Tyler entered Virginia’s life as an eight-month-old, feisty Cocker Spaniel. He had been left at a shelter in Reno because his former owners weren’t invested in providing proper care for him. Since his former owners didn’t feed him on a regular basis or provide proper food, he had developed issues with food aggression. Despite this and the fact that he hadn’t been groomed for a long time, Virginia’s daughter, who volunteered at the shelter, saw his potential and knew her mother would love him.

Today, at 10 years old, Tyler still isn’t perfect but he is happy and healthy. He has been part of a family of two other Cocker Spaniels and a (recently passed away)cat. Virginia absolutely loves Tyler and he is as much her child as those she gave birth to. He sleeps on his own bed in her bedroom and is her constant companion.

Virginia and her menagerie moved to Monterey fairly recently and before they got established Tyler suddenly showed obvious signs of pain and stopped eating. This was troubling after the dedication and work Virginia had put in over the years to help him overcome his food issues. However, due to his serious mistreatment by prior owners, she was never able to brush his teeth and only get occasional cleanings.


Virginia was significantly distraught by Tyler’s pain and his inability to eat and took him to a local vet. At our Associate Member, Cottage Veterinary Care, the vet explained that Tyler had severe periodontal disease with bone loss and that his teeth must be extracted as soon as possible.

Virginia was unemployed and going through other financial difficulties. She could not afford the costs to have the emergency dental work done.  It appeared her only option was to euthanize Tyler, even though he was very healthy otherwise.

The staff at Cottage Veterinary Care mentioned that there were local agencies that might be able to help her with the cost.  She did a lot of research but was unable to receive the amount of support needed until she happened upon BirchBark Foundation, who provides a 50% financial assistance grant and works with its Associate Members so they reduce their costs by 25%. 


She applied online with heavy heart fearing she would be turned down.  To her immediate surprise, she discovered the BirchBark team was kind, friendly, helpful, and compassionate and the process was super easy. 

Virginia gives thanks every day for the organization and the vet that worked together to save Tyler’s life. Today, Tyler is happy and healthy still living with Virginia and the rest of his family. 

Please consider helping another pet stay in its loving home.



In May 2015, Angel, a 3-year-old Chihuahua mix, was brought into our Associate Member Hospital, Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital, in a state of emergency. Five days earlier, Angel had eaten a pair of underwear but had vomited them up leading her “mom” Amanda to believe that she would be ok. Keeping an eye on Angel, Amanda noticed that she was growing lethargic and started vomiting water after she drank a large amount. Once it became clear that Angel was no longer interested in eating and hadn’t had a bowel movement in a day, Amanda knew something was not right.

The veterinarians at SCVH had an x-ray taken and as suspected, there was evidence of a cloth-like substance stuck in Angel’s small intestine. Unfortunately, Amanda, a working widow and mother, was unable to come up with the funds to pay for surgery to remove the obstruction. With very few resources, Amanda reached out on her Facebook page and two strangers helped her pay for the initial visit and diagnostics. Staff at Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital told her about BirchBark Foundation and Amanda made the call to us. 

After qualifying for financial need, Angel’s records and estimate were sent to our veterinary review panel. It is their job to determine if the case meets our mission. Is this a life-threatening illness with a good prognosis? Will this pet have the potential to live a long, healthy, and cared for life with her family?

The answers were yes and BirchBark funded $3,300 towards Angel’s surgery with Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital providing a 25% discount on their services.  Angel made it through the surgery, with the surgeon successfully removing the obstruction and part of her bowels that had been affected by the materials. Angel was also spayed during the process, as is mandatory for all of our grant recipients.

In Amanda’s words, “Thank you so very much for you help... I can't thank you enough. Ever since my husband passed away 2 years ago, Angel is the glue that holds my 12 y/o daughter together. Without Angel, I don’t know how my daughter would be able to make it through, so THANKS YOU FOR THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!”

Please consider making a donation today to help another pet stay in their loving home.


Tater Tot


It had been many years since the loss of their beloved family dog, but in 2011 Peggy was finally ready to go searching for their new forever best friend. It didn’t take Peggy long to find Tater Tot in a local shelter, and when she saw how loving Ms. Tater Tot was, she promptly made her a member of the family. 


Peggy and her daughter, Shanna, quickly realized they had an angel in their midst, as Tater was exceptionally empathetic to the emotional needs of each family member. Soon Tater Tot was certified as a Service Dog for both Peggy and Shanna in the capacity of de-escalating anxiety and helping to lift depression. Tater Tot enjoys going everywhere with either Peggy or Shanna and is very happy in her new role with her new family.

Fast forward to 2017, Peggy and Shanna knew that Tater Tot had advanced stage periodontal disease and was not eating. Peggy had heard of BirchBark Foundation and called to see what help could be provided. She learned about BirchBark Foundation's protocol and was advised to take Tater Tot in for a consultation with an Associate Member Hospital to learn more about her condition and get a cost estimate. Peggy saved up and paid for the visit to Companion Animal Hospital. When she saw the estimate to remove 15 teeth for Tater and was denied Care Credit, she knew she would be unable to cover the cost to save her precious angel. 


BirchBark Foundation doesn't fund dental cleanings or dental care that needs to happen on a regular basis. The Foundation only provides grants for dental work in situations that are life-threatening, when the pet has oral abscesses, can't eat or eats with extreme pain.  With the help of Companion's discounted services, Birchbark provided a grant to get Tater Tot the full dental work and extraction of the diseased teeth necessary to have her start eating again. 

Now Tater Tot has bright pearly white teeth and is once again very kissable. Tater is vivacious, gregariously showering her love to all strangers who take the time to meet her on the many walks in our local parks and taking her service dog duties in stride with all of her big heart.

