35 Wabash St. PO Box 8480, Pittsburgh, PA 15220

Success is measured in more than happy endings

Rescues with unusual stories show Animal Advocates’ heart

The ultimate goal for every animal admitted to Animal Advocates follows the a “rescue, rehabilitate, rehome” framework. Over the course of the past two years, adoptions at Animal Advocates have steadily increased to record levels.

2020 set an all-time high for cat and dog adoptions, with a record 154 cats and dogs placed in new homes and 2021 continues the trend with adoptions at a higher than normal pace. Behind the success stories and statistics is another narrative, one that reflects the heart and mission of Animal Advocates.

When only taking in highly adoptable animals and turning away seniors, those challenged with chronic health issues or otherwise un-adoptable cats and dogs, it is easy for some rescues to have a high percentage of animals who are “saved.”

But what happens to the others? The goal of rescue, rehabilitate and re-home is not a linear path. In the work of animal rescue, there is a daily reminder that growth and development takes time and patience, and does not follow a prescribed schedule. Each animal is different, their needs are unique, and ultimately the care is personalized.

The stories of Rooney, Blu, Duchess and Clyde and Zoe reflect the commitment and dedication of Animal Advocates to the “rescue, rehabilitate, rehome” framework, and all of the animals entrusted in the organization’s collective care.

The stories of Rooney (left), Zoe (center) and Clyde represent the true dedication of Animal Advocates and its volunteers.

Rooney came to Animal Advocates thanks to the quick action of concerned neighbors in a local community, who noticed Rooney and her three kittens on a porch under covered furniture. Worried about the feline family’s safety, they contacted Animal Advocates’, and within a few hours, the group was rescued. While the kittens quickly adjusted to life inside, Rooney is still adjusting to her new surroundings.

Experienced caregivers at the rescue use measured techniques of exposure to human interaction and rewards, allowing Rooney to build trust with people at her own pace. “I love working with all of the cats, but especially the ones who are shut down or fearful,” said one volunteer that worked with Rooney. “When the ‘lightbulb’ goes on and the cat realizes people are not so scary, there is no other feeling in the world like it for me and all in the volunteer family at Animal Advocates.”

While she may not evolve into a lap cat, Rooney has made incremental progress, and will continue to live in a safe, loving environment for as long as it takes.

Dogs with Blu’s condition can lead normal, happy, and fulfilling lives, but Blu’s life started out as anything but normal.

Blu was found abandoned on a country road in a box full of comforters when he was just a few weeks old. He suffers from a condition called cerebellar hyperplasia, which is not painful, but does make him a bit wobbly and clumsy when he’s moving around. Dogs with this condition can lead normal, happy, and fulfilling lives, but Blu’s life started out as anything but normal.

After being rescued by Animal Advocates and landing with an amazing foster family, Blu flourished. He enjoyed playing with his dog siblings and foster humans, even though he often stumbled and fell while doing so. Thanks to the efforts of the Animal Advocates’ dog team and his foster family, Blu has since been adopted and is finally getting the chance to lead the normal life he deserves, filled with love and enrichment.


Following a driving rain storm, a volunteer found a cat clinging to life in a wooded backyard. Wet, cold and in critical condition, Duchess was provided emergency treatment for severe dehydration, malnutrition and an untreated infection.

Further testing revealed the impact of untreated diabetes. Volunteers provided wonderful care, opening their homes and hearts to ensure Duchess (right) had a quality of life and love that she so deserved. Sadly, her time with Animal Advocates was short, but there is peace knowing her final months were spent in a place filled with love and compassion for all animals.

“These animals are in a difficult situation through no fault of their own. Animal Advocates covers any expenditure to help protect and do what is best for the animals,” said one of Duchess’ fosters. “It’s reassuring knowing the animal had the best care at the end of their life or during a difficult period when needed most — and many go on to forever homes. It’s so rewarding!”

For seventeen years, Clyde and Zoe (right) resided with a local senior citizen as devoted companions. With the owners passing in 2021 and the home slated to be sold in weeks, an uncertain future loomed for the feline brother and sister. Family members unsuccessfully sought out rehoming assistance from multiple rescues, including the shelter that originally adopted the pair in 2004.

Desperate and out of options, the family considered euthansia as a more humane option for the cats than spending their final years in a shelter or kennel. With limited resources and space, taking on a bonded pair of senior cats is a challenge for any rescue.

The plight of Clyde and Zoe immediately caught the attention of volunteers at Animal Advocates. At Animal Advocates, animals are admitted to the rescue regardless of age, health or adoptability. Our goal has been the same since 1984: to help serve as many animals as possible and provide high-quality care for our rescued cats and dogs.

No animal is ever euthanized at Animal Advocates unless suffering from an end-stage illness and all of the cats and dogs are provided with high quality food, supplies and care while at the rescue or in foster homes. That committment is one reason why Clyde and Zoe now have an adoring forever home, with humans committed to their care.

Even better, Clyde’s broken heart is starting to heal.

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