The idea behind it all was to find a place and call it home.
As the adoptions manager at the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center, Joe Tedesco, 31, has found himself a job quite contrary to his schooling.
The original plan, according to Tedesco, was to have a job in the film industry, as he went to Syracuse University to study film. By the end of his studies, plans changed, however, as a past relationship of his led him to Pittsburgh.
Originally from Rochester, NY, Tedesco moved to the Wilkinsburg area in 2006 and applied to the shelter, located at 6620 Hamilton Ave. in East Liberty.
Now, after nearly six years at the shelter, Tedesco feels that his efforts have made an impact on the lives of not only the people who he has met over the past few years, but also the lives of the animals he has taken care of during this time as well.
“If you come here, you probably are here for the right reasons,” Tedesco commented with slight optimism. “I like people with heart.”
Tedesco’s love for animals was rooted in him before he even started as a shelter manager in Pittsburgh and what probably sealed the deal was that Tedesco’s family always had pets around the house. But what stuck with him the most over the years was the memory of his dog following him along on the paper route that he had as a teenager.
Though working at the shelter wasn’t exactly where he thought he would end up and the fact that the work is stressful at times, Tedesco’s outlook on the shelter is still strongly influenced by the concept of ‘hope’.
“Either people don’t know what else to do or it’s the last resort for people,” Tedesco said. “The difference between this place and another place like Animal Friends is that we take animals in any state that they are in to help them.”
Sometimes, however, the help an animal needs to become healthy is far greater than what he or the shelter has to offer.
“The reality is that we do have to put down cats and dogs and that happens everyday,” Tedesco said. “In the summer, people bring in so many sick dogs and cats that can’t be helped. If we focused on every single one, there is no way that we would be able to help out as many as we do. So for me, it’s become a greater good and you realize at some point that you can’t save every animal.”
More often than not, in spite of this, the shelter has more successes than failures in getting an animal’s health back to normal and placed in a proper home.
According to Tedesco, “So far this year, we took in 1,781 dogs, placing 1,177 of them; 3,382 cats, while placing 1,882; and 224 “other” animals, placing 174.”
“What’s pretty rewarding is to take a dog that was shivering and skinny or whatever that would probably not be able to be adopted and then work with it everyday for a few months and then adopt it to someone. And then they email you to say that ‘this is the best dog that I’ve ever had.‘”