Petfinder Foundation News

Muriel the Coonhound was Starving, with Heartworm and a Broken Leg

Muriel, before her rescue, with a badly broken right foreleg

Muriel is a redbone coonhound whose life was saved – and transformed – by American Black & Tan Coonhound Rescue, Inc., thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Petfinder Foundation and the Pedigree Foundation. The organization’s VP and treasurer, Molly Smith, wrote to us with Muriel’s story.

At 45 lbs., Muriel was emaciated.

“The grant allowed us to save a young coonhound, Muriel, and provide her with the care needed to allow her to live a full life. She is now adopted and has a great home. Without your grant, the medical expense would have been a major hardship for our group.

“Muriel was found in Alabama, skeletal and limping. But what a gentle, loving spirit she had in spite of everything that had happened to her. In her short two years, she had seen more than her share of pain. We suspect that she was hit by a car; her right front leg had no sensation and she did not use it to walk. When she was found, she hadn’t had food in a long time, and at only 45 lbs., she was at least 20 lbs. underweight.

“Muriel had her right front leg amputated on Aug. 10, 2012, was treated for heartworm, and by the end of August, she had found her forever home!” (See more photos of Muriel and her new family at ABTCR’s website.)

Her adopter, Brian, sent this update to the rescue group in September: “Muriel’s new name, Nyla, means winner or victor in the Creek Indian language. How appropriate for one who has survived so much adversity and made it to her new, loving, forever home.

Today, she is happy and healthy in her new home.

“She is getting along great with our other Coonie, Belle, and our old girl Golden Retriever, Sophie. They act like they have known each other forever. She has adapted well to her amputation and is eating us out of house and home. She still needs to gain a few pounds but we are going to have to watch her to be sure she doesn’t gain too much. She is such a sweet girl. How do these dogs go through so much and still trust and love their new families?

“Nyla is enjoying being in the country and loves to ‘tree,’ looking for squirrels and other critters. She may be slowed down a little by her amputation, but she is the most ‘handicapable’ animal I have ever seen. There is nothing she won’t attempt. She is going to do just fine.”

Thank you to the Pedigree Foundation, American Black & Tan Coonhound Rescue and everyone who made Muriel’s wonderful new life possible!



VIDEO: Rescue U Helps Carolina Waterfowl Rescue Rebuild

Noah Horton, assistant director

When Carolina Waterfowl Rescue was hit by a tornado in spring 2012, wind destroyed many of the structures that housed the adoptable and wild birds the rescue cares for. Kennels, cages and full sheds were blown across the property; feeding areas and barns lost their roofs; and several birds were injured. Rescue director Jennifer Gordon remembers the day the storms hit: “I was outside scrambling to get supplies in the shed, and the roof was lifted off, just like you see in tornado movies.”

Local volunteers made initial repairs (CWR is an all-volunteer organization), but the rescue still needed help. So Rescue U volunteers from Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arizona, Washington and North Carolina took time off work or gave up their school vacations to renovate the facility. Our projects include a new barn to store supplies and serve as a bird habitat, privacy fencing around the goat enclosure (CWR is also home to rescued goats!), more than 1,500 feet of chain-link fencing surrounding the property to keep out foxes, raccoons and other predators, repair on the existing fencing and gates, and several habitat and feeding structures around the property, including one on an island that can be reached only by kayak.

Mr. Pringles, a grey goose, will benefit from the barn being built by Rescue U volunteers. “Pringles is the dominant goose,” says rescue director Jennifer Gordon, “so he will be able to pick his spot in the barn first!”

The barn, in particular, will be a godsend. Many of the cage-free waterfowl prefer to roost inside when it is cold or rainy. Rescue U volunteers will build several of the raised beds they normally build for dogs to keep the birds off the ground, since birds lose a lot of body heat through their feet. Most importantly, the barn will provide protection for all the birds in the case of another terrible storm. “We get a lot of storms here,” Gordon says. “It will be nice to know we have a safe place to protect our birds when another one hits.”

This project was generously funded entirely by The Animal Rescue Site. Volunteers are here until Jan. 11. Stay tuned for more updates on construction progress and the pets who will benefit from the work!



Rescue U Builds a Barn to Protect Adoptable Birds

Noah Horton, assistant director

A curious Canada goose comes to the island to check on the progress of his new pole barn.

Today I experienced a little bit of island life. No, there weren’t any piña coladas, Hawaiian shirts or tanning sessions — I was working on an island at Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in Indian Trail, NC, as a part of our current Rescue U renovation project. (Read more about the renovation.)

