Posts Categorized: Disaster

Working Together to Help Animals During Disaster

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This dog was rescued by Central Oklahoma Humane Society with a fractured leg after a tornado struck that region in 2013.

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, GreaterGood, 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.

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Helping Dogs Rescued from Georgia Puppy Mill

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One of the rescued dogs with her adopter

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.

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Ask me about my Kennel Quilt!

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Pretty Girl on her Kennel Quilt

The following post is by guest blogger Nan Baker, marketing director for The Quilt Pattern Magazine:

Hi! My name is Pretty Girl and I want to share my story about my Kennel Quilt. It all started with Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Not only were people and homes affected by this disaster, but animals were as well. As a result of the devastation, many people were displaced along with their pets. People had to find alternate living quarters and having their pets with them was not an option. Animal shelters stepped in and offered to help care for pets by housing them and feeding them. It was a pretty overwhelming task and not an easy one. Even though pets had shelter, food, and a safe place, it was still very stressful for all concerned.

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At 12″ x 18″, Kennel Quilts are the perfect size for cat carriers.

Now you may or may not know, but when kitties are in shelter facilities, particularly crowded ones, they tend to just “hunker down.” We don’t like the feel of the bottom of the kennels and most of us end up sitting in our litter boxes. I know! I know! It is not a good thing, but the litter feels more normal than stainless steel on our pads. Yes, there are blankets and towels, but they are usually too big for kitty kennels. Fortunately, there was a group of quilters who wanted to make it better.

Earlier that year, The Quilt Pattern Magazine (TQPM) – whose staff all love animals, particularly kitties – decided to offer free patterns for Kennel Quilts on their website. Quilters could use them to make one for their kitties for comfy trips to the veterinarian. The quilts measure 12″ x 18″ and fit most standard-size kennels. As most quilters like, love and have pets, this was a great idea to help my furry friends! Everything changed after Hurricane Sandy.

picture 5The Petfinder Foundation and The Quilt Pattern Magazine joined forces. The magazine put out a call to their readers to make Kennel Quilts for the animal shelters helping the animal victims. Over 100 Kennel Quilts were sent to shelters in New Jersey and New York. The quilts came from all over the United States, Canada and even England!

Because of the overwhelming response, the TQPM Small Kennel Quilt Team was formed in the spring of 2013. Disasters continued happening in 2013 – tornadoes, explosions, fires, and floods. It was bad! That is where I came in. I was in a shelter in Colorado that took in animals that were affected by the awful fires in the canyon. Quilters immediately came to the rescue!

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Cats dislike the feel of steel on their paws, so the quilts make them more comfortable in their cages.


Today, almost 1000 Kennel Quilts have been made by over 100 volunteers and have been distributed to animal shelters in 10 different states! Whenever an emergency situation arises, the Petfinder Foundation alerts The Quilt Pattern Magazine and TQPM promptly puts out the call to the Small Kennel Quilt Team. It is amazing how it works!

But I have a little secret: I know that quilters are caring and compassionate people who want to help whenever and wherever there is a need. Not all have the time or the money for fabric to make a big quilt, but most have lots of fabric scraps (leftover pieces from other projects) and some time to make little quilts like my Kennel Quilt. That group of quilters sure made it better for me and my kitty friends here at my shelter and at other shelters, too! We have soft, comfy quilts where we can sit, make biscuits, and take naps. That is the story about my Kennel Quilt.

To become part of the TQPM Small Kennel Quilt Team and “make it better” for shelter animals, go to the TQPM Small Kennel Quilt page. Tell them that Pretty Girl sent you!

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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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After Dogs Die in Georgia Shelter Break-In, We’re Helping Survivors (WARNING: Graphic)

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Mic bears scars from the incident at All About Animals Rescue in Macon, Ga.

Mic still has scars from the deadly break-in at All About Animals Rescue in Macon, Ga.

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.

Mic before the deadly break-in (above left) and immediately after (above right). Photo credit: AAAR

Mic, a “smart and fun boy,” before the Oct. 16 break-in (left) and immediately after

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.”

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Fred (left) and Wilma are a bonded pair.

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.

