Tails of Hope: The Newsletter of Animals In Distress, Coopersburg, PA


Table of Contents


Are you desperate to hear about GOOD things happening in this world? Rather than all the sadness, divisiveness, and negativity that seem to fill the media and infiltrate our everyday lives, wouldn’t it be nice to celebrate Goodness, Kindness, and Compassion for others? Especially during the holiday season, we yearn for a message of Hope and Love and Faith. Instead, we are bombarded with the opposite.

This newsletter is our attempt to counteract all of the negative and destructive happenings with positive and loving messages, stories that prove the existence of Love, Hope, and Compassion all around us.

We wanted to send you a gift to express our gratitude for your love and support, but we know that you would not want us to spend precious dollars on “gifts” like mailing labels, calendars, and other such stuff. So this newsletter and the stories in it, all very real, represent our holiday gift to you. We didn’t buy it in a store. We went to our animals for this message. If they could talk, they would tell you how very much your love has meant, and still means, to them.


I love that this newsletter is going to focus on happy things. We all know that many people – and way too many animals – have a lot of sadness and tragedy in their lives. But we rescued animals have learned (the hard way) that if you focus on the bad in the world, your spirit dies. So, I want to share with you a happy tail of sorts (don’t you love my sense of humor?!) from our shelter, accompanied by a picture that should make you smile.

Marilyn Monroe was a rescued dog that was with us for a long time, for a variety of reasons. At almost 10 years of age, this diva found the purrfect home for her, and she is loved beyond words (and maybe a bit spoiled too). Anyway, Marilyn has a more elaborate wardrobe than most people, and she loves being the center of attention (of course – dogs don’t have the class that we cats do).

Here is a picture of Marilyn on her recent visit to Animals In Distress (yes, she comes back to visit often, as do many of the pets adopted from the shelter) in an outfit that cracked everybody up: she was parading around as Minnie Mouse!!

Although no self-respecting feline would appear in public in such an outfit, Marilyn didn’t mind the attention she got (what a show-off), and Marilyn’s chauffeur beamed with pride at his little doggie friend parading around with pride and doggie smiles. The former AID animals now up here in Heaven with me nearly fell off our clouds with laughter at the sight!

Keep smiling, dear friends, and remember that we love you for caring about all of us.


Imagine a tiny kitten found dying and very sick. Imagine how sad when the veterinarian discovers that he tested positive for feline leukemia. Imagine his fate if he were not rescued by our Kennel of Hope, wherever every animal rescued is taken care of unconditionally, and for as long as necessary, even if that animal is older, sick, injured, or has some other issue that would make it considered “unadoptable” to most rescues/shelters (translation: the poor animal would be “rescued” only to be killed).

Because of our firm commitment to every animal we rescue, and because we have 40 years of rescuing cats – some of whom are bound to turn up leukemia (or FIV) positive, we have always had special rooms just for leukemia and FIV positive cats. Some of those cats can live for many years; some (especially kittens diagnosed early with feline leukemia) live a much shorter time. However, no one can predict how long a particular leukemia positive kitten will live. In our shelter, the most impressive longevity record for tiny kittens diagnosed with feline leukemia is held by brothers Moe and Winkie. It’s been over 13 years since they were rescued and handfed around the clock by a foster mom. Winkie also had lost both of his eyes but never seemed handicapped by that. Winkie passed away at 9.5 years and Moe (pictured here) is still going strong at 13+.

So, in keeping with our unconditional commitment to every animal we rescue, the kitten in this story was given a chance to live – for as long as he could. The staff named him Jorah, meaning autumn breeze. He did fairly well despite being in rough physical condition with a bad upper respiratory infection and conjunctivitis, but he responded to treatment and became a favorite with staff and volunteers. See his picture here, before his eye surgery.

Someone who works at the vet hospital where he was treated fell in love with him but could not take him in because of the other cats in her home. However, her sister’s family – with kids and a young dog but no other cats – was more than willing to offer him a home, for however long he might live. We were delighted, since it is rare to find people willing to adopt such animals.

