I Hear With My Heart

It’s a story that could only have happened at Home for Life.®

It’s a story that lifts the heart. But you will not see this world exclusive in any newspaper or TV show. These days, news presses in on us from all directions—bad news, confusing news, sad news, stories that cause outrage or kill hope—leaving us shell-shocked and exhausted. This barrage of alerts and updates, vying for our attention 24/7, presents a world in chaos.

But there are other stories going on in the world that are just as real and just as crucial, and perhaps more worthy of our attention. These are the stories that restore our hope by touching our hearts, reminding us that our ability to care is the greatest power we have for repairing the world.

Last year, Home for Life® became center stage for one such story, when the paths of two beleaguered dogs met at our sanctuary. This is the story of Henry and Georgia, who suffered years of rejection, fear, and isolation before finding acceptance, companionship, and a home together at our sanctuary.

Two of a Kind

This miraculous outcome began in the typical way that a journey starts for dogs and cats who are unwanted in the shelter and rescue system. Shelters and rescues focus their efforts on adoption, fostering, training, food banks, and vet care, all in the name of closing the gaps in the animal welfare system. But all too often the biggest unmet need of all goes unnoticed: the thousands of dogs and cats who circulate in and out of the shelter and rescue system without ever finding a stable permanent home—animals like Henry and Georgia.

HENRY, a purebred border collie, is a blue-eyed ginger. He’s also epileptic and deaf. Originally taken in by border collie rescue, he was placed in a home that turned out to be a disaster. His “family” locked him in a crate where he sat for hours every day in his own urine. He was left isolated and only sporadically fed. His epilepsy also went untreated. When he was finally removed from this cruel situation, his whole belly and chest were bald from urine scald. Thankfully, an incredible young law student in Minneapolis learned of his situation and took charge of him, despite her busy schedule and two other dogs. She got him the medical care he needed and gave him a loving home. But then she got a job that involved long hours, travel, and a move to Chicago that disrupted Henry’s stability. She tried without success to find a new person to take him in. Henry needed a miracle to have another chance at life, but would he find it?

GEORGIA had a much different start in life than Henry, yet she still wound up circulating through the system, never finding a secure and permanent home. Georgia is a smooth coat collie mix, aged 6 or 7. She was rescued 4 years ago from a reservation in New Mexico and ended up in a shelter in that state. From there, she was accepted into the training program of International Hearing Dog (IHD), a Colorado nonprofit that trains dogs to help hearing impaired people navigate the world by alerting them to such occurrences as doorbells, a knock on the door, the phone, and many other auditory cues. Although she is a shy dog, Georgia is also very smart and tries hard at everything she attempts. It was no surprise that she did well in IHD’s 8 month long comprehensive training program to become a certified hearing dog.

Upon successfully completing her training, Georgia was placed out of state with a hearing-impaired man and his son. They lived in a basement apartment within a house. Georgia performed her hearing work well, and the man and his son bonded with her. However, she became increasingly reactive to people visiting their apartment. Her family felt she was “aggressive” to their guests. She started barking at sounds and soon the man’s landlord complained. This behavior was unlike anything IHD had seen from Georgia during her time in their program, and it was causing great stress for the man she was there to help. So, Georgia returned to the IHD facility where she was re-evaluated. IHD assessed that her posturing was due to a lack of confidence and lack of understanding about what she “should be doing.” Since a hearing dog’s role is a demanding one, IHD determined Georgia would fare better as a pet companion where she would face fewer expectations.

IHD next adopted Georgia to a family (father, mother, son, and daughter). They were, of course, candid with the family about Georgia’s shyness and aggressive posturing when she felt threatened. Again, Georgia bonded with the family but later became protective. The family worked with an animal behaviorist but eventually decided to throw in the towel and returned Georgia to IHD.

