January 26, 2012

the save the animals foundation

my boy, cap'n lou
my girl, frances
Anyone who has known me on a personal level for more than about 15 seconds will already know that I love animals.  Reasons number one and two are to the left and right, respectively:  my deaf pit bull Frances, and my 17 year old, Energizer Kitty, Cap'n Lou.  Given the lifelong connection to animals, with which I have been blessed,  this is a very special edition of Citizen Pork for me.

The Save the Animals Foundation, or STAF, is a volunteer operated, no-kill shelter on Red Bank Road, which simultaneously cares for over 600 animals at any given time.  Tonight, as I write this, there are volunteers offering their time and energy to provide for these animals in need, many of whom are innocent victims of human neglect, irresponsibility, and cruelty.  They are there working on Christmas day.  They are there on Memorial Day.  They are there on the Fourth of July.  You get my point: the volunteers of STAF have carried the ball 99 yards, but they need people like you and me...people with loving homes and open places in their push it across the goal line.

The mission of STAF is simple, pure, and beautiful: to provide each animal with the highest quality of life and care until they can be found a permanent home or until they reach their natural end of life, the former always being preferable.  The facility is magnificent.  The volunteers are dedicated and tenacious, and they are making our city a better place through their selfless work and steadfast devotion to these wonderful creatures, with whom we share this world.

I recently had a chance to spend time with, play with, and photograph several of the beautiful animals the good people at STAF are saving on behalf of all of us.  Here are just a few of the hundreds of animals available for adoption.  I hope that you will read their stories,  look into their eyes, and then consider doing something to help.  There will be contact information for STAF at the end of the post.


photo by steve metz                                                                                                                                                                      sabra

 How are those for some loyal, eager, and soulful, brown eyes?  This is Sabra.  She's a shepherd mix.  Sabra was, sadly, dealt a double-whammy when it came to her earliest interactions with people.  A  breeder sold her as a pure-bred German Shepherd, which she isn't, and the person who bought the story, and consequently, the dog, decided that it would be ok to not feed poor Sabra very often or very much, after having attempted to return the dog to the shady breeder, to no avail.  So, at 11 months old, Sabra arrived at STAF weighing only 37 pounds: far underweight for a dog of her stature.  Those two encounters with humanity temporarily diminished her physique, but not her spirit or her mind.  Luckily, for Sabra, and for her, future family, STAF is well versed in handling these situations and reversing the course.  They know just how to nourish a soul like Sabra.  Lots of love, high quality food, and even weekly water-therapy to help build muscle mass, have all combined to give Sabra a second chance at life.  Now all she needs is a permanent place to call home and permanent people to call family.  This highly intelligent girl loves children, rope toys, playing fetch, and will be a faithful companion to you and your family. 



photo by steve metz                                                                                                                                                                      shay

This love, a striped, brown Tabby was actually born at STAF.  Shay's mother was left at the doorstep of the shelter, in a box, and carrying 9 kittens, all of whom were born at STAF.  Shay is the perfect cat for a loving family with children.  Your kids will be able to memorize those beautiful markings in his fur and carry those fond memories forward.  Shay is very well socialized.  He's loving, affectionate, and gently playful.  Isn't now the right time for this lovely creature to have his permanent home?  As I look at Shay's photograph, I imagine reaching my hand towards the top of his head to pet him.  He tilts his head slightly to give me just the right angle, squints his eyes, and purrs.



photo by steve metz                                                                                                                                                                  cupcake

I'll be honest here, when Cupcake walked into the visiting room at STAF to be photographed, there was a part of me that wanted to just sneak out the front door with her, hop in the car, and take this baby girl home.  She's that lovable and that beautiful.  In fact, in my opinion, she's television-commercial-beautiful.  When you factor in her sweet nature, Cupcake's story becomes even more difficult to understand.  She's a 3 1/2 year-old boxer, mastiff mix, who was dumped at a high kill shelter.  She was scheduled to die, but thankfully the staff at the high kill shelter saw something special in her, and they saved her life by finding her a place at STAF.  Now, it's nearly a year later, and Cupcake's still waiting for the perfect person or family to see what I see:  a sensitive, adoring animal, who will be the perfect friend for you, once she settles into her new life.  Cupcake loves playing with her toy football and giving big sloppy kisses. She's a bit of a snorer, too.  Zzzzzzzzzz.  Can't you imagine this cutie curled up in your house?  Maybe even on the couch, too?  Don't leave this sweet girl at STAF much longer than the year she's already been there.  Give her a chance to lay a big sloppy wet one on you.  



photo by steve metz                                                                                                                                                                  ophelia

