With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we wanted to share a very touching letter Phinney’s recently received from Elizabeth, a woman who, along with her pets, we have had the pleasure of helping over the years. We are also furever grateful to Elizabeth who has opened her heart up to being a cat mom to a bunch of kitties when they needed her most. We hope you will enjoy hearing Elizabeth’s inspiring words as much as we have.
And, we want to wish all the moms out there—whether your kids have hands and feet, paws and tails, feathers and beaks, or scales and gills—a Happy Mother’s Day!
Dear Phinney’s Friends,
I have been so, so lucky in the past 15 or so years to have had the good fortune to be associated with Phinney’s Friends. Not only has Phinney’s taken care of my many veterinarian bills, often for unexpected reasons or emergencies, but I am so grateful for the MANY older cats that Phinney’s have entrusted me with so they could happily live out their days with comfort and with love.
The cats have for the most part have been someone’s beloved pet but have been left without a home most often due to the owners illness or death. They come frightened and confused at their loss, but soon settle in and I believe they are grateful and thankful that they are here.
My apartment is small but these kitties feel safe and quickly are contented members of my small family. When the weather is appropriate they enjoy the fully fenced in small porch where they bask in the sun and play catch the shadows. What a joy to watch them.
My current “child” is Oliver, a very special ginger tabby who is very talkative and asks for his food, for me to come to bed at night, or especially for his nightly brushing, a ritual he enjoys almost every night.
Again, thanks Phinney’s for allowing me the privilege of caring for these very special cats. Be assured they are well loved.
In fiscal year 2020, Phinney’s volunteers responded to roughly 1,200 requests for help over the phone, via email, and through social media!
A typical assignment for a Phinney’s volunteer might include finding foster care for pets whose people are injured or sick, delivering pet food and supplies, walking dogs, or patiently listening to someone who just needs to talk through how they’ll manage their pet’s quality of life despite the challenges they face.
A lot of the time, all it takes is some words of encouragement and helping a pet parent come up with a plan. There are times when the solution is for Phinney’s to pay a costly vet bill or foster the pet for days, weeks, or months to make sure a beloved pet doesn’t have to be surrendered. And, everything Phinney’s volunteers do is in furtherance of this mission to extend a helping hand to pet parents in need.
There’s also a lot of “behind the scenes” work that goes on, too. There are many opportunities to contribute to areas like public relations, photography, graphic design, web development, writing content, marketing, fundraising, and event planning. We have also had licensed accounting and tax, legal, and veterinary professionals donate their time to help ensure that our business practices meet applicable financial reporting and legal and regulatory requirements.
“Phinney’s volunteers have such unique and diverse skillsets and interests and getting to know what they would like to do and then seeing them do it is really an inspiration,” says President Daniela Caride, who herself started out as a volunteer with the organization in 2007. “As an all-volunteer nonprofit, we can 100% say that it is because of our volunteers that we are able to continually serve pets and their people here in Massachusetts.”
But, COVID has put a strain on Phinney’s resources. “We know there are a lot more people out there struggling because they lost their jobs, got sick from COVID, or need to care for someone who’s ill, and we want to be able to help as many of them as possible,” Daniela said. “Bigger demand for Phinney’s services means we could really use more volunteers who want to contribute as case coordinators,” she added. The role requires someone who’s organized and who’s up for the challenge of helping people come up with solutions to address their concerns. This can be a very rewarding because it takes courage and creativity and gives the volunteer the chance to be involved with a particular person and their pet(s) from the start when they reach out for help straight through the resolution of the issue, Daniela says.
If you or someone you know would like to volunteer with Phinney’s, please visit phinneys.org/volunteer. To everyone who’s ever answered the call to become involved in community service, Phinney’s thanks you! And, of course, we’d like to dedicate this Bark Tweet Meow to our amazing volunteers and our volunteer social media manager, Erika, who shared with us a sweet photo of her and Mack, her beloved dog, for this post!
One VOLUNTEEr's Why
“As a dog mom myself, I would do anything to keep my pup safe, healthy and happy. Last year it became clear this pandemic was going to stick around for a while, I began looking for ways to give back to the community and help ensure other families and their pets had the support they needed during this difficult time. The more I learned about Phinney's, the more I wanted to become part of this important group of volunteers that is doing such incredible work right here in my own backyard.”
