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Feed the pet or buy the medication?
by Matt Menicucci - For the Tribune
Feb 09, 2010 | 1294 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href= mailto:dreid@dailysparkstribune.com>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - The Shakespeare Animal Fund helped with the cost of vet care for Phillip Howard's dog Chuy. "They (the SAF) are a dog saver," Howard, 70, said.
Tribune/Debra Reid - The Shakespeare Animal Fund helped with the cost of vet care for Phillip Howard's dog Chuy. "They (the SAF) are a dog saver," Howard, 70, said.
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<a href= mailto:dreid@dailysparkstribune.com>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - An apartment fire in August, 2009, cost Nanette Murphy her home but not her cat Nikki thanks to the Shakespeare Animal Fund. The fund covered $3,000 in vet care needed to save the badly burned 17-year-old feline and gave Murphy 12 cases of catfood.
Tribune/Debra Reid - An apartment fire in August, 2009, cost Nanette Murphy her home but not her cat Nikki thanks to the Shakespeare Animal Fund. The fund covered $3,000 in vet care needed to save the badly burned 17-year-old feline and gave Murphy 12 cases of catfood.
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On Christmas Day, a homeless, out-of-work electrician had a life-threatening emergency. Not for himself, but for his dog, who had just eaten some rat poison. He tried to scrounge enough money to buy medication to help his companion, but when he could not he called the local office of the Shakespeare Animal Fund (SAF).

“Good people look to us for help to save their (pet),” said Jennifer Webb, the founder executive director of the Reno office of SAF.

Just like many of the owners that SAF helps, the man’s dog was saved.

SAF is a nonprofit charity that helps seniors, the disabled and low-income households cover the cost of emergency veterinarian bills for dogs and cats. According to SAF, the organization has paid out more than $120,000 so far, saving hundreds of pets’ lives and enhancing the quality of life for their owners.

It was founded after the death of Webb’s dearly loved Cocker Spaniel named Shakespeare. According to a story on the SAF Web site, www.shakespeareanimalfund.org, Shakespeare was a regular on the New York social scene, enjoying a life of walks in the park, attending his owner’s dance classes and riding around in a little red wagon in his old age. In November 2003, Shakespeare got sick and his family did all they could for him until the bills got to be too much.

“When he died on Nov. 14, 2003, my heart was forever broken at his loss,” reads a letter from Webb on the SAF Web site. “To honor his memory I began the Shakespeare Animal Fund, in hopes that many others who love their animal companions as much as I loved Shakespeare, but perhaps can’t afford to pay for an unexpected illness or any other medical expense, can be helped.”

SAF helps those whose total income is less than $23,000 obtain emergency pet care. SAF pays the veterinarian directly to reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income pet owners. Those who are in need of help can view guidelines to qualify for assistance at www.shakespeareanimalfund.org (look for “SAF Grant Recipients Guidelines” on the home page).

Webb said she has seen instances when an elderly man or woman will go without their own medicine or even food to cover the cost for care their pet. That is where SAF comes in.

“We want to keep people with their pets,” Webb said.

Inside the main office of the SAF building at 143 Keystone Ave. are poster boards filled with pictures of people and pets that received help from the organization. SAF volunteers share countless stories of families that have been helped by the fund. Each day, staff said, the organization receives calls from about 25 people in need of some kind of service.

The SAF relies on volunteers and funding comes from private donations and various grants. One new service that the SAF is providing is the delivery of cat or dog food for those in financial need.

One of SAF’s upcoming events is the Heart of Lights fundraiser, which gives owners whose pets have died a chance to buy a light on a literal heart of lights in memory of the pet. The fundraiser will also be a chocolate tasting event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26.

The SAF’s hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

To apply for assistance or for further information, call 342-7040 or visit www.shakespeareanimalfund.org. The hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and messages are checked routinely in the evenings and on Sundays.

Update

Late Tuesday afternoon, Webb told the Tribune that SAF had just been asked to vacate its building and she now must find a new headquarters for the nonprofit.

"The owner decided she didn’t want us there. I don’t know if it’s financial (we are there for free) or something else," Webb said via e-mail. "But she asked us to leave and I couldn’t change her mind."

Anyone who wishes to help SAF with this situation can call Webb at 674-6411.
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Feed the pet or buy the medication? by Matt Menicucci - For the Tribune


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