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North Hills Monthly

Animals Receive Second Chance during New Year’s Eve Rescue

Dec 01, 2016 07:40AM ● By Shelly Tower Rushe

Maroon with Dr. Tegan

For the last 20 years, Dec. 31 has meant more than just ringing in the New Year to homeless dogs, cats and rabbits in the Pittsburgh area. It’s been a second chance for a happy ending.

Beginning New Year’s Eve morning, staff and volunteers of Animal Friends begin making trips to partner shelters and animal control facilities. Animals that are having trouble finding a home or who are down to their last chance are transferred to Animal Friends' Ohio Township facility. 

“It’s a Pittsburgh tradition,” said Shannon Tremblay, director of communications at Animal Friends. “Spirits are always high.”

The New Year’s Eve Rescue began as a way to help clear out animal control cages that often became full after the holidays. At the time, these animals were typically euthanized rather than rehomed. Since those early years, the rescue has expanded into much more than a one-day event. 

“We call it the Ultimate Resolution,” explained Tremblay. “We have formed symbiotic relationships with animal control facilities and rural shelters that last all year long. Together we are making the ultimate resolution to save more lives.” 

Because of this expanded relationship, and the fact that some animal control facilities are now adopting out animals themselves, Animal Friends is finding that animals are at less risk than in years’ past, though some still need their help. 

“There were still some last-minute rescues,” said Tremblay.

The animals that are relocated to Animal Friends are scheduled to come into the shelter in waves in order to make sure that there is time for each animal to receive the proper attention. The animals are immediately named, seen by a medical team, and groomed so that they can begin to settle into their temporary home. 

“Animals are typically ready for adoption approximately a week later, depending on their medical and behavioral clearance,” said Tremblay, who encourages those interested in adopting to watch the Animal Friends’ website closely, as it is updated hourly.

The rescue changes a little bit every year, and each year the animals are named based on a theme—examples include famous authors and crayon colors. This year’s theme has not yet been announced.

Whatever the theme, the hope is that dogs like Salinger (Sal), a brindle pit bull mix, can be matched with the perfect family. Found by a good Samaritan, Salinger had a bullet in his knee and was taken to a veterinarian who amputated his leg. He was then transferred to a rural shelter. During last year’s New Year’s Eve Rescue, Salinger was brought to Animal Friends. 

A few weeks later, a family came into the shelter to meet a dog they had seen online, and after realizing that the dog they were initially interested in was too rambunctious for their daughter, adoption counselors introduced them to Sal. This family of physical therapists, who often work with amputees, knew it was the right fit. Sal has since earned his Canine Good Citizenship certification and is working toward becoming a therapy dog so that he can join his owners at work.

As you ring in the New Year, consider starting it off by giving an animal a second chance. Visit for a list of all of the adoptable animals.