The staff at IHD were saddened by all Georgia had been through. They contacted Home for Life with a letter, saying: “Georgia is a very sweet girl. We feel that we have served her poorly by putting her repeatedly into situations that were not aligned with her nature. When given permission to be herself and the space to simply choose not to engage in a situation, she is loving and happy and even playful. We do not know what happened during the first three years of Georgia’s life on the Reservation, but she was a timid and scared girl when we first met her. We have thought about and discussed what is best for Georgia and tried to explore all her options. We have come to the decision that a sanctuary lifestyle without the demands and expectations of a typical companion pet will allow her the best option to live a quality life with a sense of security and contentment.”

The director of IHD, herself, wrote of Georgia: “Our brave girl, who tries so hard, is a sweet dog, but her fear and anxiety are profound. I have so much I would love to share with you about her. I have worked with dogs for three decades. Never have I seen a dog so in need of a forever home—a home for life.”

How to Save Them All

Animals carry the psychological scars of their past. It is hard enough to reassure any traumatized animal who has been through so much, let alone one like Henry who cannot hear. It is difficult to engage the trust of a dog like Georgia who has become hypersensitive to noises, and who is on edge in this world. Yet even the most timid or dejected dog or cat can still find a way to trust and feel loved again. With their heightened perception and sensitivity, animals navigate the world. Animals don’t comprehend or care about mission statements or strategic plans, but surely understand authenticity and discern without fail when they are cherished and safe.

Our hearts went out to these two beautiful dogs who had suffered neglect, fear, loneliness, and repeated rejection—two dogs with the same desperate struggle to find a place to belong. Their individual journeys took them through breed rescue, animal shelters, rehabilitation, specialized training, foster homes, and multiple placements. Yet they remained at risk.

Home for Life® was established to welcome animals like Henry and Georgia, and so many other cats and dogs who fail to find or keep homes. The plight of these dogs and cats has continued to confound the animal welfare world charged with helping them. Home for Life® has an innovative solution to help these special animals—a new idea that we call “the 3rd Door”—the care-for-life sanctuary, where their hearts can heal.

Henry and Georgia have been given a new start and a new life at our sanctuary, where they have found acceptance, loving care, stability, and friendship. Henry had been at Home for Life® for about two months at the time Georgia arrived. He came to our sanctuary shy and reticent, not ready to engage with other dogs. He settled in, but had not found any canine pals yet.

When we agreed to accept Georgia at the sanctuary, we never thought that she might be a possible friend for Henry. But, she was a herding breed, like him, and of similar age. Henry also seemed perfect for Georgia. She had become sensitive to noise and, being deaf, Henry was not a barker. In time, a bond began to form between them. They developed an understanding and partnership. Georgia expresses affection for Henry by touching noses with him and shouldering him in a comradely fashion when they run in the fields together. To see Henry and Georgia so happy together at last after all they have been through feels like a miracle. Their bond transcends their challenging pasts, and even Henry’s disability.

Hearing with the Heart

It seems like a miracle that the two dogs who came to Home for Life® have been so happy, after all they have been through and all the options tried for them. But when all else is gone or wrecked, these dogs can still hear with their hearts.

Our ability to help dogs like Henry and Georgia is not a result of luck. All that we accomplish starts with the belief that led to the founding of Home for Life® 23 years ago: animals who need us are not a problem to be solved, but an untapped treasure. We believe in the significance of every life we care for, and that the life of each cat and dog counts.

That perspective is transformative, a premise that creates miracles—from establishing and taking new ground for the most vulnerable cats and dogs, to creating a safer world for all animals by showing what’s possible, to reaching out to the community through our animals who serve as ambassadors for our mission and conviction that all life is valuable. As a supporter said to me in an email message, “Home for Life® is a sanctuary for us too because you show that there is still kindness and compassion in the world.”

And we show that miracles are still possible. Henry, the deaf dog, isolated in his own world, who must have been lonely and lost after his odyssey through rescues and placements, now has his very own friend and hearing service dog in Georgia. Henry who really didn’t like other dogs, found a steadfast companion in Georgia, and she found a job and outlet for all her hard work and training. Hearing with the heart made the miracle possible—a miracle that could have only happened at Home for Life.®

Heartfelt stories like Henry and Georgia’s are ones you, our supporters, have made possible and continue to help us create at Home for Life.® They are the stories and the miraculous outcomes that resonate with us, and that lift our hearts in these challenging times. We all need more good news and stories we can hear with our hearts.

