October 2, 2014


This little girl was brought to our clinic today, in hopes that what ailed her would be an easy fix. An exam revealed emaciation, infections, unhealed wounds, hair loss, and the need for extensive treatment. She was signed over to our care, and became another benefitting from the Biscuit Fund.

I brought her back to my office, to the red therapy chair, and she never moved. In fact, she stayed glued to one spot, staring at the door. I believe she was waiting for those that left her with us to come back, right through it, at any moment.

The realization that they were not seemed to slowly sink in, and as it did, I sent her photo to my friend, Chelsea.

You see, my friend Chelsea has also had someone recently leave her, unexpectedly and filled with pain. And my friend Chelsea knows that while nobody can fill that void, this little dog needs her to need her, and take care of her, and fill the spaces- those between her protruding back bones and those in her heart. And while Chelsea works on her, little Biscuit dog will do her own sort of healing, the kind that only neglected rescued animals can reciprocate with. We're looking forward to seeing the results, for both of them, in the days to come.

October 1, 2014

Nelson & Co

I had the pleasure of helping check in for surgery this morning, and it was a wonderful experience to see how much you all care about your animals. Each one was gently brought in, by leash, carrier, or in your arms, and each was bid a sad, albeit temporary, farewell. The goodbyes were peppered with "you'll be fine" "I know a part of you will be missing when I come back, but it'll be OK" and a few tears here and there. Nelson, pictured below, got to hang with dad as he filled out his paperwork.

Thank you to all, today and everyday, for bringing your beloved pets to Angels of Assisi for shots, check ups, spay/neuter, surgery, and dental work. Thank you for waiting patiently for your turn, and for understanding the busy flow of our building. We appreciate your support very much, and we love the fact that you love your pets like you do.


September 26, 2014


Meet Jackson. He came in sort of hot mess, and we were able to groom him and make sure he was updated on vaccinations. After a stay with us, he went back to his owner, equipped with some information on keeping him busy, a new Kong toy, and an appointment for neuter and microchip.

Reunions such as the one between Jackson and his owner, we believe, are an integral part of animal rescue. Sometimes people need a little help in keeping their animals, and we can play a tremendous and important role in making that happen. There are times when us humans get a little lost along the way, times that we live, literally, day to day, because that's the only way to keep from falling into complete despair, and there are times when our animals are the only reason we get up and try it again, because they love and need us. And because we love and need them.

Welcome home, Jackson. We enjoyed meeting your owner very much; we wish you both a lifetime of health and happiness, and will always be here for you. 

Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things,
man will not himself find peace.    

Albert Schweitzer

August 7, 2014

These Are The Days

Imagine a wonderful little grandma, with an endearing English accent, presented with a precious new kitten by her family. It happened here last Saturday.

This adoption is one of the many memories we have of our summer ASPCA 100K Challenge, and we cherish each and every person- from both sides of the pond- who has helped us make them.


August 2, 2014


Some of our adoption center animals got to visit Roanoke Fire and EMS Station 1 today. and got a special message from those on duty. Guess what? We heart you right back- thank you for being our local heroes, every single day. 

July 31, 2014

Kids Doing Good

Our friend Nicholas requested donations to Angels of Assisi for his ninth birthday, and he really loaded us up! He got to take a tour of the clinic and adoption center to see all the good his donations would be going towards, including some kitties fresh out of surgery for some pretty serious medical issues.

I'm frequently asked "Are you surprised?" when referring to the goodness of volunteers, fosters, and those donating. My answer is no, I'm not surprised. I'm grateful and humbled, and we do our very best to put people's time, talents, and gifts to the best use possible. We are eternally thankful for your support.

How lucky we are that ours is a community of people who love animals, and they will help them, over and over. Just like Nicholas did in honor of his ninth birthday.

July 21, 2014

Play Ball

We had a wonderful time at the Salem Red Sox game yesterday- dogs and baseball, what could be better? Thrown in some adoptions, that's what! Our senior girls Chi Chi and China were 2 who found new homes, and a good time was had by all. Many thanks to Salem Red Socks and our volunteers who made sure the afternoon was perfect!

Baseball, to me, is still the national pastime because it is a summer game. I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood. I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people.
~Steve Busby, in Washington Post, 8 July 1974

You and Me

I had to pick up 3 kittens from Emergency Vet Services last week. Taken from a bad situation in Botetourt County, they were filthy, and treated overnight for respiratory and eye infections. One of the kittens will have to have her eye removed as soon as she can tolerate surgery. As I waited at EVS, a nice gentleman in the lobby struck up a conversation with me. Or, rather, his dog did.

Bodey was a beautiful black lab, perfectly fitted with harness and matching leash. He lives on the shores of Smith Mountain Lake, and frequently goes out on the boat, swims, and rides in the golf cart. We ended our chat when the kittens were brought out to me in their animal control issued carrier.

As I bid Bodey and his wonderful owner adieu and took a good look at our new charges, I wondered over and over- why do some animals get to live such an amazing life, while others live in dumpsters, die in pounds, and never know the love of a human? Why did these filthy kittens I was loading into my car get such a shitty draw?

Driving to Angels of Assisi, it slowly hit me. These kittens are actually the lucky ones. They have you, and they have me. You'll shower them with love by volunteering, fostering, donating money towards their medical care, and sharing your time and talents. I'll do my part by keeping our Angels of Assisi staff and clinic ready and able to help, and providing a forever safety net for them. These guys are already in foster care, and catching up on living their own good life, and you've done that for them and thousands of others. As always, we thank you, over and over.

July 12, 2014

Kids Doing Good!!

Our new friend Adrian is learning about the importance of helping others, and he wanted to help feed the dogs and cats at Angels of Assisi. His mom and dad helped him raise money with a gofundme page, and today he used that money to buy these bags of food. Trust me when I say what a relief it is when we see bags of Purinia enter the building!

