society is doing its best to keep cats moving and has a number of adoption deals on adult cats and kittens, but even better the Buncher Family Foundation is offering an incentive to everyone who adopts between now and June 23.
With summertime comes a baby boom, it is commonly called “kitten season,” and it means a population explosion that crowds the shelters around the United States and at the Western PA Humane Society. Continual overcrowding of cats and kittens at the Western PA Humane Society North Shore Shelter and Fallen Timber location in Elizabeth will result in significant discounts for adopters on cats and kittens at the shelters until the cage space issues are alleviated.
“We are close to capacity and cats and kittens are still coming in,” says Lee Nesler, the Executive Director of the Western Pa Humane Society. “Adopting all healthy adoptable felines is our goal we NEED to find foster and adoptive homes for these animals as quickly as possible to ensure that we have room for the new homeless pets coming in daily. Since May 1we have been averaging 29 felines (cats and kittens) surrendered to the WPA Humane Society EVERY day.”
Here’s the deal:
ALL CATS over the age of 6 months may be adopted for NO COST to qualified adopters.
Kittens are “adopt one, get one” at the reduced price of just $85.
All cats and kittens adopted from the Western PA Humane Society are:
- spayed or neutered
- vaccinated with age appropriate vaccines
- feline leukemia tested
Here’s where BOYZ II MEN comes in!
Representatives of a local foundation heard about the overcapacity at the Western PA Humane Society and gave the shelter a gift of BOYZ II MEN/PSO Community Partners Tickets to help encourage adoptions. Every person that adopts a kitten or a cat will be given two tickets to attend the Pittsburgh Symphony Concert June 23, 2011 at 7:30pm while supplies last, courtesy of the Buncher Family Foundation.
Interested in adopting?
Qualifed adopters :
- complete a cat adopter survey·
- adopting a cat (6 months or older)·
- lease must clearly state cats are permitted (pet deposit paid if applicable)·
- limit to two adoptions per household·
- must have photo id with proof of residence·
- fee waived adoptions limited to shelter locations only (petco/petsmart are excluded)
For anyone willing to adopt please talk with one of our adoption counselors about adding a beautiful new feline companion to the family.
Can’t adopt? Can you foster for a brief period of time?
If someone is willing to open their home temporarily as a foster home please contact the shelter at 412.321.4625×221 or on the website at www.wpahumane.org/foster.html
WPHS Serving Pittsburgh for 136 years
The Western PA Humane Society is one of the oldest Humane Society’s in the United States, serving Pittsburgh for 136 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 almost 14,000 unwanted animals.
Shelters are located at 1101 Western Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15233, 412-321-4625, and 1680 Fallen Timber Road, Elizabeth, PA 15037, 412-751-2010.
Visit the WPHS website at wpahumane.org.
For more information on Open Door Shelters please visit www.opendoorshelters.org.