For nearly 40 years, Animal Advocates has been committed to the principles of its founders.
Starting in 1984, Animal Advocates’ founders sought to educate and raise public awareness on the ethical issues surrounding the treatment of animals. These six individuals deployed grassroots advocacy, public demonstrations, letter writing campaigns and other educational tools with the aim of creating a community in which all animals are treated with dignity and compassion.
The small but dedicated group of volunteers took inspiration from national animal activist groups but independently researched and acted on projects of local concern, often standing on Downtown street corners with collection jars. Monies collected were used to inform and educate the public regarding the plight of homeless, abandoned, neglected and abused animals.
As the organization grew and the number of volunteers increased, the need for a permanent home base in the form of a building was evident. Early volunteers engaged in fund-raising by holding yard sales, soliciting individual donations and placing collection cans in stores. When those efforts fell short of the capital needed, volunteer Pat Kenezevich individually called 1,000 people on the mailing list.
When additional funds were still needed, pleas were made to friends and neighbors to offer loans with the promise of payback within five years. Finally, the needed amount was raised and the building at 35 Wabash Street in Pittsburgh’s West End was purchased in cash, with no mortgage. The Animal Advocates Thrift Shop opened in April 1993, with the initial proceeds going to pay back those individuals who had provided loans.
Before long, the need for local animal rescue became clear. The Thrift Shop was moved downstairs, while the second floor naturally became a space for homeless cats after one was dropped off for boarding during a holiday and never retrieved. Today the second floor provides a temporary home for up to 15 cats awaiting adoption.
While animal rescue is the cornerstone of Animal Advocates’ efforts, the job doesn’t end once an animal is safe. In fact, the rescue is often just the beginning of an animal’s journey. Behind the adoption statistics are rescue stories like those of Raymond, Atlas, Chloe and Maggie that reveal the meaning of compassion in action.