Posts By: Karen Hollish

Helping Animal Victims of the Colorado Wildfire

Displaced Cat in Kennel

This Humane Society of Pikes Peak Region photo shows one of the many displaced pets in the organization’s care.

We’ve rushed $3,000 in disaster aid to Colorado Springs, Colo., where the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region is caring for 358 cats, dogs, birds, pocket pets and other animals displaced by the raging Black Forest fire.

“We’re working around the clock,” Grants and Corporate Relations Manager Marsha Wayman tells us.

The fire is the most destructive in the state’s history, with officials saying 360 homes have already been destroyed. Thousands of residents are being evacuated, and many of them are bringing their pets to the shelter for temporary housing and care.

“We’re working right now with animal recovery, trying to locate animals that have been left behind,” Wayman tells us.

Two Displaced Dogs in a Cage

Two of the many dogs whose owners were evacuated and who are being cared for by the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.

The fire comes less than a year after the state’s second-most destructive fire, the Waldo Canyon fire, struck the region.

Temporary Shelter for People and Pets

A temporary shelter for people and pets being managed by the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.

“The good news is we have an incredibly experienced and talented team,” Wayman says. “That’s kind of a silver lining, but the impact is going to be larger this time.”

As the manager of the area’s Community Animal Response Team, the organization is tasked with providing professional response, resources and community education during and after disasters, Wayman says. They are housing displaced animals at several locations, including one site where pet parents can stay with their pets. They working to transport large animals – such as horses and goats – to other organizations that are better equipped  to care for them, Wayman said.

Chinchilla in Cage

The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region is caring for small displaced companion animals like this one, too.

The organization expects to spend a significant amount of money on transporting and housing pets while their caretakers are indefinitely displaced. Wayman says she is grateful for the Foundation’s fast assistance.

“We appreciate it so much,” Wayman said. “We need all the help we can get.”

Help us save more pets when disaster strikes.


Delivering a Grant — and Meeting Shelter Pets — in Tucson

Lisa Walks Nina the Adoptable Dog

Petfinder Foundation Executive Director Lisa Robinson walks Nina, a Pit Bull mix, at Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson.

Once in a while, we like to deliver a grant in person. So this week we headed to one of our local Tucson shelters, Pima Animal Care Center (PACC), to present a $1,000 Summer Cooling grant. The funds will be used to install a misting system in the shelter’s meet-and-greet yards and outdoor dog runs to make both more comfortable for the pets and potential adopters.

While we were there, we also spent some time walking a few of the resident dogs — including Nina (above) — and speaking with staff and volunteers about the positive changes the shelter is making. We left feeling prouder than ever to be supporting its work.

Animal Care Advocate Justin Gallick tells us that the county-funded facility, which takes in nearly 25,000 homeless or lost pets a year, is undertaking a radical outlook shift.

“Our culture, and reputation, has for years been based on the animal-control model,” he says. “Now there’s a lot more emphasis on customer service, finding the right match and post-adoption follow-up.”

Justin with Snookums the Puppy

PACC’s Justin Gallick snuggles with Snookums, a 6-week-old Pit Bull.

The organization recently increased its live-release rate from around 50 percent to nearly 65 percent, Gallick says, adding that he expects that number to continue to rise. In the past, PACC did not have a staff member dedicated solely to increasing adoptions, but it recently hired its first full-time adoption coordinator, Ellie Beaubien. It also hired its first full-time volunteer coordinator, José Ocaño. Since February, Ocaño has increased PACC’s volunteer force from 90 people to more than 300.

When it was time for us to walk dogs, two of the shelter’s regular volunteers, Laura Hines and Kainan Jarrette, paired us with pups who needed exercise. PACC is situated next to a small lake – a rare sight in the desert! – and devoted volunteers such as Hines and Jarrette ensure PACC’s temporary residents enjoy daily excursions around the water.

Foundation Walks Dogs Around the Lake

Petfinder Foundation Senior Program Manager Toni Morgan, Robinson and PACC volunteers Laura Hines and Kainan Jarrette (from left) walk adoptable dogs.