—Erika, Social Media Manager Volunteer
When thinking about what charities to give to it's important to have confidence that what you're giving is valued and is being put to good use.
1) Look up tax returns on the IRS website. By law, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits must make their exemption application and annual tax returns available for public inspection, and they are all online on the IRS website. Search for the charity of your choice here: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search. Phinney's, for instance, lists its tax exempt number at the bottom of its homepage for easy lookup.
2) Check the organization’s website or other marketing materials to see their mission, and then research if their expenditures align. One way to find out if things line up is to request a nonprofit’s annual report. Many nonprofits feature them on their website. Phinney’s Annual Report provides a succinct way for us to share important information on the good we do.
Phinney’s most recent (2019-2020) Annual Report notes that our volunteers responded to approximately 1,200 requests for help over the phone, via email, or through social media. We paid $61,501 toward vet visits for ill pets and an additional $25,983 on annual pet wellness checks, tests, and medications. We also spent $23,499 on pet supplies for dozens of families in need, which equals about seven tons of food! In all, 71.4% of Phinney’s expenditures went to veterinary care, 19.2% paid for pet supplies, and we spent just 5% and 4.4% on operational and fundraising costs, respectively.
3) Check to see if others recognize the nonprofit’s contributions. Sites like GreatNonProfits, which curates client, volunteer, and community endorsements, can provide a treasure trove of reviews and other insights into how volunteers, donors, and others within the community view a nonprofit.
Recently, Great NonProfits recognized Phinney’s as a Top-Rated NonProfit for 2021. We are so honored (and moved!) by the stories donors and volunteers have shared about their experiences with Phinney’s. To read their stories, visit Great NonProfits.
What’s above isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but following these steps can go a long way toward ensuring that you’re giving with confidence to a cause.
Phinney’s recently helped little Layla get emergency bladder stone surgery. Layla is an eight-year-old Yorkie-Shih Tzu mix, who lives with her dad, Warren.
Layla had been diagnosed with hematuria—blood in the urine—and despite two different antibiotics, her symptoms persisted. She was also in a lot of pain from a huge bladder stone that was discovered during an urgent-care vet visit. The vet also suspected Layla had a urinary tract infection (UTI) and recommended emergency surgery to remove the bladder stone and perform a workup for her UTI.
Warren reached out to Phinney’s for financial help. With our assistance, Warren was able to get Layla the care she needed through Angell at Nashoba. There Layla underwent surgery to remove the bladder stone and had the UTI treated. Since the surgery, she has been doing great. She doesn’t have any blood in her urine and she’s “very playful,” Warren says, adding that he couldn’t have done this without Phinney’s help. Warren tells Phinney’s he is so grateful for the financial assistance to be able to help Layla.
More on Bladder Stones & UTIs
There are many causes and varieties of bladder stones in pets. Some can be quite serious while others can resolve on their own. For instance, struvite stones may be due to chronic bacterial infections, which can be common in female dogs. Calcium oxalate stones may form due to a kidney condition and can be more common in male dogs and cats And, another form--ammonium biurate stones--tend to form when a pet has liver disease.
Despite the variations of stones, the signs are all similar and include straining to urinate, passing blood-tinged urine, frequent urination, and having urinary accidents in the house.
If your pet is straining to urinate or not urinating at all this can be very serious and should not be ignored. Treatment includes a prescription diet and antibiotics or in some cases surgery to remove the stone. With the proper treatment the prognosis is good.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) usually refer to bacterial infections of any or all parts of the urinary tract, but they most commonly involve the urinary bladder. UTIs are common in dogs, especially females, and cats who are older than 10 years of age.
Signs of a UTI include urgency and frequent urination (pollakiuria). Other symptoms may include blood in urine, straining to urinate, foul-smelling urine, urination in inappropriate places, inability to hold urine, and urinating small volumes or not passing any urine while posturing to urinate. Your vet will need to test the urine to determine whether there is an infection and will provide antibiotics as they see fit.
The above content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as any type of specific medical or other advice. Always consult with a licensed veterinarian with specific questions or concerns about your pet(s).
Joy, a 10-year-old fluffy feline beauty, was diagnosed with feline hyperthyroidism in August 2020. She was immediately placed on medication to help control her thyroid, which was getting worse due to a pre-existing heart condition.
But shortly after, the vet learned Joy was allergic to the meds and was placed on a no-iodine diet, which unfortunately was not effective.
By October 2020, it became evident that the last resort to save Joy was I-131 radiation iodine treatment. That’s when Joy’s pet parent, who was experiencing a financial crisis due to COVID, reached out to Phinney’s for help.
In December 2020, Phinney’s helped pay for Joy’s I-131 radioactive iodine therapy treatment—an overall effective but costly treatment designed to destroy tumor cells causing an abnormal amount of thyroid hormone production.
Joy’s Road to Recovery
Joy’s hyperthyroidism was putting stress on other organs, which can be one of several serious consequences to feline hyperthyroidism along with weight loss, elevated heart rate, heart murmurs, and arrhythmias, according to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Since Joy already had heart disease, the vet was hopeful that a course of I-131 radiation iodine treatment could make a positive impact on her quality of life.
So, off Joy went to Angell Animal Medical Center (Angell). And the treatment, which Angell states generally has a 95 to 98 percent success rate, worked for Joy. A recent recheck showed her thyroid levels are now normal. “You saved her life,” Joy’s pet parent wrote in a note to Phinney’s. “I’m truly grateful,” she added.
A Closer Look at I-131 Treatment
Joy was hospitalized for a few days on a limited-access ward staffed by personnel especially trained to work with the radioactive materials. The space was equipped with high-flow air ventilation, similar to that in a surgical suite, designed to minimize the risk of upper respiratory infection spread. There is a chance that another I-131 treatment or thyroid supplements may be needed if a cat’s normal thyroid function does not return within three to six months after the iodine treatment. But given Joy’s prognosis, it’s unlikely she will need it, according to the vet.
Many smaller dog breeds like wearing doggy coats on top of their already furtabulous coats. But why?
For starters, smaller dogs often have a harder time retaining heat in the winter months. They also have shorter legs, and depending on body type, their bellies may hang closer to the cold ground while out for their walks. Also, many toy and small breeds, like Chihuahuas, Toy Poodles, Italian Greyhounds, and Yorkshire Terriers have thin fur, and need an extra layer for warmth when it’s cold out, Pet MD reports.
And, let’s not forget about those Miniature Pinschers, either! Take Griffin, a sweet MinPin who loves to model the latest doggy fashion trends and burrow in blankets every chance he gets.
Griffin recently underwent emergency surgery to amputate a back leg after he fell off the bed, but his 3-legged status hasn't cramped his fashion style. Following his surgery, which was made possible through donations made to Phinney’s, Griffin has been just as much as of a dog-gone fashionista as he was before his accident.
Recently, Tina even received made-to-order doggy coats from CozyCoatsPDX, an Etsy store that designs coats and fashion pieces for small dogs like Griffin. The business owner, Jennifer Wetherell, who donated through Phinney’s toward Griffin’s care, said that dogs with special needs deserve special attention and care put into their clothing.
"They need to be warm and protected, and they deserve the best fit possible," said Jennifer, who takes a lot of pride in her craft.
It’s great to hear that dogs with physical challenges like Griffin can get the doggy coats they need to stay warm and comfortable. Nothing like creativity and drive!
In January 2021, Griffin, an adorable Miniature Pinscher rescued in 2015 from a high-kill shelter in Connecticut, shattered his back leg when jumping out of bed. Given the severity of the injury, Griffin’s leg had to be amputated.
The surgery was expensive, but Tina, Griffin's mom was determined to make sure he got the emergency care he needed. As the organizer of a Miniature Pinscher Facebook group, Tina posted about Griffin's problem and, within moments, people started messaging Tina asking how they could help.
Tina asked Phinney’s to accept donations on Griffin’s behalf. We were happy to help, and donations poured in. Within 48 hours, Griffin had the funds to cover his surgery, a new larger crate, and all his medical expenses.
“The big crate is a godsend,” Tina said, explaining that she can’t let him on the bed just yet while he’s healing. “I put a pillow and fluffy blankets in it and bought an air mattress so I could sleep next to him in the living room,” she added.
Having his mom close by is surely a comfort to sweet little Griffin, whose beautiful golden eyes continually capture Tina’s heart. Following surgery, Tina said Griffin was a bit depressed, but then suddenly, he “snapped out of it and started tearing round on his 3 legs and figuring out how to do the things he's always done.”