A Rescue U volunteer ferries building supplies to the island via kayak.

CWR has around 150 adoptable birds at any given time. The majority are cage-free waterfowl, and those birds need water to swim, for enrichment and grooming and to avoid predators. There are several small ponds around the 11-acre property that serve this purpose. The largest pond surrounds a small island on which the geese and ducks at the rescue can sleep overnight to keep themselves safe. However, they were still vulnerable to birds of prey such as owls at night. Rescue U decided to build a pole barn — a small barn without walls — on the island to protect the birds from aerial predators and the elements and to keep the food kept on the island dry in the rain.

The only way to get to the island is by kayak. This makes building a bit of a process, as all tools and supplies must be ferried across the pond. And because the barn would rest on uneven ground and the boards had to be cut at odd angles, each board had to be measured and marked on the island, sent back to the mainland to be cut, then ferried back and installed. Finally, after a huge team effort, the whole pole-barn team and I were on location with all the supplies we needed to get the job done.

It took all day, with curious adoptable geese frequently coming over to say hello and check on our progress, but by the end of the day, the barn was completed. The waterfowl now have a little extra protection from the elements and predators.

In the coming days, Rescue U volunteers will be building a feeding box to store under the pole barn so food won’t need to be taken to the island by kayak as often, and will stay dry once there. Stay tuned for more updates!

Noah (center) and other volunteers celebrate the completion of the pole barn, which will protect many of the birds at the rescue.


Once Chained and Starved, Now Beloved by a Whole Neighborhood

Kase, now renamed Chance, with his adoptive mom, Marcia

Together with our partners at The Animal Rescue Site, we’ve given more than $1 million to shelters and rescue groups through the Shelter+ Challenge. Among them: Second Chance Rescue in Bunnell, FL, which received a $1,000 grant.

Second Chance founder Debi Root wrote to us about how they used the money. “Our rescue was in dire need of large crates, both for overflow at the shelter and for our adoption events,” she said. “With this grant, we were able to purchase 14 extra-large crates and now we can take more dogs to events/adoptions and are finding more homes! We go to our local Petsmart store every Saturday from 11-5 and take as many dogs as we have crates for to meet potential new and forever homes.”

Chase “before”

One of the large dogs Second Chance could save thanks to the crates was Kase. “Kase was another guy who was too large for the few crates we [had before] and was adopted the very first time he went with us when we had the new crates!” Debi said.

“This poor guy was rescued after being taken on an abuse/neglect charge in Orange County. He was on a chain in the yard of an abandoned home, starved and living for who knows how long with a collar deeply embedded into his neck and throat (that required surgery to remove). He sends his thanks to you!”

His adopter, Marcia, sent me this story of her adoption of Kase, now renamed Chance.

“On Oct. 11, 2012, our beloved 10-year-old Rottweiler, Lyla, had to be put down because of bone cancer. My husband, Phil, Lyla and I were like the three musketeers, doing everything together: traveling, camping, hiking, jogging, you name it. Her passing left a huge hole in our hearts, and on the day I went to our local vet to donate her food and medications, I mentioned this to Cheryl, the receptionist. Cheryl suggested looking into a rescue dog as a possible way to at least partially aliviate our sadness.

“We had always adopted dogs (Lyla was our third adopted Rottweiler) but never from a rescue. That afternoon, while browsing the Internet, I came across the Petfinder adoption site for the first time. I entered ‘Rottweiler’ and ‘Florida’ on the site and read about Chance, who was then called Kase. I looked at his picture and read his story to my husband while crying about his awful abuse. I was so moved by his story that I immediately filled out the adoption form and wrote to Second Chance Rescue about coming to Bunnell, Florida, to see him the following day.

Chase is now happy and healthy.

“Very early the next morning, we were out biking and the phone rang. It was Dana from Second Chance asking if we could drive up to see him. She had called our references and she thought we would be ideal owners for Chance. ‘Yes, we’d love to,’ I told her, and as soon as we were back home from our bike ride, we drove the 70+ miles to Bunnell.

“When Kelly, who works at Second Chance, brought Kase out, my husband I both felt, without saying a word to each other, that he was special -– there was kindness and soulfulness in his face that instantly touched our hearts, along with playfulness and exuberance that seemed totally remarkable, considering the abuse he’d suffered. Although my husband was due to have hip-replacement surgery the following Wednesday, we took him home, only stopping at Petsmart to buy a crate large enough to accommodate him and sign the adoption papers.

“How has Chance’s life changed? For one thing, he is now in a home where he is loved and appreciated for the magnificent animal he is. In fact, everyone in my neighborhood adores him and friends stop by just to see him, bringing along their children to meet him. His demeanor is so friendly and loving that everyone — from our neighbors to the staff at our vet’s office to the guys who pick up our garbage — responds to him.

“I’ve been working for the past few weeks with a dog trainer, and she believes he has the potential to be a therapy dog someday. My husband and I hope to achieve that goal, since we think his story is so compelling: He went from not knowing anything about a house (I don’t think he’d ever been inside one before we adopted him) to becoming housetrained in two days. He is extremely smart and has insatiable curiosity. He loves to ride in our truck and is a fantastic jogging partner, logging two-plus miles a day at my side. He has also learned many commands, such as sit, lie down, stay and come here, and he has never once shown any kind of antisocial behavior.

“The best change in his life, though, is that at night, when my husband and I are reading on the living room couch, he curls up next to us, calm and content, knowing we are there for him. When we first got him, he would go out into our backyard on his own, but only for a moment or two before rushing back into the house. It was clear that he was afraid he’d once again be abandoned. That soon changed, and today, for example, while we were eating lunch, he went outside, stretched out on the grass, and went to sleep in the sun, obviously secure in the fact that he was home for good.

“We love the fact that he has a tail (all our previous Rotties had theirs cropped) since we can immediately sense his emotions by its expressive wagging. They say that when you rescue a dog, the dog, in return, rescues you, and in this case it is definitely true. Absolutely, I believe that Chance helped my husband recover faster from his surgery, and helped us recover from the loss of Lyla. In short, Chance has filled our hearts with love and joy by being the wonderful guy he is.”

Thank you to Debi, Marcia and everyone else who made Chance’s rescue and wonderful new life possible!



The Gift of Fun for Shelter Dogs

Elizabeth fills KONGs with canned food and peanut butter.

What does a shelter dog want for Christmas — or any day of the year? A new trick to learn; a fun toy to play with. And our grants provide both: Train to Adopt helps shelters teach adoptable dogs basic social skills, and we’ve given more than $7,000 in enrichment toys from our friends at KONG to 10 shelters over the past two years.

We were recently reminded of how much these gifts mean to homeless dogs when we received this email from Elizabeth Richardson, a longtime volunteer at Train to Adopt shelter Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control in Charlotte, NC:

“This morning, long before dawn, I turned on the Christmas tree lights and sat in silence. Mia, my dear old Border Collie, sat close to me, as she does every morning during quiet time, staring and making sure I sit in my appointed place. Then Artie came and laid down with us. Artie is an older Chocolate Lab, but she does not sit still very often.

“The three of us sat on the floor for quite a while, and my gaze fell on the Christmas tree, which has only a couple of gifts beneath it. I prefer not to buy into December’s shopping frenzy. Yet I could not quit thinking about gifts, the furry kind with four legs. What gifts dogs are! I would rather have the company of a couple of dogs than a thousand fancily wrapped presents under the tree.

“My thoughts shifted to the dogs at our shelter, beautiful dogs waiting for someone to come along and see them. I wanted to jump up, drive quickly to shelter and tell all the dogs how good they are. And bring them gifts. I will do that later today. I will give them the gift of love, made evident in a KONG stuffed with canned food and peanut butter.

Elizabeth gives the dogs their treats.

“For a little while, the shelter dogs can enjoy some peace and quiet, like Artie and Mia and I did this morning. And maybe, in those quiet moments, a good person or two will walk in and see the beauty of these dogs, and give them the gift of loving homes.

“For the dogs at Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control, more gifts are coming, from Karen Owens, our fabulous trainer, and all the volunteers she has engaged in our Train to Adopt program. What a gift the Train to Adopt program is, bringing Karen, and hundreds of KONGs, and so many positive activities, enormously lessening the stress of kennel life.

“December 21st is the day of the year that stays dark the longest, but into this darkness, gifts of light and love will shine. I remain deeply grateful to the Petfinder Foundation, the KONG company and every person who continues to make our Train the Adopt program the gift that it is to our shelter dogs.”

All of us at the Petfinder Foundation are thrilled to be part of a program that brings such joy to homeless pets. We hope all of you will enjoy a wonderful holiday season with your family, both two-legged and four! And if you are still looking for the perfect gift, think about giving the Gift of Hope. There is no better gift than knowing you have helped a homeless pet!



Donate $100 or More and We’ll Send You This Stunning Rescue Dog Calendar

If you donate $100 or more to the Petfinder Foundation, we’ll send you this beautiful calendar, featuring paintings of rescued dogs by artist Paul Sansale. (While supplies last, of course.)

The real pets whose stories are told in the calendar include the rescued service dog of a Minnesota veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, and 11 other rescued therapy dogs.

Sansale and his wife, Lynn, offered to donate the calendars to the Petfinder Foundation because of their commitment to helping pets in need. “Please know how honored we are to work with such a wonderful organization as Petfinder!” Lynn says.

Mariah is Miss May in the Rescued Heroes calendar.

Paul and Lynn had their eyes opened up to the enormous needs in the rescue world during the recession thanks to a coworker, Gwen, who had a rescued therapy dog named Lucy. “Up to that point, rescue was something we just weren’t that aware of,” Lynn says. “We had lost our Westie and would have just inquired through breeders for another dog. Long story short, with the education we got from Gwen and additional sources, we saw a need and started a calendar called ‘Rescue Dog to Therapy Dog’ to educate people to the incredible resilience and value of dogs in rescue.”

Paul had been an art director and illustrator for 30 years and had never painted a dog until the day he and Lynn were encouraged by Gwen to come watch Lucy volunteer in the READing Paws program at the library. “Paul photographed Lucy and Gwen on the library lawn afterwards,” Lynn tells us. “When he got home and looked at the photos, he thought one looked like a portrait and got to work painting Lucy, loved the whole process and the rest is history. The first calendar took on a life of its own, and people started calling us with their own rescued therapy dogs and stories. We are totally hooked on telling these dogs’ amazing stories and passing them on to the public.”



When You Give to Us, Where Does Your Money Go?

Second Chance Rescue used our grant to buy 14 extra-large dog crates so it could save dogs like Sprokett, who’d been scheduled for euthanasia at a shelter. “He’s now very happy in a wonderful foster home!” says Second Chance’s Debi Root. “Thank goodness we had the room (and the crate) to take him in before his time was up — he’s one terrific boy!”

Emily Fromm, Chief Development Officer

Once in a while someone will write to me and ask, “If I donate to you, how much of my money will go to actually helping pets?”

This is a question I’m always happy to answer, because it gives me a chance to show off the fact that the Petfinder Foundation does great work at very little administrative expense. It’s a question everyone should ask before giving to charity, and I’m going to tell you how to find the answer in our Form 990, the return we file each year with the IRS. You can follow the same steps with any organization’s 990 (many make theirs available on their websites, or you can use independent watchdog group Charity Navigator’s 990 finder).

You can find our 990s from 2010 through 2014 on our Financials page, or open our 990 for 2014 by clicking here.

On our 990 for 2014, go to p. 10, the Statement of Functional Expenses. Here’s where you can see how we spent our money in 2014. Our total expenses, at the bottom of column A, were $1,315,071. Of that total, $1,193,501, or 91%, went to program service expenses — that is, the programs that help homeless pets.

You’ll also see that we spent $51,037 (3.8%) on management and general expenses and $70,533 (5.4%) on fundraising. So …. is that good? Well, according to Charity Navigator, “the most efficient charities spend 75% or more of their budget on their programs and services and less than 25% on fundraising and administrative fees.” So with 91% of our budget going to programs and services, we are really efficient by the highest independent standards.

Trinity had been in constant pain from a botched declaw. With our grant, CATS Cradle got her surgery to relieve her suffering.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. We’ve been reviewed by the three major independent watchdog organizations: the Better Business Bureau (we have an A+ rating), Charity Navigator (we have four out of four stars) and GuideStar (we have five out of five stars).

One thing we don’t spend our money on: for-profit telemarketing firms. You may have read some of the recent exposés about these companies and the huge percentage of donors’ money that they keep for themselves.

If you ever receive a call from the Petfinder Foundation, I can promise you it will be from me or another member of our three-person staff. We never have, and never will, hire a telemarketing firm, nor do we purchase mailing lists.

Back to our programs and services. We give grants to the adoption groups that post their pets on — i.e., the overwhelming majority of shelters and rescue groups in North America. Our grants are designed to help groups find homes for their adoptable pets, prepare for and recover from natural disasters, and become more sustainable.

An organization must apply for a grant in order to receive funds. Some of our grant programs include emergency medical, disaster recovery, vaccination, transport (moving pets from crowded shelters to regions where they are more likely to find homes) and Rescue U (volunteers renovate dilapidated or disaster-damaged shelters). We also give grants for care and feeding, spay/neuter and general operations.

But all our grants are designed with one ultimate goal in mind: preventing the euthanasia of adoptable pets. That means we do whatever it takes to help shelters and rescue groups keep the pets in their care physically and mentally healthy, and available to adopters who will give them loving forever homes.

Charitable giving is a great way to have an impact and receive a tax deduction. I hope this post has answered any questions you may have had about giving to us. If it hasn’t, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at You can also learn more about us by exploring our website, following us on Facebook or signing up for our monthly newsletter. Thank you for everything you do to help homeless pets!

Other resources:

Real Simple: What to Consider When Making Charitable Donations

Charity Navigator: Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors

Charity Navigator: Evaluating Charities Not Currently Rated by Charity Navigator



Rescue U Renovates a Bird Rescue!

Joyce, a volunteer, cares for two adoptable geese at the rescue.

Rescue U is gearing up for our trip to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in Indian Trail, N.C., from Dec. 31-Jan. 10. This renovation will be vastly different from any we’ve done in the past.

Until now, we’ve focused on shelters that care for dogs and cats. On this build, we’ll be working to improve the lives of ducks, pigeons, swans and other adoptable birds.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue sustained considerable damage from the tornadoes of spring 2012, leaving the animals there without shelter. Thanks to a generous grant from and The Animal Rescue Site, we’re building a new barn to protect the birds from predators and the elements.

The barn will be 20’ x 45’ and will feature a storage area, a veterinary exam room and an animal holding area. It will include windows, garage doors and a ventilation system. We also will be building an enclosed outdoor exercise/play area for the birds.

Many structures at the rescue were tornado-damaged. The new barn will provide space for the birds to roost and stretch their legs.

Because the pathway into the rescue is currently rutted, muddy and often impassable, we will be putting in a gravel driveway so that staff and potential adopters can easily get to the barn and the rest of the facility.

We will also be building four 16’ x 8’ carports with feeders (to shelter the outdoor animals), and putting in fencing. Although we are only enclosing the southern and eastern perimeters of the rescue, we’re still installing approximately 1,200 linear feet of fence.

All that is a lot to accomplish in a week, but we’re confident that the determination and work ethic of our volunteers will shine through. Rescue U volunteers from all over will come together to share ideas, learn new skills and unite in a common goal: helping to save adoptable pets.



10 Easy Ways to Help Homeless Pets

Want to help homeless pets this holiday season but don’t have much time? Here are 10 fast and easy (and, in many cases, FREE) ways you can make a difference through the Petfinder Foundation.

This year, the Petfinder Foundation helped homeless pets like Dawn.

  1. Give of Gift of Hope. When you make a donation in honor of a loved one this holiday season, he or she will receive a personalized card announcing the gift by Dec. 25. Donate $50 or more and we’ll also send him or her a special gift. (Find out more.) Donate by Dec. 17 to ensure delivery by Christmas Day.


  2. “Like” us on Facebook and stay informed about what the Petfinder Foundation is up to all year long. You can also join our cause at for even more news.


  3. Complete a survey. Sign up to take surveys at and the Petfinder Foundation will receive 50 cents for each one you complete.


  4. Give a new bed to your furry friend. For every bed purchased from its Artist or Original collections, Pet Lifestyle and You (P.L.A.Y.) will donate a specially designed Chill Pad bed to a shelter dog.


  5. Buy a gift from The Animal Rescue Site. A donation to the Petfinder Foundation is made for each purchase from the Animal Rescue Site store. For an extra-special gift, order a pair of Purple Paws & Circles Button Knit Slippers (only $10) by Dec. 25 and The Animal Rescue Site will donate $5 to the Petfinder Foundation. Order by Dec. 19 to ensure your gift arrives by Christmas!


  6. Sponsor A Pet. Want to adopt, but can’t right now? Sponsor A Pet through the Petfinder Foundation to help pets in need until you’re ready to adopt.


  7. Create a Pinterest Board. For every “Pinning for Pets” board created on Pinterest, BISSELL will donate $10 to the Petfinder Foundation. Start looking for BISSELL products and cute pups today!


  8. “Like” Comfort Zone products on Facebook. For every new like, Comfort Zone products will donate $1 to the Petfinder Foundation.


  9. Make a custom accessory with your pet’s photo. Visit to create a puppy purse or other custom accessory; the Petfinder Foundation receives a donation for each one sold.


  10. Text a donation. Pressed for time? Text 4PETS and your email address to 20222 to donate $10 to the Petfinder Foundation.

A special thank you to everyone who helped impact the lives of homeless pets this year. And if you do have some time to give, please volunteer at your local animal shelter. Have a wonderful holiday!