Hines and Jarrette come to PACC several times a week to exercise and socialize dogs such as Ernie, a 1-year-old German Shepherd mix (below). Their apartment complex won’t let them adopt any more pets (they already have two cats), so the volunteering helps them get their pet fix.

“I have a very strong love for animals, and it’s nice to be part of the solution,” Jarrette says.

“It’s mutually beneficial, really,” Hines adds. “You get to do something for them but they also give a lot to you.”

Laurie and Kainan and Ernie

Hines and Jarrette with Ernie

We left excited to return to the shelter to see the new misting system installed in time to help the resident pets beat the summer heat. As Adoption Coordinator Ellie Beaubien tells us, “Our animals need it so desperately. I really can’t thank you enough!”

We’re also thrilled that PACC staffers will be attending our upcoming One Picture Saves a Life seminar in Las Vegas, where they’ll learn how to take lifesaving photos of their adoptable pets. PACC’s One Picture Saves a Life grant also includes a digital SLR camera and Photoshop photo-editing software.

Both grants are sure to help save the lives of pets such as Preston (below). We can’t wait to come back!

Preston the English Bulldog

Preston the English Bulldog is available for adoption from PACC.

See all of Pima Animal Care Center’s adoptable pets.

Help us help more pets in need.




ThunderShirt Transforms a Blind, Frightened Beagle

Little Fella the Beagle was comforted by the ThunderShirt we granted to

Little Fella is comforted by his ThunderShirt (and a pal).

Our ThunderShirt grant to Friends of the Animals in Lancaster, S.C., transformed the life of Little Fella, a 1-year-old blind Beagle who was abandoned by his guardians and terrified of the world.

“Once the shirt was on, I could pick him up and place him in a crate with a stuffed dog to begin his socialization training and to provide him comfort,” Friends of the Animals foster mom Renae Barnett tells us. “It worked!”

Little Fella wore the Thundershirt continuously for a month, during which time he bonded with the other dogs in his foster family.

“I have a pack of dogs,” Barnett says, “mostly big: two blind and deaf Aussies and some small elderly dogs. Little Fella came out of his shell and within two weeks he was sleeping with them and playing with them.”

Littel Fella is Happy Today

Little Fella has been adopted.

Although he couldn’t see it, Little Fella managed to map out his foster home and get around the house well. He was eventually adopted, and we’re thrilled that our ThunderShirt grant helped make room in the rescue for another dog in need.

“He is an awesome boy and we miss him and love him,” Barnett says. “But the goal is always to find the best home for each pet.”

Help us help shelters and rescues save more pets like Little Fella.

Are you a Petfinder member? Apply for a ThunderShirt grant.



Mars Petcare Staffers Compete to Help Tucson Shelter Pets

Humane Society of Southern Arizona resident Jenna enjoys a toy and leash courtesy of Mars Petcare.

Shelter life can be stressful for dogs like Jenna, an energetic young Boxer mix who’s been returned several times to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSA) in Tucson. That’s why the Petfinder Foundation is working with Mars Petcare to give pets like her toys, treats and other enrichment supplies to help them stay healthy and happy until they find the right family.

The HSSA, Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) of Tucson, In the Arms of Angels of Green Valley, and Pinal County Animal Care and Control of Casa Grande benefited from a recent friendly fundraising competition that we organized for 200 Mars Petcare employees.

Mars Staffer Hula Hoops

A Mars staffer hula hoops for pets.

The Mars staffers broke into four teams of 25, each competing for a different organization in events such as a hula-hoop contest and leash-making competition.

The whole thing was a fun way for Mars employees to give back and for the Petfinder Foundation, which is based in Tucson, to support local adoption groups.

All four organizations received cash grants, along with leashes, cat scratchers, dog toys and pet food. The first-place winner, the HSSA, received a $1,000 grant; In the Arms of Angels received $500; and PACC and Pinal County Animal Care and Control each received $250.

Mars Petcare staff members competed to see who could make the most leashes.

