The Healing Center and Animal Friends are teaming up to create happy tales for animals and families throughout the region. 

With the help of The Almanac, the medical cannabis dispensary and animal shelter are launching an adoptable pet of the week program to publicize available dogs, cats and rabbits to help them find their forever homes. 

Best Buds, as the program has been dubbed, started with an end-of-year charity event created by The Healing Center. 

“Every December we hold our Healing Hearts charity event, where patients can purchase a heart for a dollar. The patients put their favorite charity on the heart, and then all of the hearts are placed into a drawing. At the end of the event, one heart is selected and the money raised goes to the listed charity,” Lisa Craig, The Healing Center’s director of marketing, said. “This year’s winner selected Animal Friends as their charity.”

To further support the cause, Craig placed special messaging at the dispensary’s locations in Washington, Cranberry and Monroeville.

“It was very well received,” she said. “Our patients are really passionate about animals and really took a vested interest. We sold 1,438 hearts and we’re matching our patient’s donations for a total of $3,000.”

Interested in doing more, they were eager to help inform the community about pets in need.

“Animal Friends is facing so many challenges right now with the pandemic,” Craig said. “We’re trying to work together to help get the word out.”

In addition to rescuing and rehoming animals, Animal Friends, located in Pittsburgh, offers low-cost pet care like spaying and neutering, vaccines, wellness exams and treatments like flea prevention. They also provide outreach, education and therapeutic programming.

Chris Kohan, The Healing Center’s co-founder, said their new partnership with Animal Friends has been natural. 

“We’ve supported Animal Friends independently in the past,” he said. “We’re excited to be a part of this.”

Animal Friends is grateful for the support. Each year, they rescue and rehome roughly 2,500 animals. Since the pandemic began, they’ve had to alter their adoption process as the shelter is closed for walk-in adoptions. Exposure, especially from corporate partners like The Healing Center, helps create vital awareness about the shelter and its services.

“We hope that this partnership and the resulting pieces will shed light on the amazing animals that can be found in a shelter and clear up any misconceptions about shelter animals,” Cody Hoellerman, Animal Friends’ chief community engagement officer, said. “We truly believe there is an animal for every family at the shelter.”

Carrot Top, a white Rex rabbit, will kick off the program. The seven-month-old rabbit was born in a foster home after the shelter accepted 30 rabbits from a single owner.

“She’s curious and energetic, but once she expels that energy, she loves to snuggle and sit in laps,” Hoellerman said. 

Best Buds will be featured throughout 2021. While Hoellerman is hoping for weekly success stories, he’s optimistic this program will create a trickle effect for other animals at the shelter.

“We really hope that people have the opportunity to reach out to us and let us know what they are looking for in a pet,” he said. 

To learn more about Carrot Top and other Best Buds, visit To learn more about Animal Friends, their services and their current adoptable companions, visit

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