Then tragedy struck. A fast spreading virus attacked Jorah’s eyes, cashing him great discomfort. No medicines could stop the rapid spread of the disease, so his eyeballs had to be removed. We were devastated, to say the least. How could a blind, leukemia positive kitten survive in a home with kids and a big, young dog? Would the family even want him? Would the children be able to adjust to having a cat with no eyes?

After it was clear that Jorah was recovering from the surgery with remarkable speed (animals seem to heal faster than people, perhaps because they don’t obsess over illness the way some people do?), our cat placement people had a discussion with the family and how they could safely manage introducing Jorah into their household – that is, IF they still wanted him. Imagine our delight when they told us that they definitely still wanted him and had made plans for his safety, etc.

This is where the story gets really good!

Jorah, now named Froederick Fluffy Ears (the family is a fan of the Young Frankenstein movie), made himself at home almost immediately. We have received many pictures and even a video of him, sleeping on laps, socializing and even playing patty cakes (paw cakes?) with the dog, hanging out with the children – in other words, he fits right in and is so loved. He will spend this Christmas – and hopefully, many Christmases – as part of a family who loves him. A family who accepts him for what he is, not for what his disabilities might be.

YOU – our friends and supporters, our “Family,” made all of this possible. YOU made Love, Hope, and Compassion a reality for Jorah and the almost 400 other animals at our shelter right now.

We know that pictures are more expressive than words, so enjoy some of the pictures, sent to us by his loving family. One final thought: the people who adopt from us are incredibly kind folks who remain lifelong friends and supporters of our shelter in many, many cases.Every day, they see the animals they adopted and that YOU helped to save, and they understand the importance of our work. It is impossible to look into the eyes of the adopted pets who were saved because of Animals In Distress AND their supporters and volunteers without wanting to help this work continue. There is no better way to honor the rescued pets we love than to support the shelter that saved their lives.


Every animal we rescue is a chance to turn despair into hope, death into life, pain into joy, betrayal into trust. Our mission from the first day we were founded over 40 years ago has been, and still is, to do the very best we can for every life entrusted to our care.

While some people believe that saving animal lives and relieving their pain are not worth the effort and cost, we believe that performing acts of kindness towards all creatures is the beginning of a better world for all of us. Learning to see past imperfections so we see with our hearts is a powerful and valid guide for life’s choices. Those who have various challenges (missing a limb, neurological problems, health issues like diabetes or heart murmurs, etc.) need more from us – acceptance for who they are with kindness and love is the beginning of honoring their lives and potential.

The same philosophy holds true for people and animals: just because someone is older, blind or deaf, or physically challenged in some way – those are not reasons to give up and assume that such people (or animals) have to live a diminished quality of life. Acceptance of who we are is so basic, yet so threatened by today’s culture. For example, very recently in the news, a 13 year old girl being bullied in school and harassed on social media killed herself. Those responsible for this tragedy even harassed the family at the funeral, saying that they should be glad to be rid of such an ugly child! Unbelievable! And totally unacceptable.

ALL of us need to feel accepted and appreciated, even if we have physical or other challenges. And that is where this story gets away from sadness (as promised in this holiday newsletter!) and shares some wonderful news.

This summer, Animals In Distress partnered with The Center for Vision Loss in a summer camp program for children with vision loss. The theme was “Seeing with Your Heart” – a theme that we have been stressing for 40 years – and a message that the children totally understood and appreciated. The campers met our animals, and smiled broadly as dozens of cats competed for their attention, or as special needs dogs sprawled in front of them to receive hugs and pets. It was moving beyond words to watch the children relate to these animals, many of whom were “unadoptable” and worthless in the eyes of some.


In addition to baking homemade dog biscuits for the dogs and creating artwork reflecting their feelings about kindness to animals, the children raised enough money to sponsor two pets in our Take-A-Pet-To-Dinner Program. Of all the animals they met, they chose two animals – a cat and a dog – who touched their hearts the most.

