Over the last five months, 12 animals have found their forever homes with the help of Best Buds, an adoptable pet of the week program that publicizes available dogs, cats and rabbits in the region.

Formed in February, the program started with an end-of-year charity event started by a local medical cannabis dispensary, 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.”

Special messaging placed at dispensary’s locations in Washington, Cranberry and Monroeville struck a nerve.

“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 matched our patients’ donations for a total of $3,000.”

In an effort to do more, they partnered with Animal Friends, located in Pittsburgh, and The Almanac to draw attention to animals in the region in need of a loving home.

“We laugh when we say ‘Best Buds’ because of the marijuana connotation. The reality is they are always ‘Best Buds’ when given the opportunity. We love our animals at The Healing Center, both adopted and unadopted,” Chris Kohan, co-founder of The Healing Center, said.

Each year, the nonprofit rescues and rehomes roughly 2,500 animals. Since the pandemic began, they’ve had to alter their adoption process. Exposure, especially from corporate partners like The Healing Center, has helped to create vital awareness about the shelter and their services.

More importantly, dogs like Parker can have a second chance at love. Parker came to Animal Friends after his family was unable to take care of him. A sweet and timid senior, Parker is looking for a home with older children.

“Through this partnership, we have been able to extend our mission of creating lifelong matches, and with the help of our friends at The Healing Center, shine a positive light on pet adoption and the amazing animal companions who are waiting at shelters and organization like Animal Friends,” Cody Hoellerman, Animal Friends’ chief community engagement officer, said.

Best Buds will continue to be featured on The Almanac’s website with the hopes of many more happy matches.

“Nothing gives us more joy than witnessing all of these amazing animals get matched with a home that will spoil them forever. We are extremely proud to partner with great organizations like Animal Friends and The Healing Center to promote adoptable animals to our caring readers across the South Hills,” Chris Slota, the advertising manager of The Almanac, said.

To learn more about Parker and other Best Buds, visit thealmanac.net/bestbuds. To learn more about Animal Friends, their services and their current adoptable companions, visit thinkingoutsidethecage.org.

Sponsored content brought to you by The Healing Center.