My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who are introverts is to let their passion guide them. My passion for wanting to help save dogs’ lives and keep them at home is what drives me to continue with Sadie Dog Fund. I am not paid to do this. My reward is knowing that I have helped dogs.
Shy. Quiet. Introverted. These probably aren’t the adjectives that you’d associate with the founder of a non-profit. Nor are these the descriptors you’d probably expect of an animal activist. And so it are these surprising traits that sparked my interest in interviewing Pam Hoffman.
I first heard of Pam in a roundabout way. My husband and I were discussing possible treatments and associated costs for our ailing senior adopted dog with our veterinarian. She suggested that perhaps we could utilize Dog Sadie Fund. In checking out the non-profit’s website, I learned that the organization works to help to save dogs’ lives by offering financial assistance for procedures that pet owners can’t afford. I also discovered that the organization’s founder had written a picture book. Being a reviewer of books for young people, this fact naturally attracted me. Not only did I buy the picture book to review, but I also began to research am’s background.
In this article, one of many in a series at LAA Pet Talk about the people behind local animal welfare groups, I’ll share information about an inspiring entrepreneur and about the community service that Sadie’s Dog Fund offers. Tomorrow I’ll review Pam’s picture book.
When we agree to share our life with a pet we are promising to love, care for, and keep it safe for its entire life.
Nebraska-born, Pam grew up with animals and has always loved them. She refers to herself as one of those lucky kids whose parents let her grow up surrounded by pets. “I’ve shared my life with many dogs, cats, and horses that brought me much joy and unconditional love.”
As an adult, Pam continues to own pets, and many of her special memories revolve around them. For example, several years ago, Pam was delighted to see her newly rescued puppy-mill dog running freely in her backyard. Abbey had spotted her first monarch butterfly and “with wonder and curiosity she playfully tried to chase it. She was experiencing life as a normal dog.”
And then there’s Sadie, the inspiration behind and namesake of Pam’s non-profit. Pam’s friends kept bringing their dog’s litter to visit her and over time one became her favorite. She traded them three small pine trees for Sadie. “It was the best deal I ever made!”
The runt of her litter, Sadie was a cute cocker spaniel with freckles on her nose. Sadie was also Pam’s soul mate. Sadly, Sadie suffered from severe allergies that required medication to treat and had so much back pain that she needed a chiropractor and acupuncture. In caring for her beloved Sadie, Pam realized that animals with special needs can be wonderful pets too.
To those who face the challenge of a special needs pet, Pam says to “think outside of the box.” Specifically, she advises pet owners to: research all medical treatments available, make adjustments in a pet’s environment to accommodate its needs, and start a pet fund by saving money on a regular basis to help cover unexpected vet care.
About Sadie Dog
It is my way of paying back the gifts in life that animals have so richly blessed me with.
After Sadie died, Pam wanted her memory to live on. In 2007, she self-published a book about her sweet and loyal cocker spaniel. She wanted to teach people, especially children, that pets have value even if they have special needs, and that “They aren’t to be discarded like an old toy or a computer.” Pam also wanted to encourage pet owners to keep searching for ways to help their ailing pet. “Never give up on your pet and never give your pet up.”
How did someone without any writing background become an author? Pam had just become a grandparent, which opened her up to the world of picture books. She also felt capable of writing Sadie’s story because it was true and she had lived it. Even so, Pam admits that publishing Sadie Dog was a learning experience.
Pam self-published. This meant Pam needed to find an artist herself. She tried out three artists before picking one of them to do the illustrations. Self-publishing also meant self-promoting her book. She used newspaper and radio to advertise, contacted libraries across Nebraska about buying copies, placed stacks in stores that sell regional books, and even sent books to well-known animal-loving celebrities, such as Doris Day. In addition, Pam held a book signing at the farmers market and paid to have her picture book displayed at national book fairs.
About Sadie Dog Fund
I would have done anything for Sadie, like most pet parents would. Some are just at the end of their rope, they don’t know where to go and they’re so appreciative once we’re able to step in and come up with the funding.
With the proceeds from her picture book, Pam created The Sadie Dog Fund. The Hoffmans didn’t have any other extra income coming in but, with their children all grown up and living on their own, the decision was relatively easy: pets had always been part of Pam’s life; because of her experience with Sadie, Pam knew that caring for special needs pets was expensive; Sadie had been her soul mate; and creating a fund to help other dogs would serve as Pam’s way to give back and to help other pet owners.
The charity has resulted in unexpected benefits to Pam. She’s met a lot of vets and established relationships with them. She works closely with them to make sure applications are legitimate. Being in the animal welfare arena, Pam now knows who to contact if issues arise, and finds it rewarding to get together with advocates to talk and to learn.
Setting up the non-profit itself wasn’t the difficult part, because Pam had prior experience with bookkeeping and accounting. In addition, her strengths are organization and being detailed-oriented. What was hard for Pam was the promotion of Sadie’s Dog Fund. The first few times Pam appeared on television, she was a nervous wreck. In time, she has become more relaxed and started to have fun. It’s been a pleasure for her to see other groups come together to help with a common cause.