Along with her 3 young siblings, Ophelia, a Blue Maine Coon mix, was left at the front door of STAF in the middle of the night.  They were malnourished, infested with fleas, emaciated, and terrified.  The volunteers at STAF gave the kittens intensive medical care, special handling, and feeding for several months to follow.  All of their hard work paid off.  All four of them survived their shaky start and blossomed into beautiful, friendly cats.  Ophelia is the last of the siblings to need a permanent home.  Despite, the abundance of luxurious, soft fur, which you'll feel like petting for hours, she is a petite girl.  Her spirit belies her size though.  Independent, intelligent, and playful in nature, Ophelia will make the  perfect addition to many different households.  She just needs the right one to come and find her.  Take a chance.  A rescued pet can make almost any happy home even happier.     



photo by steve metz                                                                                                                                                                  pascal

To me, one of the most rewarding aspects of pet ownership is being exposed to someone extracting unbelievable and repeatable joy from a seemingly small activity.  For instance, my dog Frances, even after over 7 years, still jumps for joy at the sight of a flashlight and a night-filled back yard.  She howls like a wolf and runs in circles like a holy terror, no matter how many times she's experienced chasing that beam of light.  Our next little buddy, Pascal, has a similar feeling about tennis balls, although less emotive than my pooch.  If you toss a ball for Pascal, you've got yourself a lifelong friend.  He came to STAF this past November, well groomed, well cared for: an apparent runaway.  Efforts to reunite Pascal with his first home were unsuccessful, so now he's ready for phase two of his life.  You'll be constantly amused by this canine comedian.  Part basset and part terrier,  but all irresistible.  Imagine this adorable guy dropping a tennis ball at your feet.  Sure, you'll have to pause the MacGyver rerun for a few minutes, but man, will it be fun...for both of you.  Giggles abound with Pascal.  



photo by steve metz                                                                                                                                                                      polly

This beautiful American Short-hair, with nothing but kindness in her soft gaze, had a rough entry into this world.  Only a few short hours after her birth, Polly's mother became startled, and was killed, having run in front of a car.  Polly and her 5 tiny litter-mates were brought to STAF, where they were bottle fed for 6 weeks by shelter volunteers.  Polly and 2 of her siblings remain at STAF, the others having found permanent homes.  Polly is a healthy, happy, well adjusted cat who can handle any situation with ease.  She will bring a calming, peaceful presence to your home.  Imagine how much human love and care this small wonder has already been given by the folks at STAF.  She's ready to give it back to the family that gives her the chance to do so.  When I look at Polly's photograph, I imagine petting her neck and then seeing her knead little imaginary biscuits with her paws.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  Soon, you'll both be taking a nap.  Polly's waiting for you at STAF.


Contact STAF

phone: (513)561-STAF
google map to STAF


  1. Is Shay a boy? Just wondering as most cats with a torti color pattern are girls.

    1. thanks for reading amy. shay's a boy.

    2. dag, that's a 400,000 to one shot of happening, maybe I just can't see it right

    3. No, Shay is a girl! Male torties are extremely rare (I've never seen one in my 20+ years volunteering at the shelter!).
      Thanks for the beautiful photos & write-up!

  2. Wonderful read Steve. I think the hardest thing for myself and my husband is that we would love to adopt another animal, but our home is already busy with three wonderful felines. I have created three little spoiled monsters that I sometimes think eat better than we do. I don't think I could factor in the love and care another buddy would need without causing some serious upset from my pride of three. If I didn't have any pets there would be no doubt that your write up would have me driving out to adopt a cat buddy or a dog buddy from Save The Animals. Really nice portraits too, you have a great eye for capturing that perfect expression.

    1. thank you robyn! you're doing your part for sure with 3 cats. you can always change your mind, or keep it in mind for down the road. see ya sunday.

  3. I love that picture of Pascal! He will sit down and snuggle with me on Wednesdays nights and that is like my 15 minutes of zen for the evening :)

  4. Lovely, lovely write up, thank you so much for featuring our "babes" :) We love them all. Sabra and Cupcake now go for weekly training lessons . For Cupcake it is to give her some good, quality time away from the shelter, and for Sabra...well, it is to teach her how to pay attention! She is still so much a pup!

    1. Thanks Diane! It was great working with you. Thanks for all you do. -- CP

  5. This is a wonderful story about STAF. STAF is a great organization and all of us volunteers truly do LOVE all of the animals!

  6. You have to love Pascal's eyebrows :)

  7. From just one of the many volunteers at STAF... Thank you!

    1. Thanks for all you do at STAF! -- CP

  8. Your photos are absolutely beautiful, Steve! If I didn't already have my own shelter and half-feral dog and cat, respectively, I would be running right down to STAF (where my sister-in-law volunteers, BTW) to get another one.

    I will make sure I pass the word along to my friends.

  9. Thank you thank you thank you, Steve!

    I'm a STAF volunteer, and it's so gratifying to hear someone from "the outside" express what we feel about these amazing friends of ours. My husband and I have been @ STAF for 8 1/2 years, so many of the cats have become our very close friends. It is, indeed, an incredible shelter where some true miracles occur. I wish anyone in search of a companion would think "Shelter First, Last, and Only!" I am VERY proud to be affiliated with STAF :). Your photos and commentary are truly works of art, and I'm very grateful to you!