Save the Lives of Shelter Pets in North America

 
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Finley and his KONG
Finley and his KONG

Happy, healthy dogs are more likely to get adopted. When they are physically comfortable, feel safe and secure, and are not crazed with boredom, they show their true personalities and charm potential adopters.

That's why many of our grants are designed to improve shelter dogs' quality of life. A bed, a toy and even a good shampoo can make all the difference. Here are just a few of the thousands of dogs who have benefited from our quality of life grants:

Finley
When we granted 300 KONG toys to Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, it was great news for dogs like Finley, a 5-year-old Italian Greyhound mix. "Shelter life can be scary for pets," PACC Development Director Karen Hollish tells us. "The enrichment activity that Finley received from the granted toys meant he was relaxed, happy and ready when his adopter finally walked by." Read Finley's story.

Smiley
Smiley, a 9-year-old blind Pit Bull, has been at the Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts in Brockton for quite some time. Thanks to our grant, he and other dogs there sleep on cozy dog beds. "There is nothing Smiley likes better than going out for long walks," shelter director Kim Heise says. "But having a nice, soft, comfy bed to snuggle up on in his kennel makes having to come back a little easier." Read Smiley's story.

Suzy
Adoption groups receiving our grants of grooming products tell us the shampoos are a blessing to their dogs, many of whom come into their care with painful skin conditions and smelling terrible. Suzy had spent her seven years living outdoors when she arrived at Houndhaven in Minneola, FL, and her coat was in poor shape. After a regimen that included baths with our donated shampoo, Suzy blossomed -- and was adopted. Read Suzy's story.

Thanks to donors like you, shelter dogs can rest easy while waiting for their forever families.

Smiley on his bed
Smiley on his bed
Suzy "before," with missing fur
Suzy "before," with missing fur
Suzy as she looks now
Suzy as she looks now

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The scratchers attach to the inside of cage doors.
The scratchers attach to the inside of cage doors.

Life in a cage is stressful for shelter cats, and stress can lead to health and behavior problems that keep cats from being adopted. So we have grant programs designed to ease cats' anxiety -- both in the shelter and as they transition into their new adoptive homes.

We grant adoption groups Stretch & Scratch cat scratchers and ACES Humaniac Cat Castles cat carriers/habitats. Both go in cats' cages and enable them to engage in instinctive behaviors there (scratching, hiding and resting on higher ground). And both go home with the cats when they're adopted so they have something familiar in their new surroundings.

We've granted out 33,780 Cat Castles to 66 adoption groups and 40,000 Stretch & Scratch cat scratchers to 107 organizations.

Both grants have been huge hits. As Wendy Mirrotto, executive director of Kitten Krazy, Inc., in Medina, Ohio, tells us: "I LOVE these Stretch and Scratch Cat Scratchers! The cats love them, too! They are purrfect for any cage and give the cats somewhere to stretch and scratch -- a very important function for a cat."

The scratchers are especially helpful for cats who are isolated as they recover from illness or surgery, including Henrietta, who was found frozen to a pipe and had to have a leg amputated due to frostbite; Bea, who arrived at the shelter covered in burns and stab wounds; and Roadie, whose eye was dislodged from its socket and had to be surgically removed.

The scratchers also help cats adjust to foster and forever homes -- and can even curb unwanted behaviors there. "One of our adopters complained about [her new] kitten scratching furniture," says Feline Finish Line Rescue president Catherine McCulloch. "I gave her two scratchers and told her to tie them on the table legs. She said the kitten loved them and started to leave other items alone."

The Cat Castles likewise help cats both in shelters and at home. Inside their cages, the Castles give the cats a place to hide as well as an elevated vantage point (via a "turret" on top of the box) where they can view their surroundings while feeling secure.

"These boxes are vital to the enrichment and stimulation of the cats we are caring for while they are waiting for their forever homes," says Humane Society of Southern Arizona Associate Director of Development Morgan Rost. "The boxes/perches will remain with the cat or cats -- if a bonded pair -- through the duration of their time at the HSSA and will go home with each cat at the time of their adoption."

Thanks to donors like you, shelter cats can rest easy while waiting for their forever families.

Cat Castles include an elevated perching "turret."
Cat Castles include an elevated perching "turret."
A scratcher helped Henrietta recover from surgery.
A scratcher helped Henrietta recover from surgery.

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Mic still has scars from the deadly break-in.
Mic still has scars from the deadly break-in.

Thanks to your help, we've sent a $2,000 emergency grant to All About Animals Rescue in Macon, Ga., to help cover medical expenses for the dogs who were injured during a deadly break-in on Oct. 16. That night, an intruder let 40 dogs out of their kennels; three dogs were killed, more than a dozen were severely injured, and all the survivors are traumatized.

“[The grant] really will help,” says AAAR founder and director Mary Crawford.

The two staffers who arrived at the shelter the morning of Oct. 17 were met with a chaotic and frightening scene, volunteer Kathy Brantley tells us: "All these dogs were bleeding to death; they were in shock, their faces were swollen."