Lionel is healing and ready for a home. (Photo: AAAR)

Lionel, who nearly starved to death before AAAR rescued him, is recovering from his new injuries and ready for a home.

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.

Donate now to help us help more pets like these.

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We’re Helping the Shelter Destroyed by a Schoolbus

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No children were on board the bus at the time of the crash on Oct. 2, and miraculously, no people or animals were injured.

When a schoolbus crashed into Wright-Way Rescue in Niles, Ill. on Oct. 2, dozens of adoptable pets — and the shelter itself — were left homeless. We’re giving Wright-Way a $10,000 grant to purchase a mobile adoption trailer so it can continue to save lives as it recovers from this disaster.

No people or animals were harmed by the crash, but Wright-Way was forced to vacate its adoption center, where it finds homes for 5,000 pets each year. Wright-Way pulls about 75 dogs and cats a week from rural, open-admission shelters, and without a means to find them homes while the organization searches for a new, permanent facility, many animals throughout the Midwest would be euthanized.

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The crash destroyed Wright-Way’s adoption center.

We reached out to Wright-Way and offered to help. Founder Christy Anderson told us a grant would be used to purchase a trailer to serve as a mobile adoption center for now, and after Wright-Way finds a permanent location for its adoption center, the trailer will be used for off-site adoptions and pick up for spay/neuter surgeries.

Anderson was delighted to hear that the Petfinder Foundation would fund the $10,000 trailer. “Wright-Way Rescue and myself are incredibly thankful for the amazing support of the Petfinder Foundation,” she tells us. “Your generosity is so greatly appreciated during this time of need. We are so looking forward to having a mobile adoption center and are confident it will help us continue our mission of saving homeless pets. Thank you!!!”

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Our grant will help pets like McHenry.

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Our Grants Will Help Nearly 300 Displaced Pets in Colorado

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Melody, a senior Pit Bull, is at Longmont Humane Society, which just received a disaster grant from the Petfinder Foundation.

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 yesterday’s $3,000 disaster grant to nearby Humane Society of Boulder Valley, which is housing 70 displaced pets. (Read about HSBV’s grant.)

“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!”

Donate to help us save pets when disaster strikes, and Orvis will match your gift!

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Saving Animal Victims of the Colorado Floods

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Doogie is at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, which just received a disaster grant.

Doogie is at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, which just received a disaster grant from the Petfinder Foundation.

We’ve rushed $3,000 in disaster aid to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley (HSBV) in Boulder, Colo., which has been caring for 70 pets displaced by the deadly Colorado floods of the past few days.

The animal flood victims have joined more than 200 homeless cats, dogs, birds and pocket pets that are already being cared for by the always-full shelter, CEO Lisa Pedersen tells us.

“I so appreciate the grant,” Pedersen says. “That will really help.”

HSBV is caring for displaced pets at its shelter and at an off-site location it is managing in conjunction with the Red Cross, Pedersen says. As evacuated families find temporary shelter, some of them are returning to HSBV to pick up their pets.

But even more families, whose homes either were destroyed or are inaccessible because of washed-out roads, may need HSBV to look after their pets for months.

“We are preparing to match these pets up with foster homes, or to provide them with long-term care,” Pedersen tells us.

Donate to help us save pets when disaster strikes, and Orvis will match your gift!

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We’re Helping Animal Victims of California Wildfire

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Joey is at the Humane Society of Tuolumne County, which just received a disaster grant.

Eight-week-old Joey is at the Humane Society of Tuolumne County, which just received a disaster grant.

We’re rushing $2,500 in disaster aid to the Humane Society of Tuolumne County in Jamestown, Calif., a small shelter that’s working day and night to care for 30 dogs and cats displaced by California’s raging Rim Fire.

In addition to our cash grant, we’ve partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., to send the shelter cat vaccinations, dog vaccinations and pain medicine, which will help pets recovering from spay/neuter surgeries. We’re also working with our friends at Thundershirt to send the calming shirts to the shelter, which will not only help the 30 displaced pets but the 25 homeless pets also in residence.

“We’re so happy [about all the donations],” Shelter Operations Director Doryene Rapini tells us. “We’ve been wanting to buy Thundershirts, but we can’t afford them. This will really help because some of the animals are so scared.”

