The Petco Foundation, in partnership with Petco, today revealed the names of 54 animal welfare organizations receiving grant funding through the annual Holiday Wishes campaign. This year, a total of $750,000 in grants will be awarded—including one $100,000 grand prize and a series of finalist awards ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to support the tremendous lifesaving efforts carried out by these deserving organizations year-round.
Nominations were solicited from adopters who put forth their favorite animal welfare groups for Holiday Wishes grant consideration by sharing personal accounts of how their adopted pet changed their lives. To help spread the goodwill, nominators of the winning stories will also receive a Petco gift card. This year, more than 5,000 stories were submitted, up 3,000 from last year.
“We were amazed by the wonderful stories shared by adopters during this year’s Holiday Wishes campaign. Each story perfectly illustrates how a pet’s love changes everything—ranging from a small update to one’s personal routine or a larger impact on your sense of perspective,” said Susanne Kogut, executive director of the Petco Foundation. “That’s why at the Petco Foundation we’re thrilled to celebrate that love with the individuals and families who shared their experiences with us as well as the animal welfare organizations who work so hard year-round to save lives.”
While the stories range from inspiring, to humorous and even a few lifesaving narratives, each celebrates how these adopted pets have positively changed and enriched the nominators’ lives. Following are a few of the finalist “Holiday Wishes” campaign submissions:
- “Just a Girl and Her Dog” Find Joy in Just Being Together: Nominator Jamie Merideth highlights the story of her dog, Lester, who came to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society abused and afraid of everyone. Since Jamie adopted Lester, they have found joy in being together and have found peace in the outdoors. As she wrote in her story, “In this great big place, it’s him and I now, just a girl and her dog taking on all the ins and outs that life will no doubt throw our way.”
- Dog Gives Young Boy Special Gift of Friendship: Katherine Scardasis’ inspiring story shares how her family’s adopted dog, Lexi, has greatly enhanced the life of her son Johnny who was born with severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Lexi, a rescue dog, was adopted from the Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue of Houston and in turn has helped rescue Johnny. She shared, “Lexi enhanced his life by giving him the gift of a special friendship, for they share an unconditional love and understanding for each other that does not need words. She makes him laugh, always lifting his spirits. Lexi instinctively knew our son needed a best friend to make him happy, just as she, and so many other special dogs, need a forever pal too.”
- Pit Bull Rescued from Fighting Ring Becomes Cover Girl for Chocolate Bar: Sarah Feoli reveals how after adopting her pit bull Mocha from the Foster Dogs NYC organization, she found direction in her life. After a truncated career as a ballet dancer, Sarah was adrift but soon found purpose after adopting her dog. She decided to combine her love of pets and chocolate into a thriving business – Rescue Chocolate, which donates all its net profits to animal rescue organizations around the country. Sarah relayed, “Now, more than six years later, I have a thriving company that has partnered with hundreds of animal rescue groups around the country to raise money and awareness. I have a meaningful career and a friend for life.”
For the first time, the Petco Foundation is also inviting animal lovers to play a larger role in fulfilling Holiday Wishes. From now until December 31, 2016, fans can read all finalist stories and vote for their favorites to win the “People’s Choice Award” at petco.com/holidaywishes. The five organizations with the most votes will receive additional funding ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to support their lifesaving work. Results of the “People’s Choice Award” will be revealed in January.
Animal lovers can also join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using the campaign hashtag #HolidayWishes.