The cat they chose is Eli, a stray cat who had been shot (he still has inoperable bullets in him) and then hit by a car, paralyzing him permanently. They know Eli will probably not get adopted but chose him because he is a reflection of seeing with our hearts – he is a wonderful spirit and inspires all who meet him. Eli is happy in his world at the shelter, and the children chose to honor that.


The dog they chose is Boo, a poodle/bichon mix who has been with us for awhile. He recently developed diabetes and, as a result, lost his vision rather suddenly. He is still having difficulty adjusting to being blind, since he had been able to see for most of his 9 years, but it getting more adjusted to his reality. Although the children loved many other dogs they met, they chose Boo as their Take-A-Pet choice because “hes is most like us.” That statement moved us deeply and reinforced what we already know: people, especially children, need to see animals who are loved despite their challenges. They need to see animals who are not discarded because they are older, or blind, or diabetic, or imperfect in some way. They need to know that unconditional Kindness exists in this world, and that others share their feelings, that others have learned to “see” with their hearts.


Most people don’t know that when they adopt a dog (or a cat) from Animals In Distress, they also get part of our heart and soul to take home with them. We have cared for and loved those animals, sometimes for years. One of our dog kennel staff – Diana Dietrich – makes sure that every dog who spends Christmas with us has its own, individually designed Christmas stocking, bearing the dog’s name as well as some unique decorative designs. When a dog is adopted, we always send out a bag of goodies for the dog, including the food it eats at the shelter, its favorite toys – or outfits – or sweaters – or beds, AND its Christmas stocking. The adopting families are always surprised, and touched, by what this simple gesture means – about our love for these shelter animals and our efforts to make them a real home at Animals In Distress.

Dogs who don’t get adopted and who pass away are also remembered at Christmas. Their stockings hang in the dog kennel, a reminder of the life that was entrusted to our care until its last breath.

May you find joy and comfort in knowing that our sanctuary celebrates the holiday spirit every day of the year, in many different ways, and no animal’s life is ever considered trivial, or worthless, or hopeless.



Our open house was a gathering of people and pets filling the Hospitality Center with music, happy greetings, and festive spirit. Adopted pets returned to share in the event, and many volunteers worked hours and hours to prepare food, decorate the building, and set up the extensive Basket Social and gift bazaar.

The open house and the Pet Photos with Santa Paws the following weekend were like a family reunion, with old and new friends gathering to chat and share pictures.

The poinsettias, ornaments, and wreaths bearing the names of people or pets being honored or remembered filled the room with gentle memories of those who could not be present physically, but who were remembered with Love. Some of you send in such tributes year after year, keeping the memory of loved ones alive – and honoring those still living by sharing your love with our shelter animals.

Anita Bielecki captured some of the special moments with her camera, and we share those moments with you in the collage below.

Every dollar donated or raised through these events goes to save lives. We cannot stress enough how important your support is to our ability to continue our rescue and rehabilitation work.

These animals come to us with broken bones – and broken hearts. Please be as generous as possible, so the animals spending Christmas with us this year, and the many who will be rescued in the upcoming year, will have a safe and loving home with us for as long as they need it.

No one is paid for non-animal care duties, and no tax dollars are received. YOU and others who care make the difference between life and death. No one gets big salaries, and no money is wasted on television commercials and marketing expenses.


A significant reason for our survival is the inclusion of Animals In Distress in people’s wills and estate planning. Without such bequests, we would not have been able to survive, and we certainly would not have been able to build the new shelter. Please consider giving the gift of life by remembering us when thinking about your estate.

A recent law makes it possible for those who reach 70-1/2 years old to have their required minimum withdrawal from their retirement accounts go directly to a charity, without being taxed. That means 100% of the donation is made with non-taxed funds.

And don’t forget to provide for the care of any pets you have. Too often, people assume that their pets will be cared for, but the reality is that pet guardians must make specific provisions to guarantee the welfare of their precious pet family members.

Any animal adopted from Animals In Distress is guaranteed a home at the shelter for the rst of its life, if something happens to the owner. This is a hug commitment on our part and one we have always honored.