Please consider making a donation today to help another pet stay in their loving home.



Cooper is a friendly and energetic 9-month-old Chihuahua.  Cooper’s parents always wanted their daughters’ 4-year-old Chaizjuan, and 2-year-old, Chasziah to have a pet.  When Cooper’s Mom found him on Facebook, in need of a home, the family made arrangements to meet him.  The family realized that Cooper was the “perfect dog” for them, when Cooper let his older sister, Chaizjuan pick him up to cuddle just minutes after they met. Since then, Cooper has become the girls’ beloved canine brother.  

While walking Cooper one day, his dad noticed that Cooper was unusually lethargic, and disoriented.  When Cooper began vomiting, the family rushed him to the vet. Cooper was initially diagnosed with hypoglycemia. Cooper’s mom expressed relief: “It was the first time we ever had $175.00 in our savings account and we just had enough money to cover Cooper’s bill.”


When Cooper had another medical episode a week later, the doctor ordered blood work. It was suggested that Cooper might have a congenital condition called a porto-systemic shunt (PSS), Cooper’s parents worried about the costs. In order to obtain a proper diagnosis, the family was told that Cooper needed an ultrasound or CT (computed tomography), because those tests are the best ways to diagnose PSS.

A “porto-systemic shunt” is where a blood vessel forms abnormally shunting blood away from the intestines, carrying much-needed nutrition AROUND the liver instead of THROUGH the liver, which causes the liver to develop abnormally. If Cooper didn’t receive the needed ultrasound, his parents were told that patients with untreated shunts have shortened life spans, causing the liver to fail at a young age.

Wiping back tears, Cooper’s mom recounted her dilemma: “I felt like I had to find Cooper help; I knew we couldn’t afford the treatment, but we couldn’t give Cooper up, just because he was sick; what would we tell our daughters?”  Determined, Cooper’s mom reached out on Facebook, and she contacted her friends at the SPCA for advice; the family even initiated prayer chains for Cooper. Animal Welfare Assistance Group (AWAG) stepped in to provide the family with financial help, which led to a referral to BirchBark Foundation.


Cooper’s mom called BirchBark and applied through the online application process. After meeting the qualifications for financial need, Cooper’s records were sent to BirchBark’s veterinary review panel. The panel deliberated quickly and voted to fund the ultrasound and exam at Associate Member hospital, Pacific Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Services.

Cooper’s parents believe that finding BirchBark “was a miracle.”  They add: “the financial grant meant more to us than we can ever express.” After Birchbark funded the case and Cooper had the needed exam and ultrasound, it was found that he DOES NOT have PSS and his condition can be treated with a special diet. 

In the end, Cooper’s parents are grateful for their experience: “BirchBark gave us hope; the care and concern they gave Cooper and our family was amazing.  They were there for us and we can’t thank them enough for the grant; it’s been a blessing.”

To help a pet stay in its loving home, please consider making a gift today.



Hello! My name is Allison and I am the guardian of a beautiful female Bengal cat named Aja (pronounced like the continent Asia). A few months ago, Aja had a close encounter with a car on Soquel Blvd. Near State Park Dr.

Aja was thrown to the side of the road and somehow made it onto the grounds near Severino's where a passerby heard her crying and called Animal Control. Aja was then transported to the Soquel Animal Hospital ER where she was sedated and examined.


Aja was also scanned to see if she had a locator chip in her. She did, but I had moved from Scott's Valley to Aptos and neglected to update my new phone number.

The staff from the Animal Hospital then tracked me down through Facebook! Talk about blind luck! She was hit by the car early Saturday morning and on Sunday morning I received a phone call asking if I was missing a Bengal cat. I was elated!

I rushed down to the Hospital and when the staff showed me the cage where Aja was. I stuck my hand into the cage and at first she hissed and growled at me. As soon as she caught my scent she started purring and licking my hand (You found me!!!).

Soon afterward I learned that Aja had three fractures in her pelvis and would require surgery. I gave my consent to proceed and was informed that the cost of the procedure would be about $7,500.00.

The clinic informed me that they required immediate payment, or at least a substantial down payment. I called my sister for help, while I was waiting to reach her, a staff member handed me a brochure from the Birchbark Foundation. She explained Birchbark would furnish financial assistance to low-income individuals whose pets suffered a catastrophic but fixable injury.

Since I live on a fixed income this seemed like a Godsend. I filled out the application to see if I qualified for assistance. My grant came through, Aja got her surgery, and she is now in a rehab program at home! Up until the day of Aja's admittance to the pet clinic, I had never heard of the Birchbark Foundation. This is a wonderful organization that deserves to be supported by our community. Without Birchbark I could not have afforded Aja's care and she would have to be put to sleep. She is not just a pet, she is a member of my family. Thank You Birchbark for giving Aja a new lease on life!

To help more families like Alison and Aja, please donate today!



Fluffy is a 2-year old Chihuahua mix who lives with a large and loving family. His dad, took over responsibility for his care, when Fluffy’s original owner became pregnant and could no longer keep up with his needs and energy.

Day to day care for Fluffy and showering him with love isn’t a problem for his family. But they were unprepared for the cost when Fluffy escaped the yard and was hit by a car. Fluffy had multiple fractures and needed surgical correction with a bone plate.

Today, Fluffy is happy and healthy living with his loving family. Fluffy’s case illustrates the community of support BirchBark has in place with our Associate Member hospitals.

Fluffy’s care began at Pacific Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Service and finished up at Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital. We rely on our veterinary community for their expertise, compassion and willingness to discount their fees when working with a BirchBark Foundation client. We also couldn’t help Fluffy and his family without the generous donations of supporters like you! Please make a donation today.