Adrian and his little sister Kenzie then went downstairs to see all of the animals that needed homes, and got to see how much his donations will go towards getting us to that goal.

His mom and dad hope that this act of giving will teach their children just a little bit more about growing up to be contributing members of our society. We think they already are. What an awesome family, and we are very proud thay they are part of ours.

July 9, 2014

These Are The Days

If you haven't heard the rooftop shouts, Angels of Assisi is in this thing called the ASPCA Rachael Ray 100K Challenge. Chosen as one of fifty contestants across the country, we are competing to save more animals during the months of June, July and August 2014 than we did over the same three-month period in 2013.

The ASPCA and Rachael Ray will award a total of $600,000 in grant funding to shelters who significantly and creatively increase the number of lives saved in their community.

Angels of Assisi adopted out our own record breaking number of 247 animals in June. The Challenge has been fun and hard work, as we expected. Adoption numbers are continuously monitored, accompanied by "gotcha day" photos that can make any heart sing. Along the way, however, something somewhat unexpected has happened. We're half way through the challenge, and we have....learned some stuff. The Angels of Assisi adoption center- who led our community in adoptions last year- has learned quite a lot about improving the adoption process this summer.

Yes, the challenge is about increasing numbers. But it's also about putting staff members in areas where they can shine. Jill Nelson has taken the project of senior pets under her wing, and has fluffed them, primped them, given them fancy names, facebooked them, and found them new homes-  12% of our total adoption in June were senior pets, including Paul Mitchell.

It's about our love-hate relationship with spread sheets and data, on one side such a PIA, on the other so fascinating, anticipatory, and concrete.

ASPCA Record Breakers:
Kick-off Week

Record:  Adoptions in a single week
Breakers: With a 380% increase in adoptions over the same period last year,
Angels of Assisi was one of 10 agencies who reported most adoptions in a single week.

It's about deepening our bond through a friendly rivalry with the Lynchburg Humane Society, as sparked on by their by their Executive Director, Makena Yarbrough: "Regardless of who wins, all the animals win in the long run...... OK who am I kidding. I want to beat Lisa O'Neill and Angels of Assisi so badly!"

It's about taking that bond and sharing what we do with our city and county leaders, and gaining their support. 

The challenge is about finding innovative new programs, and way to match people with pets, including Pets for Patriots. Sebu here scored herself a wonderful new home this way.


It's about learning to graciously utilize a program set up by the municipalities for free spay and neuter of pound cats, showing those kittens off on channel 10, and watching them go home later the same day.

It's about getting organized for events in the community, as many as 4 in one day. Even more so, it's about trusting our amazing volunteers to help homeless pets find their place in the world.

It's about getting many of our long term animals adopted. 

And for other long term residents, like Trinity, understanding that no matter how many people are pulling for her, it is not her time yet. The challenge is about resiliency, and not giving up. We'll figure out how to make it Trinity's time, and because of her, friendships have been made, thinking outside of the box expands, and lessons have been learned. One of them being that Cathy and her Star City Roller Girls are a lot more than meets the eye, and there is a deep well of compassion under those helmets and pads.

Don't ever underestimate what people will do for a cause they believe in.

It's about keeping up with how to spread the word and communicate. There is this odd little thing called a "hashtag" defined as: a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the #. Hashtags make it possible to group messages, since one can search for the hashtag and get the set of messages that contain it.

Good day, have we had fun with The Hashtag: #everyonelovesagoodrescue, #assistantpaul (referring to senior dog Paul Mitchell) #weloveourvolunteers, #seniorsrock, #100KChallenge, #100KSaved, and the all time favorite by our newest adoption center specialist, #icanprettymuchrockanything. That one will be coming soon to an AOA volunteer t-shirt near you.

It's about the joy of photography, and capturing the moments. It's about people bringing their talents to the table for a common love of animals.

The challenge has made me understand what Susanne Kogut, now Executive Director of the PetCo Foundation, meant when she said "cats are easy" in reference to adoption. At the time, I wanted to believe her, I really did, and for years I rolled the phrase around in my brain. Cats are easy. Cats. Hmmm. Cats. Are Easy. *headtilt*

That concept was shelved, until we formed a partnership with the Valley View PetSmart store. Within days, I got it. Cats ARE easy to adopt, you just need to get them in the right place at the right time. Our first month at PetSmart enabled over 80 cats to find homes, many of them kittens, but also fat cats, senior cats, and plain old everyday cats. People saw them, people fell for them, and people took them home. It was easy. Manager Greg and his wonderful staff at Valley View PetSmart have made it possible, and we thank them so much.

As we finish up the first half of the ASPCA Rachael Ray 100K Challenge, it has sunk in. All of the buzz, community support, trust, and the huge increase in number of lives saved, this... insert aha moment ... is going to be the new normal. Yep. It's not just for the summer. The Challenge is to network, have fun, learn, and soak it all in, so that the rest of our days can be just as good. Thank you to all for getting us this far.

July 6, 2014

As Said To The ED

"Thank you, Lisa. You've been so helpful this afternoon."
- Savannah, age 5, as I pack up her new kitten at Valley View PetSmart. 


July 3, 2014


Our burned baby has arrived, and despite some big medical issues, she is happy for any attention that comes her way.

We're calling her Biscuite, and will appreciative any donations to the Biscuit Fund for abused and neglected pets, as she also needs orthopedic surgery to mend a broken femur. It's still hard to say how she got in this shape, but together we can ensure she has a long, happy life ahead of her, complete with a few scars that will just make her more beautiful.

We must see all scars as beauty. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, 'I survived'.
- Chris Cleave,

Special thanks to Carrie for the beautiful photos!