Pam dedicates all of her time to the Sadie Dog Fund and helping dogs. There are no typical days working with Sadie Dog Fund. Some weeks there are four or five applications to process. “This involves reviewing the application and asking people for omitted answers to questions as well as speaking with the veterinarian’s office about the case.” Other weeks there aren’t any applications. But then there’s always accounting, recording data, paying veterinarians, writing thank you cards to donors, planning fundraisers, applying to grants, updating the organization’s website and Facebook page, and more.
Amidst all these atypical days are successes and failures. One happy story that Pam recounted to me was of Blake, a black lab mix who was hit and dragged by a car. “His person could not pay for an exam. Sadie Dog Fund agreed to help. I attended the exam and fortunately Blake had no broken bones or damaged organs but he did have plenty of very painful road rash and a couple of lacerations.
“The owner didn’t bring Blake in to the veterinarian but sent him with her friend. The veterinarian and I could tell that Blake was at least 10 lbs. underweight and really needed a bath. I suggested to the friend that if the owner agreed, I would help re-home Blake. A few weeks later, Blake’s owner did agree to give Blake a better chance at a good home.
“I spoke with Karl Skinner when he was still with Nebraska No Kill Canine Rescue. He not only made arrangements to find Blake a foster home, but also contacted Second Chance Pups to see if Blake could be taken into their training program at the state penitentiary. Blake was accepted, went through training and was eventually adopted to a loving home. We love working together with rescues and this time it really paid off for a dog whose person could not give him the best care.”
Pam also shared what she considers Sadie Dog Fund’s saddest story. “That would be our recent attempt to help Copper, the 9-year-old Vizsla, who was intentionally shot on August 18, 2015, near a Waverly School sports field. His family was practicing punting and let Copper off leash to exercise a little. They heard a shot ring out. Copper made it back to his family and dropped at their feet in shock.
“Sadie Dog Fund was on board to help Copper’s family with costly veterinarian bills. We wanted to save Copper. After a couple of surgeries, blood transfusions and other tender loving care, Copper died on August 22, 2015. His injuries were just too extensive. His family was devastated and full of grief.”
Since 2007, Sadie’s Dog Fund has helped 300 to 400 dogs. Every penny donated is used to help promote the fund or to save the lives of dogs. In providing financial assistance to pet owners who otherwise couldn’t afford costly vet bills, the fund provides an alternative to ending a dog’s life prematurely through euthanasia or surrendering it to shelter. The number of requests have risen each year and Pam hopes to keep meeting the need.
About Giving Back
I am no longer shy about expressing my opinions on things I feel passionate about. I value my creativity. I value life, family and friends more.
Earlier this year, I started writing about the human faces behind local animal welfare groups. My hope is that in hearing about what each group does, you might feel inspired to contribute to or get more involved with one of them. Should you wish to donate to Sadie Dog Fund, for a contribution of $50 or more will earn, you’ll receive a signed copy of Pam’s picture book about her special needs cocker spaniel.
Visitors to the Sadie Dog Fund website are also encouraged to payback our veterans by donating it the Veteran’s Assistance Program, which helps give their dog a healthy life and to keep it in their home. “This fund can also help eligible U.S. Veterans receive an assistance dog and pay lodging expenses during training at Patriot Assistance Dogs.”
What if you want to get more directly involved in promoting animal welfare? “Look around your neighborhood, city or state. There are animals suffering at the hands of humans all over the world. Teach others how to be a responsible and loving pet guardian by your own example. Become active in animal advocacy groups. Volunteer to help animals.” Pam also mentioned specifically that ones can get involved with trying to change laws and to petition for a better life for animals.
The ways to help are incredibly varied, and there’s no one way to use your passion to speak for the voiceless. Whatever path you choose will reward you more than you can imagine. Please follow our ongoing series at LAA Pet Talk about the people behind local pet organizations for other ideas of how to help.
Qualifying for Sadie Dog Fund
You might qualify for help from the Sadie Dog Fund if you receive government assistance or if you’re a disabled U.S. Veteran or a retired U.S. Veteran in a low income group. If none of the above apply, but you have catastrophic personal circumstances, Sadie Dog Fund also might be able to help.
The Sadie Dog works through veterinarian referrals only. Should you need financial assistance for your pet’s health needs, you’ll need to obtain an application from your veterinarian, fill it out, and submit it with a photo of your dog. You’ll be required to pay the veterinarian at least 10% of treatment cost. For information on what paperwork you should bring with you to the veterinarian, please check out this link: Apply to Sadie Dog Fund
Sadie Dog Fund prefers to help clients only once. Pet owners are encouraged to start their own emergency pet fund. “Saving a few dollars each week or month will help with the cost of getting their pets the emergency medical attention they need and deserve.”