February 27, 2014


We've got a new friend, photographer William Mahone. He has been touring the last few days, spoiling the adoption center animals, and capturing the moments of our everyday life. Here are a few shots from last Tuesday.

Angels of Assisi is wonderfully fortunate to have a team of photographers who lend their creative time and talents; Carrie, Allie, Vicki, Hany, Megan, Madison, and William- thank you for capturing these moments, and for giving our animals and humans a chance to shine.
Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.
Aaron Siskind


February 26, 2014


Phone calls, emails, parking issues, and a sticky situation with our neighbor in the alley (if you saw the street lined with firetrucks, it's all good now) filled the day. There were deadlines to be made, accounts to be changed, and some big adjustments with staff schedules. Somewhere in the middle was a fairly detailed conversation about poop, including where the poop originated from, and the multitasking that was happening while it was being dealt with. It all ended with another frustrated call for help from West Virginia with a local pound situation.

Yet in the midst of the daily operations, or perhaps more a part of the daily operations, were some very lovely moments. We have an amazing new volunteer, 2 new dogs who are wiggly and soft and grateful for every bit of attention they can absorb; you would never know the horrific past one of them survived. We got sarcastic Matthew Brown to give us a darn good belly laugh, always good. Three Pets for Life clients brought their dogs for spay/neuter surgery today, and one of the dogs went home with some much needed medicine that he would not have received otherwise. Jane Brown, new in her position, but wise beyond her years, is bringing a wonderful energy to our front desk area- the face of Assisi has improved greatly with her reassuring presence.

Today Angels of Assisi did some nice things for folks in our community, and the folks in our community did some amazing things for us. We're looking forward to running with the Pets for Life program, and are about ready to announce an added service for our regular clients. Our team loves what we do for the animals- and their people- in our community, and the waters feel just right for continued change.

February 24, 2014

Per Angusta Ad Augusta

We had a few tough situations arrive through the front doors at Angels of Assisi today. The first was a young lady who I had the privilege of working with to make a plan of escape from a decade long entrapment in domestic violence. Bottom line, she wanted her dog to be safe, and she had promised a family member, now gone, that she would always watch out for her pet. A tall order when living on the brink of despair herself.

I kept trying to fully connect with her pleading green eyes and change the look of desperation to one of understanding that we would help her, and wanted nothing more than to glue together some of the shattered pieces hidden underneath. It finally sunk in that yes, her beloved dog was going to be safe, and with that taken care of, she was free to accomplish her agenda and help herself. She weakly hugged me, crying, and I breathed out as much energy as I could into her tired body and soul. "Give us this part of your worries, and now go save yourself. Come back for your boy when you are ready."

A few hours later we had some concerns about a dog who came in for shots. He was thin, but not emaciated, with sores on his legs. A private conversation with the family revealed that they had some of their own health problems over the last few months, and times had been tough. Was their dog in bad enough shape to call authorities? No. Did they want to give him up? No, but knew they could be doing a better job with him. The entire family, mom, dad, and kids came together to learn about different food options, and how to prevent the sores on his legs. We showed them how to make a harness out of his leash so he would not pull as much, and they loved the fact that it worked like a charm! Information was given on how to take him for longer walks, and how an exercised dog in the house is a much better behaved dog, and one that could be enjoyed by all.

The family left Angels of Assisi with a vaccinated dog, complete with a big bag of food, and a brand new bed that would fit in just perfectly in their living room. Even more than that, they left with a look of pride for their pet, and soaked in the fact that he is indeed a very good, handsome boy, and one to be cherished. They will be back for a check up in 3 weeks and additional information will be exchanged as needed. We're confident that this is one dog who will not end up at our local pound.

The end of the day brought a little box of cuteness, in the form of 2 puppies who had been abandoned at the Roanoke Civic Center. They spent the weekend at the Emergency Vet, and were released to us today for continued medical care. They are skinny, with big bellies and sunken faces, innocent, and at a mere 5 weeks old, deserve better. And now they shall get that second chance for full, happy lives.

