As catastrophic flooding has devastated Louisiana, the Petfinder Foundation is rushing funds to the organizations working to save the region’s pets. These are the shelters we’ve sent grant money to already; we continue to send funds as groups contact us.
Bark and Roll Rescue Companions
The majority of the foster homes at this Baton Rouge rescue group were flooded, and some are currently under eight feet of water. The group was able to transfer some animals to a rescue in Virginia, but others are being boarded.
“We also took in four dogs and a kitten from the floods who are ill from being in the cold waters and will need ongoing care,” says founder Dana Kahn. “Our rescue has offered to provide microchips and free registration to all the pets of flood victims who have been displaced to ensure they can get their animals back if they are separated during this trying time.”
We sent Bark and Roll a $1,500 grant to help the organization cover veterinary expenses and meet its animals’ daily needs of enrichment, food and care.
Rescutopia’s Happy Tails Island
Savannah Brown, founder of the Baton Rouge cat-rescue group, tells us, “All of our foster homes are flooded and all pet supplies were destroyed. We need food, blankets, towels, crates, heartworm medications, flea preventative and anything else we can get.
“We focus on the East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parish Area; both areas have been 90 percent flooded. We have taken in several homeless pets who were evacuated. All of South Louisiana is completely devastated, as a flood like this has never occurred. The flooding is worse than Katrina. Our community is devastated.”
We sent Rescutopia $1,000, which will be used to pay for food, crates, pet supplies and any medical treatment that may be required.
The New Orleans shelter did not flood, but it has taken in more than 160 cats, kittens, dogs and puppies from shelters north of it that did — and many more are expected. Most of them have had minimal vaccinations and are not spayed or neutered; all will need to be altered and microchipped prior to being adopted at the reduced cost of $75 per animal.
Volunteer Kellie Grengs describes the desperate situation: “Shelter director Michelle Ingram and volunteers have driven in flood waters for the past four days to reach shelters that have taken on several feet of water. On Sunday, Aug. 14, Michelle pulled more than 60 animals from the Sorrento no-kill shelter and we expect more.
“Numerous shelters just a few miles north of us were impacted. One was overwhelmed by fast-rising flood waters and all they could do was open the kennels and let the dogs swim free so they didn’t drown. Rescue boats are in the process of saving human lives first and animals second. Michelle is on the scene pulling these animals and caring for them with a team of volunteers. Our shelter averages 400 adoptions annually; this will put a great strain on our already-limited resources, but we simply could not let these animals drown.”
We sent Zeus’ Rescues $2,500 to offset the costs of spaying and neutering the rescued pets. “Thank you so much!” Grengs says. “Last week was a whirl! We vetted 62 cats and one dog on Saturday afternoon alone and shipped 10,000 lbs. of dog/cat food and supplies to the flooded shelters. It was wild, to say the least. So many of the wonderful animals are in foster and will be getting adopted soon!”
Animal Aid for Vermilion Area
“Vermilion Parish and surrounding areas have been devastated by flooding,” says Roxanne Bayard, vice president of the Abbeville, La., shelter. “Many animals have drowned and waters continue to rise. We are having to evacuate homes with pets as well as the shelter to avoid animals drowning. We need to purchase crates, leashes, collars, cleaning supplies, new bedding, fans, litter, litter boxes and food. Many animals need emergency vetting due to injuries sustained in the flooding.” We sent $2,500 to help with these expenses.
Shelters and rescue groups are increasingly making the most of technology to save homeless pets. That’s why we’ve been giving grants designed to help them do just that. Here are a few examples of pets saved by our tech grants:
A volunteer for Community Concern for Cats in Walnut Creek, Calif., witnessed this tiny 6-month-old kitten being thrown out the window of a moving car. Once safe in the care of CC4C, he was given medical care, neutered and showered with love. Despite his rough start, he was very friendly, and was quickly adopted by an adoring couple at one of the group’s pet-store adoption sites. His adoption was expedited by one of the three wireless credit-card terminals CC4C had purchased with our technology grant. The terminals allow volunteers to spend less time processing payments and more time rescuing cats like Batman. Read more about how our grant helped cats like him.
When Donna came to Mutt Scouts in San Diego, she was completely hairless and covered in sores from severe mange. She had been chained up and left for dead as a young pup. Mutt Scouts spend months nursing her back to health — but still, as a “big black dog,” she was overlooked by adopters. Then, Mutt Scouts purchased a new camera with funds from our technology grant. Donna was the first dog they photographed with it. She was soon adopted by a woman who loves her — and who says it was Donna’s smile in her online photo that caught her eye. Read about more dogs helped by our grant to Mutt Scouts.
Mike B., a stray cat, was suffering from serious bite wounds to his face when he was rescued by the Tree House Humane Society in Chicago. He also had lesions on his legs, a severe upper respiratory infection and a mass on his tongue, and tested positive for FIV. Shelter staff were not sure whether Mike would survive, but they gave him the medical care he needed and, miraculously, he recovered. Soon, his joyful personality emerged, and he was adopted. He now spends his time playing with his fellow FIV+ rescue cat, Chuck. Mike B. was featured in a video made with help from our technology grant, which funded equipment to help promote more special-needs cats like him. Find out more about this grant.
Animal cruelty convictions and stiff penalties have historically been hard to come by in Fulton County, Ga. But thanks to equipment purchased with funds from our technology grant to LifeLine Animal Project in Atlanta, including digital cameras and GoPro video cameras, those who abuse pets like Sunshine are being brought to justice. Sunshine was found with a collar embedded so deeply in her neck, it had to be surgically removed. Field officers were able to document her condition and present the evidence at trial, and her former owner was convicted and sentenced to 60 days in jail. Sunshine recovered and has been adopted! Read her story.
To date, three major wildfires raging in Northern California have burned more than 289,000 acres of land; one of them, the Valley Fire, has destroyed more than 1,250 homes. This means residents are fleeing and pets are being lost and injured.
The Petfinder Foundation is helping two organizations that are saving pets from these devastating fires: Sonoma Humane Society in Santa Rosa, Calif., and Wine Country Animal Lovers in Calistoga, Calif. Thanks to your donations, we have granted each group $5,000 in cash to cover medical, pet-care, staffing and other emergency expenses.
Sonoma Humane Society
Sonoma Humane Society has mobilized to the evacuation site at the Napa Fairgrounds in Calistoga to provide coordination, resources and medical attention for lost and injured pets. It is currently serving 500 people and a more than 400 pets with an on-site triage unit that is providing medical assistance, flea medications and vaccinations; moving animals in need of acute medical care to veterinary partners in local communities; managing an on-site depot where evacuees can pick up supplies so that they can take their pets with them; and using its adoption van to provide a quiet, comfortable place for lost animals to stay while shelter staff attempt to reunite them with their families.