With gratitude,

In memory of Raha by Vafa Animal Shelter

When Reza Davari and Mohammad Reza Raminnia went to a small town in Abhar to rescue an injured dog, they saw a calm dog that had lost half of its face. The village residents told them that on "Charshanbeh Soori" (firework festival), some people tied firecrackers to his snout so that they might laugh a little and have fun with the explosion.

Volunteers named him Ghahreman (hero) and transferred him to the Vafa shelter. But unfortunately, his condition was not well, and he could not eat, so he was sent to Tehran several times for treatment. Finally, in Vafa, they did everything possible for him, but after receiving admission from the Home for Life® sanctuary, Gahreman(AKA Raha) left Iran for America.

Farah Azari and Majid Hooshmand were with him at the Tehran airport. Then, a kind passenger took him to Toronto. Finally, Raha arrived in Toronto on August 4, 2017, and Vafa's friends in Toronto welcomed him. They were all upset to see such cruelty inflicted upon an innocent creature. Mr. Touraj fostered him for a few days, and Vafa's friends did not leave him alone for a moment until Amir and Farnoosh finally sent him to America.

In "Home for Life®," Raha had freedom. The staff and volunteers did everything for him during his five years there. Raha was about eight years old when he arrived in the United States. Burning half of his face, losing an eye, having a severe mouth infection, and arthritis were not the only illnesses he faced.

With a deformed face and sticking tongue, he soon became a prominent figure, The symbol of a victim, the victim of the ignorance of those who have not been taught that the life of other creatures on earth must be respected. They have not been taught that life for every animal on the planet is sweet and that even if you do not appreciate all life, at least do not harm them. These individuals have not heard that Gandhi once said, "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

Raha became famous. He was one of the most popular dogs at Home for Life® at every party and event. Famous and prominent figures in various fields, such as Jane Goodall, the ambassador of the United Nations and animal behavior scientist, and Ashley Judd, the Hollywood actress, have a photo with him.

Although Raha was happy and had a good life in Home for Life®, his problems worsened as he got older, until he died in early April 2022. We thank our friends at Home for Life® for their love and kindness, efforts to alleviate the suffering of injured animals, and everything they did for Raha.

Dear Raha, we will never forget you.
Rest in peace, innocent soul.
Home For Life® Animal Sanctuary

All Good Dogs Go to Heaven: In Loving Memory of Raha

Raha, the most recognized animal at Home for Life®, passed away at the sanctuary about 10 days ago.

Above: Raha as he looked when first arriving at Home for Life®. He couldn't open his mouth more than a centimeter due to the scar tissue from the firecracker trauma and he was slowly starving to death

Raha was estimated to be 13 or 14 years old. He was suffering from severe arthritis and on the maximum amount of medication to treat the condition plus special food for arthritic dogs, had sessions of cold laser therapy each week and slept on his own orthopedic cushion. All these therapies, however, did not relieve his discomfort, and he seemed to be in alot of pain in the last 2-3 days of his life. In the end, Raha had stopped eating and was breathing very heavily, from the abdomen, yet bloodwork including a 4DX to check for tick borne illnesses, was normal. We had also had him reevaluated at the University of Minnesota Vet Hospital, to check for condtions like immune mediated arthritis.

Raha meets Dr Jane Goodall at our 2018 Gala

The recommendation was for Raha to lose some weight. For a dog who had suffered so much in his life, it was important to be sure he did not endure a painful end so we chose to let him pass peacefully with help to cross. Near the end he was very detached which was so unlike the Raha we knew. He was at the end of his life and ready to let go. At this point, further intervention would have been for us and not for him.

