Posts By: Emily Fromm

‘One Picture’ Helps Senior Gal Find a Loving Home

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Shelby’s profile pic after HSSA staff attended our workshop

Our One Picture Saves a Life program, which includes photography training and camera and photo-editing software grants, is helping shelter pets find homes, one photo at a time. A great example is Shelby, a senior gal who found herself at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona in Tucson.

The shelter’s public relations coordinator (and One Picture Saves a Life workshop attendee), Sara Gromley, tells us Shelby’s story:

“Shelby is just one of the hundreds of pets you’ve helped at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, thanks to the One Picture Saves a Life program. As a 10-year-old stray Shepherd mix with age-related ailments (including a heart murmur and worn teeth) as well as slight separation anxiety, Shelby had a very difficult time finding a home.

“She waited at the shelter for a month without any interest from potential adopters. Then I took a photo capturing her sweet demeanor and warm personality. The photo received more than 7,000 views on Facebook, was sent to our media partners, and captured the attention of a very nice lady who came in to meet Shelby. It was love at first sight! Now Shelby is enjoying the cozy retirement she’s always deserved — all thanks to a single picture.

“We’re so grateful for the One Picture Saves a Life program. I never considered myself a photographer, but I receive weekly compliments from adopters who came in specifically because of photos they came across. The impact this program is making for shelters across the country is nothing short of astounding!”

Learn more about our One Picture Saves a Life program, which is made possible thanks to our partners The Animal Rescue Site,, John Paul: Pet and Underwater Dogs photographer Seth Casteel.


Shelby’s photo before the One Picture Saves a Life workshop and grant


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bree_livingston_cropThis is Bree. A beautiful dilute Calico. She was playful and mischievous. As a kitten, she stole my socks out of the hamper and would walk around the house carrying them in her mouth. She loved Christmas tree ornaments and would sometimes be seen halfway up the tree sleeping amongst the branches. Once I found two ornaments left as “presents” in my bed. I will miss her playful running around sounding like a herd of elephants. I’ll really miss the quiet way she purred that required me to put my ear on her belly to hear it.–Leona Livingston

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.


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!!!”


Our grant will help pets like McHenry.



Sweet Pete

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Sweet Pete

It has taken me a few years to get to this, but I am hopeful that by sharing Sweet Pete’s story, I’ll offer my memory of him some rest. It would be an gross injustice to say that Sweet Pete haunts me, but “what could have been” still causes my heart to ache on a fairly regular basis.

My family was kayaking on Easter and we found him near the river. Covered with ticks and fleas, his teeth were worn to nubs from flea biting his entire life. He was emaciated at about 40 lbs. — way too thin for a German Shepherd. He was an oldster, probably well older than 10, my weakness, and he had the kindest eyes. We all fell in love.

When we took him to the doctor to find out why he was listing to one side, we discovered he had a brain tumor. It was tough to see in detail, because the buckshot in his head and neck obscured the view on the radiographs. On day two with Sweet Pete (named after the Easter Bunny) we knew he needed radiation treatment, which the docs said might buy him six months of health.

Determined to give Sweet Pete six months of what he always deserved, we decided to treat him like family and give him a fighting chance. Through 12 weeks of treatment he gave us back these gifts:

He snuggled all night with my teenage daughter.

He protectively shepherded my 2-year-old granddaughter, keeping nefarious characters (our other dogs and a gang of roving chickens) far away from her.

He let us see him learn to play.

He let Charlie-cat boss him around.

He always appreciated my cooking.

He defined, for our whole family, what the “perfect” dog is.

On the twelfth week of treatment, right before his final radiation visit, he started to have severe seizures from the radiation (a known risk) and we had to euthanize him during a trip to the emergency clinic.

Was it worth it? Can 12 weeks of eating buffalo burgers, getting to sleep in a little girl’s bed, running on the farm, and being flea-free make up for a decade of suffering (plus 12 weeks of radiation treatments)? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that he was a good guest in our life and would have loved us and shepherded us with dignity and gratitude as long as he could have.

Now, two years later, my biggest problem is that Sweet Pete unveiled the truth lurking in the rural woods surrounding our affluent community. And that, not Sweet Pete, is what haunts me.–Betsy Banks Saul


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Sadie and Allison

Sadie was one of those dogs who was friendly to anyone and everyone. She had a very energetic personality that would brighten up anyone’s day. Sadie, a Brittany Spaniel and a hunting dog by nature, loved to run around the back yard and playfully bark and point at all the birds and animals that would walk or fly by. She was always very alert and aware of her surroundings, which made her a perfectly family dog.

At such a young age, I never felt unsafe while I was around her. Sadie was my partner in crime, always by my side. She even helped me eat my ice cream cones! I remember clear as day, on a hot summer afternoon when I was in my back yard playing on my wooden play set, minding my own business eating my vanilla ice cream cone … Sadie came over
and helped herself to the rest of my ice cream cone. I was really angry at first, but then later realized she was probably just trying to help me when she noticed that more of the ice cream was dripping on me than ending up in my mouth.

After that day, Sadie eating my ice cream cones became a weekly thing, but I didn’t mind.

To this day I still miss Sadie. She was the first dog that I remember from when I was growing up. And I was definitely her favorite out of everyone in my family, which clearly explains why she only liked to eat my ice cream.

Though Sadie is no longer with me today, she lived a long, wonderful life, and passed at the age of 15. I cannot wait for the day that I have a dog of my own just like Sadie, to share experiences with and enjoy the friendship that comes along with having a companion just as energetic and fun-loving as Sadie. It has been many years since Sadie’s passing, but to this day, she always holds a special place in my heart.–Allison Michelle Vergara


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The first time I met Penny, a pudgy, 2-year-old Beagle mix whose family no longer wanted her, I was a lonely 26-year-old living in the cold northwoods of rural Wisconsin, and she HUGGED me. She jumped up on my lap, put her front legs around my neck and pressed up her body against mine. I’d never met a dog who gave hugs, but it turned out to be pretty Penny’s signature move, and it instantly endeared her to me.

Not long after I took Penny in, I began to understand why her former family — who had just left a simple, “free to good home” note up in a local business — had wanted to part ways with her. Having been adopted from and returned to a shelter several times, Penny had developed severe separation anxiety. When I left for work, she jumped out of a window and through a screen to follow me. When I tried crating her, she became so distraught she broke her teeth on the door. I worked closely with a compassionate veterinarian on holistic remedies, like exercise, distractions and training, before finally resorting to medication to help ease her nervous mind.

As we worked through this, Penny and I became very close. She came to work with me at the newspaper, gnawing on a bone while I filed my stories. She went on a road trip to Ohio with me. We trudged through walks in the never-ending snow. She snuggled next to me at night, and she even woke me up once when my bloodsugar was dangerously low (I have type 1 diabetes).

Penny died as a result of a tragic car accident, less than one year after she came into my life. She taught me so much about what it means to be a devoted pet parent, and how to help others whose pets are dealing with separation anxiety. My friends, who had been touched by Penny’s hugs and gentle disposition, gathered for a memorial service. She is buried under a flowerbed in Ashland, Wis., and the memories of her loving hugs will always be in my heart.–Karen Hollish


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Sashi and Emily

Sashi and Emily

I adopted Sashi from the Providence Animal Rescue League when I was in college. She was more like a person than a dog. She would look at you intently when you were talking and really seemed to understand what you were saying.

We had a lot of adventures together and she was a great judge of character. She was very mellow and responded to very subtle voice commands. I always had trouble getting her back from dog sitters because she was such good company they always wanted to keep her.

As she got older, she developed severe mobility problems with her hind legs, due to arthritis or degenerative myelopathy. One day when she was 14 she woke up and could not stand at all. She looked in my eyes and seemed to be saying, “Please make it stop.” When we got in the car to drive to the vet, she immediately relaxed. She passed away peacefully in my lap. She was my doggie soulmate. I’ve had other great dogs since her, but she was that once-in-a-lifetime dog I will never forget.–Emily Fromm

Luckie Boy

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Luckie Boy

When I adopted my BoxerLab mix, Luckie Boy, eight years ago, I had no idea the kind of true love that I would be given. I quickly found out how tossing a ball and running in the park with my new furry friend could be the best time spent.

A few months ago, Luckie developed a bone tumor in his nasal cavity. The news completely devastated my family. Over the next few months, the tumor grew — it created a bump on his head that got bigger as the days went on. His breathing became heavy and he started getting nosebleeds.

His personality changed too; he became withdrawn. This week we made the hard choice to put him to sleep. While the decision was hard, I find comfort knowing that we gave him a wonderful life and that he blessed my life with true unconditional love.

As we move forward as a one-dog family (although I don’t think that will last long — our five-year-old Lab, Scarlett, seems lonely and has been looking for Luckie), I am truly touched by the support of our friends and family.

People have given us flowers and cards, and made donations to the Petfinder Foundation in Luckie’s memory. I’m reminded how many lives my little black dog touched. I’m also reminded what a great way a donation is to honor a pet’s life.–Lisa Robinson

Arizona Dogs Say Thank You for Summer Cooling Grant!

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Adoptable Skylar enjoys a yard that’s been improved with turf, a shade and a misting system.

Our Summer Cooling Grant is helping dogs at Humane Society of Southern Arizona in Tucson keep cool via a new misting system in its yard.

Shelter PR Coordinator Sara Gromley tells us, “Here are some photos of our new area we spruced up thanks to your summer cooling grant. The mister system is absolutely deluxe! It goes from scorching hot to tropical cool within seconds of flipping a switch. Staff members enjoy taking breaks by bringing dogs out in the yard and it’s actually pleasant to be outdoors! The dogs love the turf and the shade sail works perfectly. Petfinder Foundation, we love you!”

Before the turf

The yard before the new turf was added

Gromley adds, “The dog model is Skylar, #757011, a 5-year-old male golden retriever mix. He was found as a stray and has been waiting for a home since early June (which I believe is against the laws of nature, when you’re a golden retriever).”

Donate to help us keep shelter pets cool and Orvis will match your gift!



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.


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.”


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