The staffers called for help and scrambled to put the loose dogs back in their kennels. Working with shelter volunteers, they took the badly injured dogs to veterinarians across the city and scoured the neighborhood to find the four dogs who had been released onto the street. All the lost dogs were found, including Fred and Wilma (pictured), former strays who returned to the shelter on their own.

The three dogs – Butler, Flapjack and Jack -- who died as a result of injuries they sustained during the break-in were all gentle dogs not known for fighting, Crawford and Brantley tell us. Butler only had three legs and didn't stand a chance when the frenzied scene erupted, Brantley says.

Last month, police arrested a woman in connection with the incident. Crystal Gale Fessler has been charged with 13 counts of cruelty to animals, probation violation and criminal trespass, but her motives, and whether she acted alone or with a partner, remain unknown, Crawford says.

AAAR typically houses about 70 dogs, most of them pulled from nearby Macon Animal Control. Although the property is surrounded by a 10-ft. fence topped with barbed wire, the person or people who broke in likely slipped through a small gap between the fence and barbed wire, Crawford says. The shelter's perimeter has since been secured, and security cameras have been installed.

Crawford and Brantley say they are still looking for homes for several of the surviving dogs, including Fred, Wilma, Mic and Lionel, who suffered a large wound on his neck during the break-in. Meanwhile, the shelter is working to cover the dogs' vet bills. Your support of the Petfinder Foundation is helping AAAR pay for this lifesaving care.

Fred (left) and Wilma are a bonded pair.
Fred (left) and Wilma are a bonded pair.
Lionel is recovering from his injuries.
Lionel is recovering from his injuries.

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Melody, a senior Pit Bull at Longmont Humane
Melody, a senior Pit Bull at Longmont Humane

We’ve sent $6,000 in disaster aid to Longmont Humane Society (LHS) in Longmont, Colo., where staff members have been working tirelessly to care for 190 pets displaced by the region’s deadly floods. This grant follows a $3,000 disaster grant to nearby Humane Society of Boulder Valley, which is housing 70 displaced pets.

“We are incredibly grateful,” LHS Executive Director Liz Smokowski tells us in a phone call from the busy shelter, which has stayed open to help pets despite being located in an evacuation zone.

Development Associate Carrie Brackenridge tells us that some 1,500 homes have been destroyed and another 17,500 have been damaged by the flooding, which began on Sept. 12.

As with HSBV, the displaced pets arrived when the shelter was already full. “Single-occupancy capacity at LHS is 368 animals,” Brackenridge tells us. "As of Sept. 17, we are housing 441 animals. As a result of caring for evacuated animals, LHS is experiencing an increase in our daily operational costs. Supplies such as food, healthcare items and cleaning products have been in increased usage, and resources such as staff time and utility usage have increased dramatically.”

Shelter staff are fitting in the extra animals wherever they can, housing many in office spaces.

To make matters worse, some of the displaced pets are showing signs of Giardia infection that they may have contracted from the floodwaters. An outbreak of Giardia, a highly contagious intestinal parasite, would threaten all the shelter's animals, so staffers are disinfecting aggressively and feeding the affected pets special food. “We are really starting to worry that the next chapter in this crisis is going to be medical issues,” Smokowski says.

Our disaster grant will be a huge help. “This funding from Petfinder Foundation will be instrumental in relieving the costs associated with current rescue efforts,” Smokowski says. “We are very grateful!”

Buddy Boy enjoys the cooler visiting yards.
Buddy Boy enjoys the cooler visiting yards.

Our Summer Cooling Grants are saving lives at shelters including Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) in Tucson, Ariz., by helping the dogs there get adopted.

The shelter used our grant to install an overhead misting system in two visitation yards, meaning potential adopters can now comfortably spend time getting to know the resident dogs. "It's a game-changer," Animal Care Advocate Justin Gallick tells us.

In Tucson, temperatures have already topped 111 degrees, and before the outdoor misting system was installed, potential adopters did not have a cool, comfortable place in which to visit with the shelter's dogs. "Now they can take the time necessary to make that bond," Gallick says.

The grant came at just the right time, since the shelter – which takes in nearly 25,000 lost and homeless pets a year – is currently being inundated with unwanted litters. "It's raining puppies and kittens," Adoption Coordinator Ellie Beaubien says.

When we visited PACC to check out its new misters, we brought along kiddie pools for each of the yards. We also made cooling catsicles to share with the shelter's cats (get the recipe for catsicles here), and pupsicles that we made by freezing low-sodium chicken broth in an ice cube tray.

While the misters in the visitation yards certainly make adopters more comfortable, they also give the shelter's nursing-mother dogs a place to take a break from their puppies, Beaubien says. Before the summer, staff members would give each nursing mother half an hour of exercise and fresh air in the yards – but when the high temperatures arrived, that became too dangerous.

Now, thanks to the misting system, "nobody's getting overheated," Beaubien says. "We really needed those. It was a great investment."

The kittens loved the catsicles we brought.
The kittens loved the catsicles we brought.
Tipper enjoys a dogsicle.
Tipper enjoys a dogsicle.
Adele frolicks in a kiddie pool.
Adele frolicks in a kiddie pool.

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Organization

Project Leader

Emily Fromm

Vice President of Development
Tucson, AZ United States

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