Biscuits Bingo a big win for more than the players

Biscuits Bingo was a veritable who’s who of people who love animals and people and organizations that work so hard to help them. At the end of a very long day that included a six-hour, 20-game bingo marathon, the event raised more than $35,420 to benefit 14 local organizations.

For 19 years, Pittsburgh police Officer Christine Luffey has organized Biscuits Bingo to help organizations she regularly deals with on the job. She has investigated and prosecuted hundreds, if not thousands, of animal abuse and neglect cases. Each year the bingo gets bigger and brings in more money.

Celebrity bingo callers last Saturday included former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, a board member for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. The North Side shelter, which recently merged with Animal Rescue League, is a bingo beneficiary.

But the celebrities that drew the most attention were two dogs that have benefited from Officer Luffey’s investigations — Effie and Biscuit, a recent rescue (see related story).

Officer Luffey adopted Effie, 3, last September from the humane society. At the bingo, the dog’s main caretaker was Officer Luffey’s daughter, Katrina, 12, who put in a full volunteer day.

Effie had been starved to 13 pounds by the people who owned her when a good Samaritan alerted Officer Luffey. She prosecuted the owners. The humane society staffers cared for Effie for months.

By 11 a.m. last Saturday, all of the 600 tickets were sold out for the bingo at  IBEW Local Union No. 5 on the South Side. Foot traffic was brisk around the table of the Great Pyrenees Club of Western Pennsylvania. The group recently took in seven puppies who were diagnosed several days later with parvo virus. Vet bills added up to $17,000; four puppies survived.

Lynn Pilarski, who has run the rescue group since 1985, was thrilled with the $2,600 raised for the big white dogs at the bingo. She also appreciates the “get well” cards and $700 in donations mailed by people who read about the puppies in Pet Tales.

Retired police officer Regina Martin Allman was one of many bingo volunteers. She and her husband, David Allman, also a retired police officer, are getting a share of the bingo proceeds for Hog Heaven Rescue Farm, which they have operated in Cochranton since 1998.

The rescue currently is caring for 27 pigs, most of them pot-bellied, and 29 pigs are waiting to come into the rescue. 

“They lived in houses as pets, and when they come here they cry because they miss their families. It’s heartbreaking,” Mrs. Allman said.

The regular bingo brought in $15,000. The additional $20,000 came from cash donations, elaborate raffle baskets put together by supporters of the rescue organizations and from raffle prizes given by an astounding list of more than 90 individuals and organizations.

The donor list represents a wide swath of the Pittsburgh area community, including the worlds of sports, culture and business. Donors included the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins; the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Home Depot stores in East Liberty and West Mifflin, Lowe’s in West Mifflin, Eat ‘n Park restaurants in Pleasant Hills and The Waterfront, the LeMont restaurant, and Sam’s Club in Robinson.

Officer Luffey thanked the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for donating their hall, rent-free, for Biscuits Bingo.

Pittsburgh police officers were on hand to help with the event, including recently appointed Chief Scott Schubert. City Council members attending included president Bruce Kraus, Darlene Harris and Theresa Kail-Smith, who noted that she has attended all 19 Biscuit Bingos. Among the dozens of volunteers was Teresa Sekely of West Mifflin, Officer Luffey’s longtime helper.

Biscuits Bingo also benefits Animal Friends, Rabbit Wranglers, Forever Home Beagle Rescue, Hello Bully, Homeless Cat Management Team, Hope Haven Farm Sanctuary, Angel Ridge Animal Rescue, Foster Cat Inc., Club Pet Adoption, Pittsburgh Pets and Senior Pets and Animal Rescue.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 413-263-3064 or on Facebook.