Sonoma Humane Society is also taking in pets at its Santa Rosa campus from a Lake County shelter so that that shelter could make room for animals displaced by the fire. “All local shelters and vets in the fire areas are full,” says Sonoma Humane Society Director of Development Melissa Dobar. “We are placing several of our animals in foster homes to help manage our capacity as we prepare for the influx of more rescued animals. Additionally, we are actively recruiting foster volunteers and providing emergency orientations as we plan for the future needs of the fire victims.”
Wine Country Animal Lovers
Wine Country Animal Lovers is serving more than 300 animals at the Napa Fairgrounds evacuation site, with more animals arriving with their owners daily. Funds from our disaster grant will be used to pay vets in Lake County for displaced animals injured by the fire as well as pets being brought in by their owners. “We have let all of the vets in Lake County know that our organization will pay them to treat all injured animals, as few owners have the resources to do so,” says Wine Country Animal Lovers Board President Pam Ingalls. “We have asked that they discount what they comfortably can to make the funding go further and have guaranteed payment for their services.”
In addition, Wine Country Animal Lovers has removed all pets scheduled for euthanasia at the county shelter in Lakeport to make space for evacuated animals and placed them in foster care, where they will receive medical care before being put up for adoption. “We will be there as long as needed,” Ingalls says. “This will be a long haul. Not one dollar received will go other than to help Valley Fire animal victims. We are all volunteer-run.”
The Petfinder Foundation’s Emergency Medical Fund has helped dozens of pets suffering from the most severe injuries and illnesses as a result of abuse and neglect. For these animals, medical care is a necessity in order for them to become adoptable. Here are just a few of the pets aided by the Emergency Medical Grants you helped fund:
Tiny 4-week-old Carley (pictured above) came to Capital Area Rescue Effort (CARE) in Sandston, Va., from an open-admission shelter in South Carolina, where she was scheduled for euthanasia due to her rectal fistula, a congenital birth defect that is fatal in most cases. Not only was the condition extremely painful for her, it caused a severe urinary tract infection that was becoming septic. CARE immediately got Carley emergency surgery to correct the condition. She healed perfectly and is expected to live a normal, happy life!
As a homeless puppy in rural Kentucky, Gemma ran across a rural road and was hit head-on by a car doing 60+ miles an hour. She ended up lodged in the grille of the car with two badly broken legs. Her rescuers discovered that the painfully skinny dog’s stomach was full of rocks because she’d been eating anything she could find. She was also infested with fleas and ticks. Without resources for expensive vet care, her rescuers in Kentucky arranged for Gemma to be flown to Cayuga Dog Rescue in Ithaca, N.Y., where she was treated by orthopedic specialists. The loving, playful girl recovered beautifully and has been adopted!
Webster was found abandoned behind a barn, living in an outside pen surrounded by six-foot-high weeds. Taken in by Bishop’s Small Dog Rescue in Wyanet, Ill., he was severely emaciated and walking on his elbows due to malnourishment and lack of exercise. His right paw was completely floppy, and X-rays revealed that the bones of his wrist had been completely pulverized. Webster has been gaining weight and getting healthy as his vets observe him to determine whether his leg will need to be amputated or whether it can be reinforced with surgically implanted plates. But one thing is for sure: He will never know hunger and abandonment again.
Rucker’s owner ran over the 1-year-old pit bull mix with her car, then left him tied to a chain to suffer for two weeks. His left femur was broken in two, his left hip completely out of its socket. Our grant helped Dog Town Canine Rescue pay for the amputation of Rucker’s injured leg. He is doing great as a tripod and has been adopted into an adoring home where he has two canine companions to romp with. Dog Town Canine Rescue is working with law enforcement to assist with the prosecution of Rucker’s former owner.
Reason was rescued by M&M’s Fur-Ever Furbabies in Vass, N.C., from a life where she was used for breeding. She was starved, beaten, shoved into tiny crates for days, overbred, and had her canines shaved down and front top and bottom teeth pulled out so she couldn’t bite. Her gums were bruised, swollen, irritated and extremely painful, making it very hard for her to eat. We gave the rescue a grant to have dental surgery to correct the painful condition of Reason’s mouth so that she could eat and regain her health. She has gained 20 lbs., is starting to eat solid foods and, best of all, now has a constantly wagging tail, runs and jumps daily and displays a contagious smile every day.
Your support has meant the end of suffering for these dogs and other pets. Please consider donating to the Petfinder Foundation’s Emergency Medical Grant fund this holiday season to give the gift of a pain-free life to others like them.
Smokie was a special kitty to everyone that met him. He was my baby and always will be, we simply adored each other. He would give me kisses and hugs. He was always excited to see me, even if I just stepped out to put the trash out and came back in I was greeted like I was gone all day. Ma Ma loves you, Smokie. Be good, I will see you again for more hugs and kisses.–Rebecca Tuminelly
We’re continuing to help shelters and rescue groups recover from recent devastating floods in Texas and Oklahoma. We recently granted $10,000 to Austin Pets Alive!, which not only suffered extensive damage when it was flooded on Memorial Day, but has also been called on to take in pets from surrounding towns and counties affected by the widespread flooding in central Texas, where shelters are overcrowded with lost and rescued pets.
“We need to foster out about 80 animals normally housed in our shelter,” Grants Manager Maggie Lynch says. “As of May 29, we have taken in 140 from other counties but are being called on to take many more as flooding continues.”
Our grant will help fund repairs to APA’s shelter: Its roof failed under the torrents of rain and its ground level was flooded. The rain-damaged parts of the building must be torn out quickly, as mold develops rapidly in Austin’s climate.
Our grant will also help pay staffers, who worked nearly 200 extra hours to coordinate the fostering out of all the shelter’s animals, and cover medical intake (including vaccines, tests and microchips) and spay/neuter for pets taken in from surrounding regions.
One pet rescued from the floods just in time is Nieve (pictured above). The little dog had suffered a tear to his diaphragm, allowing his organs to migrate into his chest cavity. APA’s vets operated, and he’s now recovering in foster care.
“We’re so grateful to be able to help pets like him because we are getting such great support from foundations like yours,” says Lynch.
Replacing Kennels, Food
We also granted $1,000 to two organizations that suffered damage to their facilities and destruction of pet food. In Pipe Creek, Texas, our grant will help A Doggie 4 You replace more than 20 bags of dog food destroyed when storm rain and wind tore through its feed room.
“Thank you so much,” says president Patricia Godkin. “We really appreciate your support. We currently have 60 dogs and it has been crazy. We are finally getting a break from the rain. You guys are lifesavers.”
And in Tulsa, Okla., we’re aiding Amore Pit Bull Rescue. Founder Misty Bilby tells us: “We have two 10′ x 10′ x 6′ dog kennels that were destroyed when trees fell on them, and we had many bags of dog food ruined due to flood water.” The grant will be a big help. “We want to thank you so much for caring for our babies,” Bilby says, “and helping us make sure they are taken care of.”
With Texas and Oklahoma battling deadly floods, the Petfinder Foundation is rushing funds to animal shelters and rescue groups to help save the lives of pets in the affected regions.
