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The Save My Pet Fund: A Hand Up for Pets in Need

By Kathleen Beaver, Animal Friends’ President & CEO

We all have to make choices. It’s just part of life.

We make choices every day when it comes to how we spend our hard-earned dollars. Can we adjust that thermostat and save a few dollars? Is a big vacation really in the cards this year? Can we get a few more years out of our car?

Those are the easy decisions.

The harder ones are the life and death decisions.

How can I afford the surgery for my dog that was just hit by a car? Where will I find the extra $100 every month for my cat’s insulin and special food? My rabbit needs specialty treatment, but at what cost?

This is a position no one ever wants to find themselves in. And, sadly, it happens far too often.

Dr. Ingrid Naugle found herself faced with this exact situation. As she sat in a local vet’s office waiting for her cat to be seen, an older woman came into the waiting room upset and crying. Dr. Naugle asked her what was wrong and she shared that she had just put her dog to sleep because she could no longer afford his medication.

Saddened and baffled by this woman’s situation, Dr. Naugle decided that she needed to do something.

A retired doctor and lifelong animal lover, Dr. Naugle has always had animals in her life. She knows the joy they bring and the lessons they can teach. Her daughter, Iris, was so impacted by the animals in their home that she pursued a career in veterinary medicine. Sadly, Iris passed away unexpectedly before realizing her dream but her mother has continued to support local animal welfare organizations ever since.

The elderly woman in the vet’s office had a profound effect on Dr. Naugle. How could the life of a beloved pet come down to how much money was in your bank account? While she knew she could not singlehandedly help everyone, she did know she needed to do what she could. Even if it meant saving just one life, it was worth it.

With the help and guidance of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Dr. Naugle and Animal Friends came together and found much common ground. Our Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center was built in 2017 to be a center of hope and healing for pets whose owners are struggling financially. Our affordable care is targeted to those with financial need so no one has to choose between putting food on their table and proper care for their pet. However, at Animal Friends we have focused on wellness and preventative care like vaccines and spay/neuter services. What Dr. Naugle was suggesting opened up so many more possibilities for those who needed our services most.

And this is how the Save My Pet Fund was established. Through the generosity of Dr. Naugle, born out of the desperation of a grief-stricken pet owner and inspired by her daughter, this fund will be a lifeline for qualified clients of Animal Friends’ low-cost clinic who need additional, lifesaving care for their pet.

But we know the need is much greater than the funds available. And that is where you can help. Dr. Naugle invites those who have the ability to cover their own pet’s health needs to join her in ensuring that no one has to make the kind of heartbreaking decision that elderly woman had to make that day.

Visit for more information or to make a contribution.

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