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New Year’s Rescue Gives Second Chance to Adoptable Animals

Article and photos by Vanessa Orr



During its 26th annual New Year's Rescue on Friday, Dec. 30, Animal Friends welcomed 13 new animal residents through transfers with three partner organizations – Rabbit Wranglers (Pittsburgh, PA), Animal Charity of Ohio (Youngstown, OH) and Sable Kennel (McKeesport, PA). The animals included 11 dogs and two rabbits.


These animals will each undergo medical and behavioral evaluations before being made available for adoption and beginning their search for loving families. Once cleared, the search will begin to find the perfect placement for each animal, with adoptions expected to begin the first week of January. The animals will be listed on the website, www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org as soon as they are available and adoption applications can be found online.


“This year’s rescue is focused on second chances and positivity, so all of the animals have been given a name that signifies that hope,” said Animal Friends Director of Communications Cody Hoellerman of this year’s rescues that includes Aspire, Serendipity, Wish, Mercy and Harmony.

The New Year’s Rescue is a longstanding Animal Friends tradition that dates back more than 25 years. The event began as a way to give a second chance to animals in animal control facilities who were slated for euthanasia after the new year. Animal Friends would visit animal control facilities and partner organizations in the area to pull as many animals as possible.



The event has changed over the years, as the trend moves away from overpopulation thanks to spay/neuter efforts and increased awareness about pet adoption in the Pittsburgh region.

“Now, this event is an opportunity to celebrate these partnerships and provide support to partner organizations through the transfer of adoptable animals from areas where they are struggling to find adopters, to Animal Friends' facility where there are many adopters waiting to provide a loving home to animals in need,” explained Hoellerman, noting that the increased visibility that Animal Friends provides can help increase the likelihood of an animal getting adopted.


“These transports are just as important as they’ve always been. But, because organizations like Animal Friends partner with other organizations throughout the year, they are rarely faced with the need to make difficult decisions about euthanasia with the mutually beneficial partnership between Animal Friends and their fellow animal welfare organizations,” he added.



Animal Friends’ transport program conducts shelter-to-shelter transports throughout the year. They partner with other shelters, animal control facilities, and rescue groups to bring in adoptable dogs, cats and rabbits and are continuing to expand these partnerships. Because Animal Friends has high visibility in the community and high traffic from potential adopters, they are able to balance the support of animals in the community as well as those further from the Pittsburgh area.


In 2022, Animal Friends transported more than 300 animals into their facility from partner organizations. In addition to these new arrivals, there are also many cats, dogs and rabbits at the shelter still waiting to find their forever homes.


To learn more, or to fill out an adoption application, visit www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org or visit Animal Friends at 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237.