The Petco Foundation, in partnership with Petco, announced the 51 stories that earned their animal welfare organizations a grant award during the Petco Foundation’s sixth annual Holiday Wishes campaign. Since 2013, the Petco Foundation has awarded more than $3.4 million to animal welfare organizations across the nation during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign. Grants include a $100,000 grand prize and 50 finalist awards ranging from $5,000 – $50,000.
Thousands of pet adopters from every corner of the U.S. submitted stories about how their pet changed their life for the better. Each winning story earned the animal welfare organization where the pet was adopted from a Holiday Wishes grant. The adopter also receives a Petco shopping spree of up to $1,000.
“We want to thank all the pet adopters who shared their amazing stories, and we hope by celebrating some of these stories, others may be motivated to adopt a pet this holiday season,” said Susanne Kogut, Petco Foundation president. “It’s truly inspiring reading story after story about how the love from an adopted pet changed so many lives in different ways. And, for the adoption groups that make it all possible, well, it’s like a visit from Santa Claus delivering a Holiday Wishes grant award to support their year-round dedication and lifesaving work.”
The 2018 winning stories range from funny to inspiring to heartwarming. A few may even evoke a tear, but every one is a unique example of how the love of a pet can change everything.
Some of the selected stories include:
- Adopted Dog Helps Parkland Survivor Heal From Trauma: After surviving the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., 16-year-old Annagrace Myers wondered how she could ever feel safe or normal again. As therapy dogs arrived in Parkland, snuggling and calming anxious kids, Annagrace was reminded of how much she’d wanted a puppy. Her parents knew the time had come to give Annagrace her wish. The minute Annagrace met Auggie at the Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue, she fell in love with her. Auggie’s constant companionship helps Annagrace feel safe and ready to move forward.
- Boy Shares Special Bond with Bunny: Will Leclair has been obsessed with bunnies since he was three. What began with a bedraggled stuffed bunny and “playing bunnies” progressed to drawing bunnies, writing about bunnies, wearing bunny t-shirts and more. When he was eight and his love for bunnies hadn’t slowed, his parents decided it was time to bring home a real bunny from the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter. Now Oreo makes the family laugh every day and his antics delight school kids on his Instagram account: Oreo_the_fluffy_bunny.
- Formerly Homeless Dog Helps Homeless Family: Robert Dykema had everything when he adopted Meaty. But just two months later, Robert and his partner, along with Meaty, found themselves evicted … and homeless. With no one who would rent to them because of the eviction, and no homeless shelter nearby that would allow dogs, the small family was forced to live in their car. “Meaty kept us safe – with his keen ears, he always alerted us when someone was near our car. At night, temperatures dipped below freezing, and the only thing keeping me warm was Meaty lying on my chest,” explained Robert. But Robert felt terrible subjecting Meaty to that lifestyle and asked for help from Front Street Animal Shelter, where he adopted Meaty. Could they board Meaty for a short period of time until Robert could find a place to live? Front Street sent out a plea to the community to help. And they responded! Soon animal lovers came forward to help Meaty and his family. The community’s generosity helped the trio get back on their feet again and find a permanent home.
- Shelter Kitten Alerts Pet Parent of Low Sugar Levels: Reeka Carnline wasn’t planning to adopt another cat. But when she saw Merrick on the Facebook page of one of Austin Pets Alive’s foster families, something told her she had to have him. Immediately, Reeka and Merrick were inseparable. Then, something incredible happened. At just 12-weeks-old, Merrick began alerting Reeka, who has Type 1 Diabetes, when her blood sugar was falling too low in her sleep. “He cries; he licks and nibbles my lips, ears, and nose until I wake up,” Reeka wrote. “Merrick is a grey furry God-sent angel, and I do not know what I would do without him. He’s my miracle kitty.”
Holiday Wishes award celebrations will happen throughout the holiday season at Petco locations across the country.
All animal lovers can help make even more Holiday Wishes come true by voting for their favorite Holiday Wishes story at www.petcofoundation.org/holidaywishes. From now until December 19, 2018, the “People’s Choice Award” will allow the public to vote for their favorite winning story and give the top five organizations the chance to receive additional grant funding from $5,000 to $25,000. Results of “The People’s Choice Award” will be revealed before Christmas.
Animal lovers can join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtags #holidaywishes and #petcofamily. To learn more about the Petco Foundation’s lifesaving mission, visit www.petcofoundation.org.