Serving Our Military Families

SPCA International provides Operation Military Pets grants to help military families transport pets to new duty stations.

Victoria is a U.S. Army soldier, a single mother of two, and an animal lover. Her orders recently took her from North Carolina to South Korea!

The Army paid for most of Victoria’s moving expenses, but none of the thousands of dollars it cost to move her pets. She reached out to SPCA International for help transporting her five-year-old German Shepherd mix, A.J. and SPCA International was able to provide her with a grant to help cover the unexpectedly high transportation costs.

Victoria and her children simply couldn’t imagine leaving A.J. behind. They have been through a lot together. A.J. came down with Parvo when she was a puppy and Victoria nursed her through it. The entire family takes walks together, and A.J. is part of a pet family that includes another dog, a cat, and two bearded dragons!

Now, settled in South Korea but still adjusting to their new life, the entire family looks forward to coming home to see A.J. and their other pets at the end of the day. Victoria shares that her pets are part of their family, and they help teach her children responsibility, love and care. They couldn’t imagine living in a new place without their pets.

Victoria is so grateful for the support provided by SPCA International and is happy that her entire family was able to stay together and make it to South Korea.

Shelter Spotlight: AMA in Guatemala

SPCA International is excited to announce a new partner in Guatemala. AMA (Asociación de Amigos de los Animales) helps local individuals foster animals and educates people throughout the city.

AMA’s founder shared that her original hope was to establish an animal shelter, but she didn’t have the funding. Today, she realizes this was a blessing in disguise. AMA is able to leverage the goodwill of city citizens to care for stray animals. Their reach is much wider than it would have been with a traditional shelter.

Now, residents know they can call AMA if they find a stray animal in need of care. AMA supports individual rescuers by helping with the costs of veterinary care and food, and finding a foster home if needed.

This support is critical because nearly 60% of Guatemalans live in poverty. Without AMA’s help many would be unable to care for an animal. AMA works to find permanent homes for the animals while they are in foster care.

AMA also works throughout Guatemala City to educate the public about animal care and welfare. For the last 25 years, AMA has been working to educate Guatemala City’s youngest residents by presenting at local elementary schools. They are even developing a custom coloring book that includes animal care tips and use an opossum named Johnny to help deliver their message.

Johnny-the-opossum was found injured about three years ago as a tiny baby. AMA saved his life by giving him round the clock care including bottle feeding. Unfortunately, Johnny can’t be released back into the wild, but he makes a wonderful spokes-opossum for animal care and welfare.

Video: Rescuing Ofelia

While visiting our partners AMA in Guatemala a dog was in urgent need of rescue. Watch Ofelia’s amazing transformation from a scared stray to a happy pup. You won’t want to miss this!

Video: Pup and Marine Reunite

This video will warm your heart! U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Morgan didn’t hesitate when Dani needed someone to care for her. They have come a long way from Eastern Europe, but they are together again in Pennsylvania. We wonder, will Dani’s tail will ever stop wagging?

Beat the Heat – Keep Pets Safe this Summer

Most of us enjoy summer hikes, swims, and other outings with our pets… follow these tips to keep them safe from the heat. 

  • Never leave your pet in a car! — A parked car quickly heats up and can reach temperatures 20 to 30 degrees higher than outside. Exposure to this high heat and low airflow can quickly result in the death of a pet. Please leave your pet at home or run that errand later.  
  • Always provide water – In the summer, your pet will naturally drink more water than usual. Make sure they always have plenty of clean water available, especially when you are out of the house. There are some great collapsible bowls for when you and your pet are on the go.  Hiking anyone?
  • Pets need shade – not a doghouse! If pets must be left outside during the day, hanging a tarp is a quick solution for a yard without tree cover. Unfortunately, a dog house can trap heat and become even hotter than outside.  
  • Avoid Asphalt – Hot asphalt can burn our pet’s feet – Consider walking your pet in the morning or evening to avoid the midday sunbaked asphalt.  
  • Trim haircut – Some dogs can benefit from a summer haircut, but they should never be shaved! Check with your vet to learn if you should trim your pet’s coat or not. Some long hair acts as a natural cooling system and daily brushing is the best advice.

If you detect any signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, such as excessive drooling/panting, red or blue gums/tongue, vomiting, lethargy, loss of consciousness, collapse and/or uncoordinated movements. If suspect your pet is at risk, contact your veterinarian immediately for medical care that may save your pet’s life.

Viral Video: Doggy Pool Party

Nothing says summer like a pool party. Watch as shelter dogs in Argentina are let loose at the pool. We can all identify with their rush to the cool water. Forget the sunscreen, these dogs are ready for a swim with their pals.

Shelter Spotlight: Campaign Against Cruelty to Animals Sierra Leone

The Campaign Against Cruelty to Animals Sierra Leone is an incredible grassroots partner. It was formed in 2005 by concerned animal lovers who are committed to animal safety and health. Founder, Tom Sandi, recently shared the catalyst for this organization. 