Three completely different situations, helped by three different services at Angels of Assisi- the program for victims of domestic violence, Pets for Life, and the Biscuit Fund for abused and neglected pets. It was all in a day's work, and everyone who has lent their support to us should feel immensely proud that you have indeed made all the difference in the world today, and in the days to come. We are forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

February 17, 2014


In the year 2001 over 9,000 homeless dogs and cats were killed at our regional pound. The task to stop the needlessness of it all was an overwhelming, but very necessary one. Where to start? The logical step was to prevent more from being born, and so the Assisi Clinics of Virginia, Inc, commonly known as Angels of Assisi, came to fruition. We offered one service: low cost or free spay and neuter surgeries. Last year the number of homeless animals lost at our regional pound was 1,769; we're getting there. 

Angels of Assisi began with a mobile Spay/Neuter unit, an RV refitted to be a traveling Veterinary clinic. The coach racked up many, many miles, and surgeries were performed near and far, including twice a month stops to our hero shelter, the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, now known nationwide for their no kill leadership status.

Since then we have outgrown one small clinic, and moved to the building on Campbell Avenue. This location was chosen because of it's accessibility, and it's amazing how many people walk and use public transportation to bring their pets in for care. (And yes, we are fully aware that we have outgrown this building as well!).

Adoption, foster, volunteer and wellness services have been added, along with programs for hospice patients, under-served communities, victims of domestic violence, and a farm animal sanctuary.

The best part of the journey has been the friends and supporters along the way, who have made it all possible. THANK YOU, and we hope you enjoy this little blast from the past, our humble beginnings from August of 2001.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. 
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

February 16, 2014

The Angels of Assisi

Gentleman in Lobby: I brought you this brand new collar thinking one of the dogs here could use it. It was supposed to be a Christmas present for a Great Dane, but he did not make it until Christmas.

Me: Thank you, and we are so sorry to hear about your dog. What happened?

Gentleman in Lobby: He was my future son-in-law's dog. His house got robbed a week before Christmas, and the dog chased the guys who broke in. He got hit by a car on Rt 24 and was killed. We just wanted you to have this.

February 15, 2014

Where The Heart Is

A cat named Buddy came to us earlier this year from Botetourt Animal Control, and he was a scary sight. The skin around his bottom jaw was peeled back, a condition called degloved jaw. (If you are into very graphic images, go ahead and google that, but we don't recommend it.)

The lady who found him came to Angels of Assisi a few weeks later and hesitantly inquired about the sick cat. She was both surprised and delighted to hear that he pulled through, and came back the next week, and then the next. She came back again today, and told us how much Buddy meant to her with his kind and loving ways, and this time she did not leave alone. Buddy's adoption was signed and sealed, and he is on his way home. Thank you for your donations to the Biscuit Fund, ensuring yet one more happy ending.

Hold a true friend with both your hands. 
~Nigerian Proverb


February 13, 2014


Huge props to staff members Matthew, Bobbie, and Jessica for braving the weather and coming in on a record breaking snow day to take care of our adoption center animals. All went well, the day complete and enhanced with photos of dogs playing in the snow and a few selfies. Everyone went home around 4 pm except Matthew.

And then this happened.

Not exactly the text one would expect from their number one volunteer coordinator when you know for a fact that he is still at work.

Me: Matthew, where are your pants?

Matthew: They were wet from being outside so I put my all clothes in the dryer.

Me: You know I can pull up the cameras on my phone, right?

Matthew: I know. That's why I turned them off while I was wearing a towel.

Damn these kids and their computer technology. 

For the most part, it seemed like the rest of us got some solid at home time, and the photos of dogs playing infiltrated the internet and social media. Dogs in coats, dogs bunny hopping through the snow, dogs running through shoveled out mazes, dogs sleeping hard. It was like a whole new world out there, fresh and free from the daily grind, and topped off by a beautiful sunset. It made our hearts happy to see you all sharing it with your pets.

Stay safe, everyone, and be grateful for the unexpected down time we have with the ones we love.

Wow, it really snowed last night! Isn't it wonderful?
Everything familiar has disappeared!
A new year ... a fresh, clean start! It's like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on!
A day full of possibilities!
It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy ... let's go exploring!
- Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes: It's a Magical World


February 12, 2014


The much anticipated snow is here, light and fluffy enough to soften up even this Chicago girl's hardened heart. The dappled curtain of snow falling puts up a barrier shielding us from real life and responsibilities, because, for now, it's officially a Virginia Snow Day, one I used to scorn, but now embrace. Putting life on hold until the streets get cleared is a-ok with me.

