MANATEE -- A Manatee County resident's winning story about cat adoption has won a $50,000 grant for a local rescue.
After adopting Frankie from Last Chance Animal Sanctuary in April, Jane Smith entered the Petco Foundation Purely for Pets' third annual Holiday Wishes program in partnership with Halo.
"These were people that really had hearts and souls in rescuing these kittens," Smith said of Last Chance Animal Sanctuary. "I don't hear about them in the news at all. These people are wonderful. They are awesome. They need to be recognized and we have a great story to share. ... I was shocked and amazed that we got second place but so thrilled for them."
Smith's winning story is about how Frankie, a Turkish Van mixed breed cat,
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brought joy to herself and her husband, Bob, who has Alzheimer's disease.
The other winner involved an Orlando resident's story about adopting from Nate's Honor Animal Rescue won the Manatee County organization $5,000 through the program. The animal rescue organizations will be honored at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Petco Store at 131 N. Cattlemen Road, Sarasota.
Joe Oddi, a volunteer with Last Chance Animal Sanctuary, said medical expenses can be costly since a lot of rescued cats have medical issues.
"That grant is going to be so great for us to be able to treat those animals and get them healthy again," he said.
The cost for all cats to be microchipped, spayed/neutered and to be made up to date on shots is also "a very expensive ordeal," Oddi said, adding food can be costly, too.
"All the money will go to really help these animals out," he said.
When the Manatee County rescue found out it had won the grant, Oddi said sanctuary workers couldn't believe it. Limited by resources at times, the grant will allow the organization an added cushion, he said.
"This is just going to be so helpful to us," Oddi said.
Smith was one of 53 winning stories from across the United States to share in $750,000 in Petco Foundation awards to animal welfare organizations.
"This year's Holiday Wishes campaign celebrates the love between pets and their adopters," Susanne Kogut, executive director of the Petco Foundation, said in a news release. "The stories perfectly illustrate how love can truly make a difference, not only in the life of a pet, but in the lives of their adopters as well."
Karen Slomba, associate director of Nate's Honor Animal Rescue, said anytime they receive a grant it "always goes to the bottom line of saving as many lives as possible."
"It will definitely go a long way for us," she said. "We were thrilled to death. With more than 3,000 entries for this, we really thought it was a long shot. We really didn't think we had a chance. There is always a way to use $5,000."
For more information about Last Chance Animal Sanctuary, go to lcasflorida.org. For more information about Nate's Honor Animal Rescue, visit nateshonoranimalrescue.org.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.