Above: Raha served as a therapy dog in our Peace Creatures program

Already older, probably over age 8 when he came to Home for Life in the summer of 2017, and already arthritic, Raha had lived the hard life of a street dog in Iran for many years. Someone had already cut his ears off. Older, slower moving and friendly towards people, he was vulnerable and became a victim of shocking cruelty that left him with terrible facial deformities. The firecrackers that had been tied in his mouth and then set off did not explode but caused extensive trauma including severe burning to the tissues. When he arrived at Home for Life®, we found that he was suffering from a terrible infection and couldn't open his mouth more than a centimeter. Vafa Animal Shelter, who had taken him in after he was injured, were feeding him with a syringe but Raha was a big dog and needed far more calories than could possibly be administered that way. He was slowly starving to death.

Above: Raha with his friend Tux

It took us months of intense rehabilitation and a complicated surgery but Home for Life® was able to save Raha's life with the help of many skilled veterinarians, and we also gave him a life. In spite of what had happened to him, Raha still loved people and served as one of our therapy dogs until he became too arthritic to ride in a car and move around comfortably at our outreach sites. He even had some brushes with fame, meeting actress Ashley Judd and Dr Jane Goodall at Home for Life's® galas. We could have never imagined the impact Raha would have on so many people when Vafa asked us to help him back in 2017.

Above: Raha rolls in the dandelions last year. We're sad that he will miss spring this year but where he is the flowers are brighter and the grass smells sweet.

Raha was so well known because of the evil he had survived which maimed him so horribly. But he wasn't a victim and I think that he overcame the injustice that he had suffered is what touched the hearts of anyone who met him. Thanks to the many people who were inspired by Raha and who loved him as we did Home for Life® was able to ensure that the brutality inflicted on him never defined him and was not the end of his story. Raha's beautiful smile and his soul will always live in the hearts of those who cared about him.

Above: Raha in the light. We will never forget you, Raha. Rest in peace.

Doing the Impossible: Afghanistan Dog Rescue

The difficult I’ll do right now. The impossible will take a little while.” -Billie Holiday

We didn’t know how we were going to manage it. And yet, we didn’t know how we could refuse. The Kabul Small Animal Rescue (KSAR) in Afghanistan was desperate for help. This animal welfare organization, directed by American Dr. Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, sheltered many stray dogs and cats, brought to them by U.S. soldiers, contractors, and kind-hearted Afghan children and adults who had rescued the animals from injury, illness, starvation, and even abuse.

In the U.S. we see every dog as a pet needing a home, a potential family member who deserves to be known and cared for as an individual.

In Afghanistan, and many other countries, street dogs are just animals living among people. It is easy to disregard the sufferings of a random, stray dog, especially amid the upheaval that war brings. To care is to feel another’s pain, and people may not risk caring if they feel helpless to fix the situation.

In Afghanistan, KSAR was an oasis for the street dogs and for the people who saw their suffering and let themselves care. Here was a place animals could go to heal and be sheltered. Amid the impersonal, blunt chaos of war, KSAR had taken a stand for kindness, for the willingness to step up and help, to risk caring. They were slowly changing the norm of indifference and helplessness. But now, events on a larger stage threatened everything they had accomplished.

The fall of Kabul to the Taliban was imminent, and with the pull-out of American troops this summer, it was likely that the shelter would be forced to close. The dogs and cats who had been rescued would be released back to the streets or be put down. The staff, many of whom were women, knew they would have to quit work or flee.

While the world’s attention was riveted to the news from Afghanistan last summer, the media reports were not the whole story. Running parallel to these unfolding events, the lifesaving evacuation of the KSAR dogs was under way.

This summer, through a rescue contact here in Minnesota, KSAR reached out to Home for Life® Animal Sanctuary for help saving the lives of their dogs. Their plea was part of an appeal to shelters and rescues across the United States. Of their 50 dogs and puppies they were hoping to move before Kabul fell, KSAR was most concerned for several special needs dogs—some disabled, some very shy, some with harrowing histories of abuse, and some simply overlooked by other organizations focused on adoption. These were dogs they knew would never survive on the streets. When Kabul fell, the shelter would be forced to close, and these dogs had nowhere to go if they could not come to Home for Life.

