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North Hills Monthly

Pug Rescues Looking for Breed-savvy Adopters

Oct 01, 2017 11:11AM ● By Shelly Tower Rushe


They’re small, smooshy, and full of personality. While pugs are believed to have been bred in China to be royal companions, you don’t need to be a king or queen to share a home with one of these adorable little nuggets. You just need a breed rescue that can help you find the right companion.

Patti Levay, founder of Guardian Angels Pug Rescue, has devoted the past 30 years to finding homes for pugs and mixes/non-pugs that she affectionately refers to as ‘Pugwannabes.’ She obviously feels very strongly for the breed, which she describes as social, overly friendly and snugglers. 

Lisa Ward with Southwest PA Pugs with Special Needs agrees wholeheartedly. “Generally, pugs make great family pets and get along with children and other pets,” she said. 

But they might even be too friendly. “Pugs will follow you wherever you go!” Levay joked, adding that you can say goodbye to bathroom privacy once you have a pug. 

While they may seem like perfect pets, adopters need to know that some dogs may require special considerations. Their pushed-in faces, buggy eyes, and bad knees mean they require someone knowledgeable enough about the breed to properly care for them. Both Levay and Ward specifically mention exercise levels. 

“If you’re looking for a pet that can go on long walks, run with you or play outside all day, then a pug is not the right breed of dog for you,” Levay cautioned. 

“Keep in mind they have the scrunched-in face, so their breathing is different from, say, a high-energy, long-nosed, large breed dog with more stamina,” added Ward.

And one more thing: “Pugs shed a lot!” said Levay. “You will find that most pug owners will dress according to the color of their pug.” 

The pugs that Levay rescues mostly come from owner surrenders, or from private homes that no longer can nor want to care for their pet. Other dogs come as rescues from puppy mills where dogs are often kept in crates, are under-socialized, and are repeatedly bred. Still others are taken from larger, traditional animal rescue shelters in order to remove them from a potentially stressful environment. “Pugs hate to be alone,” Levay explained. “They hate being in very noisy, cold, scary places—but don’t we all?”

Ward’s group focuses solely on pugs with special needs, the majority of which are medical. As a result, a good number of their rescues come from local shelters such as Humane Animal Rescue. Southwest PA Pugs provides these dogs with a greater chance of receiving proper treatment and attention as well as a quiet place to recover. 

Because both organizations are small, the process to place animals in their forever homes is extensive. “I’ve been told that my process is harder than that of adopting a child,” laughed Levay. 

The process starts with veterinary and personal references and an application. A volunteer conducts a home visit to ensure that the home is safe for a pug’s needs and meets all family members, including pets. Once the process is complete and the adopter is approved, they are invited to meet the rescues and introduce their current dogs to prospective adoptees. 

“Part of adopting through a rescue is the process. Yes, it is more involved, but that’s because we’re trying to make permanent placements,” explained Ward. 

If you’re interested in adopting a pug (or pugwannabe), visit for Southwest PA Pugs with Special Needs and find Guardian Angels Pug Rescue on Facebook to see available dogs. If you love pugs but can’t adopt, you can still help. Both rescues are very small and rely heavily on cash and in-kind donations. 

Guardian Angels is also looking for contractors willing to do some work to help them obtain a kennel license, which will help them rescue more dogs in need.