October 19, 2016 04:51 AM

What Linda Rattini needed was a distraction — and camping out beside shelter pets for charity must have been the perfect solution.

“This was my first time doing the sleepover and in fact, it was my first time back at the shelter in probably over 6 months. My mom was ill and subsequently passed away in May. I needed to be away from everything but it was time to get back and I did it big time,” said Rattini, who was one of nine volunteers that participated in the Western PA Humane Society‘s Shelter Sleepover event over the weekend.

It began on Saturday at 11 a.m. and ended 31 hours later with 12 dogs and 15 cats being adopted, and all of the $14,500 raised going to the shelter’s animals. (Donations are still being accepted, click here to donate.)

Another participant named Liz Wozniak said in a Facebook post shared on the shelter’s page that she enjoyed being her pup’s personal PR person. “My favorite part of the Sleepover was getting to tell the stories of my pups,” she said. “I was able to highlight their best qualities and give the public a sense of who they really were.”

Courtesy Western PA Humane Society
Courtesy Western PA Humane Society

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Dee Ryan came away from the event with a changed perspective on what it’s like to be a dog living in a shelter.  “Spending the weekend with the shelter dogs and staff gave me a whole different perspective of what happens behind the scenes from a dog’s eyes,” she said on Facebook. “Every potential adopter who walked by, I held my breath, hoping that they would just stop at our kennel and chose my awesome kennel mate. At the end of the day, you hope for a better outcome tomorrow. Sadly my pup, Pixie, didn’t get her home YET but her special person is out there somewhere. #kennelmates4ever”

It seems as though each participant was forever changed by the experience, including Rattini, who has now made it her mission to find a group of animals — named Coco, Angel, Leonard, Mandy, and Orange Crush — a place to spend forever.

“I wanted to make a difference,” she said. “And after spending the weekend with the cats and kittens, I’ve come away with a greater purpose in life.”

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