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A second chance at life, thanks to Anthem Pets: Frankie’s story

Lauren Potter ~ Staff~ 5/13/2015

ANTHEM – She has her own Facebook page, loves everybody, and has more than doubled her weight in just three months.

She also has four legs.

When Frankie the dog was found curled up at the door of home in January, she was on her final breath. Thanks to Anthem Pets, Frankie was given a second chance at life, and a new, loving home.

“(Frankie) was absolutely emaciated beyond anything you could ever imagine,” said Lisa Kilwein, board of director for no-kill animal rescue, Anthem Pets, Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization. “It was one of the most dramatic rescues we have experienced,” Kilwein said. “It’s one of those things you see on TV and you wonder, ‘How can that happen in our community?’”

For more than 10 years Anthem Pets has been dedicated to rescuing homeless or abandoned cats and dogs in the North Valley, as well as reuniting lost pets with their owners.

“We do whatever we can to help spread the word that this cat or dog – or turtle in some cases – is missing,” Kilwein said. “We’ve had a couple rabbits too, but primarily dogs and cats is what we focus on.”

Although Kilwein says that the North Valley would benefit from a shelter, Anthem Pets operates solely through volunteers and a foster system.

“Found animals that do not get sent home enter into our foster-based system,” Kilwein said. “We do not have a shelter.”

Animals that are placed in Anthem Pets’ system receive thorough medical care through Daisy Mountain Veterinary Hospital, as well as Academy West Animal Hospital.

“We’ll make sure they’re vaccinated, we’ll spay and neuter them, and (the hospital) will treat them medically for anything that needs to be done,” Kilwein said.

Unlike shelters that euthanize, Anthem Pets is committed to keeping animals alive.

“After a certain amount of holding time, (the pets) will eventually go up for adoption,” Kilwein said.

Foster homes take care of the animals until Anthem Pets is able to find their next forever home.

Although Anthem Pets has roughly 30 active foster families and 35 active volunteers, Kilwein said they are in desperate need of help.

“We definitely need additional help fostering dogs and cats,” she said, adding that there are different levels of fostering; it is not always long-term. In fact, simply fostering a dog overnight can make a big difference.

Anthem Pets is also seeking a dedicated adoption and foster coordinator, and volunteers for both event and database management.

Sharon Spears has been a volunteer with the organization for roughly two years.

“It’s exhausting, but a good kind of exhausting,” Spears said. “It gives me some joy to be able to reunite a pet with their owner.”

If it weren’t for the dedication of volunteers, the heartbreaking story of an emaciated dog like Frankie may not have had such a happy ending.

Scott Bair, Anthem Pets volunteer, saw a photo of a found dog, Frankie (previously known as ‘Thursday’), posted on the Anthem Pets Facebook page and was compelled to help.
Ribs and bones protruding, Bair transported Frankie to Daisy Mountain Veterinary Hospital.

She had either been chained or held captive and starved to near death. 
“The vet suspected (Frankie) was a year old,” Bair said. “She weighed about 20 pounds.”

“It took us probably one hour to even coax her out of the kennel,” Bair said. “She didn’t want anything to do with a human touching her.”

However, it wasn’t long after being admitted to Daisy Mountain Veterinary Hospital that Frankie found a new home.

In a lighthearted attempt to maintain a stoic persona, Alex Garofalo recalled the first time he saw Frankie’s photos on Facebook. Anthem Pets was trying to find her home.

“I’m a man,” Garofalo said. “I’m trying not to be mushy about it.”

But after seeing photos of the “little emaciated dog,” he filed out adoption paperwork immediately.

Three months and 26 pounds later, Frankie is happy, thriving, and loving her new home.

And so is Garofalo.

“It’s basically like adding another family member,” Garofalo said. “It’s amazing.”

“You don’t know what that little pup has been through,” Garofalo said.

Volunteering and fostering for Anthem Pets helps the organization fulfill its mission, and of course, so does adoption.

Few can deny the joy and companionship of owning a pet.

Although his fellow volunteer, Spears, identifies as a “cat person,” Bair prefers dogs.

“When you come home… it doesn’t matter what kind of day you had,” Bair said. “The dog just loves you.”

“Cats are great if they’re like dogs,” he said.

North Valley residents who lose or find a pet may contact the 24-hr Anthem Pets hotline at (480) 287-3542. For information on volunteering, adoption or to make a donation, visit