Shakespeare Animal Fund’s Ten Year Report

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”   ~  Gandhi

Shakespeare Animal Fund is a one-of-a-kind non-profit, 501 © (3) that has raised approximately $400,000 since it was founded in January 2004 to help suffering and dying animals. Due to the tremendous support of its donor base, Shakespeare continues to play a vital role in animal welfare, with a powerful vision toward future growth. Here is Shakespeare Animal Fund’s (SAF) story, its mission statement, vision and the process it follows in order to work effectively with veterinarians.

Mission Statement:

To pay emergency veterinary bills for elderly, disabled, returning veterans and low-income individuals who cannot afford emergency medical care when their pets are suffering or dying.

Vision Statement:

Because so many do without food, medicine and other necessities in order to save their animals--who are often the only “family” they have-- Shakespeare’s mission is to expand its operation in order to help a greater number of individuals, as well as increase the amount of money it can offer for the care of each animal.


Shakespeare Animal Fund (SAF) was founded in January, 2004 under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada in Reno, NV. It was begun by Jennifer Webb after her cocker spaniel Shakespeare became terminally ill. When local veterinarians in Reno could not help her dog she rushed him to UC Davis in California, only to be told there was no hope. Devastated, she started thinking about how tragic it would have been if she had not had the funds to take her dog to specialists and offer him the best medical care available at the time.

As she researched she discovered that unless pet owners had adequate funds, it was nearly impossible to get help, even euthanasia, for animals, no matter how severely dogs or cats might be injured. This meant animals with porcupine quills in their faces, broken backs and hips as well as all manner of mangling from being hit by cars or in fights and all devastating illnesses or blockages or enormous open wounds, would be ignored.

That’s when she knew she wanted to start a fund to honor her dog and to help alleviate the suffering of other animals.

How it works:

SAF has a crisis hotline number (775) 342-7040 that people can call, and an email to contact SAF electronically ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). Once the phone coordinator or email coordinator makes contact and determines the pet owner is poverty level and genuinely cannot afford medical care for his/her pet, then the pet owner is contacted and told to select a veterinarian,. (Note the process of determining income consists on a series of specific questions). Once approved SAF sends an application to the specific vet allocating how much it will pay toward treatment, what the problem is, the owner and pet’s name and other specifics. After the pet is seen the owner signs the application that he/she came to the vet, and the application is faxed back to Shakespeare. All applications are paid every two weeks.

What are the demographics?

Of those who contact Shakespeare approximately two thirds are elderly, with approximately one third of those on some form of disability. There is a very high proportion—approximately 80 to 90% of elderly recipients, who are on social security with almost no additional income to supplement their social security or disability checks. Approximately eight to ten percent of recipients are veterans. Many are current veterans, still actively engaged or who recently completed a tour of duty, although there are retired veterans as well who apply for help.


SAF is currently revising its current boards and seeking those committed to animal welfare to consider applying for a position on one of its boards.

Board Members:

Jennifer Webb – Executive Director

Carole Anderson – President

Julie Wardleigh – Bookkeeper

Advisory Board:

Sharon Tetley, Lisa Wiesbauer, Terry Wollitz

Professional Advisory Board:

Dr. Cal Williams from Pyramid Veterinary Hospital is currently part of the Professional Advisory board. Several veterinarians including those from Pyramid and Kings Row Veterinary Hospital have served as part of Shakespeare’s board.


There are thousands of success stories bur over the years a few stand out. An elderly woman had rushed her dog Dillion to the vet after something got lodged in its throat. The emergency procedure saved the dog but the woman didn’t have the full amount needed to pay the vet and retrieve her dog. The vet’s office decided to keep the dog until the woman received her social security check the following week, and charge $25 a day boarding as well. We helped her get her dog back within 24 hours. Hundreds of folks face the same fate with their pets; animals are often given away if the owner can’t afford to pay veterinary costs.

A woman and her neighbor got into an argument and he shot all three of her dogs. Two died but one had a severely damaged leg. She contacted every veterinarian within her area and none would help unless she had funds necessary for the visit. On the third day after the shooting she had raised only $21 from her friends and neighbors and someone told her about Shakespeare. Shakespeare funded the amputation and “Jack” happily ran around on three legs.

An elderly woman rescued stray dogs in her area, but one day her own two dogs had an encounter with a porcupine and ended up with quills in their faces. She could not find a vet who would anesthetize them and remove the quills with the funds she had, so she was on her way to have them euthanized (which she could afford) when someone told her about Shakespeare. Shakespeare paid for the procedure and her daughter later contacted us to mention her mom’s two dogs meant the world to her; she lived on less than $600 a month and her mother’s life was prolonged by saving her dogs.

A fire swept the Ridgecrest area of Reno burning six homes. After the fire a woman was walking around holding a cat with burned feet, distraught over her damaged home but more so because she couldn’t afford to help her suffering cat. She was told about Shakespeare and the cat received the care it needed.


Thousands of animals have been helped but the need is continuous and ongoing. Shakespeare is proud of all its fundraising efforts and continually strives to create new avenues of revenue. It is regularly supported by local organizations such as Wild River Grille restaurant, Great Full Gardens Café, PetSmart Charities and Petco Foundation as well as civic organizations like local Rotaries. Revenue also comes from Amazon Smiles and Workplace Giving Alliance. Shakespeare has received several grants, has participated in many local events such as Art Paws and the Women’s Expo, and creates a variety of fundraisers such as Applause for Pause, Halloween Howl and Paws for Poetry: It is also supported by organizations such as Comic Relief and the Rachel Ray Foundation.

Future goals and direction of Shakespeare

One of the primary goals of Shakespeare is to offer a larger base amount to all those helped by the organization. Currently the standard amount offered is $50, with some receiving up to $150 for veterinary services. If the standard amount was raised to minimally $75, it would go a long way toward securing better and more extensive medical help. In order to increase the amount offered Shakespeare is looking at a variety of initiatives to increase annual revenue by 35%. There are currently several options being explored to meet this goal including a membership drive.

Shakespeare relies on its donor base and is extremely appreciative of the continued and growing support that enables this organization to alleviate the suffering of animals and enrich the lives of their owners on a daily basis, year round.

Interested in being a corporate sponsor?

Your logo and information will be on our website, all our promotional materials, prominent at our fundraisiers, on press releases and live interviews. Contact us for more information.




The Shakespeare Animal Fund is a
recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization


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