We'll bet Griffin is super grateful for everyone’s care and concern! And, in addition to being spoiled by his doting dog mom, he’s recovering very well, Tina said.
"I love this furry little goofball," said Tina, remarking on how much he loves wearing the latest doggy fashions. She is so grateful for all the help she has received, and Phinney’s is so glad to help.
We wish Griffin many happy and healthful days playing with his toys and snuggling under warm blankets — one of his favorite pastimes — and modeling his favorite doggy fashions, too, of course! And, to see a really fabluous picture of Griffin in his dapper dubs check out this additional post on why small dogs can benefit from dog coats and blankets.
When cats do those gargantuan stretches, they're actually improving blood flow and getting their muscles loose and ready to move so they're ready to run, jump, pounce, or play whenever they decide to!
According to Cornell’s Center for Materials Research, a cat’s limber spine is the reason behind those graceful and acrobatic escapades. The ability to easily move, contort, and bend also contributes to a cat’s momentum when running—and regular stretching aids in these phenomenal feline abilities.
And, research shows that regular stretching is beneficials to humans, too. According to an article by Harvard Health Publishing, stretching is a mechanism for protecting independence and mobility, one Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital physical therapist remarked.
Stretching is also a way to keep our muscles strong, flexible, and healthy. And, one way to work stretching into your regular well-being practices is to practice yoga. In addition to improving strength and balance, yoga promotes flexibility, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports. Yoga can also help with anxiety, chronic illness, and depression, Mayo Clinic research shows.
So, the next time you see a cat stretch, think about how a good extension of your limbs could benefit you, too! And, if you would like to learn how to stretch like a cat join Phinney's for MeowMaste: Do Yoga with Cats! on March 28 from 7 – 8 p.m. EDT. This livestream hatha yoga class to benefit pets in need features instructor Tara Barile and cute, cuddly feline yogis.
Space is limited, so if you would like to participate, we urge you to register soon.
Broozer Bob is like any other cat — he likes to play and to be petted and let us not forget sleep! But, he also has feline diabetes, and it can get difficult for a low-income pet parent to manage the frequent medical costs associated with this disease.
Generally, there are two ways to control feline diabetes: One is insulin, which can cost around $150 per bottle and usually needs to be purchased every six to eight weeks. And two, prescription food, which runs around $50 for an 8-pound bag, which may last around six weeks.
This is where Phinney’s Friends can provide support. Through donations from generous people, we are able to help low-income pet parents take the stress out of figuring out how to pay for medical supplies like the insulin and needles Broozer Bob needs to control his feline diabetes.
Ann Marie, Broozer Bob’s pet parent, recently sent a lovely thank you note expressing her gratitude for Phinney’s help in caring for Broozer Bob’s. We’re so happy to play a role in allowing him to live out a happy life alongside Ann Marie.
More on Feline Diabetes
Feline diabetes can affect any cat but risk factors that increase a cat's risk of feline diabetes include obesity and inactivity. Male cats also tend to be at a higher risk. Some warning signs to look for are weight loss, increased appetite, increased thirst, excessive urination, changes in gait, difficulty jumping, vomiting, and lethargy. If you think your cat might be showing signs of feline diabetes, contact your vet.
While a short month, February certainly has a lot going on. It's National Pet Dental Health Month as well as National Cat Health Month. And since cats need a clean mouth as much as any other pet, we are giving our pet’s dental health special attention.
Why Dental Health Is Important
It's so important to be on top of what's going on in your pet’s mouth. In between regular veterinary visits, look out for signs of gum disease. This can include red gums, yellow teeth, and stinky breath. Any of these could be a sign of serious oral disease that could lead to larger health issues if left untreated.
And the other way around is also true! Improving your pet’s dental hygiene can improve his overall health. So if you are starting later in your pet's life, no problem. Your care will have an impact for the better.
Simple Things You Can Do
Brush your pet’s teeth daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove any food particles and prevent tartar buildup and plaque deposits. Only use toothpaste specially formulated for pets.
If you feel brushing your pet’s teeth is impossible, the second best is to provide her with certain treats and food that promote dental cleaning. Starting to get your pet used to brushing slowly and gently is key, so they will love it or not mind it throughout his life.
And hey, even though we are recognizing dental health this month, don’t give up in March! LOL. Do it all year long, and your pet will be healthier and love you for it.