Here are just a few of the ways we’re helping:
Caring for Evacuees’ Pets
The staff of just five people at the Humane Society of Wichita County in Wichita Falls, Texas, has been working around the clock to care for the pets of families who’ve had to evacuate — and the shelter desperately needed funds to pay for staff overtime and extra utilities (the Petfinder Foundation is one of the few national organizations that gives cash grants to pay staff for overtime hours during times of disaster).
“We started taking in evacuees’ animals at 11 p.m. Wednesday night [May 20],” shelter Director Cheryl Miller tells us. “As the days went on and the city zoned more areas for flooding, we took in as many as we could house. We wanted to be here for our community if and when it needed us, so we kept the shelter open and are having to pay the staff overtime.”
H.S. Wichita County, which usually houses 70 animals, has already taken in an additional 51 dogs and cats. The shelter is strictly donor-funded, and our grant of $2,000 will help cover the costs of staff overtime and additional water and electric bills.
Repairing Flooded Kennels
The storms and flooding in Central Texas caused major damage to Etosha Rescue & Adoption Center in Seguin, Texas. Assistant Director Julie Mitchell tells us, “Our kennels are flooded with six inches of water. Wind damage destroyed several outdoor kennels, the two main gates to the facility, windows in the main building, and a window a/c unit for the indoor dogs. We need loads of sand or gravel to raise the ground level in the outdoor kennels, tarps for shelter, mosquito spray, flea shampoo, paper towels, sheets and blankets for dry bedding, other dog supplies, a new a/c unit, and window replacements.”
With help from our $2,000 grant, the shelter “will safely rebuild the kennels for the outdoor dogs, raise the ground level so the dogs will be dry, secure the facility again with new front gates, treat all dogs for flea infestation, and provide cooling for the indoor dogs,” Mitchell says. “We hope to restore the facility to ensure safety and good living conditions for our dogs, safe from standing water, heat, and flea infestation.”
Feeding Hungry Horses
One surprising result of the floods has been a hardship in acquiring much-needed hay for horses. Cheri White Owl, president of Horse Feathers Equine Center in Guthrie, Okla., tells us, “Hay costs have risen due to our having to secure sources outside of our normal ones. Flooding has delayed hay cutting and production; some suppliers have lost hay due to flooding. We are having to go to higher-priced suppliers to meet our needs.”
Our grant of $1,500 will provide Horse Feathers’ rescued horses with 25 high-quality bales of hay. “This will allow us to continue feeding the horses and maintaining their body weight and health,” White Owl says, which is critical to both horses waiting to be adopted and those who are lifelong sanctuary residents.
Protecting Outdoor Dogs
An outdoor-only facility, Heart of Texas SPCA in San Antonio suffered damage to its kennels from high winds and heavy rain, including broken kennel frames, ripped tarps and flooding.
Director Paula Oberle tells us, “Many of the dogs who lost their canopy coverage were standing in mud and water with nowhere to go. We did manage to bring a few inside until the water receded, but more rain is coming. We need new canopies as soon as possible.”
With our $1,000 grant, Heart of Texas “will purchase the heavy-duty canopies and set them up ASAP to protect the dogs,” Oberle says.
Keeping Momma Dogs and Puppies Safe
Missy’s Haven Canine Rescue in San Antonio received heavy winds, rain and lightning, and suffered damage to fencing used to keep the dogs contained, water damage to a food-storage building and the loss of an air-conditioning unit due to power surge. Our $2,000 grant will allow the group to “rebuild the containment area and provide a/c to our building for moms and babies,” says President Michelle Holmes.
Replacing Ruined Dog Food
The only building damaged by flooding at OK Save a Dog in Prague, Okla., was the one that stored all the food. Our $1,000 grant will help the organization purchase a month’s worth of food as well as a secure building in which to store it.
Boarding Pets After a Foster Home is Destroyed
A foster home housing pets for Tejas Rescued Pet Adoptions in San Antonio was severely flooded, meaning its human residents and 25 dogs and cats had to evacuate, with the pets going to a boarding facility until the damage is repaired.
“The pets’ location was flooded with four feet of water,” Director Tonette Webb says, “causing extensive damage to floors, walls and kennels. Mud is covering the floors now and all will need to be disinfected, cleaned and replaced before the pets can come back here. All adoptable pets are in a fee-based boarding facility until then. The estimate for boarding time is two weeks, depending on clean-up.”
Our $2,000 grant will help pay for the boarding as well as clean-up of the pets’ living space. “We will save our adoptable pets, safe now in boarding, and clean their kennels and replace beds and food,” Webb says.
Hillary Shluker, director of Luv of Dogz Fund, Inc., in Scottsdale, Ariz., tells us, “We took in a boxer named Jessica who was found wandering and had a prolapsed uterus. She was emaciated and in pain. We took her in to our vet, who suspected sexual abuse. She had to have two surgeries to correct the issue.”
During her recovery, Jessica bonded with another boxer in the rescue’s care, a male named Ogden. On May 18, they were adopted — together. Luv of Dogz wrote on Facebook: “Our precious pair of bonded boxers were adopted by a wonderful family today! Oggie and Jessica will get the love and attention that they deserve in their new home. Congratulations to the Williams family!”
Hopeful was hit by a car in West Virginia and required surgery to both her legs. Her first leg was treated in West Virginia and healed nicely, but the surgeon there could not repair the second leg and Hopeful limped. She was taken in by Sweet Dream House Rescue in Norwood, Ohio. Board President Carmen McKeehan says, “Our foster noticed that she would cry when going up stairs. Our vet, a locally well-known orthopedic surgeon, performed a delicate procedure which required taking out part of the bone and placing a pin in her second leg.”
Hopeful is currently in foster care and awaiting the removal of the pins in her leg. “She gets along great and has learned to use her three good legs,” McKeehan says. “She will be starting water therapy after the pins are removed. Hope is a survivor and an inspiration to us all at Sweet Dream House Rescue. The grant from the Petfinder Foundation made her second surgery possible and we are so grateful for your help!”
A beagle named Dixie Rutherford was suffering from untreated glaucoma: One eye had swollen to twice its size and was extremely painful; the other had shrunken to the size of a raisin. Rescued by Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland in Waldorf, she required surgery to remove both eyes so that her eyelids would not turn inwards, which would cause her even more pain.
BRSM volunteer Patti Jakusz tells us Dixie is now being forever fostered along with another dog, Ben Rutherford, because they’d bonded closely. Her foster mom says, “Dixie is a happy-go-lucky little sprite of a beagle! She is so happy now, all healed from surgery. She has our house and yard mapped out and is confident in her steps now. She greets me when I get home from work every day, wiggling her tiny rear! She loves her new brothers and sisters (two others are blind) and they accepted her right from the start. We love her (and Gentle Ben) soooo much!”
Thank you so much for your donations, which allow us to help shelters and rescue groups help pets like these!
