Pa. animal rescue celebrates 15 years, 5,500 adopted animals



To Dianna L. Estman, there’s no such thing as an unadoptable dog.

That’s why, since founding Club Pet Adoption in 1999, Estman has made it her mission to take in those dogs that the majority of pounds and rescues can’t accommodate — or simply won’t accept — and place them into good, loving homes.

“I want Club Pet to be the one that differs and takes what is left behind,” Estman said.

What’s often left behind are dogs with special needs — or those that may require just a bit more time and effort than others, but are no less deserving of adoption, she added.

Many of the more than 100 dogs housed at Club Pet Adoption, located on 30-some acres at 20 Schaller Road, have health issues such as diabetes or a history of seizures, or arrived there in need of medical care. Others are considered seniors, because they are more than 6 years old and, therefore, less adoptable. The rescue even takes in animals with terminal illnesses, giving them a comfortable, homelike place to spend their final days.

Though the no-kill animal rescue receives no federal, state or local funding and operates solely on fundraising and public donations, Estman said she doesn’t worry about cost when taking in and caring for dogs. “Can’t” just isn’t a word in her vocabulary.

It’s not cheap, however.

The rescue’s veterinary bill is upwards of $60,000 per year — which accounts for a host of treatments and procedures, including amputations, orthopedic surgeries and tumor removals. A Labrador retriever

named Frank, for example, recently underwent an $800 eye surgery, while the rescue’s nearly 20 heartworm-positive dogs each required about $500 worth of treatment.

About 60 percent of the dogs at Club Pet Adoption are transfers from pounds across five states, while the remaining 40 percent are strays — which Estman frequently finds tied to posts on her property or thrown over the fence, or left in carriers nearby.

In fact, the rescue itself grew out of the handful of animals that had been dropped off at her house, she said. The former accountant added, though, that starting Club Pet Adoption was her calling in life, and that, if given the chance, she wouldn’t choose to do anything else.

More than 5,500 dogs and cats have been adopted from Club Pet Adoption in the past 15 years.

Working with animals is her passion, Estman said, explaining that she’s grateful to have met so many people “from so many different walks of life,” who are connected by their love for animals.

“There are so many good ‘animal people’ out there,” she said. “We have an awesome support network — everyone from businesses in the community to the little old lady who has sent $5 a month for the past 10 years.”

Including herself, three volunteers work at the rescue — but there are no paychecks, Estman said. It’s heavily supported through a strong volunteer base, including Jane Baglier, of Sharon, Pa., who has worked with Club Pet Adoption for more than a decade.

Baglier said she was drawn to the rescue for many reasons, but especially because of Estman’s philosophy toward animals, which differs from that of many other animal shelters.

“[She believes] that all lives have value,” Baglier said. “She’s taken dogs that have cancer, dogs that were so badly abused that there were behavioral issues. But she believes that’s not necessarily the end of the road for them.”

All dogs and cats up for adoption are fully vetted, and have an adoption fee of $80. An adoption application is required, simply to ensure that the fit for each animal — and its owner — is right, Baglier said.

She added, too, that though Club Pet Adoption wants its animals to stay in the homes that they’re adopted into, it understands that “sometimes situations change.” All animals come with a lifetime return guarantee.

But Baglier said she believes that there’s a dog out there to fit “every personality, every lifestyle, and every home,” and urges people to consider dogs from animal shelters, particularly Club Pet Adoption.

“There’s nothing wrong with shelter dogs, except that somebody didn’t want them anymore or couldn’t keep them anymore,” she said. “If you’re looking for a dog, we’ve got one for you.”

The rescue’s next fundraiser — an auction and bake sale — will be from noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 8 at the American Legion, 1395 E. State Street in Sharon, Pa. All proceeds will go toward heating Club Pet Adoption’s kennels for the winter.

Club Pet Adoption is at 20 Schaller Road in Transfer, Pa. The rescue is open from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Additional hours are available upon request. For more information, call 724-962-0877.

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