Instead of spotlighting a veterinary practice today, we’re shifting gears to showcase a group that works with animal hospitals to help shelter pets and pet parents in a very special way.

Mario, a three-tour Iraq War veteran from Colorado, retired from the Army after he was diagnosed with leukemia. His doctors told him he needed to take special care of himself as his treatments would suppress his immune system.

Pet Photo - Kona

Thanks to help from Pets for Patriots, Mario was able to get his dog, Kona, the surgery that he needed. Today, the pair is inseparable and enjoys snowshoeing in the mountains together.
Photograph provided courtesy of Pets for Patriots, Inc., all rights reserved.

So Mario decided to adopt a dog to keep him active.

“I went to the animal shelter and immediately fell in love with Kona, a Husky dog, even though he had some special needs,” Mario wrote in a blog post. “Kona had a leg injury, a respiratory infection and had been adopted a few times before, but was returned.”

That didn’t stop Mario from adopting the dog, although taking care of him was no easy feat. And when Mario found out Kona’s leg injury would cost him thousands of dollars to fix, he was worried.

Mario didn’t want to return his new friend to the shelter, so he sought help from Pets for Patriots, a not-for-profit group that connects shelter pets with US military veterans and provides access to veterinary care discounts. He shared his story on the group’s blog.

“The real benefits of our program start at adoption,” says Beth Zimmerman, founder and executive director for Pets for Patriots in Long Beach, N.Y. “By providing high quality veterinary care at a reduced cost from our member veterinary practices and giving direct financial assistance towards the purchase of pet food, supplies and other basics, we can minimize the chance that veterans return their new pet friend due to short-term financial hardship.”

Although some special exceptions were made in Mario’s situation since he didn’t adopt Kona from a member shelter, he was able to enroll in the program, visit a member veterinary practice and get treatment at a reduced cost for Kona.

Today, Kona is healthy and the pair enjoys daily runs and snowshoeing in the mountains.

Making Connections
The goal of Pets for Patriots is to reduce the adult pet population in shelters and enhance the lives of US military members and veterans.

“Think of us as a connector between the veteran, shelter and veterinarian,” Ms. Zimmerman says. “We support opportunities for our member Patriots to adopt an adult dog or cat (2 years old and up), a large dog (40 pounds or more) or a special needs pet. And we give veterans the resources to assure a lifetime of happiness together.”

Once a veteran becomes a member and completes an eligible adoption from a member shelter, he or she will receive an ongoing 10% discount on veterinary fees for the adopted pet. In addition, Pets for Patriots provides a gift card from a major pet retailer to help with pet food, supplies, toys and other basics.

“The most rewarding aspect of this program is that in the simple act of pet adoption, two lives are saved: The shelter animal who keeps getting passed up for adoption because they’re too old or too big and the veteran who gains a sense of renewed purpose out of life by helping a pet,” Ms. Zimmerman said.
Giving Back
Pets for Patriots recently added two veterinary practices in central Illinois—Beaumont Small Animal Clinic in Urbana and Country View Veterinary Clinic in Champaign—to its fold of member veterinary practices.

Siren was in the shelter for six months until Ben, an active duty Air Force veteran, recently adopted her. Ben told Pets of Patriots that Siren has already brought so much joy into his life.
Photograph provided courtesy of Pets for Patriots, Inc., all rights reserved.

According to a press release, the practices joined Pets for Patriots so they could give something back to those in the military who have given so much. All of the member veterinary practices, like the two in Illinois, must agree to extend a minimum 10% discount on all service fees for the life of the pet in exchange for the partnership.

Participating shelters have to meet certain guidelines. They are responsible for offering an incentive, such as an adoption fee discount, day-one essentials or discounted services with area groomers, sitters and boarders.

Joining Pets for Patriots is entirely free to veterans, who can enroll online.

A Bright Future
Ms. Zimmerman and her team are busy establishing partnerships around the US in areas that have large populations of military members and veterans. Her vision is for the organization to be national in three years, helping even more veterans and pets stay together, like Mario and Kona.

“If it weren’t for Pets for Patriots, I would have had to bring Kona back to the shelter,” Mario wrote. “Kona changed my life. He helps me stay active so I can maintain my health, and he also keeps me smiling and happy. We saved each other and because of that, there is nothing that can separate us.”

Learn more about Pets for Patriots.

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

It seems this dog has quite the urgent sweet tooth!

A pet parent returned home to find her Springer Spaniel had opened and eaten an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups—wrappers and all.

She instantly took her dog, plus the empty bag of candy, to her veterinarian. The veterinarian used liquid charcoal to induce vomiting.

Once back at home, the dog was his playful self again, and his parent hid all the household candy in some out-of-reach cabinets.

Have you recently submitted an interesting ASPCA Pet Health Insurance claim? Tell us about it!