Competing to see who can make the most leashes

“The Humane Society of Southern Arizona is so grateful for the wonderful donation and will be using the money to help care for our animals by providing vaccinations, food, enrichment and spay-and-neuter surgeries,” HSSA PR Coordinator Sara Gromley tells us. “It is especially helpful during litter season, when we need extra support to care for our little ones.”

PACC Adoption Coordinator Ellie Beaubien says the shelter will use its grant to buy leashes and cat carriers, which adopters are currently required to provide if they want to adopt from the county facility. Providing these to adopters will make the adoption process more convenient, Beaubien says (PACC will raise its adoption fees slightly so the program can continue).

Pear Eats Donated Food

Pima Animal Care Center resident Pear (now adopted!) enjoys her Temptation treats and canned Sheba food.

As a government-funded shelter, PACC just hadn’t had the money it needed to implement this relatively inexpensive but lifesaving policy. “This [grant] gave me the opportunity to provide something important to adopters,” Beaubien says.

Donate now so we can help shelters save more lives.



Oklahoma Shelters Preparing for Surge of Lost Cats

Kitten rescued from rubble

Oklahoma City animal control officers rescued this kitten from the rubble around Moore.

After the May 20 tornado devastated Moore, Okla., the Petfinder Foundation rushed $15,000 to help Central Oklahoma Humane Society and City of Oklahoma City Animal Services Division cope with the influx of lost and injured pets. Intake numbers are finally slowing down – but with cat-search efforts underway, that the number is expected shoot up again.

“We are beginning our cat-trapping efforts on-site before they do the demolition, so we expect to bring in about 30 to 40 cats in the next few days,” Christy Counts, founder and president of Central Oklahoma Humane Society, tells us.

In addition to the cash grants, we worked with ThunderShirt to get the comforting shirts to displaced dogs, and with Wahl to deliver shampoo, clippers and other much-needed grooming supplies to the shelters. We helped Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. rush vaccines to the facilities as well.

As of yesterday, the shelters had taken in close to 130 displaced pets and reunited at least 60 with their families.

“We are still in the recovery phase, so things haven’t completely slowed down quite yet,” Central Oklahoma Humane Society Director of Outreach Amy Shrodes tells us. “But we are definitely a lot more caught up than we were this time last week.”

Happy Reunion between Dog and Girl

This girl was reunited with her dog at Central Oklahoma Humane Society.

Donate to assist with the recovery efforts in Oklahoma.



Vaccination Grants Give Shelter Pets Time to Find Homes

Taz the Pit Bull

A vaccination grant helped the Dog and Cat Shelter in Sheridan, Wyo., care for Taz.

It took Taz the pit bull almost a year to find the right family — but our a vaccination grant let the Dog and Cat Shelter of Sheridan, Wyo., give him all the time he needed.

“Thanks to people like you, we can keep animals as long as it takes to find them a forever home,” shelter co-director Sharon Johnson tells us.

We’ve partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. and The Animal Rescue Site on A Shot at Life … Join the 2 Million Pet Challenge! to help protect millions of shelter pets against disease so they’re more likely to be adopted.

We awarded the Dog and Cat shelter 200 vaccines to protect its dogs against deadly but preventable conditions such as distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus. We also provided 200 vaccines to protect its cats against common shelter diseases including panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis and calicivirus.

Valued at $4,470, the vaccination grant helped the shelter afford a year of Taz’s care and feeding costs.

“He’s one of those big muscular guys who could be a scary dog if you didn’t know him – but what a gentle, loving dog he actually is,” Johnson says. “He loves people, especially kids, and enjoys playing and going on walks.

“Taz gets along well with most other dogs and many people thought of adopting him but for various reasons it didn’t happen,” Johnson says. “Finally, a young gentleman adopted Taz and we have heard from him that Taz is doing very well.”

Taz’s new person reports that he goes hiking in the mountains and is very obedient and smart. Thank you for your donations, which helped make Taz’s happy ending possible!

Taz Plays and Romps

Taz gets plenty of playtime in his new home.

Learn more about A Shot at Life.

Donate to help us save pets like Taz.



