A New Mom for Nigel

Nigel & Elyse

Nigel & Elyse

When Elyse was finally ready to own her first dog, she was excited to give a loving home to a pup in need.  She was very interested in adopting, but overwhelmed by the task of choosing the right pet, so she contacted United Hope for Animals for assistance.  We helped her find a great match from among the 350 dogs available for adoption every day at the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center.


Ready for a hike

Ready for a hike!



There is a large variety of all ages, sizes and breeds in LA shelters, and Elyse couldn’t wait to begin her search to find her own perfect pet.  After falling in love over and over again, she was able to narrow down her selection to four suitable companions, with the help of UHA Program Director Laura Knighten.  While each of the dogs she singled out for an individual visit were special, she just kept coming back to Casper, now renamed Nigel.  He stole her heart once and for all, and by the sound of their life together, she has stolen his!

 Elyse tells us a little about her experience finding Nigel:

“For my entire adult life, I’ve wanted a dog more than just about anything. Last Thanksgiving was finally the right time, so I visited the Baldwin Park Shelter and met with UHA Program Director Laura Knighten. I probably fell in love 50 times, but Nigel (then “Casper”) was the young dog that really stole my heart. Watching him proudly chase a tennis ball around the visiting yard was hilarious and charming. Since coming home, Nigel has been loving, sweet, sometimes frustrating, and always entertaining. He loves to hike, sleep in odd places and hang out with Charles, my parents’ rescue dog. We have a good thing going, Nigel and I. It’s cheesy but true: Nigel changed my life for the better and I’m thankful for him every day.”

Nigel sleeping

Sleepy Nigel


Nigel & BFF Charles

With his BFF Charles

Senior Rescue: Milo and Shep’s Story

Shep's Glamour Shot

While United Hope for Animals volunteers fall in love many times over with the adorable, affectionate, and comical sheltered dogs we work with on our Glamour Shot Days, each event brings one story that especially touches the hearts of volunteers.

On our May 26th event at the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center, UHA volunteers met Milo and Shep, 13-year-old Lab brothers who had been surrendered by their former owner because they were too old.

UHA volunteer Jana describes meeting Milo and Shep: “When my fellow volunteer and I entered the kennel to take them out, we were deeply saddened. When they tried to stand, they would slip [due to arthritis] and it took about four of us to get them out.”

In spite of their difficulty walking, the brothers exuded sweetness and affection and mustered the strength to walk over to be photographed. Not deterred by the sadness of the situation, Jana set to work the next day with the help of the gentle brothers’ Glamour Shots and video to find a loving place for them to land.

Milo and Shep have beaten the odds faced by most senior pets surrendered to shelters, and have found a foster home with Labradors and Friends in San Diego, where they are being showered with love and cheese burgers.

Milo's Glamour Shot

Jana spoke with Milo and Shep’s foster parents this week and reports, “Milo and Shep are both very old and not in the best shape, so we are not sure how long they are for this world. But be assured that they will be loved until it is time for them to go and in that moment there will be someone to hold and comfort them.”

Advocacy for homeless senior pets is never easy. In addition to being emotionally difficult, rescuing senior pets brings the challenges of higher medical costs and concerns that older pets may not be adoptable.

 “While these are valid concerns,” Jana says, “I have come to believe that rescuing senior and ill dogs, no matter how close to the end they are, is one of the most important things we can do. We don’t know what their lives were before the shelter. Hopefully they had love, but if not and they perish at the shelter then it is a total loss. If we are able to rescue these animals and give them love, if even for a day, it is well worth it.”


Success for Pebbles


Pebbles' glamour shotUnited Hope for Animals volunteer Mary met eight pound, four year old Pebbles while helping out at a Glamour Shot Day at Baldwin Park, and set the ball rolling for a new life for a deserving dog. She witnessed an unresponsive creature, seemingly petrified of any human attention. Upon grooming the seriously matted malti-poo, Mary discovered an indentation around her neck resembling a noose, which sadly has turned out to be a permanent mark of her past experience. When Mary offered to foster Pebbles until a permanent home could be found, United Hope for Animals set the ball in motion to rescue her from the shelter.

  Watch Pebbles’ adoption video.

Here is Mary’s account of her first interactions with Pebbles:

“Once I was finished and took her outside to go through the photo and video process, she started looking very scared and overwhelmed. Her eyes are different in that much of the whites of her eyes show. Reminded me of how rabbits show the whites of their eyes when they’re frightened. All of these things are what drew me to her. There was just something very ‘sad’ about her. There was no question that I had to get her out of shelter and foster her.”

Pebbles with foster mom, Mary


During the first week in her foster home, Pebbles began showing signs of illness by refusing to eat and becoming very lethargic. She was immediately hospitalized after being diagnosed with pneumonia. Fortuitously, this turn of events happened to provide the opportunity for Montrose Vet Hospital client Dr. Claire and her family to meet the charming, fluffy, little dog they had been dreaming of, and for Pebbles to meet the perfect family for her!


Happily, Pebbles found a forever home with people who love and adore her. They are already seeing improvement in her fearful behaviours. She arrived clearly terrified of men, but patience and compassion is slowly winning her over, and allowing her to have a relationship built on trust with every member of her new family.                                               

Mary records a milestone for Pebbles:With her new sis

“Whenever they would put Pebbles in the husband’s lap she would take her paw and press it against his chest and pull back to get her face as far away from him as possible, with those whites of her eyes showing. She doesn’t do that any more either.”

While she is still a shy little girl, showing evidence of ill treatment in the past, they are hopeful that she will continue to heal. Especially attached to Dr. Claire, she has the rare luck to be able to go to work with her favorite person. She also has been enjoying the freedom of racing around a spacious back yard and often bringing the enthusiastic playfulness indoors!


Mary recently visited her former foster pup and saw her settled and blossoming in her new home. Without the teamwork of a group of individuals who strive to save and improve the lives of unwanted and abandoned pets, Pebbles would have been another anonymous soul passing through the system. She has found hope through the heart of a foster mom, health through the care of medical professionals, and a lifetime of happiness through a family committed to nurture and protect her.

Pebbles with her new familyPlaying in her new back yard

UHA In the News!

Laura Knighten

United Hope for Animals has really grown in the last couple of years and a writer at the Examiner has taken notice. Laura Knighten, the director of UHA’s Shelter Support Program, was interviewed recently about her role in the organization, and about the challenges ahead for UHA and the dogs we help get rescued.

Here is an excerpt from Laura’s interview:

We partner with high-intake shelters and facilitate adoptions and rescues through a few private events. One is Glamour Shot Day. Professional photographers volunteer their time to photograph and make videos of the dogs. Our volunteers groom the dogs, set up tents and backdrops, and handle the dogs for the photos and videos. The Glamour Shots get people’s attention, and the videos show each dog interacting, so you get a good sense of the dog’s personality and temperament.

Volunteers write the descriptions of the dogs and work behind the scenes afterward to upload the profiles to websites. Adoption coordinators volunteer to facilitate adoptions and rescues and connect people to the right shelter pet. Our philosophy is that there are a lot of great dogs and a lot of great homes, but not every dog is the right fit for every home. We try to match the right person with the right dog. It can be overwhelming if you go into a shelter and you aren’t familiar with the environment. You see hundreds of dogs and you don’t know which one is the one for you. 

To read more of Laura’s interview, on the Examiner.com website here