As a kid growing up in the Midwest, brutally cold and snowy winters seemed to take up a majority of the year, and hold many memories. One of my earliest is of the adults in our neighborhood going ice skating on the lake in my backyard. As I watched from the warm safety behind our sliding glass door,  my father, my hero, zipped along atop the ice and never stumbled or fell. Something to be proud of as he was faster and more in control on skates than any of the other fathers. My dad was better on skates than your dad! Ha! So what if he was pushing one of our aluminum folding lawn chairs in front of himself for balance, a dad had to do what a dad had to do, and he was still awesome. 

We built snow barriers to hide behind for snowball fights, and learned to kick the cheaters out who made their snowballs early and stuck them in the freezer overnight; those things hurt. If we were really lucky and had more snow than usual, one of the other kick-ass dads in the neighborhood would make us an igloo. It's amazing how warm it was inside of there, and we'd listen to little battery operated radios and dream the afternoon away.

While the dads were all about wintertime fun, the moms had the laborious task of dressing us properly, keeping us warm and free from illness; for god's sake we all know that 90% of your body heat leaves through your head. Hats were a must, and so were the dreaded Snow Pants, those awful things that seriously slowed a kid down. My mother insisted on them, and on the coldest days I even had to wear them to school. Not only were they hard to walk in, they were also hard to take off by oneself. As a kindergartener, I waddled into school and hurried to get the dang things off before the bell rang. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Brace, spotted me struggling in the crowded hallway, and came over to assist. In the midst of all the kids getting to class in the locker-lined hall, she had me plop flat on my back so she could pull off one snow boot, then the other. As I stared at the ceiling and the faces swarming above me, she deftly slid the snow pants off next. As she did, something felt... wrong. Cold. Drafty. The swarming faces paused and mouths kind of fell open, and the horrified look coming from Mrs. Brace confirmed what I did not want to initially believe, the snow pant yank took with it my regular pants and underwear, leaving it all out there for the world to see. Yowza. Being a mere 6 years old, I probably recovered a little faster than Mrs. Brace, and, halleluiah, never had to wear snow pants to school again.

Wintertime fun included sledding on metal TV trays, lopsided snowmen, and big white hills along side the road man-made from snowplows. It meant gloves attached to a string inside your coat sleeves; those things were the best because you never lost them. It was lacing up your cracked leather skates, adorned with colorful pom poms, to hit the ice with friends, and a first kiss from Gary Miller after wiping out near the dock in the middle of the frozen lake.

During our February 2014 snowstorm in Virginia, we hope that you take a moment to make your own seasonal memories. Life is short, enjoy all it has to offer. Take a walk, kick up some snow on your boots, drink it in. Keep the photos coming of dogs frolicking, and cats curling up by the fire, or, if you are Megan Greer, your foster kitten staring down the neck of a beer bottle. Whatever makes you happy, for today, do that. The work week will come again soon enough.

February 9, 2014


The Pets for Life program is community-outreach effort that uses innovative strategies to save pets by helping communities that—because of economic, social, linguistic, or cultural factors—don’t have access to pet-care information, resources, or veterinary and related services, despite an often great need.

The goal of PFL is to reduce suffering and cruelty, prevent shelter overpopulation, and promote veterinary care, thus improving the lives of people and animals in under-served communities.

- Humane Society of the United States

Last fall, Angels of Assisi was chosen as one of 19 organizations nationwide to bring Pets for Life to our community. After much data collection, a trip to Atlanta to see how it was done, and staff planning, we made our first venture into our chosen neighborhood yesterday. It was time to test the waters, so to speak, and we started out with 4 free spay and neuter vouchers, information about the free pet services offered at Angels of Assisi, including a pet food bank, and hopeful hearts.

As expected, the waters were friendly, and the first four people offered the free vouchers gladly accepted them. We got to meet some nice pups, and chat about where folks obtained their four legged family members- usually it was from friends or other family members. The information received reinforced the goal that if the animals in our chosen neighborhood are sterilized, there will be no need to ask other friends or family members to take in unplanned puppies or kittens, they can adopt one instead.

