A Girl with a Heart for Animals

The average person may find it difficult to stand up for something they are passionate about and make a difference—especially when people say they are too young or too old.  Eleven year old Casey didn’t let that stop her from listening to her heart and making the decision to help animals.  She wanted to put her efforts into volunteering at a shelter for her Girl Scout project, but was told by many shelters that she was at least 5 years too young. Despite being discouraged, Casey did not give up. With UHA’s help, Casey finally was allowed to pursue her goal of doing anything she could to make the lives of these animals better.  

Casey, Girl Scout Volunteer

Casey Volunteering at Glamour Shot Day

“For my Girl Scout Bronze Award project, I wanted to do something to help a dog rescue program.” Casey said. “Most of all the rescues or humane societies require volunteers to be 16 or 18.  When we took one of our  rescue dogs for a check-up at Montrose Pet Hospital, I asked Dr. Mitchell if she had any ideas about who I might be able to work with.

“She helped me find Claudia with United Hope for Animals. Claudia met with my mom and I to share ideas.  She thought that it was important to get the word out about the great dogs at the Baldwin Park Shelter, so I decided to make a flyer and post it around La Canada, La Crescenta, Montrose and Pasadena.  

“I also wanted to do something for the dogs, so I made treats for volunteers to give them on Glamour Shot day.  My parents volunteered to work at the adoption events at Petco so I could go along to help.”

The tragic statistics for animals admitted to the shelter added to Casey’s determination. Without a rescue group to advocate for them, many animals have a mere 4 days at the shelter before they are euthanized. This upsetting information fueled Casey’s desire to change the lives of these pets, and her efforts have grown to be much more than a single project.  

Armed with the knowledge she has gained working with UH4A, Casey wants other kids her age to fight for what they’re passionate about, no matter what. According to her mother, she has built valuable communication skills and her confidence in herself has grown.  

 Casey’s mom, Lisa, shares how this project has affected her daughter:

“It has been wonderful watching Casey find an avenue to share her passion about homeless animals.  She spent a lot of time online and with Claudia learning about how United Hope for Animals works.  Spending time at the Baldwin Park facility opened her eyes to the fact that there are many, many people who do not care as deeply as she does about their pets.  She was shocked by the number of people in line to surrender their animals.  

“Casey has become a true advocate for these animals.  She keeps track of the animals that are available and follows up to see who has been adopted or rescued.  She sends emails and talks to family and friends about the importance of spaying/neutering and adoption.  She even collected money for United Hope for Animals in lieu of birthday gifts this year.



“United Hope for Animals put Casey’s donation in use to help pay for Buster’s medical bills.  Buster is a lovable guy who was suffering from an easily-preventable infection of the anal glands.  Read more about Buster’s story here.

 “Casey plans to work on her Girl Scout Silver award this year through United Hope for Animals again.  She looks forward to becoming an official volunteer at the Baldwin Park Shelter when she turns 16.  Until then, she is determined to continue helping with the adoption events and raising awareness about the problem of homeless pets.  

“How many eleven year olds do you know who would ask for donations instead of presents for their birthday?  How many kids would spend so much of their time helping others?  Change always starts with one person listening to their heart.  It doesn’t matter who they are, how old they are, or where they come from.  In this case, the power and passion of one child has made a difference in the lives of so many animals in need.”

United Hope for Animals is proud to help Casey help animals in need.Thank you, Casey, for being such a terrific teammate of United Hope for Animals!

Buster’s Road to Recovery

Meet Buster, an irresistible 4-5 year old Sheltie mix and the latest recipient of United Hope for Animals’ Angel Fund, which is dedicated to helping shelter pets who need a little extra medical care in order to be adopted.

About two weeks ago, a picture of Buster circulating on Facebook caught the eye of UHA volunteer Menna Kearns. This one-of-a-kind boy – with his luxurious black and brown coat, adorably short legs, comical floppy ears, and kind-hearted eyes – was at the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center and seemed like a dream dog. As soon as Saturday rolled around, Menna and a fellow rescuer met up at the shelter to meet Buster (then called Mr. Beasley) – who turned out to be even more charming in person than his picture suggested.

“It was so obvious that this was possibly the sweetest, most mild-mannered pup in existence,” Menna says. “He is the embodiment of that warm giddiness you get when you see something really cute.”

With looks and a disposition like this, Buster was a prime candidate for adoption – a perfect family pet. There was just one problem.

“We noticed there was blood in the kennel, and thinking it was an injured paw pad or something minor, we considered leaving and telling the staff on the way out. But something made me stay,” Menna says.

That something turned Menna into Buster’s angel. The source of the blood was not a superficial wound, but ruptured anal sacs that had developed into a large and painful infection in need of immediate medical attention. Thanks to Menna’s hard work and the cooperation of the shelter, UHA was able to rescue Buster immediately and book him a same-day appointment with our vet.

With a couple of hours between leaving the shelter and the vet appointment, Menna took Buster home to hang out in her back yard.

“He proceeded to sniff around and get covered in leaves and cobwebs. I was amazed at how happy and grateful he was, despite the obvious pain he was in. He pranced when he walked and enjoyed taking in all the smells around him,” Menna says.

We are happy to report that Buster is now on the road to recovery. His infection required surgery to treat, and he is healing well in a foster home, where he is receiving lots of love and affection.