Home for Life Animal Sanctuary accepted 7 dogs from KSAR—more than any other organization! Who were these dogs we could not turn away?

Seven dogs in all. Seven precious lives who found a Home for Life® at our sanctuary!

Above Kara: Kara, an Anatolian Shepherd mix, was rescued at Camp Eagle by an American contractor who saw her trying to protect and care for her seven puppies while living on a garbage heap. Kara is very shy and because of her color (black) was overlooked by the other rescues contacted to help the Afghan dogs. She was one of the leftover adult dogs who would have been turned back out on the street once Kabul fell, and a dog that Charlotte and her shelter team believed would not survive on her own. We weren’t PLANNING on helping seven dogs, but could not leave Kara behind.

Above ZsaZsa: Beautiful, timid Zsa Zsa came into KSAR from a not ideal home, where she was left tied out to be attacked by other dogs. She was surrendered with a litter of puppies who found homes, but the shelter was protective of Zsa Zsa who had already suffered so much. At her age of 6 years and with her timid personality, they didn’t want to see her bounce from home to home, so asked Home for Life® to give her a safe setting for her senior years where she would not experience the terror and upheaval of her prior life.

Above Robbie: Robbie is a large, female Anatolian shepherd mix. She was found by KSAR’s staff suffering from mange and malnutrition on the streets of Kabul. After all the work they put into restoring her health, they didn’t want to see her released back to the streets to sink or swim, especially because she is very shy. Robbie was overlooked by other rescues and shelters during the nationwide appeal on behalf of the Afghan dogs to bring them to safety before the fall of Kabul, so Home for Life® offered to help her.

Above Salty: Salty is the personal dog of KSAR founder Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, and her favorite living being in the world! It is a measure of how desperate the situation was before Kabul fell that Charlotte decided to send Salty to the United States, to let her go rather than risk not being able to care for her or to be forced to let her go back to the streets. Salty lost her nose, parts of her lips, and eye lids due to a sand fly infection. She is timid of other dogs, but loves cats!

Above Lilly: Our beautiful girl Lilly from the Kabul Small Animal Rescue, was born with Etrodactyly, a severe and rare genetic disorder causing splitting of the bones in the front paw. She was rescued by American GIs at Camp Scorpion. She gets around, but likely will need more significant medical attention than the shelter could give her there. As the Taliban advanced on Kabul, the shelter was facing the real possibility of having to close and put the rescued street dogs at the shelter back on the streets. They knew a dog like Lilly would never survive and were very concerned for her welfare, so they asked us to help her.

Above Ollie (in the blue collar and yellow tag) and Roxanne (also shown in top photo of this article}: are both from KSAR. Ollie was near catatonic when he first arrived at Home for Life® and survived abuse in his home country including the amputation of part of ear and a long, serious, now healed wound on his side, probably caused by someone using a knife. He was rescued by a sweet Afghan boy who drove off a pack of dogs mauling Ollie. The boy then loaded up Ollie in a taxi and brought him to KSAR’s shelter. Roxanne, one of the director Charlotte’s own dogs, was found being kicked around by Afghan police like a soccer ball. Charlotte drove them off and took Roxanne home with her to nurse back to health.

The Small Work in the Great Work

A shift in outlook leads to a change in behavior, which leads to a change in reality on the ground. These shifts and changes don’t happen under the spotlights, for all that the media strives to hold our attention fixed on the politicians and famous. No, change begins at the margins, with people who are creating the world in their own small spheres, while nobody seems to notice—people you never hear about, yet who share common ground with YOU, a person of caring and compassion.

Through your compassion, you share a connection with quiet, unknown individuals a world away—the Afghan child, the KSAR staff, the U.S. soldier and contractors—who let themselves care about a suffering street dog. Because of you, their efforts and emotional investment will not be hopeless. Because of you, the dogs they got to know and care about as individuals are now safe and happy, with a home for life!

Doing the Impossible

Kindness is a revolutionary act. Once we have seen the world as it could be, as it should be, it is impossible to remain complacent. We can no longer accept abuse, neglect, and indifference.