Rushing Aid to Oklahoma’s First Responders

Susie the hero dog

First responders found Susie standing guard over a deceased man after the tornado hit Moore, Okla.

We knew Oklahoma shelters would be inundated slammed with lost, injured and frightened animals when the tornado struck. We knew that staff were working without power, water or Internet, so we called them and helped them apply for desperately needed cash grants over the phone.

“I really appreciate how easy it was, and how you reached out to us,” City of Oklahoma City Animal Services Division Superintendent Catherine English told us.

The Petfinder Foundation awarded $10,000 in assistance to the Animal Services Division, the government agency tasked with being the lead local responder to the crisis.  We awarded another $5,000 to the division’s neighbor and partner in responding to the disaster, the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. We have also worked with our partners at Thundershirt and Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health to rush Thundershirts and vaccines to the scene.

Working together, the two Oklahoma City organizations are caring for more than 150 displaced pets, and they have reunited more than 33 lost animals with their families, English said.

Amy Shrodes, director of outreach for the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, was particularly moved by the story of Susie, a 12-year old Schipperke-Border Collie mix. First responders found Susie standing guard over a deceased man inside a house in Moore, which was particularly devastated by the storms.

They assumed the dog was guarding her owner, and took her to an emergency shelter. They were surprised when Susie’s true owner came forward to claim her. The pair lived a half mile from where Susie was found watching over the dead man.

“It was just like a dog’s sense of protection to be by the person,” Shrodes told us.

Most of the displaced animals the organizations have taken in since the tornado struck have been dogs, English said. But as demolition efforts start, she expects more cats will come out of hiding: “Cats will be flying out of everything.”

Displaced Kitten

This displaced kitten is waiting to be reclaimed at Central Oklahoma Humane Society. If his or her family can’t be located, the kitten will be put up for adoption.

The two organizations will pool their resources to house, feed, medicate, treat and comfort all the displaced pets. Our grants will help cover staffing costs, which are skyrocketing because the agencies have been working around the clock.

English’s staff was able finally able to go home and get some sleep last night. “It’s only been two days,” she said. “It seems like nine months.”

English said the grant money and supplies the Petfinder Foundation provided will go a long way. “I’ve never experienced that kind of outreach, that kind of service level,” she added. “It’s kind of unheard of.”



How Rescued Rabbits Are Helping Save Homeless Cats


Hopscotch, a lionhead rabbit in Woburn, Mass., is available for adoption through the House Rabbit Network.

We gave a vaccination grant to the House Rabbit Network in Woburn, Mass. They couldn’t use it — so they paid it forward to their friends at the nearby Lowell Humane Society.

“We didn’t want to see the vaccines go to waste,” House Rabbit Network foster parent Aimee Swartz tells us. “So we just picked the humane society we knew could really use them and that we work with a lot.”

The House Rabbit Network won the grant by coming in second in the state during the recent Animal Rescue Site Shelter+ Challenge. Like all second-place state winners in the online competition, the network received 100 dog or cat vaccines.

Unable to use them on their rabbits, the volunteers who run the organization decided to give the Lowell Humane Society 100 FRVCP vaccines to protect its cats against the upper-respiratory infections most common in shelters.

“It’s great,” says Jill O’Connell, executive director of the Lowell Humane Society, a private, open-admissions shelter that takes in nearly 2,000 homeless pets each year. “We are a pretty small shelter, but we consider ourselves pretty high-volume. The majority of our money is spent on medical costs, so this allows us to spend somewhere else.”

Abby the Lop Eared Rabbit.

Adopt lop-eared Abby from from the House Rabbit Network.

In the next Shelter+ Challenge, the House Rabbit Network plans to go for Massachusetts’ first-place prize — a cash grant, Swartz says. In the meantime, its vaccination grant will make a huge difference for nearby cats.

“We are just getting into kitten season,” O’Connell tells us, “and to vaccinate 100 cats is really going to help.”

Donate today to help us help more pets in need.



We’re Helping Shelters Take Amazing Animal Pictures

Adorable Kitty

Jack from the Humane Society of Sullivan County in Sullivan, Ind., has an adorable glamor shot thanks to the photography tips we offered shelter workers at the recent Animal Care Expo.

