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North Hills Monthly

Supporting Local Animal Shelters Makes for Meaningful Holiday Gift

Nov 30, 2018 12:31PM ● By Kathleen Ganster

Photo courtesy of Humane Animal Rescue

Purchasing holiday gifts for someone who has everything is not only a chore, it can be a waste in so many ways. As more and more people have started looking at the real meaning of the holidays, they are turning to gifts to nonprofits in honor of loved ones.

Local animal shelters maintain “wish lists”—things that they need on any given day, but many of them also offer other unique ways to give.  

“Our website does have a thorough wish list, which includes the pet and specialty wildlife supplies that you would imagine our diverse organization needs on a consistent basis. That includes everything from Kitten Milk Replacer to hand soap, and even dried pumpkin seeds,” said Matt Pietropaoli, manager of communications at the Humane Animal Rescue. 

But Pietropaoli added that donors can review their website to find designations that may be of interest. 

“For example, designating your donation to homeless pets helps Humane Animal Rescue provide daily care to the animals that are brought to us through the city's animal control and the public. Such a designation does include supporting our spay/neuter programs,” he said.

And it isn’t just the “usual” monetary donations that help the shelters. 

“One big way people can help contribute to our cause during the holidays is simply through their patronage at our events around the region. This month, Kenny Ross dealerships in Zelienople and Irwin are hosting Humane Animal Rescue for our annual Pet Photos with Santa events; we will also be at Galleria of Mount Lebanon and The Mall at Robinson throughout December doing gift wrapping for donations,” Pietropaoli said. 

Other opportunities are listed on their website and Facebook pages at

Animal Friends also has a variety of needs. 

“From donating pet food to our Chow Wagon Pet Food Bank to sponsoring the adoption of a homeless animal to making a generous monetary donation, it truly makes the difference in the lives of the pets and people of our region,” said Shannon Clarke, director of communications.

“Gifts” can range from sponsoring a spay or neuter surgery for a $50 donation to sponsoring a kennel at the facility for an entire year. 

Have pets on your list that need gifts? Clarke suggests purchasing the items at Animal Friends' on-site retail stores. While they offer competitive pricing, 100 percent of the proceeds benefits the dog, cat and animal rescues. 

“Our original retail store is located in our Caryl Gates Gluck Resource Center and features all of the essentials including food, treats, beds, crates, leashes, collars, toys, Animal Friends' apparel and more. And our Re-Tail Resale Store, located in Animal Friends’ Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center, features deals on high-quality, gently used pet products for up to 75 percent off retail value,” she said.

You can also purchase items for the rescue animals that Animal Friends houses including toys, food and treats. 

“For another way to support Animal Friends all year long—for free—choose us as your charity of choice on Amazon Smile. A percentage of each eligible purchase will be donated to Animal Friends at no additional cost to you,” Clarke said.

Visit Animal Friends at for more ideas and to see their wish list. 

“Generous people of the community and businesses can have a huge impact on the life of a homeless pet at the Butler County Humane Society,” said Assistant Executive Director Debbie Aglio. “Patrons can sponsor an adoption at any time throughout the year for $60 to $125, depending on the age and type of animal. 

“Sometimes generous people, including businesses, will cover medical costs or surgeries for a particular animal as well,” she added. “It may be that a certain cat or dog has some special needs. We have some dogs currently that have heartworm and the six-month treatment for one dog costs $800.” 

A donation of as little as $15 helps by providing a microchip, collar and engraved ID tag for a shelter animal. Their website lists a variety of donation options at 

Butler County Humane Society is also hoping to expand their Business Adoption Ambassador Program for cats. 

“If there are businesses that would like to help shelter pets get adopted and can house one at their storefront, this is the perfect opportunity. Business can take the opportunity to adopt out great pets to great families, while Butler County Humane Society provides some of the pet supplies and provides all of the training you need,” Aglio explained. 

She cautioned that it is not a good idea to give an actual animal for a gift. 

“It is important to note that we support ‘Adopt Don't Shop,’” she explained. “Under no circumstances do we adopt pets out as gifts, which is important to emphasize as we approach the holidays. Adopting a pet is an important decision not to be taken lightly.”