To shed light on the cruelty these dogs have overcome is one important tool we as animal advocates have to challenge the attitudes which led to the maltreatment. To achieve radical change, though, a revolution of kindness, takes something more: to demonstrate what’s possible by taking a stand for compassion so that those who have risked caring for these vulnerable dogs know their efforts have not been futile.

The rescue of the seven Home for Life® dogs from Afghanistan has rewarded the kindness of the people who first recognized and responded to their plight rather than turning away, hopelessly. When kindness is rewarded, it multiplies. Everyone involved in the redemption of these dogs has seen what the world could be and joined hands to make it so.

Your support has an impact that spreads far beyond the sheltering walls of our sanctuary to start a revolution of kindness in a country a world away. Be part of the kindness revolution that saved these special dogs and took a stand for a better world.

With warm wishes for your holiday and the new year,
Lisa LaVerdiere, Executive Director, and all of us at Home for Life®

Going Viral

In January 2021, we were contacted by Kindred Kitties of Kenosha, Wisconsin—a group that rescues and finds home for cats. They were hoping that Home for Life® could give Trudy and her kittens a safe landing. The little cat family looked healthy and adorable, but they had tested positive for Feline leukemia (FeLV), a viral disease that can spread to other cats through persistent contact, and is ultimately fatal. Though infected, cats with FeLV can live years without suffering or showing any symptoms of illness.

Trudy and her kittens were currently healthy. But they needed to be kept away from other cats who could catch the disease from them. At the same time, they deserved a good life and a safe home. They had the chance to enjoy many years of good health before becoming actually sick.
Kindred Kitties needed to find a safe landing for all seven cats, with people who recognized that these cats’ lives are as precious as any other cat’s life. Although they knew the cat family deserved a good life and safe home, they had no ready means to help them. And few groups are equipped to help cats like Trudy and her kittens. 

How to Mismanage an Epidemic

Alfred and sisters Andrea (center) and Audrey
Alfred and his sisters Andrea (center) and Audrey

For many years, rescues and shelters would euthanize cats who received a positive blood screening for FeLV.  These groups rationalized their policy, saying so many cats and kittens needed homes that there were just no opportunities for FeLV+ cats—an unacceptable rationale, especially because the blood screening often returns a false positive!

Even though many groups hastened to euthanize cats who tested positive, the disease continued to spread.   A reservoir of infection persisted in feral cat colonies, caused in part by some of the groups managing the colonies through TNR (trap-neuter-release) programs.  These groups would too often release cats back to their colonies even when they were known to be positive
for the virus. Their misguided practice exposed non-infected cats to the virus, and subjected many cats to unnecessary suffering.   

In short, both practices (automatic euthanasia and allowing infected cats to spread the disease) have shown a callous disregard for life that is inconsistent with the spirit of animal welfare.  

Feline leukemia, first discovered in 1964, is a contagious virus that spreads among cats through close persistent contact over a long period of time, through shared grooming, food dishes, nursing, and bites. FeLV is not an airborne virus but can be transmitted from a mother who is positive to her kittens. And that is what happened with Trudy and her six tiger striped kittens.

Nine Lives—The Special Role of a Sanctuary

Home for Life® has always taken a different approach to addressing problems in animal welfare. We believe that it is impossible to benefit animals as a whole without caring about each individual animal. While we are mindful of the broad factors affecting animal populations, our focus and service have always been directed toward individual animals. And by serving individual animals, we have been able to exert widespread influence on the direction of animal welfare practice.


As a care-for-life sanctuary, we can do things other groups cannot
. And we recognized long ago that we could really make a difference for cats by offering a life-saving refuge to FeLV+ cats. Almost 15 years ago, Home for Life® constructed a building dedicated to the care of these special cats and kittens—a space where they can feel cozy and safe, with comfortable furniture, climbing trees, toys, with heated floors in the winter, cooled in the summer, huge windows with ledges to sit in and watch the world, with huge, protected cat runs accessible by cat doors—all tended by a full-time staff who provides loving attentive care.