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Customer Stories

A Pet Parent Asks:
I am thinking about upgrading my policy from a Level 3 to a Level 4. What additional benefits can I expect?

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Answers:
Similar to Level 3, Level 4 covers treatments for accidents, illness and essential wellness care, such as:
•  Prescription medications
•  Diagnostic procedures
•  Lab tests
•  X-rays
•  Surgery
•  Hospitalization
•  Spaying / neutering
•  Annual physical exam
•  Coronavirus vaccine
•  Rabies vaccine
•  Canine and feline distemper combo vaccine
•  Fecal test
•  Heartworm test

Level 4 then adds deluxe wellness care, which covers many more preventive treatments. Some of the additional items include:
•  Boosters for puppies and kittens
•  Lyme and Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines
•  Feline infectious peritonitis vaccine
•  Feline Leukemia vaccines and test
•  Flea and heartworm preventive medication

Another big benefit of Level 4 is coverage for an annual dental cleaning. This is really helpful because preventive dental care is so important. In fact, the American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.

Learn more about all of our levels.

Pet Parent Q&A is a regular column that answers customer questions in an effort to educate others. This is not a forum to receive responses to specific inquiries. Please call Customer Service at 1-866-204-6764 or email for immediate assistance.


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Hartville Group News & Info

Photo Friday: Help Through a Difficult Diagnosis

“My cat was diagnosed with hepatic and splenic lymphoma last year. If I didn’t have pet insurance, I know I still would have tried to find some way to pay for her chemotherapy. But I also know I would have had a lot of worries about the cost. Our veterinarian is wonderful, and we’ve come a long way in my cat’s treatment. While I know we may not be able to fully beat this disease, I do know that because of ASPCA Pet Health Insurance I can afford the best medical treatment available. And now she’s playing with toys and chasing squirrels. Getting ASPCA Pet Health Insurance is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!”

—Submitted by: An ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Pet Parent*

Photo Friday is a weekly column that showcases photos we receive from loving ASPCA Pet Health Insurance customers of their pets. If you want to see your pet featured, please email me!

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Customer Stories

In Case of Emergency: Tips for National Poison Prevention Week

It’s National Poison Prevention Week, so it’s a great time to take steps to protect your pet in case of an emergency. 

In the event that your pet ingests a hazardous substance, you may notice symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, lethargy, trouble breathing, or seizures.

Here are some pointers to follow if your pet is ill:

•  Stay calm, and don’t try to induce vomiting on your own. It may not be necessary, and you could risk injuring yourself or your pet.

•  Get help by calling your veterinarian or the ASPCA®’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at 1-888-426-4435. The APCC may charge a $65 consultation fee, 80% of which is covered by ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.

•  Have information ready, like your pet’s age, breed, what they were exposed to, when it happened, and any container or packaging information.

Also, a pet first-aid kit can come in handy for following treatment instructions from your veterinarian or the APCC.1

It should include hydrogen peroxide with 3% USP to induce vomiting, a large syringe to administer it, saline eye solution and artificial tear gel to lubricate eyes after flushing, and a mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid to wash contaminated fur.

But remember never to treat your pets without consulting a veterinarian first.

To get more tips and information on pet poison prevention, visit the APCC online. 

1 This blog entry is not intended to provide advice on individual pet health or behavioral matters or to substitute for consultation with a veterinary doctor.

Empty 2.5-pound Bag of Raisins Signals Start of Puppy’s Emergency

Sonya V., of Worchester, Mass.,* returned home one morning after an exercise class to find an empty 2.5-pound bag of raisins on the floor. Immediately, she knew her puppy was in trouble.

“My dog, Amigo, had a rough beginning, so he’s a little food-obsessed,” Sonya told us recently. “We’re careful, but sometimes he gets his paws on things he shouldn’t, like the bag of raisins.”

She immediately called the ASPCA®’s Animal Poison Control Center at her veterinarian’s recommendation. The APCC’s specialists had Sonya rush Amigo to her veterinarian with a protocol ready for his treatment.

“I understand now that it was a serious emergency and if I hadn't acted quickly, Amigo most likely would’ve died from kidney failure,” Sonya told us. “I’m glad I wasn't gone too long, so he didn't have time to digest most of the raisins.”

Luckily Amigo survived, although he was in the hospital for three days.

“I’m so thankful to have ASPCA Pet Health Insurance because this raisin ordeal was very expensive,” Sonya said. “Before Amigo, I never considered pet insurance and ended up spending thousands of dollars on my cat’s medical care. So when I got Amigo, I just knew that this little guy needed insurance.”

Share your story!

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Customer Stories

Pet Blog - Pet Safety Advice for National Poison Prevention Week

National Poison Prevention Week, which is March 20 to 26 this year, was established by Congress in 1961 to promote poison prevention in homes across America. This includes our pets as well.

In fact, the ASPCA®’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) fielded 167,000 phone calls about pets exposed to poisonous substances in 2010. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help keep your pets safe.

Common Poison Dangers
You may be aware of some poison dangers around your house, but some might come as a surprise. For instance, did you know that dryer sheets can harm your pets? They can contain detergents that cause gastrointestinal irritation, especially in cats.

Here are five other pet poison problems that could be lurking in your home. You should also ask your veterinarian for more advice about your particular pets.

1. People Pills
Prescription medications and over-the-counter painkillers, cold medications, and dietary supplements can be harmful to pets. Keep them out of paw’s reach in cabinets or high up on shelves. Pets can grab them off low nightstands or counters. Also, pick up dropped pills before your pets can gobble them up. And never give your pets any kind of medication without speaking to your veterinarian first.

2. Dangerous Dining
There are certain foods you should be wary of when it comes to your furry friends. Chocolate, grapes, raisins, avocado, and gum or candy containing xylitol can all be dangerous to pets. Why is chocolate so dangerous? It contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which can cause problems from vomiting to seizures. Other problematic foods include coffee, macadamia nuts, onions, salt, yeast dough, and garlic.

3. Perilous Plants
Plants that can harm your pets include lilies, azaleas, and rhododendrons. Lilies are very poisonous to cats, and can result in kidney failure even from a small nibble. Poinsettias can also be problematic, but they’re not as dangerous as you might think. They typically cause mild to severe tummy upset if eaten. Check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants to see if your plants are safe, and find some good green choices for your home.

4. Cleaning Supplies
Household cleaners like bleach, detergents, and disinfectants can be irritating and even toxic to pets. They can cause tummy troubles, eye or skin irritation, or difficulty breathing if inhaled or ingested by your dogs or cats. Take precautions when using these products. For instance, put your pets in another room while you mop, dust, and scrub. And, of course, keep cleaning supplies in a safe place.

5. Bad Chemistry
Pet poisoning incidents involving chemicals, like those found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinners, drain cleaners, and pool or spa treatments are on the rise. These substances can cause stomach upset, depression, breathing problems, and chemical burns. Don’t let your pets near chemicals when you’re using them, and store them securely. Also, clean spills right away so your pets can’t lap them up.

Animal Poison Control Center
If you think one of your pets has been exposed to poison, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) can help. The APCC is staffed with specially trained veterinary toxicologists available around the clock. They have experience with more than 1 million cases and access to an extensive database to diagnose problems quickly and offer treatment advice.

Keep the APCC hotline—1-888-426-4435—in a prominent location. A $65 consulting fee may apply, but 80% of this charge is covered by ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. If you have any questions about your coverage, you can view your plan at the Member Center or call us at 1-866-204-6764.

Pet Blog Photo Friday: Two Paws Up for Pet Insurance

“If you have a pet, you should get pet health insurance because you never know what can happen. We feel better that ASPCA Pet Health Insurance is there to help us pay veterinary bills, especially since we have multiple pets. Our Basset Hound had a few ear infections soon after we adopted him, but with the help of antibiotics and veterinary care, he got better. Plus, when the reimbursement check came from ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, we had a little extra money to feed our other furry kids. We give ASPCA Pet Health Insurance two paws up! Thank you for helping our most precious angels.”

—Submitted by: An ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Pet Parent*

Photo Friday is a weekly column that showcases photos we receive from loving ASPCA Pet Health Insurance customers of their pets. If you want to see your pet featured, please email me!

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Customer Stories

Pet Photo Blog

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some different ways to “go green” for healthier pets and a cleaner environment.

•  Quench your pet’s thirst with filtered tap water rather than bottled water. If you do use a bottle, recycle it.

•  Use biodegradable bags instead of plastic ones as doggie pooper scoopers. For cats, choose earth-friendly litters and avoid brands with mined minerals.

•  Go with environmentally safe pet shampoos and grooming products when you can.

•  Cut back in simple ways, like walking to the park instead of driving or cleaning up with rags instead of paper products.

•  Try your hand at making your own healthy pet treats and store them in a reusable container.

•  Buy large size pet supplies, so you’ll make fewer trips to the store and have less packaging to throw away.

Also, if you’re signed up for our “Go Paperless” option, you’re helping the environment by getting your plan and available communications online rather than by mail.

If you haven’t signed up for paperless, you can do so anytime at the Member Center.

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pet parents

We’ll give this feline the benefit of the doubt that all of this was purely an accident.

A customer’s kitty knocked the dog’s arthritis medication off the counter and onto the floor. When the pet parent found the empty, chewed medicine bottle in her room, she knew her dog had gobbled up all the pills.

Thankfully, the pup is OK and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance reimbursed this pet parent $420 for the medical expenses.
Have you recently submitted an interesting ASPCA Pet Health Insurance claim? Tell us about it!

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Customer Stories


As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.