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Penny Up for the Pet Patrol: Unique Pet Group Needs Your Help

It’s been a tough summer for animal nonprofits across the city, with donations drying up almost as much as the drought-cracked ground. But there’s one organization in need that fills a unique role for both people and pets. They don’t rescue strays or hold adoptions.

Instead, they help people in need keep their pets.

“I humbly offer my most heartfelt appreciation, as does my dog. Over the last year you have been most helpful in the kindest and least obtrusive manner possible. Each month when I give my buddy her heartworm preventative, I give a silent thank you to those who support you and make what you do possible. Your help is a life’s blessing. Thank you.”

This was a note from one of the Pet Patrol’s clients, an elderly gay man with AIDS and heart disease. He enclosed a photo of him and his dog, and signed both their names.

Founded in 1986, the Pet Patrol was the first organization in the United States that helped people with HIV/AIDS take care of their companion pets. By 1992, the Pet Patrol was serving more than 400 people and their 800 pets. Since 2005, the organization has opened its doors to those with other significant chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Still, some 60 percent of clients are either people living with HIV/AIDS or members of the LGBT community.

“Sometimes even our best friends drop out of the picture when people are sick, particularly when they are sick for such a long time. Often, their pets are their only companions. What we do is so simple, but it improves their quality of life every day,” says founder Tori Williams about why pets are important to those in need.

The organization helps by delivering pet food and supplies, taking pets on vet trips, and putting them in foster care when owners are hospitalized. The Pet Patrol provides basic veterinary care, heartworm- and flea-prevention medication, pet food, spay/neuter services, and more so that people who need their pets the most can enjoy them without the added burden of worrying about the cost. But all of this means the organization spends roughly $400 per pet per year. They currently have around 100 clients, but due to limited funds and volunteers, there’s a waiting list for services. That’s where you can help.

Pennies for Pets is a fundraiser for the Pet Patrol where teams of friends compete to see who can raise the most spare change for the organization. Join a team or organize your own, and bring your piggy bank, rolled coins, or chang?e purse to the popular gay country bar Brazos River Bottom on Sunday, August 28, between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

“Like most nonprofits, we were in desperate straits a year ago,” says Williams. “A friend of mine came over one day with a jar of pennies and said ‘I can’t give a lot, but here.’ And that’s how the idea started.”

Because this is the first event of its kind, Williams isn’t sure how much they’ll raise. She just hopes it’s a lot.

“The concept of teams is just to make it more fun,” she adds. “They can compete against each other, and then we’ll announce which team has raised the most money at the end of the day.”

And it doesn’t have to be just pennies. Any change, dollars, or even credit cards will be gratefully accepted. A donation of just 1,000 pennies will buy a one-month supply of pet food or one rabies vaccine.

So join your friends and bring in that spare change to help keep pets with their owners who love and need them.

Pennies for Pets: fundraiser for the Pet Patrol (thepetpatrol.org). Sunday, August 28, 2–5 p.m., at Brazos River Bottom, 2400 Brazos St. For more information: Tori Williams, 281/733-7696 or mzppie@yahoo.com.

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