Emergency critical healthcare for our pets doesn’t generally cross our minds. That was certainly true for Jessica Robertson, president of Armani’s Angels, a nonprofit that raises funds for injured or ill animals — until she faced a life changing event.
In 2013, Robertson’s Columbia, Missouri, home was invaded and her Cockapoo, Armani, was beaten to near death. Armani was taken to the University of Missouri Veterinary Teaching Hospital where Robertson learned that he would have a small chance of survival. Armani had sustained multiple skull fractures, bleeding in and around the brain, and brain swelling as a result from the burglary.
“During the time that we were in the hospital at the University, we saw so many animals that their owners didn’t have the money to pay for those [medical] bills,” Robertson said. “I saw that the only other option was euthanization for a lot of families.”
Funds raised by family and friends for Armani’s medical expenses combined with a realization of the lack of affordable insurance for pets, began to spark an idea for Robertson. Six months later, she visited with a lawyer to help make the idea a reality.
“She [Robertson] tried her best to turn a negative situation into a positive and helping other people,” said Zoe Hughley Armani’s Angels Secretary.
From that spark, Armani’s Angels was created. The organization focuses on raising funds through sponsorships and events, such as golf tournaments, to donate to families who face extensive medical bills for their pets. In fact, many participants in their golf tournament say that it’s the most fun tournament they play in. Robertson explained that they focus on giving the golfers an experience at the tournament, and that’s been one reason for the success.
“It’s hard because not everyone is an animal person,” Hughley said, referring to spreading the Armani’s Angels message and promoting donations. “Not everyone might be able to relate to an animal, so it’s a little bit harder for the general public.”
Hughley explained that rarely is anyone is ready at a moment’s notice to spend thousands of dollars to save a pet.
“Armani was in the emergency and critical care department, so that’s kind of where we want our funds to go,” Robertson said. “We’re not going to discriminate against any illness or injury, but it’s in those times when people don’t have time to make a decision and they need money quickly, is when we like to step in.”
Robertson explained that in most emergency cases, the bills average from $2,000 to $3,000 right off the bat. She explained that overnight stays with IV’s increase costs.
“Typically the bills average $3,000 on the cases we help with,” she said.
Armani’s Angels took nearly two years to get up and running. Robertson explained that it was challenging because they had to figure things out as they were going. She credits the help of her friends as a key part in Armani Angel’s success. Nine people sit on the board.
“We all have specific areas that we are really good in,” Robertson explained.
One of the most recent successes was becoming 501(C)(3), tax exempt charitable nonprofit. Now, when a donor makes a donation, it can be written off of their taxes. Initially, Robertson had set up a gift fund through the University of Missouri Veterinary Teaching Hospital for sponsors to donate money, but knew she wanted to create her own 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
On of the biggest challenges is creating awareness of Armani’s Angels.
“We want to help animals when they need it, and hate that people don’t know that this help and assistance is out there for them,” Robertson said.
Sponsorships with local veterinary clinics have helped more people learn about Armani’s Angels. When veterinary clinics see a candidate for assistance, they can pass the information of Armani’s Angels along to the pet owner.
Armani’s Angels has saved around 10 animals to date. The organization donates funds to families outside the Columbia, Missouri area. Recently Armani’s Angels was able to sponsor an injured pet in New Mexico.
If you know of an animal in need of medical bill assistance, contact Armani’s Angels.