We recently introduced a new type of grant, which has been welcomed by the shelters and rescue groups we support: Emergency Medical Grants. These grants are designed to help pets suffering from severe illness or injury, for whom treatment can literally mean the difference between life and death. Here are some dogs they’ve already helped.
Grace was discovered nearly frozen to the ground in Wisconsin. She appeared to have been hit by a snow plow, her head impaled by a metal rod. She had sustained a skull fracture, abrasions, blood in her abdomen, and a bruised heart and lungs. Her right eye was so damaged, it had to be removed.
We awarded the Washington County Humane Society in Slinger, Wisc., a grant to help with her care. Grace has recovered and currently has an adoption pending. “All she can do is wiggle and kiss you,” WCHS Community Relations Coordinator Debra Block tells us. “This girl is the epitome of why we do what we do! Your grant has made all the difference.”
Little Grace suffers from canine carpal hyperextension, an abnormality causing dogs to walk on their elbows that can result from poor nutrition early in life. We gave One Love Animal Rescue in Mount Laurel, N.J., a grant to help cover splints and physical therapy for her. “With the grant, we expect that we can give Gracie everything she needs to get well, reduce pain and get adopted by a great forever family,” One Love Chairman Sherri Smith says. “We can do it all while not being temporarily sidelined by the expense.”
Thank you so much for your donations, which allow us to help shelters and rescue groups help pets like these!
February is Adopt-A-Rescued-Rabbit Month, and we’re celebrating some of the many rabbits helped by shelters and rescue groups that have received grants from the Petfinder Foundation. Rabbits are the third most discarded pet in the United States, with many owners mistakenly thinking that pet rabbits can survive on their own outdoors (to be clear: THEY CAN’T).
This was the case with Nala, who nearly died before she was rescued by the Georgia House Rabbit Society. The organization’s resident center manager, Jennifer McGhee, tells us Nala’s story:
“Nala was found outside fending for herself after her family moved and left her behind. She eventually became weak enough to be caught by a neighbor. I met them to get her as they said she appeared to be injured. I smelled her before I laid eyes on her, as the infection was so severe. All I could tell was that her eye might have not been there anymore.
“I took her to our vet early the next morning as it was a Sunday when I got her. They put her under anesthesia and shaved her on the side that appeared injured and infected. What they found were three massive wolf worms. The bot fly larvae attach to the host and hatch, then eat the flesh of the host to survive. They cause infection and abscesses in their wake and, if not properly removed, can release toxins that can cause death.
“One of the worms had burrowed in Nala’s temple and caused an abscess behind her eye. The vets were not sure that her eye could be saved. The other two worms had burrowed in her shoulder and side. The huge holes you see in the ‘before’ photo are where the wolf worms were living. I took Nala home as an emergency foster, as our shelter was full and she needed lots of care and medicine. She had four or five visits to Dr. King, who is a veterinary eye specialist. Nala was able to keep her eye and today only has a slight scar.
“Once she was healthy, the family that rescued her wanted to adopt her. I was very attached to her at this point, but I knew I had to honor the promise that I had made to them for them to have first choice once she was ready for adoption. I brought her to their home and left her with tears in my eyes. They called me the next day and said that she was not happy and their dog was not getting along with her. I drove right back over there and scooped her up. Later that evening, I emailed everyone to say that her adoption did not work out and that she was back at my home as a foster. Then someone said something that hit home and hit home hard: ‘Maybe Nala already found her forever home.’ That person was right.
“I went straight upstairs to my room to introduce her to my eligible bachelor. It was love at first sight! The ‘after’ picture is of Nala and her husbun Marshmallow.
This post, by Claire Sterling, originally appeared on the ASPCA Professional website. Read it here.
In the world of grantmaking, it’s common knowledge that applying for funding is hard work — and if you’re doing that work multiple times to reach a number of funders, all while scrambling to help animals who have been affected by a tornado, wildfire or severe flood, it can be downright overwhelming.
With this in mind, a group of funders have worked together to ease the burden of the grant application process for animal welfare organizations that either have been directly affected by a disaster or have been appointed by their local authorities to provide assistance to other organizations. The ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Petfinder Foundation and (for major disasters affecting Colorado) the Animal Assistance Foundation have just teamed up to form a single application and collaborative review process to streamline funding during a disaster.
These funders will collectively consider requests for funding that are submitted via a centralized portal at animaldisasterfunding.org for specific major disasters. Particular disasters for which the application portal is available will be determined on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the individual organizations participating in this funding collaboration. Eligible disasters must be significant enough to warrant a state-of-emergency declaration.
Information regarding specific disasters for which funding will be available will be posted via a Request for Proposals (RFP) on the “Funding Opportunities” page on animaldisasterfunding.org. (Please note that while applications submitted through the centralized portal will be reviewed by a group of funders, each funder who provides support will make its own grant to the applying organization and will issue its own grant contract and reporting requirements.)
Since participating funders can opt in and out of the collaborative, the makeup of the review committee will shift depending on the circumstances and on the affected geographic region(s). Over time, we expect to grow the group of funders to include other animal welfare grantmakers and, ideally, also community and family foundations serving disaster-affected regions.
We will all be learning as we go; this is a relatively unprecedented development not only in animal welfare, but also in the broader field of philanthropy. The concept of collaborative funding is nothing new, but rarely is it directly tied to a joint review of grant requests submitted via a single application form representing the interests of multiple funders. In this case, shared concern for applicants’ limited time — particularly when responding to a disaster — is the primary driver of our collaborative effort.
In the spirit of preparing for the worst but hoping for the best, our greatest desire for this funding collaborative is that disasters calling for its use are few and far between. And in the spirit of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, we strongly encourage organizations to do everything possible to make themselves and their facilities as disaster-proof as possible. As a starting point, please be sure to check out the ASPCA’s Disaster Response Resources page for further information.
With that, we wish you a healthy, happy, disaster-free 2015.
Guest blogger Claire Sterling is Director, Grant Strategies at the ASPCA. Having previously done foundation fundraising for six years at the Foundation Center, her personal blog, The Lion’s Share, provides philanthropy-related resources for organizations that better the lives of animals.
The Petfinder Foundation has recently begun accepting applications for new Emergency Medical grants, designed to help shelters and rescue groups care for pets who need urgent veterinary care in order to become adoptable. These grants can cover the costs of emergency surgery, dental work and other treatments, up to $1,000. (If you are with a Petfinder.com member adoption group and have a pet who qualifies, apply for an Emergency Medical grant here.)
Two puppies are the first recipients of Emergency Medical grants. One is Fergus (pictured below), a young American Staffordshire Terrier in the care of ABRA, Inc. (All Breed Rescue Angels) in Crown Point, Ind. Our $1,000 grant to ABRA will cover the cost of surgery to treat Fergus’s broken leg.