I got off the plane in Nashville, super excited be attending my first-ever Animal Care Expo hosted by the Humane Society of the United States. I was ready to meet hundreds of shelter workers from across the country, learn about the challenges they are facing, and figure out how we can help them do their hard jobs even better.

At the heart of my Expo experience was spreading the news about the Foundation’s One Picture Saves a Life program, which teaches essential pet-photography skills to shelter staffers and volunteers. We’ve partnered on the program with Underwater Dogs photographer Seth Casteel and our friends at The Animal Rescue Site, John Paul Pet and The program’s central premise is a shelter pet’s chances of being noticed by a potential adopter rise exponentially when they are represented by an attractive photo.

Seth Training Shelter Staff

Underwater Dogs photographer Seth Casteel taught shelter workers how to take better photos at the Animal Care Expo.

Again and again at the Expo I heard from workers who bemoaned their organization’s low-quality photos. They said that their animals’ pictures oftentimes showed them looking blurry, frightened and dirty. While some shelters said they counted on volunteer professional photographers to take pleasing photos, and an even smaller number said they have trained photographers on staff, most said they struggled to take engaging photographs that do justice to their temporary residents.

We pointed them toward the free teaching resources on the program’s website,, and told them about our upcoming workshops. We invited them to a talk we hosted with Seth Casteel and cat-behavior expert Jackson Galaxy (they had terrific chemistry!). We cheered as Debbie Heller of Little Rock Animal Village in Little Rock, Ark., won a digital SLR camera and choked up when she talked about all the lives it was going to help save.

Seth Casteel presents a digital SLR camera the winning shelter worker.

Seth Casteel presented a digital SLR camera to Debbie Heller of Little Rock Animal Village.

The Expo taught me that most member organizations the Petfinder Foundation proudly serves are struggling to take good pet photos. They may have money in their budgets for pet food, electricity bills or an animal-care attendant, but photography funds are much harder for shelters to come by.

The One Picture Saves a Life program is closing that gap, though, by providing easy-to-implement tips, in-person workshops, and technology grants so that shelter workers have the cameras and editing software they need.

And already it’s making a difference. Humane Society of Sullivan County President Miranda Webster Hay, who took the above picture of Jack the kitten, said the tips she learned at Expo have yielded terrific results.

“I am so excited about this program, it is all I can talk about since I arrived home from the HSUS EXPO!” Hay wrote. “Meeting Seth and just showing him some of my pictures, he was able to give me such great pointers in 5 minutes! Two days of shooting with this lens (50 mm/1.80) and I am in heaven–I am so excited to be registered for the August workshop in Chicago.”

Rachel Rosen from Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City, N.J., also sent us this terrific photo of an adoptable pup that she took using the One Picture Saves a Life lessons:

Fresh, an Adoptable Dog

Fresh is available for adoption at Liberty Humane Society.

“I put quite a few tips I learned at the workshop to use in this batch of pictures,” Rosen said. “The fact that it was cloudy made me realize how much easier it would be to shoot in the shade rather than in the sun like I did in the past.” (Learn more about adopting Fresh.)

As a former shelter worker who has struggled countless times to get the perfect shot of a squirmy critter, I was thrilled to promote this progressive program at Expo. Because of the generous donations we receive, we’re able to provide life-saving resources that shelters wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Like the One Picture Saves a Life page on Facebook to see all this year’s success stories!

Learn more about the One Picture Saves a Life Program.

Donate now to help us teach shelters how to take life-saving pictures of their adoptable pets.



How You Can Help Shelter Pets by Quilting

Denny Snuggles.

Denny snuggles on his favorite quilt.

Last year, we worked with pet-loving crafters to get handmade quilts to cats stranded by Hurricane Sandy. Here, Nan Baker, marketing director at The Quilt Pattern Magazine, tells us how this creative and compassionate project developed, and how you can help:

“It all started with Denny. He loved quilts. Although the colors or designs didn’t matter to him, he definitely had his favorites. Put a quilt on a chair, a floor or a shelf and he magically appeared to stake his claim, especially for naps.

