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On June 16, Jack Berger, president of Bunnies on the Bayou, presented a $12,000 check to the Bayou City Performing Arts. Pictured are (l–r) Berger, BCPA board president Richard Hudgins, with Bunnies on the Bayou hosts Richard Winegar and Rick Simmons.

The Colt 45’s AIDS Trouble Fund was presented with a check from the proceeds of the People with AIDS Charities “Christmas in July” show held at the BRB on July 8. Presenting the check to John Earl, Colt 45’s president, is An’Marie Gill, along with members Eddie Zomper and Craig Rutherford (in top hat).

On June 20, The Diana Foundation distributed beneficiary checks totaling $20,000. (L–r) Robin Susman from Legacy; Mike Leibbert, president of the Diana Foundation; Kristian Salinas, QFest guru; Sarah Brown from Bering Omega; Judy Reeves, GCAM curator; and Larry Criscione, president of the Charles Botts GLBT Archives.

September 9 Fundraiser—Pennies for Pets

The Pet Patrol

Man’s best friend is there when you need him most—to cuddle on the couch, for an afternoon run, or companionship at the end of a long day. Many people would do anything to ensure that their four-legged family member is properly cared for, but for some, that may require calling for help. That’s where the Pet Patrol steps in.

Originally designed solely to assist HIV-positive and AIDS patients, the Pet Patrol made a significant expansion seven years ago to serve both gay and straight low-income and elderly individuals who are suffering from a serious illness.

In 1986, after volunteering as an intake worker for the AIDS Foundation, Pet Patrol founder Tori Williams made a shocking discovery: out of all their client’s concerns, people living with HIV and AIDS cared most about the well-being of their pets. “I would say to them, ‘Tell me the top three things that you are the most worried about. Let’s start working on those three things, and then we’ll work on some of your other issues,’” Williams says. “I was stunned how one of the top two things they were worried about was their pet.” In 1986, Williams started giving these clients her personal phone number to help care for their pets. From this experience, the Pet Patrol was born.

Potential clients need only present a letter from a physician documenting their illness to receive support from the organization. The Pet Patrol recognizes the proven health benefits of companion animals and works with each client on a case-by-case basis to help owners keep their pets, providing free food, veterinary services, and other care supplies. The organization can actively serve about 100 clients and 150 pets per year. “We always provide wellness,” Williams says. “We absolutely require pets to be spayed or neutered. If they aren’t, we’re happy to pay for that. We provide flea medication, heart guard, and then other medication as we can.”

Pet Patrol also provides a safe, comfortable environment for pets if the owner is hospitalized or no longer able to care for their animals. The organization tries to keep the program’s animals out of shelters, placing them in foster care provided by Pet Patrol volunteers. Just knowing about the organization can save the lives of many pets, Williams emphasizes. She describes one man, suffering from AIDS, who euthanized his two cats because he didn’t see any other option. “He had AIDS and didn’t know what else to do for his cats, and so he had them put to sleep,” Williams says. “He didn’t know we were out there, that we would help find a home for those cats.”

The Pet Patrol’s Pennies for Pets fundraiser will be held on Sunday, September 9, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Brazos River Bottom. With donations of loose change, the organization is able to provide essential care to hundreds of pets. This year, a generous donor is matching all donations up to $7,000, with all proceeds directly benefiting the Pet Patrol.

Besides monetary donations, the partnership also welcomes gifts of pet food, cat litter, and other animal supplies. The event includes a drag performance by Regina Dane and friends, and a Wall of Love where attendees can post pictures of their own pets. Food and beverages will also be available. Pet Patrol is also looking for pet- and people-friendly volunteers to help in their mission.

Can’t make it to the event? Donations can be dropped off at the Pet Patrol office located at 1809 W. 14 1/2 St. or made on the organization’s website. For more information visit petpatrol.org. —Megan Smith

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