A dog in Tom’s community had eaten her own pups due to starvation. The owner ordered her killed and she was tied up so local youths could throw rocks at her and beat her with sticks. She escaped the rope and ran into Tom’s home to hide. He protected the dog, fed her, and knew he had to do something to protect other animals like her.

Protecting dogs and cats was a novel concept at the time, but Tom was able to find a few community members who supported his idea. Today, the organization is managed by a five-member board of directors and has a group of dedicated volunteers. 

The volunteers distribute food and medical supplies, but also focus on education. They have reached over 5,000 people through education and advocacy and regularly visit local elementary schools to teach compassion and animal care. They also have 20 “Animal Kindness Clubs” across the country with approximately 1,000 members.

Recently, SPCA International sent medication and pet supplies to Sierra Leone. They were distributed throughout the entire Kenema District in Freetown. Medication reached almost every family dog in the district through a week-long effort.

Many families in Sierra Leone can’t afford medication and veterinary care. That is why outside help is so important. Without it, most animals wouldn’t receive even basic veterinary care.  

With support from SPCA International, the campaign is able to increase their reach and save more lives.

Spay and Neuter Success in Chernobyl

By Lori Kalef, Program Manager

Thanks to many generous sponsors, approximately 500 dogs of Chernobyl received critical medical treatment this month. Along with our partner organization, Clean Futures Fund, and many dedicated Ukrainian nationals we held a successful three-week event focused on increasing the health and well-being of the dogs of Chernobyl.

I continue to be grateful to everyone involved in making this work possible. From North American donors and volunteers, to local veterinarians and power plant workers, the humanity of this operation is evident.

Since everyone can’t make it to Chernobyl, I would like to share some of my impressions from this latest trip. I could go on for pages, but a few things stuck out that warmed my heart.

First, I saw Symona, one of the dogs featured recently for sponsorship. Though she was spayed last year, this year she received updated vaccines, antiparasitic medication, and we tested her radiation levels to make sure she was safe.

We’ll continue caring for Symona to ensure she remains healthy. She lives near the cooling tower, where two friendly guards make sure she gets something to eat most days. 

Second, our catching team continues to amaze me. This group of about eight people is made up of North American volunteers, a local translator, and a local veterinarian. Though some dogs come right up to them, many dogs hide in the overgrown forests and abandoned houses in and around Chernobyl.

To protect themselves from radiation, the team has to be very careful. They can’t place supplies on the ground, and they all wear long sleeves and pants. They have handled the near 100-degree days of the past few weeks amazingly well. Without them, none of this would be possible. Now in our third year of sterilizing and providing medical care, over 1300 dogs of Chernobyl have received treatment. 

Last, but not least, our efforts in Chernobyl are truly making a difference. Though a few dogs remain unsterilized, the vast majority of dogs in the area are no longer reproducing. With fewer puppies being born, fewer dogs suffer.

On this trip, I found myself right under the unit 4 reactor where about eight dogs were roaming. Just two years ago, there were dozens of dogs in this location. The power plant workers used to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of dogs and couldn’t care for them all. With the reduced numbers of dogs, the workers can care for them all without the constant threat of more mouths to feed. It is truly a testament to what can be accomplished through partnership and hard work on behalf of animals in need.

Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for photo and video updates taken during the 2019 Dogs of Chernobyl clinic!


As you roll out the barbeque and fireworks, don’t forget your pet’s safety! July 5th is one of the busiest days for shelters across the country with a 30% increase in lost pets because many spooked pets flee their homes amidst explosions and smoke. This video rounds up some of the best 4th of July pet safety tips.


Are you hooked on the new HBO series Chernobyl? All of us at SPCA International are watching closely. Even though we have been working in the area for several years, the series is captivating. 

When thousands of people were forced to evacuate Chernobyl in 1986, they were allowed to take only what they could carry. They were told they would be home soon, so most people left their pets behind with a little extra food and water. Unfortunately, these families were never allowed to return for their beloved cats and dogs.

Miraculously, many pets survived the disaster on their own. Today, hundreds of their descendants continue to live in the Nuclear Exclusion Zone. These animals live short and difficult lives. They forage for food in the forests or depend on current power plant workers to give them scraps. Dogs rarely live to seven years old.

Since 2017, SPCAI has partnered with Clean Futures Fund to care for these dogs and cats. Thanks to the support of local organizations and many volunteers from around the world, we have been able to provide food, medical care, vaccines, and sterilizations to over 800 of the dogs and cats living in Chernobyl. 

Clean Futures Fund worked diligently to test radiation levels of these animals. They found that the majority of animals don’t pose a radiation threat to humans. Thanks to these very low radiation levels, Clean Futures Fund and SPCA International worked with the Ukrainian government to pave the way for 15 puppies to be removed from the Nuclear Exclusion Zone. These puppies were adopted into homes in the U.S. last year! No animal or object had ever been allowed to leave the Nuclear Exclusion Zone before, so this is groundbreaking.

Our team is heading back to the Nuclear Exclusion Zone next month to help more Chernobyl dogs and cats. Please join our email list to learn more about ways you can help or make a donation to help the dogs and cats of Chernobyl.

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