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Photos and an Update on Our Hurricane Isaac Pets

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Adoptable dog Karly takes a belly-rub break en route to the Washington Animal Rescue League.

You can help us save animal victims of Hurricane Isaac: Donate to the Petfinder Foundation today and Animal Planet will DOUBLE your gift!

IFAW’s animal rescue–disasters manager Shannon Walajtys reports:

The 29 dogs being transported comfortably in the Petfinder Foundation-IFAW truck

The IFAW team supporting Hancock County Humane Societyin Mississippi is on the road in the Petfinder rig along with 29 dogs. The dogs are routinely monitored and get to stretch their legs several times a day.


The first stop on the IFAW journey north is the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, DC, where we’re scheduled to arrive the morning of Sept. 6.

[Right: On a walk break in Georgia while on the road from Bay St. Louis, MS, to D.C., rescue-rig driver Steve, who adopted a one-eyed kitten from the shelter while the truck was in Mississippi, cuddles with an adoptable dog.]


Later that same day, more dogs will disembark at Bucks County SPCA in Lahaska, PA. The rig then heads to Maine where on Friday morning, the last of the Hurricane Isaac dogs will unload at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Auburn.

[Right: IFAW program officer for disaster response Jennifer Gardner takes a dog for a break to stretch his legs in Georgia.]

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VIDEO: Meet the Puppies We’re Rescuing from Hurricane Isaac

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The Petfinder Foundation purchased an animal-rescue truck for our partners at the International Fund for Animal Welfare to save animals in disaster-afflicted regions. The truck is now on its way to the Northeast from Bay St. Louis, MS, transporting adoptable pets from the Hancock County Humane Society to make room for pets whose families had to evacuate the area. (Read our previous post.)

This blog post, by IFAW animal welfare program officer for disaster response Jennifer Gardner, was originally published on ifaw.org (see the original post). Used with permission.

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Adoptable puppies heading north from Hancock County Humane Society in Mississippi

You can help: Donate to the Petfinder Foundation today and Animal Planet will DOUBLE your gift!

Last night we stopped in Greenville, AL, to rest for the night.

We took the dogs out of our wonderful 36-foot rescue trailer funded by the Petfinder Foundation and all the dogs went for walks and were doing really well after such an eventful day!

Earlier, we left the Hancock County Humane Society (HCHS) after staff and volunteers wished the dogs well on their journey up north.

We loaded 29 dogs and headed to Coast Veterinary Hospital in Gulfport, MS, where Dr. Jackie Broome and her staff quickly went to work spaying or neutering some of the dogs and preparing all of their health certificates for travel.

Before leaving the hospital, Steve, our driver for our rescue rig, fell for a one-eyed kitten and adopted him! He will be traveling with us so he can join his new family in Massachusetts that includes three feline brothers and sisters.

The folks I spoke with in Mississippi all seemed to tell a similar story of how Hurricane Katrina devastated their community, and while there was a coincidence of Hurricane Isaac making landfall on the same date seven years later, they didn’t think its impact would be as great as a Category 1.

No one expected Isaac to stick around for so long and they were surprised at the amount of rainfall. Luckily the new shelter director of HCHS, Toni Necaise, moved the animals out of the shelter before the storm hit as she knew the area was flood-prone.

She made the right choice because, while the shelter didn’t flood, the road to the shelter did. They would not have been able to access the shelter to care for the animals until the water subsided.

Toni only joined HCHS three months ago and I was impressed by her preparedness.

I am so grateful for the rescue groups that allowed us to leave HCHS knowing that the facility was back to normal and they are better prepared for the storm’s aftermath.

All of the dogs are quietly resting as we make our way to the Washington Animal Rescue League in D.C. for our first drop-off.

Thanks to all for the kind words and donations — they keep us going!

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Saving Gulf Coast Pets

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Dogs en route to Northeast shelters in the Petfinder Foundation IFAW truck

Note: If you are a shelter or rescue group impacted by Hurricane Isaac and would like to request funds, click here to apply for a disaster grant from the Petfinder Foundation.

This weekend our partners at the International Foundation for Animal Welfare loaded up their Petfinder Foundation-funded mobile rescue and recovery vehicle and headed down to Hancock County Humane Society in Bay St. Louis, MS, to help save pets displaced by Hurricane Isaac.

As you’ll see in the video above, the shelter needed some repairs made and, more urgently, needed to make room for pets stranded by the storm.

So rescuers loaded up the IFAW truck with 29 adoptable dogs who were already living at the shelter, to open up kennel space for dogs who’d been separated from their families or whose families had been forced to evacuate.

Right now the truck is en route to drop the dogs off with several adoption partners, including:

A volunteer walks a dog to the Petfinder Foundation IFAW rescue truck in Mississippi.

If you want to help us help pets displaced by Hurricane Isaac, donate today — best of all, if you donate through Global Giving, until Oct. 31 Animal Planet will match your gift dollar-for-dollar!

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THANK YOU for Helping Us Raise More than $56K for Homeless Pets!

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All of us here at the Petfinder Foundation want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated to our “You Can Do This” campaign with the Animal Rescue Site and What You Can Do. Our goal was to raise $50,000 for homeless pets in just 50 days, $5 at a time. Thanks to you, we raised more than $56,000!

Your donations will go straight back to animal shelters and rescue groups to help them make their pets happy, healthy and more adoptable. Pets like Miracle, pictured below. Here are just a few examples of what we can accomplish.

With $56,000, we can:

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Miracle is just one of the thousands of adoptable pets who have benefited from our grants.

  • Vaccinate 22,400 shelter dogs or 28,000 shelter cats against contagious diseases
  • Spay or neuter 2,240 shelter pets, preventing hundreds of thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens
  • Transport 560 dogs from overcrowded shelters to regions where they’ll be adopted
  • Train 5,600 shelter dogs in basic social skills to help them impress potential adopters
  • Build new cat play areas at 140 shelters so thousands of cats can get out of their cages
  • Provide nutritious meals to 11,200 shelter pets for one day
  • Buy beds so 5,600 shelter dogs don’t have to sleep on concrete floors
  • Buy 11,200 toys to help shelter pets relieve stress and boredom while waiting for forever homes

We have been truly blown away by your generosity and we want you to know how grateful we are, and how much your donations really will make a difference in the lives of thousands of pets in need.

Thank you again from all of us at Petfinder.

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Agility Course Is Just what an Energetic Shelter Dog Needed

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Adoptable pooch Weston tries out a tire perch at the new agility course.
(Source: Humane Society of West Michigan’s Facebook page)

Weston tries out the tire tunnel.

Our friends at the Humane Society of West Michigan have been doing a great job of documenting the Rescue U improvements to the shelter on their Facebook page. They recently posted some great photos of adoptable dog Weston trying out the new agility course.

The shelter’s marketing and events coordinator, Nicole Cook, gives us this update: “Weston has been at our organization for about two months. He is a high-energy dog who needs lots of exercise. He gets stressed in our kennels and really thrives when we take him outside. Having the new agility course in our dog park is exactly what Weston needed! We take him out several times a day — sometimes we just play fetch with him but the majority of the time we focus his energy by teaching him the agility course and introducing him to the obstacles! We have noticed that he has picked up quickly on learning the course and we are excited to share his skills with potential adopters!

“Another dog who has really excelled in the new agility course is Jauxer. Jauxer is a long-term resident who has been at our organization since February 2011. Jauxer is a fearful dog and having our agility course allows us to introduce him to new things and help take fear out of simple things — stairs, unfamiliar surfaces, etc. — while helping enrich his stay at Humane Society of West Michigan. We are able to use the agility course to build his confidence and teach him new skills that his adopter can continue to work on with him once he is in a home environment.” Check out this video of Jauxer and pal Kelsey enjoying the agility course.

Adoptable cat Serena tries out the new perches in the cat colony.


Nicole adds: “We have also had several cats get adopted out of our cat colonies after Rescue U installed the cat perches. The cats catch the attention of adopters by climbing up and playing on the perches. Several adopters have commented that they couldn’t pass up those cats after they saw them playing or climbing on the perches!”

Thanks so much to Nicole and Humane Society of West Michigan for the update, and to the Animal Rescue Site and Groupon Grassroots donors for funding the project. We can’t wait to hear more about how the renovation is improving life — and helping find forever homes — for pets at the shelter.

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Michigan Shelter Pups Get a Burn-Free Dog Run

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Shelter dogs test out their newly-AstroTurfed dog run.

The Humane Society of West Michigan has wonderful, long, spacious dog runs. However, the runs were filled with pea gravel that was burning the dogs’ paw pads when it got hot outside. Our Rescue U volunteers fixed that.

We took out five tons of gravel and leveled out the runs to get them ready to lay down AstroTurf. Thanks to the generous support of the Animal Rescue Site, we were able to purchase recycled turf from Duke University to install in these runs (it had been used in Duke’s football stadium!).

HSWM Executive Director Trudy Ender (front) helps install AstroTurf. (Source: HSWM’s Facebook page)

Installing it was no easy task. The turf was rolled into 75-90 ft. rolls that weighed approximately 600 lbs. each, meaning we rolled out about 3,000 lbs. of turf in one afternoon. Once it was rolled out we had to fold it and drag it into the pens. It took six of us just to move it and place it. The edges all had to be pounded into the gravel and the seams epoxied with a nasty, sticky green goop.

All in all, redoing the dog runs was three days of hard work, but the mission was accomplished! We also put thresholds in the doorways and re-installed the fence surrounding the runs.

We completed many other projects at the Humane Society of West Michigan. Now our student volunteers, who came from Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University, Michigan State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Kettering University in Flint, are getting ready to go back to school, and we’re grateful to them for giving up a week of their summer vacations to work morning to night to make the shelter a better place for all the wonderful pets there.

BONUS VIDEO: Rescue U founder Bryna Donnelly explains how the new agility course will help shelter dogs adjust to life in their adoptive homes:

Press coverage of the Rescue U build at HSWM:

August 24: Thanks to Rescue U, humane society animals get new digs (Press Unleashed)

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VIDEOS: Michigan Shelter Dogs Get a New Agility Course!

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Thanks to the generous donors who supported our Groupon Grassroots campaign, our Rescue U volunteers are not only renovating the Humane Society of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, they’re treating the dogs there to a brand new agility course! Check out some footage of adoptable dogs Elliott and Credence (top) and Jauxer and Kelsey (middle) trying out the course, and learn more about it (bottom), in the videos above.

Here are some recent photos of Rescue U’s progress at the shelter:

dog agility courseRight: An adoptable dog takes the new tire tunnel for a test run. The recycled tires were donated and painted with non-slip paint to give the dogs a place to run through and jump on.

dog agility course Rescue U program manager Douglas Woolsey posted this photo to the Rescue U Facebook page on Sunday, with the comment: “Making some great progress! Painting our tires now for the agility area.”

shelter renovationThe Humane Society of West Michigan posted this photo to its Facebook page on Tuesday, with the comment: “The Petfinder Foundation’s Rescue U is busy doing great things around HSWM! Here is a photo of our Cat Holding Area being painted! In addition to that room, they have also painted our entire Admitting Area! They also created an agility course in our dog park, have put sound panels in our dog kennels (to help reduce the noise), and put turf in our outdoor dog runs! The changes are amazing and we are so grateful for all that they are doing to improve our facility!”

Local news coverage of the Rescue U build at HSWM:

August 19: VIDEO: Humane Society of West Michigan gets a facelift (WZZM-13)

August 19: BLOOPER VIDEO: During our interview about renovations to the animal shelter, one cat tried to steal the show! (WZZM-13)

August 21: New agility course and upgrades at Humane Society (WZZM-13)

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A Little Training Gets a Boisterous Shelter Dog a Loving Home

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Munch, now named Hunter, with his adoptive mom, Allison

When you donate to a charity, you don’t always know how your money benefits pets. Here’s an example of how a Petfinder Foundation grant — made possible by your donations — saved the life of one shelter dog. Want to help more dogs like Munch find forever homes? Give just $5 today!

Munch came in to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control in Charlotte, NC, in November 2010. A 2-month-old stray, his outlook was grim. He was boisterous and hyper, and a big black dog (labeled a Chow Chow mix) to boot. To make matters worse, he had serious health problems: He had severe injuries after being attacked by another dog; he also had mange, and soon developed kennel cough.

But because Charlotte-Mecklenburg is one of four pilot shelters of the Petfinder Foundation’s Train to Adopt program, trainer Karen Owens was able to work with Munch after he’d recovered from his injuries and illness. She chose him because she knew that, as an energetic black dog, “he would need all the help he could get.”

As it turned out, Munch was a perfect pupil. “He had lots of energy but really thrived when his energy was channeled into training,” Owens remembers. “He was also one of the first dogs that learned the ‘are you sleepy?’ trick, in which the dog puts his head down between his paws on command. He learned it within two or three short sessions.”

Munch showed off his new trick, as well as “sit” and “down,” at an adoption event at a local mall. He was adopted on the spot, one month to the day after his first Train to Adopt session.

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Hunter and Allison

Munch has since been renamed Hunter and is now almost 2 years old. His adoptive mom, Allison Brown, tells us, “He is absolutely the best dog! I am so grateful to Animal Control for nursing him back to health and training him. When I adopted Hunter, he was house trained as well as crate trained, and he knew how to sit, to wait for his food to be placed on the floor before he went for it, and to do ‘are you sleepy?’ — so cute!”

The fact that Hunter was a Train to Adopt graduate really made the difference in his finding — and staying in — a forever home. In fact, TTA dogs are significantly less likely to be returned to a shelter after they’re adopted. Allison tells us, “Having never had a dog before at all, the training done by Karen at Animal Control made adopting Hunter so much easier for me.”

These days, Hunter is living the good life, going on walks and runs with Allison, enjoying “run-arounds” with his best friend, Rascal, a black Lab mix who lives a few houses away, and playing tug of war with his girlfriend, Emma the pug. “He is a happy, healthy boy,” Allison says, “and I am so thankful that he is a part of my life.”

Whom can Hunter thank for his happiness? Allison, of course, for adopting him, and Karen for training him, and everyone at Charlotte-Mecklenburg for nursing him back to health — but also donors like you, who made his training possible. So give just $5 today. It may not seem like much, but it will make a world of difference to pets like Hunter.

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No More Burned Paws! Rescue U Renovates a Michigan Shelter

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Dogs like Emmet will benefit from Rescue U’s shelter renovation.

Rescue U volunteers have arrived at the Humane Society of West Michigan in Grand Rapids and begun a massive renovation project! We have a lot of work to do, and only a week to do it (the build is from Aug. 18-24). Among our projects:

  • Thanks to all the generous people who donated via our Groupon Grassroots campaign, we raised enough money to put in a dog agility course and play area in a space that’s currently just a big, fenced-in area. Once the course is installed, the dogs will have plenty of activities to occupy them when they go out to the yard to play.
  • There are some long dog runs in the back of the shelter that have a pea-gravel base that gets really hot in the summer and burns the paws of the dogs, so we are going to put AstroTurf in the dog runs, which will save paws and be much easier for the staff to clean.
  • Inside the shelter, the area where the dogs are housed is extremely noisy, which stresses the dogs, so we are going to install sound baffling in the kennels to stop the echo and quiet the kennel down.
  • We are going to add shelving to organize the shelter’s pet-food bank program, the Kibble Konnection, which helps low-income pet parents provide food for their pets.
  • To help prevent the spread of disease among cats, we’re installing a sanitation barrier in the cat-intake area — a sheet of plastic resembling a shower curtain that will hang between the stacks of cages so that, when cats sneeze and cough, they don’t transmit upper-respiratory infections to the cats in the cages across from them.
  • We’ll also be painting and organizing the reception/admitting area and the vet clinic.

This build is particularly exciting because most of the students — who come from Rescue U chapters at Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Michigan State University — have never been on a Rescue U outreach trip before. Everyone is excited to take the skills they learn here back to the shelters where they volunteer regularly to improve the lives of even more pets.

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The Best Wedding Gift? One that Helps Homeless Pets

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Brent and Lindsay at their wedding

Here at Petfinder, we’ve brought lots of love into people’s lives. So we’re always delighted to hear that a couple is celebrating their wedding by asking guests to give back to the place that helped make their family complete by donating to the Petfinder Foundation.

Brent and Lindsay Wagner of Cincinnati did just that. The couple, who wed on June 23, found their two dogs on Petfinder. Pierre was adopted from Happy Tales Pet Rescue in Fort Wayne, IN, and C.B. from Clinton County Humane Society in Frankfort, IN.

“Both of our dogs have brought so much joy into our lives,” says Lindsay, 28, an ingredients safety specialist. “It would be wonderful to give every pet their forever home but, of course, this is not possible for the average person. Donating to Petfinder is one small way that people can help!”

Lindsay adds that she and Brent, 27, a medical student, have been living together for two years and didn’t need many household items: “Instead of multiple registries at department stores, we had one store registry for guests who prefer [to give] traditional gifts, and [also] the Petfinder donation option.”

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C.B. (left) and Pierre

The Petfinder Foundation set up a special donation page for the pair and the gifts came flooding in. “An aspect that seemed very helpful was that Brent and I could see who had donated, which allowed us to treat the donation just like any other wedding present,” Lindsay says. “We sent thank-you notes for every donation and mentioned how we couldn’t imagine a better wedding present!”

Another couple who asked guests to donate to the Petfinder Foundation in lieu of gifts: Andrew and Stanton of Westchester County, NY. The pair, who wed in July, have been together for 18 years and, like Brent and Lindsay, didn’t need household items. “We thought it better for people to donate to worthy causes,” says Andrew, an attorney, “pet rescue being such a cause.”

In fact, the couple met while walking their respective dogs, and are now proud dads to 11-year-old Elmer, whom they adopted from a German Shepherd rescue in Dutchess County, NY. The pooch even had a starring role in their wedding: “Elmer was the ring bearer,” Andrew says. “He got a pair of wings to be Mercury, the messenger of the gods, for the wedding.”

Andrew says the request to donate has gotten a positive response from guests: “People have been happy to donate in lieu of the standard gifts. They understand the thought — and appreciate it.”

Many thanks to Lindsay, Brent, Andrew, Stanton and their friends and families for sharing the joy of their special days by helping pets in need. We wish both couples (and their pets!) a lifetime of happiness. If you’d like to request that guests donate to the Petfinder Foundation in celebration of your wedding or other event, email me at Emily (at) petfinderfoundation.com!

 

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