Petfinder Foundation News

Meet the Fuzzy Nation Judges

The entries are in for this year’s Fuzzy Nation Super Model contest, and our judges are narrowing it down to 100! The finalists will be announced some time on Sept. 18, and voting begins Sept. 19 at 12AM PST. We introduced you to our panel of celebrity judges a couple of months ago. Let’s learn some more about them:

Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl became a box-office sensation starring first in Judd Apatow’s smash hit comedy, Knocked Up, followed by a starring turn with Ed Burns and James Marsden in the romantic comedy, 27 Dresses, and then opposite Gerard Butler in the romantic comedy The Ugly Truth, which she also executive produced. These earned Heigl “Female Star of the Year” honors at the 2010 ShoWest awards.

Heigl next stars with Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams in the comedy feature The Wedding, opening nationwide in October.

In May of 2009, Katherine Heigl and her mother Nancy launched the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation in honor of her older brother, who died much too young in an automobile accident and whose strong, compassionate nature and great love of animals was the cornerstone of their endeavors. The Heigls are using their resources to work directly to address the pet population crises in Los Angeles and across the country.

Toward that goal, the Foundation launched the “Compassion Revolution” in September of 2010, pledging over one million dollars to a variety of low cost and free spay/neuter programs in Los Angeles and surrounding counties, as a key component to reducing the number of animals in shelters. The Foundation also presently funds pet education programs, actively supports spay/neuter programs, pet adoption programs, and fund and supports small dog transport from local shelters to both no kill shelters and rescues facilities throughout the country. To date the Foundation has funded more than 5500 spay/neuter surgeries, the transport of over 1300 animals out of high euthanasia shelters to areas where they are rapidly adopted and an overwhelming variety of adoption and training programs intently focused on improving the plight of our pets.

Betsy Saul

Betsy Saul

With a vision to change the way the public views shelter pets, Betsy Saul harnessed the infant technology of the Internet in 1996 and molded it into one of the most successful Web businesses to date. The first site of its kind, Petfinder, which Betsy describes as a social profit company, is on a mission to see that no pet is euthanized for lack of a home and to increase the value of the family pet. In this corner of the Web, currency is “lives saved” and profitability is measured in increasing the effectiveness of the shelter and rescue worker. Almost 15 years of consistent and steady growth (in adoptions, traffic and revenue), even in the face of turbulent “dot bomb” and recession years, translates to over five million unique visitors each month and over two million adoptions annually. Betsy was recently named by Woman’s Day magazine as one of fifty “Women Who Are Changing The World.”

In 2005 Betsy co-founded, which has become the adoption and training video initiative of Petfinder and Animal In 2006, media giant Discovery Communications acquired in what Ad Age magazine called one of the “best (and sweetest) acquisitions of the year.” Betsy continues to serve Petfinder, focusing on strategy, partnerships and public relations.

In animal welfare, Betsy’s attention is focused on broad-scale progress. She splits her time between Petfinder, the Foundation, as chairman of the board, and the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs, where she serves on the board of directors. Betsy also serves on the Board of Overseers for Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine for Tufts University and is the co-founder of HEAL Mobile Veterinary Services. Her top priorities are identifying strategies to increase the quality of life for animals and their people, finding alternatives to “warehousing” companion animals who are waiting for a home, and searching for alternatives to traditional spay/neuter programs.

Betsy has been working with and volunteering for animals since she was a teen. Prior to creating Petfinder, she worked as an urban forester for the State of New Jersey, as an agriculture extension agent at Rutgers University, as a park ranger at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, and as a field scientist for the Army Corps of Engineers in South Carolina. She received her M.S. in forest ecology, specializing in groundwater hydrology at Clemson University. Her work has always emphasized collaboration and partnerships.

Betsy prides herself for having friends in high and low places, so her family includes a diversity of animals ranging from the very large, like Missy, the black Angus cow, to the diminutive Sydney, the box turtle.

