Petfinder Foundation News

A Special Boy, a Special Dog and an Amazing Story

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Owen and Haatchi, from Haatchi’s Facebook page

The story of Owen Howkins and Haatchi, a boy and his dog who transformed each others’ lives and became global celebrities, is one of overcoming incredible adversity — again and again. Owen, an 8-year-old British boy, suffers from an extremely rare genetic disorder that limits his every action. Haatchi, an Anatolian Shepherd, was as a puppy intentionally left on railroad tracks and hit by a train, causing him to lose a hind leg and his tail.

As told in the book Haatchi & Little B, out today from St. Martin’s Press, each triumphed against seemingly impossible odds. Not only was Haatchi the victim of unthinkable cruelty, after he was rescued by the RSPCA, he faced euthanasia simply because no one wanted to adopt a disabled dog — let alone a “dangerous” breed.

cover_haatchiAnatolian Shepherds have a reputation in Britain similar to Pit Bulls’ here in the U.S. They can grow to 150 lbs. and were bred to guard flocks of sheep against wolves and mountain lions. After three Anatolian Shepherds mauled a woman in 2011, the judge who tried the dogs’ owner declared the breed “not appropriate to be kept in England.”

Owen is one of just a handful of people in the world with Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, in which the muscles tense permanently, causing bone and joint problems. Often in a wheelchair when in public, he had become shy and withdrawn, aware of people looking at him because he was different. And although Haatchi made all the difference, the dog nearly didn’t come into Owen’s life.

Owen’s dad and stepmother had already tried getting him a dog to help him open up. They adopted a Spaniel-Collie mix named Mr. Pixel, but Owen didn’t bond with him as his parents had hoped (they kept Mr. Pixel in their family, of course). When Owen’s stepmother, Colleen, found Haatchi online, she was certain he was the companion Owen needed — but when she applied to adopt him, she was turned down! (The rescue group misunderstood the amount of time Haatchi would be alone — which in reality was none.)

But Owen and Haatchi came together at last, and the results were instantaneous. Haatchi, still an energetic puppy learning to walk on three legs, instinctively became calm around Owen and was soon his constant companion. When Owen took him out for walks, people noticed him — not for his disability, but for his “awesome” dog! Owen learned to delight in telling Haatchi’s story. As his dad, Will, says in the book, “It was an incredible transformation. He went from being painfully shy to working the crowd!”

Read the rest of this amazing story in Haatchi & Little B, by Wendy Holden.

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A Rescue Vehicle Is Hit by a Drunk Driver

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The animal-rescue vehicle purchased by Alaska’s Extended Life Animal Sanctuary

Thanks to your donations, when the animal-rescue vehicle used by Alaska’s Extended Life Animal Sanctuary in Nikiski was totaled by a drunk driver, the Petfinder Foundation was able to help.

AELAS founder Tim Colbath tells us, “On Jan. 9, our primary pet transport vehicle was hit and totaled by a drunk driver.” Colbath himself received a broken leg and other injuries, but made a full recovery. Unfortunately, the organization’s Chevy Suburban was beyond repair.

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Buddy, who was rescued by AELAS

“The accident impacted our ability to transport pets,” Colbath says. “My 2001 Dodge pickup can only handle the transport of four cats at a time. Even with a cap on the back, it is too cold and rough for animals to be transported nine months a year here in Alaska.”

The Petfinder Foundation awarded AELAS an $8,000 disaster grant. Together with a smaller payment from the drunk driver’s insurance company, AELAS was able to purchase a 2004 GMC Yukon XL.

The new vehicle plays a critical role in AELAS’s rescue work: The organization serves all of south central Alaska, and often transports animals 200-300 miles to the sanctuary.

One such long-distance rescue was Buddy, who was shot by a passerby while he was relaxing in his own yard. Buddy’s owners didn’t have the means to get him treatment, so AELAS volunteers drove 100+ miles to Homer to pick him up.

They rushed him straight to their vet, where Buddy underwent surgery to remove the bullet that had been lodged in his bone for — as Colbath learned — six days. Despite his ordeal, Buddy is a happy, friendly boy who is ready for a safe and loving home. Read the story of Buddy’s rescue or meet Buddy here.

With its new truck, AELAS will be able to continue rescuing pets like Buddy. “I want to thank each and every member of the Petfinder Foundation for helping us get this rig,” Colbath says. “This 2004 GMC Yukon XL is absolutely perfect for the pet transporting we do every day, weekly to Anchorage and back. We service two of the three Southcentral Alaska PETCO stores, and the cats and dogs love the ride now!”

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For Shelter Dogs, Happiness Saves Lives

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Smiley on his dog bed

Happy, healthy dogs are more likely to get adopted. When shelter dogs 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.

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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 P.L.A.Y. beds. “There is nothing Smiley likes better than going out for long walks,” shelter director Kim Heise says. “But having a nice, soft, comfy P.L.A.Y. bed to snuggle up on in his kennel makes having to come back a little easier.” Read Smiley’s story.

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Finley with his KONG

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We granted 300 KONG toys to Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson — 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 KONG toys meant he was relaxed, happy and ready when his adopter finally walked by.” Read Finley’s story.

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Suzy before (top) and after

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Adoption groups receiving our grants of Wahl grooming products tell us the mild 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 Wahl baths, Suzy blossomed — and was adopted. Read Suzy’s story.

Thank you for your support, which makes stories like these possible. Donate to improve quality of life for more shelter dogs.

 

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Our New Rescue Van Will Save Lives in Detroit!

MHS_van_collage2Here’s a sneak peak at the new animal-rescue van purchased with our $40,000 grant to the Michigan Humane Society! With this van, MHS will be able to save thousands of Detroit animals from cruelty and neglect.

“Thank you for the time you took to help MHS with this and for the significant donation that made this possible,” says MHS Vice President of Development Marta Diffen. “Animals in the city are counting on us and we are truly grateful!”

The vehicle will enable MHS cruelty investigators to save more pets like Zeva, a German shepherd puppy found wandering the streets of Detroit so emaciated and weak that she was walking on her wrists — her paws were not strong enough to support her body.

Zeva was treated at MHS’s Detroit Center for Animal Care, then fostered — and ultimately adopted — by MHS Chief Cruelty Investigator Debby MacDonald. See Zeva’s amazing transformation in the video below.

Donate now to help more pets like Zeva.

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Happy Ending for Detroit Puppy With Two Broken Legs

Thanks to a Petfinder Foundation grant, the Michigan Humane Society has purchased a new rescue van to save abused and injured animals in the beleaguered city.

“This generous gift from the Petfinder Foundation will travel thousands of miles each year to rescue animals in need,” says MHS’s Interim President and CEO, David A. Williams. “The Petfinder Foundation will help us save the very lives we may then re-home using the most widely recognized website that has placed millions of animals, Petfinder.com. We are grateful for such a great partner. The support is vital and very much appreciated.”

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At this Detroit home, Flutter fell from the second-floor porch onto the concrete patio below.

The $40,000 grant, part of our SNAP-X Detroit project, will mean more help for abused and injured animals like Flutter, a puppy rescued after falling from a second-floor porch.

Flutter’s owner called the MHS Rescue Department the day after the 4-month-old German shepherd mix fell off the porch.

Once at the shelter, it was clear that Flutter was in terrible pain and could not put weight on either of her front legs. X-rays confirmed that she had broken both legs.

Vets outfitted her with two pretty pink casts, and she went into a foster home — with Stacey Bean, the rescue driver who’d saved her! A few months later, after Flutter had made a full recovery, her story was featured on the local news, and she was immediately adopted by Esther Martinez, who’d already adopted two dogs from MHS. “She was just adorable, and I loved her from the moment I saw her,” Martinez told MHS. Watch a video on Flutter’s adoption.

Donate now to help more pets like Flutter.

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In Detroit, a Former Outside Dog Finds a Place on the Couch

Our SNAP-X Detroit grant program continues to save the lives of the city’s most at-risk pets. As part of the effort, we gave a $10,000 grant to All About Animals Rescue, which operates in some of Detroit’s lowest-income zip codes.

AAAR forges relationships with area pet owners — many of whom keep their dogs outside — providing pet food, veterinary care and supplies such as collars and straw to improve the dogs’ quality of life, all while educating the owners in an effort to get them to bring their pets indoors. If they refuse, AAAR offers to rehome the dogs.

Spenser was one such outside dog. AAAR founder Amber Sitko tells us Spenser’s story in pictures:

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The handsome boy on the couch is Spenser. He used to be known as Scarface. His owner disappeared and the owners’ roommates allowed Spenser to stay, but life didn’t get any better for him.

 

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This is where Spenser lived. The roommates weren’t so interested in feeding Spenser, so he had daily rescue visits until a foster home could be found.

 

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Finally, AAAR found Spenser a loving foster home, where he had a playmate! Sadly, he also tested positive for heartworm.

 

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Spencer’s foster mom agreed to continue fostering him until after treatment. During that time, she fell in love with him and decided to adopt him! He tested negative last month too, so all good things with Spencer!

 

Donate now to help more pets like Spenser.

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A New Van to Rescue Cruelty Victims in Detroit

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Edgar was left in a garbage can to die. MHS cruelty investigators saved his life.

One sad result of Detroit’s bankruptcy has been that animal cruelty victims are more vulnerable than ever. With massive cuts to Animal Control, the city agency is unable to respond to many of the calls it receives, and animal shelters and rescue groups are scrambling to fill in the gaps.

As part of our SNAP-X program to help Detroit’s pets, the Petfinder Foundation has given a cash grant of $40,000 to the Michigan Humane Society to purchase a second animal-rescue vehicle, meaning MHS will be able to help more pets like Edgar, who was left in a garbage can after prolonged and severe neglect.

On March 9, a passerby walking his dog heard whimpering coming from a trash can and discovered the dog. The man called MHS, and when its cruelty investigators arrived on the scene they found the 4-year-old Maltese mix in the garbage can, the handle of a plastic bag twisted around his neck.

Rescuers rushed the dog to MHS’s Detroit Center for Animal Care, where vets saw that he was covered with severe urine burns — meaning he’d probably been confined in a small space for a long time before he was finally discarded like trash.

Today, the dog, who has been named Edgar, is in a loving foster home and improving every day. The MHS Cruelty Investigation Department is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for his deplorable treatment.

Helping More Pets Like Edgar
Our $40,000 grant funds a fully-equipped animal-rescue vehicle that will enable MHS workers to get even more pets like Edgar out of abusive situations. The organization’s Marta Diffen explains why it’s so desperately needed:

“With Detroit Animal Control hobbled by a variety of factors, our cruelty calls have increased by 26% since 2011 and our rescue calls are up nearly 30%. Our miles driven are up 12%. We expect this trend to continue while the city goes through bankruptcy.

“A new van is paramount to meeting this increasing demand. With Detroit Animal Control not responding to calls regarding stray animals, we are dispatching drivers and rescuing animals from the streets multiple times a day. The wear and tear on the rescue vans is where we are seeing the biggest challenge. Increased miles and carrying more animals is resulting in significant wear to the vehicles and the kenneling equipment.”

Edgar4UPDATE – April 9, 2014: Today, exactly one month after Edgar’s rescue, the Michigan Humane Society posted the photo of him at right on its Facebook page and reported, “Edgar, the Maltese mix who was found in a trash can, is recovering well in foster with MHS cruelty investigator Mark Ramos. Look how cozy he looks on his bed!” We love Edgar’s adorable underbite.

UPDATE – April 16, 2014: Edgar went to his forever home today! Adopter Cindy Nelson-Pouget told MHS, “Something was just pulling at my heart, saying, ‘You need to go get this dog.’” Check out Edgar and his new mom in the video below. Congratulations, Edgar and Cindy!

Read more about how we’re helping pets in Detroit.

Donate now to help more pets like Edgar.

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Helping Desperate Pets in a Bankrupt Detroit

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Junior was helped thanks to our grant to All About Animals Rescue.

The economic downturn has been devastating for residents of Detroit, and their pets. While residents have struggled to stay afloat — or fled the city altogether — animal control services have been drastically cut in the wake of the city’s declaration of bankruptcy in July 2013.

Thanks to our SNAP-X program, founded by animal advocate Fabiola Beracasa, a generous donation from Animal Planet’s R.O.A.R. campaign, and donors like you, we’re working to help these vulnerable pets.

With Detroit Animal Control no longer adopting out pets to the public, homeless pets are dependent on the private shelters and rescue groups that pull from the shelter. We’ve given sizable cash grants to two of them: All About Animals Rescue and Michigan Humane Society.

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Mona on the day AAAR volunteers met her

All About Animals Rescue (AAAR) not only finds new homes for pets in need — it also operates the largest high-quality, high-volume, low-cost to no-cost spay/neuter and vet care operation in Michigan. AAAR has spayed or neutered more than 80,000 cats and dogs and provides free health screenings, low-cost vaccines and preventative care to more than 50,000 Detroit-area pets each year.

AAR’s volunteers also pound the pavement year-round, working with residents of some of Detroit’s lowest-income zip codes to help people keep their pets, bring chained pets into their homes and generally improve their pets’ quality of life.

The group’s founder and president, Amber Sitko, tells us about two of the dogs helped by our grant:

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Mona (left) and Junior were grateful for food, water, real collars and basic veterinary care.

“At an outreach event, we met a homeless man living in a filthy camper shell on a vacant lot. It didn’t take long to realize that he had a mental illness and a drinking problem. He had found Mona and Junior wandering the streets and was afraid someone would use them as bait dogs, so he said he chained them up on his lot.

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Mona greets an AAAR volunteer.

“Somewhere along the line, Junior was lucky enough to get a dog house. Mona had part of a wood box. Not having adequate shelter and being chained is bad enough, but he would forget to feed them and said he didn’t really have the money to get them food anyway. When he remembered, he said he’d share some of his food.

“Our first order of business was getting them watered/fed, real collars on them so chains weren’t rubbing against their necks, better shelter, and a vet call.

“It didn’t take long for Mona and Junior to find a rescue visit the highlight of their day.

“It took longer to get them to a place where they could run free and just be dogs. But they’re finally safe and happier than they’ve ever been before.”

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Junior and Mona today (pictured at right with AAAR Detroit team leader Kristen Huston): safe, happy and healthy

UPDATE: Sitko tells us, “Mona was adopted by a great guy who owns a tattoo shop. She will be going to the shop with him as soon as she’s more confident around strangers.” Junior is safely in the care of another rescue group.

Stay tuned for more stories of Detroit pets helped by our SNAP-X grant and your support. Donate now to help more pets like Mona and Junior.

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For Cats, Easing the Stress of Shelter Life

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.

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The Stretch and Scratch attaches to the cage wall so it doesn’t take up living space.

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.

As part of the Cats R Cool program in partnership with The Animal Rescue Site and GreaterGood.org, 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.

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Luna at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona in Tucson enjoys her Cat Castle.

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 like Luna (right) can rest easy while waiting for their forever families.

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Happy World Spay Day!

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Today, Feb. 25, is World Spay Day 2014!

Happy World Spay Day! We’re working with the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and other organizations to get the word out that spaying and neutering saves lives — and you can help!

Through the end of February, animal organizations are hosting low-cost spay/neuter events in an effort to sterilize a total of 60,000 pets, feral cats and street dogs around the world. Find a low-cost spay/neuter event near you.

You can help spread the word! Here are some easy ways to raise awareness:

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After dogs and cats, rabbits are the companion-animal species most likely to end up in U.S. shelters.

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