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Angel Pets: Treating Pets with Chronic Health Conditions

Robin Robertson Starr


A winning program in the 2007 Maddies Fund Marketing Competition submitted by Richmond SPCA.

Mr. Richard Avanzino
Maddies Fund
2223 Santa Clara Avenue, Ste. B
Alameda, CA 94501

Dear Mr. Avanzino:

The Richmond SPCA is grateful to have the opportunity to apply for a Maddies Fund marketing campaign grant. Founded in 1891, the Richmond SPCA is a no-kill humane society that saves the lives of more than 3,000 homeless animals each year and cares for approximately 350-400 dogs and cats every day. As a national leader in humane care and education, the Richmond SPCA is aggressively tackling the problem of pet overpopulation through programs of pet-retention, adoption, humane education, pet rehabilitation and spay/neuter.

Guided by the principle that every life is precious, we are dedicated to finding permanent, loving and responsible homes for all the animals who enter our center. This includes the adoption of animals with chronic health conditions. Since 2002, the Richmond SPCA has faithfully operated as a no-kill humane organization. As a no-kill facility, we are committed to providing the lifesaving medical care necessary to rehabilitate severely sick animals. Oftentimes this requires providing ongoing care for chronic illnesses that our veterinary staff discovers. Pets who weve identified to have a lifelong ailment or a condition that will require several months or years of treatment and follow-up care may appear less desirable to adopters due to the costs involved. To address this problem, and to decrease the length of shelter stay of harder-to-place wonderful pets, we formed the Angel Pets program.

Angel Pets are animals who suffer from a chronic yet treatable health condition. While the pet is at the Richmond SPCA, we provide all the care that is necessary to ensure that the dog or cats health condition is managed effectively. In our adoption areas, a brief description of the specific pet and his or her condition is provided, and our adoption counselors provide details of the animals history with potential adopters. Through the Angel Pets program, the Richmond SPCA agrees to continue to provide the care needed by the pet for his or her identified chronic illness or illnesses at our cost for the life of the pet. This includes special dietary food, medications and testing. Our staff will also coordinate the services we provide with the pets new veterinarian. Communicating the benefits of this program to potential adopters often serves as a real motivator and incentive to adoption since they no longer need to take on a new pet with a potentially very expensive long-term medical condition.

In 2006 and 2007 alone we have housed a total of 325 Angel Pets in our center. Of these, only ten animals are currently at our shelter awaiting adoption. Common ailments of our Angel Pets include heartworms, hypo- and hyperthyroid, broken bones that require continued care, Demodex, Ehrlichia and Lyme disease, chronic allergies, tumors that require monitoring, liver disease, diabetes, bladder stones, dry eyes, Cushings disease, hip dysplasia and related arthritis, severe herpes, separation anxiety, heart murmurs, pancreatic insufficiency, seizure disorders, FIV, and more. The stories of our Angel Pets draw special and caring families who are interested in helping pets in great need to our center. We often feature our Angel Pets as guests on weekly television and radio spots, which provides us with an outlet to promote the program and the wonderful pets in need of homes. Angel Pets are also featured prominently on our Web site with a special Angel icon.

To ensure that our pets with special medical needs are not overlooked by potential adopters, we often place these pets in prominent and cozy living spaces in our shelter. Dogs are housed in living rooms with furniture, wall murals and decorations made by the children in our education programs and cats live in large habitats placed in the most visible lobby areas toward the front of our center.

We are extremely grateful to the hundreds of families who have adopted our Angel Pets, providing loving and caring homes for these special friends. The Angel Pets program has allowed nearly all of our pets with special medical needs to be adopted and we are heartened to see such great success as a result of this program.

Enclosed you will find examples of the materials we use to market our Angel Pets, including our Angel Pet Form and Angel Pet Web page. We greatly appreciate your consideration of a grant for our Angel Pets marketing effort. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.


Robin Robertson Starr
Chief Executive Officer

The Maddies Fund Marketing Competition was for members, and the purpose was to find effective marketing strategies for adopting hard to place dogs and cats.

The Maddie’s Fund mission and purpose is to help the nation’s most needy dogs and cats that, for one reason or another, have ended up in animal shelters. Established in 1999, the foundation awards millions of dollars through grants to animal welfare coalitions to end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats.

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