Project 121 saves lives of special-needs pets as well as healthy dogs, cats

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PHOENIX -- While all dogs and cats need homes to call their own, it is often the animals that need families the most that get left behind.

The cute, healthy puppies and kitties are usually adopted first. But specials-needs animals -- ones that need some extra TLC and perhaps some potentially expensive medical needs -- deserve loving homes, too. Like "regular" cats and dogs, they have just as much love -- perhaps more -- to give their forever families.

Arizona Humane Society spokeswoman Bretta Nelson and veterinarian Dr. Nancy Bradley brought three such special-needs animals to meet 3TV's Stella Inger.

"We take in animals regardless of breed, age or medical condition," Nelson explained.

Socrates is a Sharpei mix. He's fine now, but he's had three surgeries to correct turned eyelids and a condition that made it difficult for him to breathe through his nose.

Silvie is a 10-week-old puppy with a broken leg. She was hit by a car.

Scooter is a 5-week-old kitten with no back paws. He was born that way. Bradley is planning to do what's called a metacarpal transplant when he gets a little bigger.

Socrates, Silvie and Scooter are just three of the face of Project 121: Action for Animals, a unique partnership between AHS and 3TV/

On any given day, AHS takes in an average for 121 animals. It's a major undertaking to give those animals the care they need and find them forever homes.

There’s much more to caring for homeless animals than many might think. It not simply feeding them and making sure they have enough water.

“It’s not as easy as getting them to the adoption floor,” Nelson said during last year's campaign.

Many animals need to spend some time in foster care before they can put up for adoption. Some require medical care that can range from standard vaccination to treatment for a basic cold to major surgery.

All of the animals that spend time in the care of AHS are spayed or neutered before they go home with their new families. They're also up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Caring for one healthy animal costs AHS an average of $314. For special-needs animals like Socrates, Silvie and Scooter -- pets that will one day make wonderful companions -- expenses rack up fast.

"It can raise into the thousands," Nelson said. "That's exactly what Project 121 is. ... As a non-profit organization, we would not be able to get these three -- or any of the others -- out to the adoption floor. The help is critical."

AHS serves 46,000 animals each year, and they rely solely on private donations to do it.

Project 121 is one way AHS raises that much-needed money.

Last year, the 121-minute pet telethon, the culminating event of thee-month Project 121 campaign, raised an incredible $421,970.

Nelson said 85 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to the animals.

This year's Pet Telethon is Sunday, Aug. 25, 12:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on 3TV.
(Sign up to get a reminder)

You also can donate online or at any Safeway store, or you can take part in the first ever AHS Virtual Pet Walk.

To learn more and Project 121 and how you can help, visit You can also find details on the AHS Facebook page --