We always have felt that if people could see our FeLV+ cats,  we could change the perception of them among rescues, shelters, and the general public who would  realize these cats and kittens didn’t need to be killed based on a screening test. That’s how a sanctuary can show what’s possible and start a movement that saves the lives of cats and dogs previously boxed out of the animal welfare discussion. 

Infected cats do not need to be killed out of hand. As long as they are kept quarantined, they can live out their lives safely and comfortably, like any cat. At Home for Life,® we have had several FeLV+ cats enjoy years of good health with no apparent symptoms in spite of being positive for leukemia. Like any cat with nine lives, our FeLV+ cats and kittens often defy the odds, and embody the truth of the sentiment:  “Life is short, but it is wide.” Whether they live months or years, these special kittens and cats seem to relish every day of their lives, making the most of every moment, glad to be alive.

Andrew and his brother Arnold
Andrew & his brother Arnold

It is so meaningful that this family of cats got to stay together, which is something special that sanctuaries can do, unlike organizations with a strong emphasis on adoption—where animals who are devoted friends or family members are often split up to be placed more easily.
We were able to keep these close-knit family members together, which helped them transition to their new lives.

The “A” Team

Our new family of feline leukemia kittens are shy but sweet and all variations on a theme of brown tabby and white and all with names beginning with the letter A:  Aaron, Alfred Arnold, Andrew, Andrea, and Audrey. To help us distinguish them, we have given each a different colored glitter collar and put together a key, posted in the cattery. It is helping them to transition, to have the support of each other, but we want to get to know them as individuals and not a litter or group. As they became more confident and used to our staff, we have given them the run of the cattery and the outdoor cat runs which they love, and especially now that it’s summer and warm.

Going Viral


Home for Life® has long been known for our care and advocacy on behalf of cats who are positive for leukemia. Quality of life matters even in the face of a virus and the fear it causes. Now we are experiencing this as human beings with Covid. In the animal welfare world, there has been widespread fear and misunderstanding about leukemia that resulted in most cats who tested positive being euthanized based on a screening test. At Home for Life,® we are helping to change that misguided treatment of these cats.

Those who visit us marvel at the beautiful condition and happiness of our cats and kittens. People who meet them in “purrson” can never again dismiss these special kittens and cats as unworthy of life because they are leukemia positive. By showing what’s possible, Home for Life® has created a movement, a lifesaving life-affirming stake in the ground that has gone viral, changing the status quo of these special cats in animal welfare.

The Heartbeat of Home for Life®

The millions of suffering, lonely and unwanted animals are made up of individuals like Trudy and her kittens. Whenever we disregard or devalue one of them, we place all animals in jeopardy, since any dog or cat can lose their home, become old, injured or ill and unwanted. What keeps animals safe and cherished is our attitude towards them, and our capacity to care. For animals who are vulnerable, everywhere, we can’t turn away from tough cases like feline leukemia positive cats or consider their fate of negligible consequence. Saving an animal is more than a metaphor. It matters! Whenever you step up for one animal, you are taking a stand for all animals in similar situations. You are demonstrating what is possible. 

In a system designed to handle problems on a mass scale, individuals can be overlooked. Yet behind every data point and every number is an individual, with a story and the need for someone to recognize all that makes them special.

Home for Life’s® focus on overlooked individuals has enabled us to spot gaps in the animal welfare system where cats or dogs are underserved and vulnerable, to identify where change needs to happen, and where there is opportunity for widespread improvement. No other group of animals we help at Home for Life® represents this focus of our organization more than our feline leukemia cats.

Trudy enjoys summer at Home for Life® in the outdoor cat run for our feline leukemia cats!

When you help Trudy and her family of tiger kittens, you do so much more than save the lives of 7 cats. You show what is possible. You change the status quo for vulnerable cats and dogs everywhere. You become an essential part of the lifesaving, life-affirming movement that is Home for Life®!

Thank you for your support which will change the lives of so many animals in need!

P.S. See some action shots of our feline leukemia kittens in this video at: