Three years ago, while working for a local humane society, Rhys Miller saw some of the more heart-wrenching effects of the economic recession, which was then in full swing. As people were forced to make sacrifices, many were no longer able to provide their pets with the proper care or medical attention they needed. She noticed an increase in the number of people resorting to surrendering or even euthanizing their pets.
“I saw so many people who earnestly wanted to do the right thing,” says Miller. “People would have to bring in their pet to surrender it, and they’d be crying and reaching out for help. There wasn’t a lot I could do, but I didn’t feel like that was the only option that should be available.”
Shortly after, Miller founded Fairy Tail Endings — a nonprofit organization that has formed partnerships with local veterinarians and service providers to help struggling families provide care for and maintain ownership of their pets.
“We feel like pets are family, and our clients feel that way, too,” says Miller. “A lot of our clients are seniors or people with disabilities, and that might be their only interaction during day. Sometimes their pet is their best friend, or their only companionship, so losing that pet would be devastating.”
Gregg Fishel knows firsthand how emotionally draining it can be to consider giving up a pet due to financial issues. Needing financial help, Fishel went online to seek advice on ways to treat his sick dog, a rescued pug named Otto. He received a reply from Miller, who suggested he apply for assistance through Fairy Tale Endings.
“I was at the end of my rope,” says Fishel. “I didn’t know what to do with my dog — my baby. It puts you into depression. It’s like thinking of putting a child down; it’s very sad and emotional. I’m so glad I’m so far away from that now, because I never thought that would be possible with everything we’ve been through.”
Otto was able to receive the medicine and procedures he needed, and today Fishel reports he’s doing better than ever — Otto even wakes him in the night when he senses Fishel, a diabetic, has low blood sugar.
“Oddly enough, he’s right every time,” he says. “He’s a gift, and he’s so important to me in my world. I’m so grateful he’s still in my life.”
As the holiday season approaches, Miller says she hopes to be able to keep more families and their pets together, and Fairy Tail Endings is launching a fundraising project to provide funding for four pets.
Interested donors can find the project at gulfcoastgives.org.
BY THE NUMBERS
200 — NUMBER OF PETS ASSISTED BY FAIRY TAIL ENDINGS
$350 — AVERAGE COST PER PET
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