As just a 3-month-old puppy, Fergus found himself at a local animal control shelter with a fractured femur. He spent five days in a cage with this untreated injury before ABRA pulled him, and rushed him to a vet to have pins inserted into the broken hind leg. Fergus has healed beautifully and ABRA reports he’s “truly a sweetheart [who] loves other dogs and everyone he meets.”
As for the Emergency Medical grant, it’s a big help to ABRA. “This is fantastic news that couldn’t have come at a better time,” the group’s Christy McKee tells us. “I can’t tell you how grateful we are!” Want to adopt Fergus? Meet him here.
We also awarded a $1,000 grant to the Pepper Foundation in Studio City, Calif., to help with the care of Harley, a young spaniel-Chihuahua mix pulled from a busy shelter who came down with kennel cough that turned into pneumonia.
Harley is currently in the hospital, but his rescuers are confident he’ll be better soon and ready for his forever home. The grant is a big help. “Thank you so much!” Pepper Foundation president Julie Chadwick says. “This took so much of our resources that I was just so worried about things and how we were going to pay for Harley. He is so young and otherwise a healthy dog and so adoptable. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping him.” Want to adopt Harley? Meet him here.
We adopted Josie from the shelter on December 23, 2009. She looked just like our Beagle, Shelby, who had died a month prior. When they brought her out of her kennel at the shelter so we could meet her, we said, “Hi Josie” and she rolled over to get a belly rub. We knew then that she was our dog. She was already 9 when we adopted her, but we had her for five wonderful years. What she loved most was being nestled in with us on the couch while watching TV, and of course, so did we. I will miss hearing her excited Beagle bay when I get home from work at the end of the day. Josie girl, we love you and will miss you dearly.–Donna Callegari
This is our greatly missed Obi, whom we lost suddenly to congestive heart failure. He was 8 years old and had a heck of a life, being returned two times to Legacy Boxer Rescue as well as being a dwarf with multiple medical problems.–Pam and Greg Harper
Almost 11 years ago, my wife and I decided that we were lacking in our household. We wanted a dog. I began cruising around this site someone had told me about. It was Petfinder; I was told it was a great way to find a pet as you worked all over the area allowing us to get in contact with our new friend wherever he or she may be. Well, we found a cutie of a dog on a site out of Vincennes, Ind. He looked just like the RCA dog and had this happy/goofy look on his face that we instantly fell in love with. We went through the background check and then extra checks because Grover was listed as an URGENT adoption case and the group wanted to make sure we were not just doing this to keep him from being put down.
Grover came to us as the biggest sweetheart you could want in a dog. Loving and always up to play, he drove us crazy as much as he made us laugh. I could go on for hours about his antics. Fast forward to present. After 11 years of love and devotion, Grover at 13 was hurting and winding down. He had come down with a combination of Canine Cognitive Disorder and Lyme disease. We had to make the toughest call and took the final trip to the vet with him last night. He was curled up in my lap, as was his favorite place to sleep, when they administered the shot, he peacefully laid his head on my leg and just went to sleep. I wanted you to know the joy and happiness you provided us by giving us the privilege of sharing our home with Grover. He was loved to the very end and still is. I woke up this morning and could have sworn I heard him clicking around the hardwood floors with his nails. Our home has a hole in it that will be tough to fill.–Steve Marcinkowski
When 359 dogs were seized from what authorities called deplorable conditions at Heavenly Kennels near Cumming, Ga., in July, the Petfinder Foundation was there to help. We rushed a $3,000 disaster grant to Cherokee County Animal Shelter in Canton, Ga., to help offset the cost of caring for the dogs, all of whom urgently needed medical care.
Veterinarian Dr. Michael Good, who assisted with the rescue, described the dogs’ living conditions to Atlanta’s WGCL-TV: “Almost every cage had feces in it. They’re designed that when they urinate, and I guess when they mash it down enough, it will fall through the grates.”
The cages’ wire floors caused the dogs tremendous pain. “I saw dogs sleeping in food bowls so they could get off the wire screen,” Good said. “Imagine living your whole life on something like that. It’s got to have an effect on your ligaments and your joints.”
Celebrity dog trainer and animal activist Victoria Stillwell was also present during the raid. “It’s absolutely disgusting, the conditions these animals are living in,” she told WGCL. “They are suffering physically, but they’re also suffering emotionally.”
Cherokee County Animal Shelter Director Susan Garcia told us the animals had been neglected of basic veterinary care for many years. “We have purchased vaccines, flea treatment, microchips and medication for this group of dogs that exceeds $10,000. We hope to improve the dental quality for some of the adult dogs. They are most vulnerable as many of them are pregnant or nursing puppies. Many of dogs in this case suffer from internal parasites, while most also suffer from bacterial infections and all are suffering from ear infections as well.”
The situation nearly overwhelmed the shelter, Garcia said: “Although our building is able to house the animals, we have a small staff that is unable to do the sheer amount of cleaning involved alone. We are relying on our volunteers, supporters and the community at large to keep us going through this situation.”
Ultimately, the cost of caring for the dogs exceeded $100,000, Garcia told the Cherokee Tribune in September. But there was good news: The kennel’s owners agreed to surrender the dogs to the shelter, and every one has been adopted.
The shelter held an adoption event on Aug. 23, and members of the community turned out in droves, Rescue Event Coordinator Lori Kekel told us. “Forty people stayed overnight” before the event to make sure they’d be able to adopt one of the dogs, and hundreds more lined up around the block that day.
The Petfinder Foundation grant helped produce this happy ending. “We could not have been as successful in this emergency situation without the help of our partners,” Kekel said.
Our cash grants are often used to provide immediate care for individual pets: Medical treatment, food, etc. But we encourage shelters to use the funds to improve their physical facilities in ways that will benefit countless pets for years to come.
Thanks to your donations and a generous gift from Mohawk Flooring, many shelters made these permanent improvements. Here are a few examples:
Upgrades to a Transport Van and Kennels Misfits, Mutts and Meows in Crescent, Okla., upgraded its transport van and made repairs to its kennels and exercise yard.
The van upgrades include soundproofing insulation and circulating fans. These improvements “have allowed a safer, more comfortable place for the animals that are being transported to adoption events or into our rescue,” shelter president Joy Williams tells us. “The van is now easier to heat and cool and is much more soundproof. We are now capable of transporting eight dogs in individual cages, with cats in carriers on the floor.”
MM&M also purchased wood, connectors and welding supplies to repair donated Priefert kennels and a back exercise yard fence. With these supplies, shelter staff are building outdoor play runs to allow for deeper cleaning of the indoor dog runs. The runs will allow 22 dogs to play outside at one time while ensuring they are safely separated.
The van improvements are already making a difference. “This past weekend we had an adoption event in a town 45 minutes away,” Williams says. “We took six dogs and five cats. We were able to transport all our tables and fundraising items, as well as show cages, to the event. Of the pets we took, we had a pair of kitties adopted, Chips and Squeeker, and one dog named Scruffy. Having the capability to transport everything we need for our different events in one vehicle makes our day much easier.” Read the grant report.
Buying Dog Beds
Something as small as getting caged dogs up off the hard concrete floor can make a big difference. That’s why Doberman & Rottweiler Rescue in Paris, Ill., used our grant to purchase high-quality raised dog beds.
“We know these dog beds will help with the quality of life the dogs have while in our care,” rescue director Karen White tells us. “We get older, large-breed dogs in who have some hardship getting up off concrete floors, and this will help them feel better while in our care. The kennel staff love them due to the fact that they cut down on laundry costs, and in the time it saves them, they can play more with the dogs. We feel the dogs are much happier when off the floor and feel better. We are very pleased with the beds thus far and think they are a great addition to our facility.”
The beds are much appreciated by all the dogs at the rescue, including the doberman pictured here, “a starvation case we took in,” White says. “He was skin and bones when brought to our shelter from Animal Control. He had to gain 20 lbs. before the vet would neuter him. He is now in his new home doing wonderfully, and the new owner bought a bed for him like he had at our facility because he loved that bed. We all feel he had never had anything but the ground to sleep on and he loved the bed we provided him.”
The Rottweiler pictured, Tok, was also an abuse case. “He was terrified of people when we took him in,” White says. “We gave him a bed and for a couple of weeks he would crawl under it and hide, but with time he learned that no one was there to harm him and he started coming out of his shell and started lying on his bed and not under it!” Another dog, Ursula, a miniature pinscher, was a puppy-mill rescue who’d spent her entire life in a wire cage. She loved the bed and would crawl right under her blankets and fall asleep.
Says White, “We all feel the dogs had more in the short time they were with us than they did their entire life prior to coming to us.” Read the grant report.
Repairing Kennels to Save a Shelter Carteret County Humane Society in Newport, N.C., used our grant funds to purchase supplies to repair concrete fixtures in the kennel area, as well as concrete sealant to be applied this fall.
The repairs were critically important. “Without these repairs we could possibly fail our state inspection and take the chance of being closed down,” shelter director Candace Christopherson tells us. “These repairs are very important to the shelter itself but also to the health of the animals. Large cracks in the foundation can lead to build-up of bacteria, which could cause illness. The repairs were in all three dog kennel buildings; thus they affect over 60 dogs on a daily basis.”
CCHS is the only shelter for its county, so if it hadn’t been able to make the needed repairs to its 29-year-old building, it could have closed down, which would have affected more than 3,000 animals a year. Pictured is Maggie, just one of the homeless pets the grant helped. Read the grant report.
Building a Lot Just for Puppies
Forgotten Angels Animal Rescue in Chuckey, Tenn., used the funds to build a puppy lot for new litters when they arrive at the shelter. With the grant money, staff purchased fencing and a gate, solar-powered outdoor lights, a new Weed Eater and a Gator wagon to help at feeding time.
“It helped us to have a safe place for puppies so they can have room to run and play,” shelter director Polly Rogers tells us. “This way the puppies are happier despite the shots and worming, etc. — all the mean stuff that puppies have to go through when they are taken away from Mom and getting ready to be adopted.” The lot is now on its fourth litter of puppies, so it’s helped 36 pups so far.
All the puppies love the yard, but one in particular who has benefited from it is a blind puppy (the white pup with black spots in the photo at right) who no longer has to stay in a crate. “She now knows where the fence is and runs and plays with her littermates,” Rogers says. Read the grant report.
We love British cartoonist Rupert Fawcett’s Off the Leash comics, which lovingly lampoon our relationships with our canine family members. To celebrate the U.S. publication of the first Off the Leash collection, Fawcett has created a special series for the Petfinder Foundation, illustrating his support for their advocacy on animal rescue and responsible pet ownership. Best of all, he’s offering Petfinder Foundation fans the chance to win a unique signed print of one of them. Enter the sweepstakes here; no purchase is necessary.
Fawcett became a professional cartoonist almost by accident when in 1989, while doodling, he drew a bald man in suspenders and carpet slippers and called him Fred. The Fred cartoons went on to be syndicated in the Mail on Sunday and published in several books. Off the Leash is his latest creation.
Originally launched on Facebook, the charming and heartfelt Off the Leash cartoons have developed a huge worldwide following. The new book brings together the very best of those cartoons, which feature the secret thoughts and conversations of the dogs who share our homes and lives. The book hits stores on Oct. 14.
Pre-order the Off the Leash book now.
Enter for a chance to win a signed print of a rescue-themed Off the Leash cartoon!
Our friends at Mohawk Flooring are dedicated to helping find homes for pets in need. Not only do they donate $2 to the Petfinder Foundation for each new “like” on Facebook (“like” Mohawk’s Facebook page here!), Mohawk has also very generously gifted five wonderful pet foster parents around the United States with a new pet-stain-resistant SmartStrand rug.
Congratulations to Melissa Mariner-Loos from Pennsylvania, Billie Jo and Ray Weatherford from Indiana, Cindy Gruppen from Michigan, Lisa D’Annibale from New York, and Farrah Ader from Maryland! And thank you, Mohawk! We asked each foster family to send us the story of their favorite foster pet. Here they are, in their own words!
Griffin [pictured above] is an approximately 2-year-old Pit Bull pup who has seen more than any dog his age should see in a lifetime.
This very sweet boy most likely lived an abusive life from the start (possibly being used as a bait dog). He was found tied to a pole at a church in Camden City, N.J., left for dead with the left side of his beautiful face and neck area hanging off and terribly infected. He had pellet wounds all over him. His ears had been chewed raw, along with part of his mouth. He was extremely emaciated at only 39 lbs., so it’s safe to say a good meal was not part of his past.
Fortunately, his past has not broken his spirit! Griffin is the biggest snuggler. From the moment Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue picked him up from the shelter, he started wagging his tail and giving kisses. When you look at him, it is so clear that all he wants is to be loved. Even with all the pain he was in, he has an amazingly sweet and gentle disposition.
After being seen by our rescue vet, it was determined he needed reconstructive surgery on his facial and neck areas. Because the wound was so infected, it was flushed out for a week prior to surgical repair. Griffin was also anemic from so much blood loss that we wanted to be sure his blood work was normal before he underwent anesthesia.
Griffin is now at a healthy weight, neutered, microchipped, heartworm tested (negative), up-to-date on all shots, and on monthly heartworm preventative. He has made a 100% recovery and continues to live a happy and healthy (not to mention SPOILED) life with his foster “failure” parents!
We consider Griffin’s story to be the reason Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue continues to do what we do.–Melissa Mariner-Loos, founder and president, Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue
Foster Success Story: Rudy
Fostered for: D & R Rescue, Inc., Paris, Ill.
Story submitted by: Ray and Billie Jo Weatherford
While we have many, many stories to share about the wonderful little foster dogs we are so privileged to help find forever homes — stories that will bring tears to your eyes — we have one story about a tiny red Dachshund named Rudy that makes us smile over and over!
Rudy was abandoned at a rest area on I-70. He obviously had lived a very hard life, perhaps on the road, perhaps not — only Rudy could tell us his past history of the last two or three years … but of course, he’s not talking!
Rudy was brought into the Doberman and Rottweiler Rescue for help. He was flea-infested and his hair was dry and flaky. His general overall condition was not healthy. He was groomed and after a quick trip to the chop shop, where he became a sports model, he was ready to come to our home for fostering before being put up for adoption.
Rudy was a small, red doxie, standing all of seven inches off the ground and very much full of pride. One would never know just many people he could touch in such a “short” period of time. He came to stay with Milo and Pearl, both doxies too but more than three times his size. I need to interject here that Rudy does NOT know size — please keep that in mind. He just knows what he wants, and being a doxie, he usually figures out how to get it!
All our foster dogs sleep in their crate at night; this makes their transition to their forever homes much easier for the dogs as well as the new owners in the event they must crate during the day or at night. It’s a rule we follow closely. Well, Rudy wasn’t about to embrace this new rule. Anybody who has a doxie knows they are well known for snuggling far down under the covers by your feet. When Milo and Pearl scurried under the covers at bedtime, tiny Rudy was right with them; he hardly made a wrinkle in the blankets. I think at that point we knew Rudy was different and a “tad” headstrong. Needless to say, the crate rule went by the wayside.
Rudy’s potty habits needed LOTS of work — I guess at the rest stop, any place works for potty. So we spent a couple of weeks working on what’s good and what’s bad. He seemed confused by the new rules and would cock his little head as if to listen, but he wasn’t sure he was buying into the new house rule: Peeing on Mama’s floor IS NOT GOOD! Whew, was he headstrong.
We retired on a small mini-farm outside of town. It’s located on a dead-end road to a creek in one direction and a walk park in the other, so the location is ideal for our twice-daily walks of the dogs. It was on these walks that Rudy met his now owner, a friend of our neighbor. The neighbor walks her dog with our dogs, and her friend just walked along for fun. Soon she was walking Rudy to help us out. Rudy didn’t know that walking could be so fun; he did lots of smells in the wooded area and learned to howl like a typical doxie. He pulled like a bull when he wanted to investigate something new, planting his tiny paws and throwing all 7 lbs. down to tug! Again, I think we knew Rudy was different and really headstrong. During these walks, the lady fell in love with Rudy and he with her.
Well, as we all know, timing is everything. The rescue called and said “Rudy has a forever home.” He would be getting adopted on Saturday. When everyone gathered to walk that evening, I said that Rudy had a forever home and would be getting adopted, providing they liked him, on Saturday. You could have heard a pin drop. The lady had planned on telling us that evening that she had fallen in love with Rudy and wanted to adopt him. She had tears in her eyes, our neighbor had tears and I could hardly swallow as I could feel tears welling up in my eyes too. They were perfect together and Rudy loved her so. I contacted the rescue immediately but unfortunately the adopters had very good references and the couple were set on getting Rudy and that was that — Rudy would be gone! No more walks at the farm, no more snuggles; Rudy would be GONE!
While we are always thrilled when foster dogs get their own forever homes, it’s always a little sad when they move on, but this time more so. The next day when everyone was telling Rudy goodbye, I lifted his little ear and whispered, “Rudy, be bad and come back to us. She loves you so much and wants you to live with her forever.” Well, I believe that Rudy believed that too!
On Saturday morning I waited and worried about Rudy. Did they like him? Did he interact with them? Finally the call came and the rescue reported back that the new adopters loved Rudy and he seemed to respond well to them, which is always a good sign. It all sounded like a wonderful ending for a foster dog and Rudy’s new home would be happy forever; he would be loved. Well, there’s something we knew but didn’t really understand about Rudy: He’s EXTREMELY headstrong!
Sunday afternoon, one day later, I received a call from the rescue. The new adopters had called and had a problem: Rudy, all 7 lbs., had chewed through their bathroom door. They had gone to church and left Rudy secured in the bathroom. Rudy decided he didn’t like being locked up, so he chewed through the hollow-core door. I guess living at the rest stop trained Rudy never to be locked up! I said, “That can’t be possible — he’s so tiny; he’s only 7 lbs. and seven inches tall! Remember me mentioning that Rudy does NOT know size? This proved it. The rescue said, “Billie Jo, they sent pictures, and he did it!” GADS! OH NO!! Needless to say, after further discussion with the rescue, the recent adopters decided they wanted to trade Rudy back in for a less-destructive, not-so-active dog! What??? While it truly isn’t funny, I was thrilled beyond words. He did exactly like I, his foster mom, had whispered in his ear the morning he left. That tiny little headstrong doxie was coming back!
I drove to the rescue (one hour each way) to get him. I didn’t alert Rudy’s now-forever mom that he was coming back, nor that she was going to get to adopt him. I just showed up at her door with Rudy in my arms and asked if she was interested in adopting a tiny little loving and very headstrong doxie! We half-laughed and half-cried as I told her what he had done. She was elated and Rudy was adopted that very day … three years ago! Rudy has a perfect home, is an only dog, and has never been crated or locked in a room since! The best part is, we get to see him and occasionally get to feel him snuggled by our feet when he sleeps over. He still doesn’t make a wrinkle in the blankets!–Ray and Billie Jo Weatherford
Having to choose just one story to share is a daunting task for a foster parent. Every foster dog has touched my soul and left their paw prints on my heart. But there is one very special girl that completely changed my life. She is the one that started it all and it is her story that I feel most compelled to tell.
It was late in my 12-hour shift as a 911 dispatcher on Saturday, March 12, 2011, when a call came into our center from a citizen in need of animal control. The caller’s daughter had left him a litter of puppies that he had no interest in keeping. Unfortunately, our animal control officer was done for the day and the caller was advised to contact the county shelter on Monday. Unhappy with his circumstances, the caller threatened to “take care” of the puppies himself. When his words were repeated to the room, I couldn’t help myself. I called him back, not caring how many puppies he had or what breed they were, I was not going to allow him to hurt those innocent babies.
During my conversation with the caller I was informed that there were eight 3-month-old pit bull-mix puppies that had been left with him because his daughter no longer wanted them. The mother of the puppies had been killed by the owners for attacking another dog while protecting her puppies. I was absolutely disgusted and I knew those poor things would meet the same fate if they were not removed from his house. Arrangements were made for my husband and myself to pick the puppies up after my shift and I would get them to the county shelter on Monday.
When we arrived at the apartment, the puppies were locked in a bathroom where the homeowner had been keeping them. To my surprise, the puppies were much younger than he had stated; they were hardly old enough to be away from their mother. My husband and I gathered all eight puppies and headed for home. What in the world was I going to do with eight puppies and the two dogs of my own? Well, it was just for two days … so we thought!
