Mission, Vision and Community Impact

Animal Friends of Westmoreland in 2006 by Candy Valentino Nelson. We received our 501c3 status in 2008.

It took 2 years to renovate the donated building using volunteers, contractors, tradesmen, local schools and businesses within the community.

We opened our doors to the public November 2009 and to date, we have rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed over 2500 animals. We support the Westmoreland and surrounding counties.

Our life saving work is done with only 3 paid staff and an army of over 200 active volunteers contributing over 20,000 man hours to our mission and the lives of whom we care.

We rescue animals and save lives. We provide love and joy to the humans who open their hearts to these animals and those who serve on their behalf as care givers within our organization. We stand up for the voiceless. We help animals and children remember that they matter.

We open hearts and invite unconditional love. We inspire people to stand up and speak out against animal abuse. We encourage a community.

We help children who have suffered abuse and neglect, find healing and gain trust as they relate to the animals who also share such horrific pasts. We remind the world that all lives matter.

In 2017, Animal Friends of Westmoreland will be beginning the next phase of our journey as we forge ahead to create an even bigger impact on the community and leave a legacy for generations to come.

With the purchase of a 62 acre farm, we will be able to rescue large animals like horses, donkeys and cows as well as farm animals such as pigs, goats and chicken to name a few.

We will have space on the farm to build our new facility that will house MORE dogs, cats and rabbits than our existing location can hold.

We will have walking trails and enrichment opportunities for animals that have previously been adopted. In addition, we will be standing in the gap to provide humane animal control and be a service to the municipalities, boroughs and towns in Westmoreland County.

We have an profound mission and a massive vision. Without your support, NONE of this would be possible. Animal Friends Sanctuary. Rescuing animals, saving lives and helping children heal.

Candy Nelson, Board President/Founder

AFW_candy nelson

As Founder & President, Candy oversees the direction, growth, operational aspects, as well as the financial responsibilities, marketing and public relations of the organization. She has served in this role since our inception; not as a paid staff but as a volunteer CEO. Candy also directs and organizes our five annual fundraising events which supports our entire budget.

Her undying dream was to breathe life into Animal Friends of Westmoreland and create a no-kill animal shelter that would be a voice for the animals. A mission to create a legacy of which will impact the lives of animals and humans for generations and an organization that will live on beyond her years.

Her passion for animals and vision for our communities has grown even more since our inception. Her dream for Animal Friends Sanctuary is coming to life and will be refuge for animals of all kinds. It will also provide hope and healing for children who have suffered horrific abuse and neglect themselves.

Candy has always had a heart for the senior and special needs dogs, and feels strongly about helping the less adoptable animals. She has numerous animals of her own, almost all of which are seniors & special needs.

She feels blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people who share the same passion, who support this cause and spread compassion & kindness to the world. She feels honored & immensely grateful to be on this amazing journey.


Bethany Morse, Animal Care Manager


Bethany currently resides in Greensburg, PA. She has been with The Animal Friends of Westmoreland since 2012, when she was hired as office administrator for the shelter. Her role at the shelter has grown over time, and she is now the Animal Care Manager. Bethany oversees adoptions and intakes of animals; does much of the social media updates; and also serves as the shelter photographer, taking pictures of all the animals that come to AFW. She has always had a strong love for animals, & currently shares her home with four dogs and a cat, Buffy, Archie, Sophie, Toby and Leroy.

Bethany loves working at the shelter and having such a rewarding job. She feels blessed to be part of such wonderful group of animal lovers.




Amy Sartori, Office Administrator

AmyAmy resides in Harrison City, Pa with her husband, two children and two dogs, Zeke and BamBam. She has volunteered at Animal Friends of Westmoreland since 2011 and has fostered over twenty animals for us. She has become an expert in rehabilitating the special needs dogs such as puppies with broken legs and the under socialized. She recently has taken the position of Office Administrator and is looking forward to being part of Animal Friends’ growing mission.






Volunteer Board of Directors

  • Candy Valentino Nelson; Founder
  • Sean Cassidy; Cassidy & Associates
  • Kelly Koshinsky; DeBlasio & Associates CPA
  • Adam Quatrini; QuatriniRafferty, P.C.
  • Margaret Tremba; Tremba, Kinney, Greiner & Kerr, LLC.
  • Michael Stewart II; Stewart, McArdle, Sorice, Whalen, Farrell, Finoli & Cavanaugh, LLC.