What to do if you fall in love and can’t adopt? Sponsor a cat, dog or other adoptable pet.

There’s a magical feeling in the air every time someone visits Best Friends Animal Society, falls in love and adopts an animal from the Sanctuary. There’s nothing like seeing pets go home with their new best friends. But not everyone can adopt the pets who steal their hearts. When that happens, there’s another option: Sponsoring a cat, dog, bird (or any other adoptable animal at the Sanctuary) is a way to show love for a pet and also help that special pet find a home.

Sponsoring an animal as a gift 

There are as many reasons to sponsor a rescued cat, dog, bunny or barnyard pal as there are animals. Some people might see a special spark in Falafel, a sweet brown tabby cat who likes to hang out and watch the action from the sidelines; or, they might notice Lester, a little black cat who used to be afraid of people but who now approaches quietly and accepts affection if it’s offered.

Some animals could use a boost to help them land the very special homes they require. Crissy, for example, is a senior dog who needs a home where she's the only pet. That can be hard to find, since most animal lovers already have other pets. But Crissy’s sponsor, Don Clark, calls her “a wonderful, inquisitive dog who loves to cuddle and to be around people,” and adds the following: “She is quiet, but opinionated. She is a love.”

Don and his wife, Jeanine Courtney-Clark, who can’t adopt Crissy, did the next best thing by paying for the cost of her travel when she does find that special someone. Sponsorship doesn’t take much time (just a quick, one-off payment made online or with the help of a Best Friends adoption specialist). But because it can open doors when cost is a roadblock for a potential adopter, it can be a life-changing gift.

In the following short stories, a few generous sponsors share their stories on how they fell in love with some very special pets and decided to sponsor them.

Sponsor an adoptable pet

Ludo the dog enjoying a walk at dusk with Krista

Ludo: Sponsored by Krista and Eric McCullough

My husband Eric and I met Ludo when we volunteered at Dogtown. I remember being impressed by his size and handsome good looks when his caregiver brought him out to us. We took him on a walk and were charmed by his inquisitive nature.

The following day, Eric and I took Ludo on a sleepover. From the moment we got him in the car until the moment we brought him back to Dogtown, we felt a bond with Ludo. His lovable and goofy personality really blossomed while he was with us in one of the Best Friends cottages. Ludo watched TV with us, waited patiently while we ate our dinner, and he even left some room on the bed for me to sleep, despite his massive size. He enjoyed lounging around and snuggling with us.

After we left the Sanctuary and headed home, Eric and I kept thinking of Ludo and how much we missed him. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for us to adopt another dog at this time, so when we learned about the Best Friends sponsorship program, we decided to donate Ludo's adoption fee. We really want to see this big guy in his forever home and thought if the adoption fee was a hurdle for his future family, we would knock that down for them. Sponsoring is a great way to make a huge difference in an animal's life.

Ludo the dog enjoying himself on a sleepover

Milagro and Nuece: Sponsored by Naomi and Doug Smoyer

Milagro the dog on a car ride with NaomiWhen my husband, Doug, and I recently traveled to Best Friends, we stayed in one of the Best Friends cottages for three nights and decided to take a Sanctuary dog on a sleepover each night.

Milagro, our first guest, was so funny. He’s stocky, with a wagging tail and sweet, bright eyes. When we took him in the car for our overnight, he could not have been more excited. We absolutely loved his company and he loved ours. He had such a distinguished charm about him — a wise old soul with an enormous heart.

I had a hard time bringing Milagro back the next morning, but we decided to spread the love, so we took Nuece the next night. What a sweet old man! Neuce just wanted to be with us. He was so eager to please and to relax and cuddle up on the couch. He was incredibly sweet and so genuine, and very happy. Doug especially fell in love with Nuece and we toyed with the idea of having him in our lives.

With our current living situation and our own rescued dog, however, we cannot adopt right now. But we wanted to do something to help Nuece and Milagro find the home we wish we could provide. When we saw we could pay for their adoption fees, it was a no-brainer. What a great way to make the decision just a little easier for someone considering adopting either one of these wonderful boys!

Nuece the dog posing with Doug

Donner: Sponsored by Janice MacMillan

I have over 15 years of experience in animal rescue, which includes fostering many dogs who have challenges that make it harder for them to find homes. So, when I’m at Best Friends, I like to volunteer with some of the large adult dogs who must be only-pets. I had no idea who Donner was, but when her caregiver asked if I would like to walk her after a proper introduction, I had a pretty good sense of the kind of dog Donner was. 

What I wasn’t prepared for her was her stunning beauty! She reminded me of a senior black chow/shepherd mix I rescued many years ago and kept as my own. I couldn’t stop thinking about her after I walked her. I read her online bio, then checked with Dogtown staff to see if she had a sponsor yet. Donner has some behavior challenges that narrow her placement options significantly. Since I live across the country and have multiple pets in my home, I could not provide the home Donner needs as much as I loved her. But, by sponsoring Donner’s adoption fee, I could remove one less hurdle to her finding a forever home. And I was more than happy to do that.

Isabel: Sponsored by Jen Crider

Isabel the dog getting a cuddle during a sleepoverMy mom and I have wanted to come to Best Friends to volunteer since the Vicktory dogs arrived at the Sanctuary just over 10 years ago. We were finally able to come out for a week this past March. On our first day volunteering, we met Isabel and took her on a sleepover.

When Isabel figured out that she was going for a ride and for a sleepover, a light switched on in her eyes. Her butt started wiggling and she couldn’t stand still. She was so happy!

Our sleepover went extremely well. Isabel was so relaxed, well-behaved and a real cuddler. Mom and I decided that we wanted to have her again for a sleepover our last night at the Sanctuary. We picked Isabel up early on our last afternoon so we could spend even more time with her.

We went for car rides and walks. We watched the sunset and the horses from the deck at our cottage and did tons of cuddling. She was such a love bug. My mom and I both wanted to bring her home because we completely fell in love with her. But, sadly, we were going to have to leave her behind because we both have dogs at home who don’t like other dogs.

Instead, we asked what we could do to help find Isabel a home. We learned that it always helps to get one of the animals adopted when that animal is sponsored by someone. We knew we had to help Isabel find a home, so we paid for her adoption fee and her extra-large cargo crate in case she would have to be flown to her new home.

There are plenty of loving homes out there, but people might need some help with the cost of adopting and transporting a pet, so why not make it a little easier on them? If you can’t take any of the animals home with you, why not help in any way you can? One of those ways is sponsoring the animal that you fell so deeply in love with.

Isabel the dog enjoying a car ride

Sponsoring a rescued dog: A couple’s gift of love

Love is what motivated John Sun and his wife, Carol Blaney, to also sponsor Isabel. John and Carol lost their teenage daughter, Isabel, a little over two years ago. Their daughter loved volunteering at the Sanctuary, so when John and Carol learned about Isabel the dog, they saw it as a sign and immediately sponsored her.

If all goes as planned, Isabel’s sponsored adoption and transport fees will be put to good use very soon. She has a pending adoption in Pennsylvania — the same city where Jen and her mother live. The adopter is also an acquaintance of Jen’s, so it’s likely that Isabel will be seeing a lot of the folks who helped make her adoption possible.

Donate to Save Them All

Naomi on the couch with her sponsor dog Milagro

Photos courtesy of Krista McCullough, Naomi Smoyer and Jen Crider