First thing on Monday, I contacted the county shelter and explained my situation to them. Unfortunately for me, they did not have space for eight 6-week-old puppies. The shelter was going to work on finding foster homes for the puppies but could not promise a place for all of them. Now I was the one going into panic mode. I had promised my husband that the puppies would be gone that Monday, but that was not going to be the case. In the week following, the shelter had found foster homes for six of the eight puppies. It was then decided that our family would foster the remaining two, Gunnar and Macy.
It did not take long for Gunnar to find his forever home, leaving his sister Macy the last of the puppies to find her own place. My heart ached for her and it was then that I realized she had already found her family, with us. The thought of her leaving was unbearable, so we decided to make it official. On May 10, 2011, we signed the adoption contract and Macy became a part of our family permanently.
I realize Macy’s story may be typical of many shelter animals and foster dogs; however, it is the events that followed my experience with her that make this story so much more. Our fostering experience was so rewarding, we opened up our home to more dogs in need and it didn’t take long for me to realize what I wanted to do. Almost one year to the day later, I turned in my resignation from my position as a 911 dispatcher. That 10-year journey had come to an end for me and it was time to start a new one. I wanted to save more lives — the ones with four legs! I left dispatch and began volunteering more at the shelter while continuing to foster when needed.
Our family has opened our home and our hearts to 32 fosters since that day in March,h and Macy has been here to greet and comfort every one of them. Some have stayed for weeks and some for years and are still waiting for that perfect family to come along. We have affectionately named our home “Macy’s Grace,” a place where all are welcome while waiting to begin their new journeys.
Thank you for your time and consideration and all that you do to help the abandoned, neglected and unwanted find their new leash on life.–Cindy Gruppen
Foster Success Story: Betsy Ross
Fostered for: Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS)
Story submitted by: Farrah Ader
It’s hard to pick a favorite foster story, but I think Betsy Ross is a great story of how fostering can make a difference! In January of 2013, I had three of my own dogs and was already fostering my first BARCS foster dog, Rockstar. However, BARCS was low on dog space so I offered to take another foster. I went down to the shelter and was shown a few of the more urgent/long-term dogs. There were two I was considering, but Betsy Ross was more urgent, so I took her home.
Betsy had been at the shelter since the previous November. She had come in with her puppies after being attacked by another dog in her home. Betsy saw all her puppies get adopted, but she was still waiting for her forever home. She had five adoption applications put in on her, but they never followed through or didn’t work out. She was dog-social and loved being in play group or even just playing in the play yard with her favorite toy, a deflated basketball. She was sweet, friendly, and an all-around fun dog.
The day I took her home to foster, she looked like she was smiling the entire car ride back to my house. Once she settled in and recovered from her spay surgery, she quickly won everyone in our house over, although she really bonded with my son and seemed to love kids in general. They would play ball or Frisbee until both were worn out. She was definitely a higher-energy dog, and although she and Rockstar enjoyed playing together, she would often wear him out. She was such a joy to have around because she just embodied what “love for life” means. She appreciated every toy, every bit of attention and affection, and was so happy and excited about everything.
We began marketing her, and within two weeks had a few interested applicants. She met her perfect match in Jason and Brian, who had recently lost one of their dogs and fell in love with her picture when they saw it. She met them and sealed the deal, and they took her home a week later!
She has been a great addition to their house and a great playmate to their other dogs. Her adopters are also amazing, and we are friends on Facebook, where I get frequent updates with pictures and even videos of her playing in the snow or playing with their cat! They take her for walks every day, and sometimes even hikes, and are totally in love with her! Her story really shows how a great dog can be overlooked in a shelter environment, and sometimes needs the benefit of a foster home to help them get adopted and find their perfect forever home!–Farrah Ader
Foster Success Story: Matilda
Fostered for: SPCA of Tompkins County, Ithaca, N.Y.
Story submitted by: Lisa D’Annibale
One Saturday in June of 2005 I walked into the shelter for my routine dog-walking shift and was greeted by somber staff members huddled around a wee bundle. It seems that someone had found a small black-and-white puppy, estimated to be 6–8 weeks old, on their lawn in the middle of the night during a rain storm. The puppy was hardly moving, in severe distress and in fact barely alive.
Upon first examination it was evident that she had a badly deformed front leg, but that was overshadowed by the fact that her mouth and sinus cavities were severely inflamed due to what appeared to be burns. The only explanation that could be given was that she had chewed through an electrical cord.
Thankfully, the SPCA of Tompkins County is a no-kill shelter and, even though she had only a 50/50 chance of survival, they gave her a “wait and see” status and asked me if I would take her home to foster.
For the next three days, I rocked the baby and did my best to comfort her whimpers and cries. I gave her cool water with a syringe and hand fed her bits of canned food to try to keep her strength up.
All the while I kept thinking that this puppy needed a name. I was watching TV one evening with her in my arms and a show came on about amazing dogs. One of the spotlights focused on a three-legged border collie who was an amazing agility and Frisbee-catching athlete. Her name was Mattie. I looked up Mattie and saw that it was short for Matilda, which means “strength in battle.” Since our little one had quite the fight ahead of her, Matilda she became!
The next morning I woke up to find Matilda in the front of her crate, eyes wide open! I wrote to the dog-care manager at the shelter and said, “Matilda wagged her tail for the first time today! I think she’s going to be okay.”
Off to the vet for another examination, only to find that the head trauma she sustained caused severe damage to her right eye. It was blind. And now that the swelling was starting to subside in her mouth, they could also see that Matilda had a cleft palate. Everything was still in a “wait and see” status, so I just took her home, did my best to care for her and loved her up some more.
Matilda thrived! She continued to get stronger and stronger and her personality blossomed! She was a happy-go-lucky, energetic little thing, playful with my dogs and cats and yet quite the snuggler too.
With time, the burns in her mouth completely healed. The vets didn’t think that her eye caused her any pain, so they did not remove it. But her deformed front leg would not grow.
Matilda’s mobility was impaired as she tried to use her stumpy leg to get around, so it was decided to amputate it. They figured while she was under anesthesia they would do her spay surgery and fix her cleft palate as well. But, lo and behold, her cleft palate had closed and completely healed on its own!
Matilda, our wonder puppy, recovered from her leg amputation and adjusted very well to life with three legs. In fact, so well that her speed and activity level proved to be too much for my home and it was time to find her own forever family.
Everywhere I went I asked if anyone was interested in meeting and potentially adopting “an amazing, loving and wonderful, one-eyed, three-legged puppy recovering from severe burns.”
And someone said yes! Matilda’s new parents came to meet her and fell instantly in love and adopted her. It was a match made in heaven.
We kept in touch and the new family came for a visit about a month later. They met my newest foster at the time, a collie-mix pup named Leah. And as fate would have it, the two puppies became fast friends and Leah became Matilda’s sister.
Matilda and Leah, celebrating their ninth birthdays this year, continue to have a wonderful life with their devoted and loving family. We do see each other every now and then and just last year the girls came for a visit. It was very clear that Matilda’s rough start many years ago was completely forgotten.–Lisa D’Annibale