What I did not fully expect was how heartbreaking it was to see dogs chained to trees, and a "neighborhood" dog hobbling around with crooked back legs. I saw it in the projects of Atlanta, but this time is was different, this time it is right in our backyard. The purpose of Pets for Life is not to rush in and Rescue All The Animals, but to give folks the information and resources needed to care for their pets in the best way possible, and no one preaches that more than me. Truth be told, it won't be easy.

However, we can't keep filling up already full to the brim pounds and rescues with more and more animals. Instead, we can find a way to keep those animals safe and sound in their homes. The good news is, the people we spoke to yesterday want the best for their pets, and I truly believe most do. They do not want to see animals suffer, or die because of space issues at the pound. It's a tremendous foundation to grow on, and so, the time has come to dig a little deeper, and work a little harder, and have the time of our lives making a difference.

February 5, 2014

All In A Day

We've got a new set up in one of the small office spaces in the wellness area with the addition of a couch, chair, and, most importantly, some privacy. This afternoon the tiny room with the big furniture should have felt crowded with 2 adults, a large golden retriever, and a beagle filling it up. Yet it didn't, as they had condensed themselves into a huddle on the couch, trying to take up the least amount of space possible, not only physically, but also by being very conscientious and respectful of our work flow and routine.

As I entered the room, tear streaked faces asked for help. The couple had lost everything, and "could you please, please ma'am, find our pets a good home". As we discussed their future, the dogs kept looking at their owners for reassurance, and finding it, having no idea that their lives were about to change.

Together, we worked out a plan. The huddle relaxed, and then expanded to fill up the room. Shoulders lowered, smiles emerged out of gratitude, and tears continued to flow, but this time from relief. We gathered food, new dog beds, treats, toys, and phone numbers to send home with the foursome, and a plan for the dogs to come in next week to give us some time to find foster homes. The beds were sent home today so the pooches could get used to them and have something familiar to take to their new homes.

Today's events fit in with the new direction Angels of Assisi is taking- keeping animals out of the local pounds and providing workable solutions for the families in our community. This particular story does not have a freedom ride leaving the pound social media photo blitz, and it will not have a saved from the kill list at the last minute shout out, for the simple reason that these ten year old dogs will not end up at the pound. What this story does have is a family at peace with a difficult situation, a plan in place for the care of their animals, and something learned so that those behind them may have similar outcomes. And, perhaps best of all, it has a smiling beagle, and there ain't nothin' better than that.

Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through,
but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it.
In a way, empathy is predicated upon hope. 
- Cornel West

February 4, 2014

February 3, 2014


Pets for Life builds humane communities using innovative approaches designed to extend the reach of animal services, resources, and information to under-served areas. Addressing the imperative need for accessible, affordable pet care, this program helps animals by empowering the people who care for them.

Our neighborhood has been chosen, and the Angels of Assisi team will be taking it to the streets this weekend. Initially we will provide food, collars, leashes, and spay/neuter, spay/neuter, spay/neuter.

Moving forward, we will add dog training classes, wellness, alternatives to chaining dogs outside,  humane education, and the resources to keep pets happy and healthy, in their own homes. We're betting that life will be better for all involved, canine, feline, and human, especially for the folks on the giving end.

Lobby Talk

Quote of the Day from the Angels of Assisi lobby:
The day I got married, my ex-husband had some advice for my new husband: "don't ever ask her to pick between you and the dog."

- Daisy's mom


February 1, 2014

Logan Biscuit

After living in a too small rabbit hutch for nearly 3 years, Logan is now stretching his sore ridden legs at Angels of Assisi.

Initial tests for heartworm and other major illness have come out well so far. His physical scars may heal faster than his emotional ones, and we've noticed that he sleeps with his front legs tucked way up into his chest- perhaps a matter of habit from living in a space too small for him to stand up straight in.

Bobbie has taken Logan under her caring and knowledgeable wing, and will be working with him to carefully stretch those emotional boundaries until they catch up with the expanded physical ones. Right now, we are taking it one day at a time, but are very hopeful that this sweet spirited boy is going to be just fine.

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand,
not the kindly smile,
nor the joy of companionship;
it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one
when you discover that someone else believes in you
and is willing to trust you with a friendship.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson