Pet Alliance Shelter Star – Irene

Pet Alliance Shelter Star Irene is the proud mom of five-year-old Roxy, who she describes as sweet, loving, and playful – especially with her cat sister, Lucy! Irene talked with us about her experience as a monthly donor to Pet Alliance, why she prefers giving monthly, and how she feels about helping the pets in our shelter and the community as a whole.

Why do you give to Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando?

I give because animals need our help, they depend on humans to help them and they bring so much joy and comfort to all. A companion for a lonely elderly person, a best friend for a child. The Pet Alliance has done so much for animals as well as humans, they help in the community with low-cost veterinary care as well as food and very important spay and neuter programs.

What do you love about Pet Alliance’s mission and in what ways do you see it implemented in the community?

Not only do they help place animals in happy homes, they help keep families together, such as helping the elderly feed their pets. The Pet Alliance also helps educate people about the importance of animal welfare and how everyone can have a happy life with a pet!

Why do you choose to give monthly as opposed to a one-time gift?

I feel more connected, meaning I feel I can help out more, and feel it can help with the immediate day-to-day sudden needs that the shelter may encounter such as food, treats, leashes, etc.

How does Pet Alliance make you feel appreciated and that your gift is being put to good use?

I have volunteered, raised money and been aware of Pet Alliance for over 10 years and I can see from the events they hold for pet adoptions and the collaboration they make with other volunteer organizations that they are doing their best to help animals and humans alike, so I feel good knowing that my gift is helping save one more fur baby.

You can become a shelter star here

The Story of Tommy and His Big Heart

I’m Tommy, and I have a special heart.

I came to Pet Alliance right after Christmas, and I heard Dr. A, the shelter vet, saying something about how big my heart is. I thought “This is great, who wouldn’t want a cat with a big heart?”

Dr. A did some tests and found something called a heart murmur. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I had to have an EKG done. It turns out I have a hole in my heart.

Finding a family as a kitty with special needs can be tough. The doctors tell me I might not have as long to love as other kitties, but I know one thing – in the time I do have, I’ll love my new family twice as much.

I’m looking for an amazing family who knows I have special medical needs and that I might only have 3 to 5 years left  – but in that time, I’ll show them just how much this big heart can love them. I know I deserve a family, just like any other kitty. Can you be the one who fills the hole in my heart?

Tommy’s Search for a Family

At Pet Alliance, we don’t give up on pets because they’re medically needy. We know there is a family out there who understands that Tommy will require special care for the rest of his life and that the rest of his life may be shorter than other kitties’. But, we also believe Tommy is just as deserving as a family of his own – and that they’re out there. That’s why we’ll cover the cost of Tommy’s first follow-up heart exam for his adopter.

Do you think you can be Tommy’s forever family? If so, call us at 407-351-7722 for details.

If you want to help cover the cost of Tommy’s medical expenses and support other special needs pets at Pet Alliance, please make a gift today.

Giving Tuesday – Double Your Donation


After Black Friday and Cyber Monday there’s Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving back.  You can participate by helping the homeless dogs and cats in our community.

This year your donation will go twice as far thanks to Pet Alliance partner Reed Nissan.  They will be matching all Giving Tuesday donations dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000!

We also have another great incentive.  Everyone who makes a donation on November 29th will be entered to win four 1-Day Park Hopper tickets to Walt Disney World! View complete rules.


Max was adopted

Get started with these three easy steps:

  1. Make a life-saving donation to the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando
  2. Share that you care by taking a #GivingTuesday Unselfie and sharing it on social media! Download and print our #GivingTuesday UnSelfie sign (No printer? That’s okay, make your own sign!)
  3. Take your (or your pets!) photo with your sign saying why you support homeless pets…then tag your friends on social media challenging them to do the same!

Remember, there is never a time limit for how long a pet can remain at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.  In fact, Max stayed more than 15-months in our shelter before finding his furever home.  We need your support to ensure the next Max finds a home regardless of how long it takes.give-now

Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando Facts*:

  • 7,217 dogs and cats adopted
  • 895 pets transferred from Animal Service shelters
  • 15,574 spay and neuters performed
  • 43,537 pets treated by our affordable clinics
  • 29,761 people reached by our education programs

*Facts are for the 2016 fiscal year.





Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month

Kane at Reed (2)Throughout October we celebrate Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month. This annual celebration raises awareness of the approximately 4 million dogs in shelters in the United States right now.

The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando is proud to support this national event by offering $25 adoptions all month long on regularly priced pets (normally $75), age six months or older, at our Orlando and Sanford shelters.

Can’t adopt or already have pets? There’s still a lot you can do to help dogs in need during Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month.

10 ways to help shelter dogs:

  1. Help spread the word! Share adoptable pet photos from the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando on Facebook and encourage friends to do the same.
  2. Ensure your pet is spayed or neutered. This is a vital step toward preventing additional unwanted puppies and kittens.
  3. Create your very own personal page to celebrate your pets adopt-a-versary,  birthday, Halloween or any other creative idea you have! Then ask friends or family to support you. Each donation, whether $5 or $10, is significant toward providing care to pets in need.
  4. Share our shelter wish list with friends and family or start a donation drive. Items like dog and cat treats, toys, and towels go a long way toward making pets stay in our shelter more comfortable. Most items can be easily purchased on Amazon.
  5. Microchip your pet! By reuniting lost pets with their owners, we reduce the stress on local shelters in the area. Without a microchip, only 15% of dogs that enter a shelter are reunited with their owners.
  6. Attend the 25th Anniversary of Furball on Saturday, November 5 at Rosen Shingle Creek.  Tickets are available online now.
  7. Tweet about it! This is a great start: “October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month! Check out @PetAllianceGO’s pets now:”
  8. Donate!  We invest $356.50 in each dog and $225.50 in each cat up for adoption. Fees are typically $75, we depend on community support for the difference.
  9. Sign up to volunteer at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. We have shelters in Orlando and Sanford with opportunities in a variety of areas including photography, fostering, helping with special events or just being advocates for us in the community.
  10. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! It’s fast, free and fun! Each month you’ll get event news, pet health tips and more!



Patty Sheehan to be Honored

2016 Furball

pattyIn 2014,  Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando established the Animal Hero Award to honor the people who go above and beyond to improve the lives of pets in our community. Each year, the recipient is honored at our annual Furball gala. The 2016 recipient is City of Orlando Commissioner, Patty Sheehan.

The proud pet parent of her two rescues, cat Nina Simone and Yorkie/Schnauzer mix Siena, Sheehan has had pets as long as she can remember. She knows the personal joy and companionship pets give to their human friends, and the ability they have to bring people together in the community. On her daily dog walks, she often stops to talk with her neighbors and values the connections she makes with people through their shared love of dogs.

Commissioner Sheehan continuously advocates to make positive changes for pet owners in the community. In 2006, she helped lead the charge for the passing of the Dixie Cup Clary Local Control Act, a “doggie dining” law which permits local cities and counties to enact ordinances to open their outdoor dining areas to dogs in Florida. She partnered with state representatives and went to Tallahassee to support the legislation.

In addition to doggie dining, Commissioner Sheehan is also proud of the City’s decision to create the first official dog park in downtown Orlando. Constitution Green park, near Lake Eola, will be a wonderful space for families that will include a secure dog park. This green space in the heart of the city will give residents in the condos and apartments a walkable destination for their dogs to play.

For the past two years, she has served as the community’s “Pack Leader” for Paws in the Park. With the help of her faithful dog Siena, she leads the 1,000 plus participants in Orlando’s largest dog walk around Lake Eola.

She also understands that creating space for pets is just one reason Orlando was voted friendliest pet city in the US in 2016. She is a strong voice for spaying and neutering pets as a way to reduce dog and cat overpopulation. Her passion for low-cost and free spay/neuter opportunities for pets led her to hold a fundraiser selling her “Bad Kitty” artwork that raised $5,000 to benefit Pet Alliance’s program. The art was inspired by her black cat Louie who loved to run up the curtains and earned the affectionate nickname – Bad Kitty.

Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando is proud to honor Commissioner Patty Sheehan with the 2016 Animal Hero Award.  She is an outstanding representative for all of our dogs and cats.

Why do cats have whiskers?

whiskersLike us, cats are mammals that are covered with hair. But there are definite differences in the hair that covers our bodies! First, most humans (except those that are going bald) have thicker hair on their heads than their arms and legs while cats have a pretty even distribution of hair over most of the body. Also, our hair grows longer on our heads than other areas, while certain cat breeds, like Persians or Maine Coons, have hair of pretty consistent length overall.  And, finally, while we may have whiskers on our faces, they are nothing in comparison to kitty whiskers!

What are whiskers?

Even though whiskers erupt from hair follicles like other hairs, they really stand out on a cat’s body. Whiskers are coarser and thicker than regular hair and have roots that are three times deeper. Unlike regular hairs, whiskers don’t cover the entire body. They are strategically located above the eyes, on the chin, on the forelegs, near the ears, and above the upper lip. The exact pattern and location of whiskers varies with breed but most cats have 12 whiskers that are arranged in 4 rows on each cheek.

Whiskers are more sensitive than regular hairs because the follicles from which they originate are jam packed with blood vessels and nerves. In fact, whiskers are as sensitive as a human’s fingertips.  So, while human’s sense of touch is in the fingers, a cat touches the world with his face.

Whiskers are more than interesting facial features

Whiskers are more than just facial enhancements. They serve an important function. Whiskers are specifically tuned sensory equipment that guide a cat through daily functions. These specialized hairs aid vision and help a kitty navigate his environment, providing additional sensory input, much like antennae on insects.

Although whiskers are called “tactile hairs”, they don’t actually feel anything. They simply transmit information to sensory cells when they detect objects or movement. When air flows or an object brushes up against a whisker, the sensitive hair vibrates and stimulates the nerves in the hair follicle. This vibration gives whiskers their scientific name, “vibrissae,” from the Latin word vibrio, meaning “to vibrate.”  Detecting subtle changes in air currents, cat whiskers transmit information about the size, shape, and speed of nearby objects, which helps cats navigate the world.

Whiskers are body balancers

Cats have special sensory organs called proprioceptors located at the ends of their whiskers.  The proprioceptors send messages to the brain regarding the position of the body and limbs to keep the cat aware of what every part of his body is doing. This is part of why cats always land on their feet!


Whiskers are radar sensors

Cats are known for their great senses of smell and hearing, but feline vision is not so wonderful. Cats see better at a distance but have difficulty focusing on objects up close. Whiskers help cats “see” things that lie right under their noses by constantly sending information to the brain. As a cat approaches something in his path, he stirs up air currents that bounce back when they hit solid objects. Whiskers detect very faint vibrations caused by these changes in air currents and act like radar detectors. In the wild, whiskers can alert a cat to the presence of prey, potential enemies, or the location of his pack. At home, whiskers, help domestic cats locate their food bowls or favorite toys at night. In other words, whisker radar can help a cat hunt at night, as well as preventing him from bumping into walls in the dark.


Whiskers communicate emotions

When a cat is resting and content, the whiskers take a break. But when a cat is active, so are they! A happy or curious cat will elevate his whiskers above his eyes, giving him that cute, wide-eyed appearance we love. If a kitty feels threatened, he pulls the whiskers on his muzzle taut, flairs them and directs them forward toward the threat.


Whiskers are protectors

These sensitive hairs respond when touched by the smallest particles. When a tiny speck of dust falls on a whisker above his eye, a cat will blink or shake his head and fling it off. This reaction protects the eye, which can be injured by even a tiny dust particle. When walking outside, if the whiskers on a cat’s muzzle encounter a tall blade of grass or a thorny bush, they prompt the cat to back up to avoid being scratched or poked in the eye. Whiskers save the day!

Whiskers also prevent cats from getting into jams. As a kitty approaches a narrow spot in the fence,  a slender space between rocks, or a small area between the living room chairs, whiskers help him determine if he can fit through the passage without getting stuck or turning over the furniture. This keeps the cat out of trouble in more ways than one!


Whiskers need protection

A good portion of the cat’s brain is devoted to processing data from touch sensors. Whiskers are reliable touch sensors, so almost 40% of the brain’s sensory area aligns with parts of the body that have whiskers. Each individual whisker can be traced back to a specific spot in the brain, which means that whiskers occupy valuable neurological real estate in the feline body.

Because whiskers are so important to a cat’s ability to safely function inside and outside, we need to protect them. When petting your kitty, touch the whiskers very gently along the grain. Don’t pluck or pull on the whiskers, which will be painful for your cat. When grooming your cat, avoid cutting the whiskers, which may decrease his special awareness and cause confusion.

Whiskers are both cute and functional — what versatility!