 “Buster is a cuddler and loves to be touched and to sleep next to you, if you invite him. He is house trained and has the most beautiful brown soulful eyes,” says his foster mom, Lorinda.

End Suffering by Preventing Suffering: Spay/Neuter!


Volunteer at the S/N ClinicMany Americans would be shocked to know that just a few short hours south of Los Angeles, land of movie stars and sunshine, dogs live on the streets, scavenging due to starvation, dying of preventable diseases, and reproducing at a rapid rate due to a lack of spay/neuter resources.  The local Mexican pounds, or Perreras, fill up endlessly as a result.

“The percentage of animals [in the Perreras] that are either adopted or claimed by their owners is negligible,” Marlene Revelen, President of Animal Advocates of the United States (AAUS) says.  This means that most pets who enter the Perrera don’t make it out alive. Between January and June of 2012, 22,399 dogs were euthanized in seven Baja Perreras (Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada, San Quintin, Nogales, Saltillo, and San Luis Colorado).

While over 22,000 dogs euthanized in a seven-month period points to a staggering problem — there is hope. One of the most effective means of ending suffering in the Perreras is preventing pets from ending up there in the first place.

Every month, United Hope for Animals teams up with AAUS, 4 Paws, and other individual sponsors to support a spay and neuter clinic in Baja, California. The clinic travels to areas where people do not have the financial means to alter their pets, and in doing so provides this needed service as well as pet-care education.

Dogs after surgeryThe clinic team is made up of about 30 volunteers and three veterinarians, who devote a Saturday or Sunday from 9 am to about 6 pm, performing as many spay/neuters as possible.

Laura Sandoval of AAUS reports that there hasn’t been much need of advertising the clinic, as people share information with their friends and family. Dog and cat owners who could not otherwise afford to pay for the surgery line up each month, and often only have rope, wire, or shoe laces to leash their dogs, Sandoval said.

In March, the clinic team surpassed its goal of 80 procedures when a record number of 111 pets were altered: 77 dogs and 34 cats!

United Hope for Animals was able to sponsor 40 of these surgeries, thanks to generous donations to our Spay and Neuter Program.

We hope to continue our regular support and even expand it, increasing the number of animals we can help each month. For just a $20 donation, which goes toward anesthesia, sutures, and other medical supplies, you can sponsor the spay or neuter of one pet and prevent the suffering of thousands more.

With your help, there is hope. Please consider donating here!


Volunteer with puppyFamily after clinic

Corso the Wonder Dog

It wasn’t long after we brought home our Italian greyhound puppy that we started calling him “Corso, the Wonder Dog.” What a charmer. I was smitten.

But when Corso had his first seizure three years later, I was scared.

He was in the car with my husband and suddenly started flapping around, “like paddling a rowboat with his hind legs and front legs,” Steve told me. Corso didn’t answer to his name, nor did he seem aware of his surroundings.

Our veterinarian’s office just happened to be nearby, and when Steve arrived Corso was calm and responsive. But when the vet came into the examining room, Corso was just coming out of a second, milder attack. Good thing I wasn’t there.

The vet looked Corso over, gave him a shot to prevent another immediate seizure and ordered blood work to see if the attacks might have been caused by something other than a misfiring brain — kidney or liver disease, or diabetes, for example. The tests, however, confirmed our worst fear: Corso had canine epilepsy, likely inherited and incurable.

We learned that if the seizures recurred only intermittently, we would just need to keep him safe until they stopped. In more serious cases, when seizures become as frequent as once a month or more, there is a risk of brain damage and anti-convulsive medicine is required. Corso turned out to be in the latter group.

Corso wasn’t a rescue or a shelter dog. We wanted an Italian greyhound puppy and made a decision to go through a breeder. And we got a dog with seizures. Of course, rescue and shelter dogs can have seizures too. But here’s the thing: Canine epilepsy like Corso’s can’t be cured, but with the right medication, most cases can be managed and the dogs can live otherwise normal, happy and active lives.

It’s true. Corso the epileptic IG just celebrated his 12th birthday.

Corso takes Phenobarbital twice a day and rarely has seizures more than once or twice a year, and that’s usually because he managed to dig the tiny pill out of his food dish and hid it somewhere. Ever the Wonder Dog, he is playful, impish, flirtatious, and dedicated to ridding the neighborhood of cats and squirrels. He travels with us, loves the beach, loves to run, adores playing with fluffy white dogs and buries treats (for later) in the sofa or under my pillow. Come by and you’ll find him snuggled up close to me n what I can only described as doggy bliss. Now that’s a happy and active life.

Here’s what the Canine Epilepsy Network website, which is sponsored by the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, says about living with an epileptic pet:

Most epileptic pets can live relatively normal lives. We can successfully control epilepsy in over 2/3 of the cases. These dogs may require daily medication, but they can still run and play and love. Even the best controlled epileptic will still have some seizures, but usually we can keep their occurrence down to a tolerable level. The number of dogs who have serious side effects from the medications is very small. Some may experience sedation, but this does not prevent them from being loving companions. They don’t need to stay awake in class or behind the wheel, so if they need an extra nap in the afternoon, who cares!

Yes, even one of those rare seizures still frightens me, but when you get the kind of love and companionship – and, in our case, entertainment – that dogs provide, it’s worth it.