“After seeing many pictures of cats on quilts on the Internet, I knew that I was not alone in thinking that cats on quilts make great photos and that they just need to be shared.

“In the fall of 2011, The Quilt Pattern Magazine (TQPM) started our annual Quilt Kitties Photo Contest. Subscribers were urged to send in pictures of their kitties on quilts and given the chance to win some great prizes donated by very generous kitty-loving sponsors! We even had a sponsor kitty – Miss Piggy of Kona Bay Fabrics.

Miss Piggy & Gracie

Sponsor cat Miss Piggy, left, and 2011 Quilt Kitties Photo Contest winner Gracie

“However, because TQPM’s staff are all cat lovers and many have rescue cats, they took it a step further! They wanted to help cats, particularly the less-fortunate kitties who don’t have homes or who end up in shelters. They gave their readers an opportunity to donate to an organization that specializes in helping kitties.

“In the fall of 2012, the same wonderful sponsors, along with some new ones, rejoined TQPM for its second annual Quilt Kitties Photo Contest. TQPM was pleased to announce that the Petfinder Foundation had joined them in promoting this endeavor. Who could have guessed where it would lead?

Quilt Kitties Photo Contest 2012 winner Baby

Quilt Kitties Photo Contest 2012 winner Baby

“Wanting to give their readers a little something extra for their kitties, TQPM was the first to offer free, downloadable patterns for Kennel Quilts. (Find Kennel Quilt patterns here!) These quilts are 12″ x 18″ and are perfect for most cat carriers and cages. The plan was for readers to make one for their own furry friend and another for a local shelter kitty.

Kennel Quilt

Kennel Quilts fit perfectly in cat carriers.

“Then, Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast and Kennel Quilts took on a whole new meaning. Several of the staff members, knowing firsthand how devastating hurricanes can be for people and their pets, contacted the Petfinder Foundation to offer help.

“Petfinder gave TQPM a list of affected shelters in New York and New Jersey. One shelter, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ, delivered the quilts on a supply truck along with water, pet food and other essentials to people on the Jersey shore. They knew these people had lost everything and that a bright, new quilt for their pets would bring a little bit of joy. Another shelter reported that these donated quilts made everything look very bright and pretty. The volunteers and visitors were all talking about them.

“Because they fit the kitty Kuranda beds, which many shelters use, one shelter asked how we had known to make them the perfect size. As more quilts were delivered, the compliments continued to come in. Shelters were amazed by how many people cared. Strangers, yes; but ones who extended helping hands in times of need. The response was overwhelming, with more than 100 quilts made and sent from the United States, Canada and England. The shelters continue to receive quilts to this day.

Shelter Kitty

A cat at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center snoozes on his donated quilt.

“As a result of the overwhelming response, TQPM and the Petfinder Foundation decided to make this an ongoing project. Thus, the Small Kennel Quilt Team was formed.

“The TQPM Small Kennel Quilt Team is a volunteer organization that is available to respond when disasters strike. It is a way to join a larger effort in helping our animal friends in times of need by doing what we love. Sign up for the Small Kennel Quilt Team here.

“The team will supply Kennel Quilts to shelters. Free patterns can be downloaded from the TQPM site (download a free quilt pattern here) or you can design your own. TQPM will post members’ progress on the program web page and email updates to them. Members are not obligated to make quilts; they can sign up simply to receive program updates.

Zoey on a quilt.

Zoey the shelter cat has her choice of quilts.

“If you don’t quilt, but want to be a member of the team, you are most welcome. There are other very important ways to help; one is to give a donation to the Petfinder Foundation, which will be greatly appreciated and well-used.

“This new venture is still in the formative stage. As time passes, TQPM and the Petfinder Foundation are sure to find new ways to help shelters and their animals. Join our ‘Passion with a Purr-pose’!”

Many thanks to Nan and all the quilters around the world who are working so hard to offer some comfort and cheer to shelter cats and their caregivers during times of need.

Download Kennel Quilt patterns.

Sign up for the Small Kennel Quilt Team.