Posts By: Emily Fromm


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PicoPico, Mama’s Boy, My Tiny Love…I will miss you with every breath I take, until I take my last! You gave me joy and love beyond what I can find words for. Our beloved pets, blessings from heaven, are sent to us when we need them most. You gave me something to look forward to every day….Your Loving Mama–Joanna McCarty

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 Often in a wheelchair when in public, he had become shy and withdrawn, aware of people looking at him because he was different.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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RicoRico 1986-2003. You were my best friend for 17 years. Not a day goes by that you aren’t missed.–Jacqueline Haley


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We miss you more than words could ever express. You were everything to us and we just can’t believe that you are gone now. We love you and we will all be reunited again some day. Until then little one, may you find love and happiness in the cosmos. Every night sky will remind us of you and just how amazing you were.–Dillon Eaves


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PatchesDecember 17, 2001 – May 6, 2014
Patches was born on my late younger brother Mike’s birthday the year he died of cancer. I truly believe Patches came to us to help me with my grief. She loved both my husband and I and was always there for a “Patchy Adventure” to Dairy Queen, testing out newly made quilts, and of course giving lots of lap time to us. Since retiring she became my constant companion and helped me transition from a corporate environment to home. Patches was just over 12 years old when she was diagnosed with throat cancer and very shortly after she left us. Patches was our true love and we miss her. We believe Mike is giving her lots of love in Heaven until we get to see her again.–Cindy Peterson

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.


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!”



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.

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.


Finley with his KONG

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.


Suzy before (top) and after

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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No words can describe how different life is without you. There is no one at the door watching me when I leave for work in the morning and no one greeting me when I get home at night. I was always so happy to see you and you were always so happy to see me. No matter what, I wanted to be near you and you were my shadow wherever I went in the house. Cleo, remember the time I took you home for the first time?!

cleo2I miss the tortilla-chip smell of your feet, the warmth of your belly, the wetness of your nose on my face and so many more things … I miss watching you run in the park and I miss that little butt wiggle when you wagged your tail–oh how that wag made me so happy. I miss my best friend. Cleo, you were always there for me and gave me a higher sense of purpose. I love you with all of my heart. I looked forward to the time of day when I got home to walk with you. I loved our “Puppy Make Out” time and hanging and eating together. You were a great friend, wonderful therapy dog and everyone loved you, even the cat. Grandpa misses you so much and I know he felt so lucky to be with you these last 6 months. You are always near me and I carry your memory in my heart. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for lighting up my world and teaching me the beauty in the little things, and teaching me about being grounded. You defined “home” for me. You are the first thought on my mind every morning and the last thought on my mind every night. I love you more than words can say, Cleo Luna. Thank you. Thank you.–Erica Hesselson


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Happy, you will be dearly missed. I saw the love and light in your eyes. I am so sorry I was not able to do more for you. I will always miss you and I will never forget you. You will always be in my heart.–Lori Mehl