Pet Tales: Help an animal shelter and feed the butterflies

Puppies from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society rode around in Uber cars. Homeless kittens, therapy dogs and therapy rabbits from Animal Friends cavorted in Market Square. The animals delighted and de-stressed Downtown and North Side office workers during two lovely interludes May 19 and 20.

Also on May 20, the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County approved two grants totaling $268,000 for projects that will benefit animals and the people who love them. 

Here’s a potpourri of animal news and happenings, including the new butterfly garden at the National Aviary, a fundraiser  for two local rescue groups and a party at Petagogy, a natural pet supply store: 

Cats in Market Square

The Animal Friends Pop-Up Therapy Event brought smiles to many faces in Market Square on May 20, as three kittens and five rabbits were held and petted. 

The kittens were available for adoption, but the five rabbits are the personal pets of Trish Gainey of Avalon. Peanut, Buttercup, Sunshine, Shadow and Minchu are all graduates of the Ohio Township shelter’s Therapets program. She adopted three of them from the shelter. 

The bunnies regularly make visits to Reading Is Fundamental and Reading With Rabbits programs. Parents say children’s reading skills improve when they read to therapy rabbits and dogs.

There were many therapy dogs — all of them wonderful — but Seumas, a soft-coated Wheaten terrier, caught the eye of many, especially when they learned that the lovely curly-haired dog is 12 years old.

Norma Fiscus of New Sewickley adopted Seumas from Animal Friends nine years ago and can’t imagine why anyone abandoned such a wonderful dog. He regularly visits nursing homes and Reading With Rover programs.

Last year, Therapets animals made visits to 45,000 people.

Uber puppies

Eight puppies were all adopted after spending May 19 riding around Pittsburgh in Uber ride-sharing cars. Forty-two workplaces paid $30 to book short visits with the puppies from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.

Some of the puppies were flown from Louisiana by volunteer pilots with Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team. They came from shelters where euthanasia rates approach 100 percent.

Gabby, a treeing Walker coonhound from the Crescent State, charmed me and my co-workers at the Post-Gazette. Uber driver Mike Garber of McCandless delivered her and shelter volunteers Janet Duzicky and Sue Palombo of Ambridge and Mollie Sam of Crafton Heights, who accompanied Gabby on all of her visits.

The other puppies were Betty, a black Lab-pit mix; Boudin, a long-haired dachshund mix; Alina, Alaina and Amber, Catahoula leopard dog mixes (that’s the state dog of Louisiana, by the way); Benny, a pit bull mix; and Grace, a treeing Walker coonhound mix. 

Gabby and Grace’s breed dates to Colonial times and was developed from American foxhounds and English foxhounds. They have been bred to track raccoons and chase them up into trees.

Animal Rescue League

Staff and board members at the Larimer shelter were thrilled to receive Allegheny County funds for the first time ever. A $150,000 grant is earmarked for the new $15 million ARL shelter under construction in the 6900 block of Hamilton Avenue in Homewood.

Public funds must benefit the public, including Homewood residents, so the grant will be used for landscaping and to replace existing sidewalks that are unsightly and unsafe, said Dan Rossi, executive director of the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center.

Ground was broken last July, and construction is expected to be finished in January. Nearly $10 million has been raised, including a $750,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

New dog park

County officials approved $118,000 to Forest Hills for a new Main Park Dog Park and for improvements in Koch Park. 

Friends of the Forest Hills Dog Park have raised more than $10,000, member Terri Bostard told the Redevelopment Authority. Many dog owners have requested a fenced park where dogs can run and play off-leash.

Work at Koch Park will include repairs to the shelter and new benches, and a horseshoe pit will be converted to a bocce court, said borough manager Steve Morus. 

Pints for Paws

Full Pint Brewing, 1963 Lincoln Highway, North Versailles (15137), will hold a fundraiser from 3 to 7 p.m. next Saturday to benefit True Companion Animal Rescue and Gray Paws Sanctuary.

Tickets are $25 the day of the event for all-you-can-eat grilled picnic fare and nonalcoholic beverages. Ten percent of beer purchases benefit the rescue groups. There will be raffles and games including darts and a corn hole tournament.

Save a little money by making a $20 check payable to Gray Paws Sanctuary and mail to 211 Arlington Ave., North Versailles, PA 15137. That’s the home of Joe and Darla Poole Brescia, who provide a final home for abandoned elderly dogs.

Free party

Petagogy, a locally owned independent store, is celebrating five years in Shadyside with a party and pet vendor fair from noon to 4 p.m. June 5 at 5880 Ellsworth Ave.

Adoptable kittens from Animal Rescue League will be there, and prize raffles will benefit that shelter. There will be free dog ice cream for canine guests and pet food sample giveaways. 


An interactive walk-through Butterfly Garden debuts this weekend at the National Aviary on the North Side. 

Located in the lovely outdoor Rose Garden, the garden offers visitors the opportunity to hand-feed a specially formulated nectar to a number of butterfly species, including Monarchs, painted ladies and giant swallowtails. 

The Butterfly Garden is included in the general admission: $14 for adults, $13 for 60 and older or children ages 2-12.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-3064 or on Facebook.