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Our granted Thundershirts will help calm Harvey.

Rapini says one of her staff members has worked for 12 days straight, and that she’s had to hire additional staff to care for the displaced pets.

“In addition, we have called for all available volunteers to help with the increased workload of cleaning, walking, cuddling and nurturing the animals in our care until this crisis is over,” she tells us. “Although at this time we are unsure how long [the crisis] will last, we are currently at day 12 as the fire continues to spread and 4,500 structures are threatened.”

Rapini says our grant was going to make a huge difference: “We’re so small, and our community is not the wealthiest, so getting help is just amazing.”

Donate to help us save more pets when disaster strikes, and Orvis will match your gift!

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What Happened to Oklahoma Tornado Pets?

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Chance was treated for facial fractures and lacerations from flying debris.

Thanks to donors like you, in May we gave nearly $50,000 in cash and product grants to shelters impacted by the Oklahoma tornado. What happened to the animals who lost their homes to the storm? Grant recipient Central Oklahoma Humane Society, one of the shelters charged with rescuing pets displaced by the disaster, providing medical treatment for them and reuniting them with their owners, took in 151 dogs and cats. Amy Shrodes, the shelter’s manager of development, tells us nearly all have been reunited with their families or adopted into new homes — and those who haven’t are being lovingly cared for by shelter staff.

Here is the full grant report from Shrodes:

“The Central Oklahoma Humane Society (OK Humane) applied the grant from the Petfinder Foundation towards outside emergency medical expenses associated with animals injured during the May 20, 2013, tornado that devastated the city of Moore and parts of South Oklahoma City.

“The grant provided by the Petfinder Foundation covered a portion of reimbursement to outside veterinarians who assisted OK Humane with the treatment of critically injured animals found immediately following the tornado. Gifts like the one given by the Petfinder Foundation enabled OK Humane to take in a total of 151 animals at our temporary disaster-relief facilities. We were thrilled that 67 of the dogs and cats OK Humane took in were reunited with owners during the 45-day reunion time frame. At the end of the 45 days, OK Humane hosted a special adoption event for the animals who did not have families come forward for them. The event was called ‘Hope After The Storm,’ and it was hosted on July 13. Adopters from all over the country pre-registered for a chance to win a ticket to attend the private adoption event. Almost all of the remaining tornado animals were adopted at the event. OK Humane is still caring for several dogs and cats displaced by the storm, and they will receive love and attention until they are adopted by new families.

“We are now in the process of launching a long-term area resource plan for residents in disaster-affected areas. OK Humane is a member of the Long-Term Area Resource Committee for Oklahoma County and plans to assist owners with outstanding vet-bill reimbursement for injuries resulting from the disaster. OK Humane will also be offering free spay/neuter surgeries, free vaccinations and free microchipping. The plan is to offer these resources through at least the end of 2013.

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Chance’s grandmother broke down in tears when she discovered he was alive.

“Chance, a brindle-and-white boxer, was in horrible shape when his rescuer found him the night the tornado ripped through the City of Moore. The fact that he was in an airline carrier is probably the only thing that saved his life.

“Chance was sent to the OK Humane disaster-relief facility from the triage unit in Moore. Upon arrival, we knew that he needed immediate medical attention. As soon as a volunteer was available, we had him transported over to an emergency center where he was treated for facial fractures and lacerations from flying debris on his legs and face.

“We are excited to say that several days later Chance was reunited with his family. The person who found Chance was his grandmother, and she could not believe he was still alive. Her house had been completely destroyed by the storm. She thought Chance was lost forever, and broke down in tears immediately when she saw him come around the corner at our facility. Known as his ‘Oma,’ she had been keeping Chance for a few weeks for her son in California when the storm hit.

“Chance’s owners stayed in constant contact with us during his sheltering and treatment, and even allowed us to neuter him for free at our high-quality public spay/neuter clinic. One month later, an OK Humane board member flew Chance in a private plane back to his mom and dad in California. This sweet boy truly received a second ‘chance’ at life! Following the progress of his story during the 30 days that we cared for him was an inspiration to the entire OK Humane team.”

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A month after the tornado hit, Chance was reunited with his owners.

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