John Paul DeJoria

John Paul DeJoria

John Paul DeJoria’s rags-to-riches biography exemplifies the American dream – he is a first-generation American turned entrepreneur, philanthropist, government servant, and pillar of the business community. John Paul DeJoria has struggled against the odds not only to achieve success, but to share this success with others. He knows firsthand what it’s like to be the ‘underdog,’ and strives to help as many as possible overcome their challenges and achieve their full potential.

The prestigious Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans – an organization that honors selected individuals who have overcome humble beginnings and adversity to achieve success – recently recognized John Paul for his exemplary journey. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas inducted John Paul as a lifetime member in a ceremony that took place in the Supreme Court of the United States. Members of the Association – including such notables as Secretary of State Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Oprah Winfrey, Norman Vincent Peale, and J.C. Penney – mentor young people and sponsor over $5 million in Horatio Alger need-based scholarships awarded annually to high school seniors who have proven their ability to overcome adversity and humble beginnings.

John Paul DeJoria was born in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California – one of two children of immigrant parents (his father came from Italy and his mother’s family came from Greece). His mother raised him as a single parent before John Paul reached the age of two.

John Paul started out selling greeting cards at age 9 and delivering newspapers in order to help support his family. After high school and service with honors in the U.S. Navy, John Paul did whatever it took to make ends meet – he sold encyclopedias, photocopying machines, dictating equipment, and insurance; he also worked as a janitor, pumped gasoline, drove a tow truck, and repaired bicycles. John Paul was even homeless at one time. Even then, he didn’t give up and collected bottles to stay afloat.

Eventually, John Paul got his break – an entry-level marketing position with Time magazine. Within a short period of time, he was promoted to Los Angeles Circulation Manager. He then moved to his first position in the hair care industry. Within eighteen months, he received a promotion to National Manager of Schools and Chain Salons. John Paul left this position and served at the National Manager and Vice President level for several hair care and cosmetic companies before becoming an independent consultant. He joined his marketing expertise with the hairdressing talents of his friend Paul Mitchell to launch their now-famous professional hair care system.

Although Paul Mitchell tragically died of pancreatic cancer in 1989, the two partners’ dream has flourished. Today, John Paul Mitchell Systems has annual salon retail sales approaching $900 million. The company currently produces over 90 products (including the brands Paul Mitchell®, Modern Elixirs™, Tea Tree™, Paul Mitchell LAB™, and Paul Mitchell Professional Hair Color). All John Paul Mitchell System hair and skin care products are manufactured within the United States. John Paul Mitchell Systems products are sold through 25 distributors within the United States and thousands of hair salons and schools. Internationally, John Paul Mitchell Systems works with distributors in 75 countries that supply thousands of hair salons.

John Paul Mitchell Systems ardently supports a wide variety of philanthropic causes.
Recent donations (totaling millions of dollars) of cash, products, and services have been made to non-profit organizations operating in the fields of health care, social services, environmental protection and awareness, animal welfare, and the arts.

Kristin Hanggi

Kristin Hanggi

Kristin is most known for directing and developing the international smash-hit Rock of Ages which was nominated for five Tony Nominations including Best Direction of a Musical for Kristin Hanggi. She has directed the productions on Broadway, the West End, Australia, Toronto, and two National Tours.

Ms. Hanggi’s other productions include acclaimed pop opera bare produced by Dodger Theatricals which was rated the #1 production in New York by Zagat audiences and ran to sold-out audiences in Los Angeles and off-Broadway, for which she received the Ovation Award Best Musical, LA Weekly Award Best Musical, Robby Award Best Director. Bare continues to be produced all over the world. Ms. Hanggi also directed initial production that launched the Pussycat Dolls, “Pussycat Dolls Live at the Roxy” with Christina Applegate, Carmen Electra and special guests Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Brittany Murphy, Nikka Costa and Charlize Theron. Other stage productions include: And the Curtain Rises at the Signature Theater; the 2007 winner of the New York’s Fringe Festival, Catch The Fish; Brian Crano’s play Twelfth Premise (LA Times Critics Pick); the Los Angeles Premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi (2001 Ticketholder Award, Best Production; 2001 Ticketholder Award, Best Director; 2001 Robby Award, Best Director of a Play); Crane, Mississippi (LA Times Critic’s Choice, Backstage West Critic’s Pick); the New York and Los Angeles productions of the underground cult-hit Ann E. Wrecksick and the Odyssey of the Bulimic Orphans; Greystone (Los Angeles Theater History Project at LATC); Wayside (LA Weekly Pick of the Week). Additionally, she directed Glen Mary Glen Rose: Women Do Men, a benefit for “Step-Up” and the Revlon/UCLA Breast Cancer Center at UCLA’s Royce Hall starring Susan Egan, Amy Brenneman, Teri Garr, Vicki Lawrence, and Jean Smart, among others.

As a screenwriter, she has recently adapted the hit book series, “Dear Dumb Diary” into a musical movie, which she is also directing, under Executive Producer Jerry Zucker. She is also attached to direct Shopping For Boys for Paramount with Mena Suvari and Amy Smart.

Kristin graduated with her Masters from USC after receiving her Bachelors from UCLA in Theater. She is currently developing a musical television series with GREEK creator Sean Patrick Smith, produced by Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films, and The Outsiders as a stage musical for Francis Ford Coppola and American Zoetrope.

Kim Kavin

Kim Kavin

Kim Kavin is a widely published award-winning journalist, as well as a volunteer worker dedicated to fostering puppies who have been saved from high-kill shelters but who have not yet been adopted. She lives in Long Valley, NJ, where her hobbies include cooking, wine tasting, and hiking local park trails with her dog Blue. Her most recent book, Little Boy Blue: A Puppy’s Rescue from Death Row and His Owner’s Journey for Truth, was called a “riveting read” by, and is in the top 5 pet books on A portion of the proceeds from her book benefit the Petfinder Foundation.


Betsy’s Story


Teresa Calafut of Uniondale, PA, is one of the many generous donors who gave to the Petfinder Foundation through Orvis, which all this year has been matching donations dollar-for-dollar (learn more or donate now).

Nearly everyone who gives to the Petfinder Foundation has a deeply personal reason for doing so, and when we learned that Teresa had donated part of the settlement she’d received after her dog Betsy was shot by a hunter, we felt she deserved to tell her story — both as a cautionary tale to fellow pet parents and as a way to honor Betsy’s memory.

I asked Teresa what advice she would offer our readers to help them avoid a similar tragedy. “Remember that there is always the possibility that a hunter is near where you and your dog are hiking,” she said. “Hunting regulations are different in each state, and you need to know what they are for yours. In Pennsylvania, coyotes can be shot any day of the year so there is always a risk. But most of the hunting takes place in the fall; I don’t take the dogs anywhere from September to January unless hunting is prohibited, and they always wear bright orange jackets (from the Orvis catalog). And be aware that hunting is allowed in places you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like state parks in Pennsylvania.”

Here is Betsy’s story in Teresa’s own words:

Betsy with her Frisbee

Betsy’s adoption and personality

Betsy was a collie mix; she looked like she was part collie, part golden retriever with other breeds mixed in. She was born in March 2005 in North Carolina and she and her brother were rescued from a shelter when they were very young.

I started looking for a dog about that time; I’d had cats for over 20 years but had not had a dog as an adult. I wanted a puppy whom I could raise and be with for many years, through her adulthood and old age. I was kind of looking for a collie-type dog since that is what we had growing up, a mutt who needed a home. A friend at work told me about, where I found Chicklet, soon to be named Betsy.

When Betsy was 3 months old, the rescue group brought her and a bunch of other dogs up to a rest stop in Carlisle, PA, just south of Harrisburg, and I made the three-hour drive to get her. After I paid the balance of her adoption fee, the rescue person put little Betsy into my arms and I had a dog, a little ball of fluff who just wanted to sit on my lap. I drove the whole way home with her on my lap, then sat on the porch and carried her around the house. She must have been tired and stressed out from the long ride. She slept a lot, then started looking around. Later in the day she helped me plant flowers by digging a hole and she found some sticks to chew and pull. I had prepared a place for her with a bed, toys and water, but she was only interested in following me around.

She grew. I’d had in mind a medium-sized dog, but Betsy had big paws and grew into them, to be about 50 lbs. She was light brown, with some white on her chest, paws and rump and some black on her tail. She was very energetic and a very picky eater and was always thin. But she loved treats and the bones I made for her once a week. She had long fur with curly tendrils around her ears, a long collie nose, and one of her ears sometimes flopped over.

I took her most places with me: to the grocery store, visiting friends and relatives, for ice cream, to dog classes at Petco. She liked to sit in the front seat and look out the window. In the grocery store parking lot, people would laugh at seeing her sitting in the driver’s seat staring straight ahead, as if she were driving. She liked to walk in her wading pool and would swim or walk in the water in ponds and streams. She liked to walk and sometimes sit in the mud; once she almost got stuck in quicksand. I tried to train her to sit in the canoe with me, but she kept jumping in the water and swimming alongside.

Betsy on the couch

She liked to sleep on the couch and on the bed. She got along well with the cats and liked to play with their toys sometimes. She loved their laser toy and would go crazy chasing it. And she really liked their cat food.

She liked to play with sticks and balls, especially fetch, and she liked to tear her toys apart and find the squeaker. But her favorite toy was a Frisbee. She was obsessed; she would play for hours and hours, bringing the Frisbee back and dropping it at someone’s feet; if they didn’t respond, she would nudge it with her nose and stare at it fixedly. She brought Frisbees to anyone who was around and took them for walks and in the car. I kept buying new ones as they were chewed up or disappeared and found a few Frisbees in the yard or field after she died.

We went for walks every day in the field and pasture behind my house. She wasn’t interested in the horses but did get sprayed by skunks a few times. Sometimes we would go for longer hikes in local parks; longer hikes tired her out and she slept a lot the next day, giving me a rest from being continually bumped with a Frisbee. We went camping and hiking in the Adirondack Park in New York; she seemed to enjoy seeing new places and things. Of course she always brought her Frisbee. She was a sweet dog, never ran off anywhere, and everybody always liked her.

Betsy’s last hike

On October 26, 2007, Betsy and I and a group of seven hikers were hiking near Slate Run in the Pine Creek area of central Pennsylvania. Betsy was glad to get out of the car and was running around exploring the woods near the trailhead. There were no signs near the trailhead except the trail sign, no warnings of possible hunters in the area. We started up the Pine Trail, a rugged, steep trail up Hemlock Mountain, then stopped for lunch once we reached the top. As usual, Betsy kept running around while everyone else rested, and I played tug and fetch with her with sticks. Then we started up again along the ridge of the mountain, on Big Trail Road, a grassy, little-used road. Betsy found a puddle and enjoyed walking in it. I waited for her but the others kept on, and she ran to take the lead again. If only she had stayed a minute longer in the puddle. I was in the back of the group.

Up ahead, Betsy stopped at an interesting smell and was there for what seemed like a few minutes. On our right was a wooded area and the steep slope of the mountain; on the left was a more gradual downward slope with an open, brushy hill. Where the hikers were, a large bush on the left prevented a view of the hill on the left, but Betsy, about 30 feet ahead, was in the open area.

It was fast. Someone in the front of the group said, “There’s a hunter,” and immediately I was past the bush to see a hunter aiming a long gun at my Betsy. He was wearing camouflage, without any noticeable orange or reflective wear. I screamed; people shouted, “Don’t shoot!” Then I heard a pop. Betsy was still standing; I thought maybe he missed, but then she took a few steps and fell over on the other side of the road in some grass and leaves. The hunter came over to look at her, I screamed at him to get away from her. He said he thought she was a coyote. We learned later that he was using a scope. He shot her from a distance of about 40 feet. Betsy was shot in the abdomen and back area on her right side. She was shot at about 1:30 p.m.

The hunter said he would go get his truck to take her to a vet and he left. We didn’t know if he would return or not. One of the hikers tried to call 911, but could not get cell reception. Someone started to make a litter from branches and jackets so we could carry her down. Two others bushwacked down through the woods to get help. Another hiker and I sat by Betsy, petting her and talking to her. I tried to stay calm. My life was falling apart.

The hunter came back up the road. The remaining hikers and I put Betsy in the back of the truck and climbed in the back. We drove to a tavern/campground where there were a lot other people around. A woman who said that she was a former army medic looked at Betsy and said that she did not think the wound was severe and applied pressure to Betsy’s wound. Betsy was bleeding onto the bed of the truck. The hunter called around for a vet and located one 30 miles away near Williamsport. The hunter and I went to the vet; the other hikers stayed at the tavern/campground. Two volunteered to drive my car to the vet’s office.

Someone moved Betsy to the floor of the cab of the truck and I sat on the seat above her. The hunter drove fast down the winding road, racing toward the vet, who was waiting outside to meet us. The hunter and the vet carried Betsy inside. There was a trail of blood; there was blood all over. The vet did x-rays and examined her, and then came to talk to me. He said that Betsy had internal bleeding, and that the bullet had fragmented into pieces inside of Betsy. The vet recommended surgery to remove the bullet fragments. The surgery began at 4:30 p.m. and I waited alone in the waiting room until the two hikers who brought my car arrived. They waited with me in the waiting room.

When the surgery was completed, the vet came out and told us that he had removed 14 inches of Betsy’s lower colon and stitched up other sections of her colon. The 14-inch piece was too damaged to save. He removed as many bullet fragments as he could, but couldn’t get them all. Betsy’s stomach also had holes in it. She’d lost a lot of blood; they had to give her three pints. From losing so much blood, her core temperature had dropped and they had her on a heating pad to warm her up again. They had one tube draining from her stomach and another tube draining from her side. He said the first 12 hours were going to be the hardest time for her.

I wanted to stay overnight with Betsy, but the vet told me I couldn’t. Instead, I stayed overnight at a local hotel. In the morning, I called the vet and heard that Betsy had died at 2:00 a.m., in her sleep.

The shooting was investigated by the chief ranger for Tiadaghton State Forest and the report transferred to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The hunter was to be cited for shooting on or across a highway, shooting at game near a road ($100-300 fine), damage to property (Betsy, a fine of $75-200), and damages ($1,700 veterinary bill). The hunter lost his license for one year.

I had a lot of trouble dealing with the representative from the game commission; I got the impression the game commission existed only to protect hunters. The representative I dealt with was difficult to contact; he said he was busy with bear season. He put me off when I requested copies of statements made by other hikers, a copy of the citation or his report of “damage by gunfire.” He never sent them, and kept losing the fax I sent him of the veterinary bill. I got the impression he knew the hunter, and I was dissatisfied with the penalties for killing Betsy. Also I hoped that a court case would set some sort of precedent someone could use in the future so that eventually hunting penalties would be more in line with the crimes committed.

I had trouble finding a lawyer — most said you could only sue for the price of the “property” –- but finally found someone who would sue for damages and infliction of emotional distress. The legal process was slow and stressful, with questionnaires, depositions, evaluations, pretrial meetings, jury selection and finally a settlement meeting. The hunter had hunting insurance and was represented by a team of lawyers from a Philadelphia firm. I took the settlement, not knowing at the time that a settlement could not be cited in a future brief.

I didn’t want the money from the settlement and decided to donate it to pet charities. I had planned to donate to the Petfinder Foundation, and when Orvis said it would match a donation, I sent in a check.


Gracie and Millie

I was devastated after Betsy died. It was hard to get up in the morning and get through the day. An animal communicator I contacted said there was a dog out there who needed me and Betsy would send me a dog, a collie with a white blaze down her nose and white under her chin and on her chest and belly.

I started looking at the dogs who needed homes on Petfinder and thought I would like to adopt two dogs someday, since two dogs was the most I thought I could handle, and young or older dogs and not puppies, since puppies find homes more easily. After a few weeks of looking, I found myself drawn to a collie mix at Collie Concern Rescue in Tennessee. I printed out her picture and kept looking at it several times during the day. Every morning I would look her up on Petfinder. Finally one day I called about her and found out she was born in March 2007, had been rescued from a shelter in August, and was now in foster care. I went through the application process and a few weeks later, just before the holidays, I drove down to Tennessee between snow and ice storms to bring her home with me. She was smaller than Betsy, about 35 lbs., with orange-brown fur, white on her chest, stomach and tail, and with a white blaze down her nose.

Gracie was a happy dog but she had lived with other dogs in her foster home and I thought she would like another dog in the family. In the spring I contacted Collie Concern Rescue and in July I adopted a sable and white rough collie who had been found wandering near someone’s home. They thought she was a young dog, a few years old. I picked her up in Allentown, PA, this time, meeting the dog transport from Tennessee there at 4:00 in the morning. Gracie and Millie got along really well right from the start, and both seemed to like having another dog around.

Gracie and Millie go for car rides, walks and hikes and play together or with their friends. Gracie is 5 this year and Millie maybe around 7 years old. Gracie is a high-energy dog, high-strung and bouncy, and Millie is calm and serene. They are my best friends and I hope we have many more years together.

Teresa with Gracie (left) and Millie


Check Out These Rescued Pups Immortalized on Fuzzy Nation Products!

You’ve still got through Friday to enter your dog in the Fuzzy Nation Super Model contest — and we’ll be picking weekly winners through Oct. 15 (that means five more lucky pet parents will be selected to win our awesome weekly prize package!)

These seven custom Fuzzy Nation products feature our weekly winners so far, selected at random — they’re all rescued dogs, and they all look amazing. Click each image to see the original entry photo and read each pooch’s story.

Austin and Olive








Want to enter for a chance to win one of these great custom Fuzzy Nation products for yourself … not to mention a $15,000 donation to the shelter or rescue group of your choice? Enter your dog in the Fuzzy Nation Super Model contest today!


Enter by Friday to Make Your Dog a Super Model; Win $15K for a Shelter!

Could your dog be a super model? Enter him or her into the 2012 Fuzzy Nation Super Model photo contest by Friday, Sept. 14, and you could win up to $15,000 for the shelter you adopted from — and have your pooch recreated in plush!


Last year’s winner, Francis, in plush

Submit your pet’s photo and story via Fuzzy Nation’s Facebook page. Our panel of celebrity judges (including Katherine Heigl!) will choose the top 100 entries; then the public will vote to determine the top three. Those winners will win these prizes:

  • 1st place: The Petfinder Foundation will give $15,000 to the shelter or rescue group from which the dog was adopted. Fuzzy Nation will create the pup’s plush likeness and use him or her in promotional materials in Macy’s stores. The dog will be featured in a “flip book” on Fuzzy Nation’s website. The winner will also receive one custom Fuzzy Nation item worth up to $120, plus a $300 gift certificate to
  • 2nd place: The Petfinder Foundation will give $3,000 to the shelter or rescue group from which the dog was adopted. The winner will also receive a $200 gift certificate to
  • 3rd place: The Petfinder Foundation will give $2,000 to the shelter or rescue group from which the dog was adopted. The winner will also receive a $100 gift certificate to


Francis in person

Weekly prizes: Each week, one entrant will be selected at random to win a prize pack worth up to $350 and containing:

  • A custom Fuzzy Nation product, such as a throw pillow or tote bag, featuring a print of your dog
  • A gift certificate to store, which offers apparel, jewelry and other items, all benefiting pet-adoption groups
  • Products such as dog shampoo or ear, nose and eye wipes from John Paul Pet, a pet-grooming company from the makers of Paul Mitchell salon products
  • Two tickets to SURF the Musical in Las Vegas, a new show featuring the music of the Beach Boys
  • A copy of the new book Little Boy Blue by journalist Kim Kavin, about her investigation into the history of her rescued dog, Blue

Our panel of celebrity judges includes:

  • Katherine Heigl – The Emmy-winning actress founded the animal-welfare organization The Jason Debus Heigl Foundation in 2008 with her mother, Nancy.
  • Kristin Hanggi – The director of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical Rock of Ages (now a movie starring Tom Cruise), Hanggi is now directing the new Las Vegas show SURF the Musical, featuring the songs of the Beach Boys.
  • John Paul DeJoria – In 1980, DeJoria co-founded Paul Mitchell Systems, the first hair-care company to publicly oppose animal testing. In 2005 he launched John Paul Pet, a line of pet grooming and hygiene products. He supports numerous animal-welfare organizations.
  • Kim Kavin – A journalist specializing in yacht and travel writing, Kavin is a longtime dog foster mom. Her book Little Boy Blue: A Puppy’s Rescue from Death Row and His Owner’s Journey for Truth will be published in August.
  • Betsy Saul – The co-founder of and chairman of the board of the Petfinder Foundation, Saul is also on the board of directors of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs and the board of overseers for Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

This is an amazing opportunity to gain some fame for your pet and help the shelter or rescue group that saved him or her in the process. Enter here today!

(Read about last year’s contest.)


A Damaged Kitten and Dog Get Second Chances

adopted cat


You can help us save more pets like Percy and Sport: Donate to the Petfinder Foundation today and Animal Planet will DOUBLE your gift!

Thanks to our partnership with Blue Sky Soda, we were able to give grants to shelters including the Marin Humane Society in Novato, CA. MHS grants manager Helen Cameron told us about two very special pets helped by our grant:

“At MHS, we’re in the happy endings business. And sometimes the path to those smiling conclusions can have unusual, expensive twists and turns. Such was the case with Percy, a kitten who came to us in a group of 13 kittens from an overwhelmed man who was concerned about their health. Percy’s condition was the most complex.

“One of his legs had been trapped in his twisted umbilical cord during birth, and was stunted and useless. And one of his eyes was too badly damaged to be restored. In addition to neuter surgery, our skilled veterinarians removed both the leg and the eye, allowing Percy to become a happy, healthy, adoptable little fellow. He spent some time in one of our loving volunteer foster homes while he recovered. We estimate that his extensive treatment would have cost more than $1,000 at a private veterinary hospital.

“Percy was next evaluated by a team of experienced MHS behavior and training professionals whose final verdict was ‘all-around great kitten.’ Fate continued to smile on him when a pair of registered veterinary technicians who live in San Francisco saw his adoption listing on our website and drove quickly across the bridge to meet him and take him home.

“‘Percy is awesome!’ his new guardian says. ‘He is sweet, loving, playful, curious, confident, moderately talkative and super-interactive. We have been looking for a long time for the right cat or kitten who would get along with and be respectful of our 3.5-lb. Chihuahua, and who would be happy as an indoor-only cat, and Percy is the right cat. We couldn’t be happier with him and feel lucky to have found him. We are so grateful this little guy was saved.’ ”

Helen also tells us the story of Sport, another pet with severe medical needs who was helped by our grant:


“Found wandering with multiple injuries after being hit by a car, Sport, a young Corgi mix, was rescued by an MHS officer and brought to the shelter, where he received first aid and surgery.

“In spite of multiple, serious injuries, Sport’s plucky personality came through, and he quickly became a favorite among the staff. Since no one came to claim him, he went for foster care to our special program at San Quentin prison.

Pen Pals pairs animals who need time to recover and/or be rehabilitated with specially selected low-security inmates who provide them with needed attention and encouragement. After about a month, Sport was healthy enough to return to our campus, where his new family found and adopted him.”


Photos and an Update on Our Hurricane Isaac Pets

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.]


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

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 (see the original post). Used with permission.

adoptable puppies

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!


Saving Gulf Coast Pets

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!


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

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:

adoptable dog

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.


Agility Course Is Just what an Energetic Shelter Dog Needed

agility course

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.