Join us on the latest episode of All My Children Wear Fur Coats as we speak with Carla Isenberg, the program manager of For the Love of Alex. Discover how this amazing non-profit organization, founded in 2013, provides critical funding for urgent and life-saving veterinary care to pets belonging to low-income families.
Listen in to learn more!
Hello, pet lovers.
Welcome to All My Children Wear Fur Coats.
I'm your host, Peggy Hoyt.
This show is brought to you by the
law offices of Hoyt and Bryan, where we
create estate plans for pets and their people.
Also brought to you by Animal Care
Trust USA, a national nonprofit dedicated to
keeping loved pets in loving homes.
We do this by educating pet parents about the
importance of getting a pet trust for their loved pet.
We also provide pet trustee services.
Today we are pleased to have
as our special guest Carla Isenberg.
She is the program manager.
For The Love of Alex.
Welcome to this show, Carla.
Thank you for having fun, Peggy. Oh, absolutely.
So this is going to be fun, and I want
to tell our listeners a little bit about you.
Carla has been with the Love of Alex since 2021.
She's a passionate animal lover and has been
an advocate for the well-being of all creatures
great and small for her entire life.
Carla has ten years of experience as a
veterinary technician and her medical knowledge has
been a great asset, too.
For the love of Alex.
Carla has an extensive background in
business administration and works with social
media platforms and marketing.
Carla originally hails from the United Kingdom you'll
be able to tell by her accent and
moved to America as a young adult.
She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter,
and she is owned by Athena the dog, Lola
Alex II, which we're going to hear all about.
Shiloh and Hamilton, the kitty cats, larry the
turtle, and Buster and Dolly, her resident equines.
Plus, they have a few chickens and ducks.
So when Carla is not working or taking care of
her mini farm, she is camping, hiking, or playing golf.
And we're just thrilled to have her here today.
Thank you so much. Thank you.
All right, so we have to start with who is
Alex and how did we fall in love with him
and have an organization named in his honor?
Well, the original Alex was our
founder, elizabeth Hedge's little kitty.
And when Alex was about ten years old, he became
extremely sick and he was diagnosed with bladder stones.
Alex needed emergency surgery, and fortunately for Alex,
elizabeth had the funds to pay for his surgery.
After he recovered, Elizabeth realized that there are other
pet owners out there that may not be able
to afford emergency surgery for their pets, and their
only option is to either euthanize their pet or
surrender them to the shelter.
And so in 2013, for the Love of Alex was born.
Elizabeth ran the organization by herself
for five years until her death.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth was very young and passed away,
and we thought that for the Love of
Alex was going to close down.
But fortunately, her friends stepped up to
help and have kept the organization going.
We've been under a little reconstruction the last
couple of years to keep up with the
trends in the market, and we are actually
doing really flourishing going into 2023.
Well, that's an excellent story and quite
a testament to Elizabeth and her friends
who loved her and her legacy.
So, I understand that after Elizabeth passed
away, her pets needed to be rehomed.
Talk about that a little bit. Yes.
So, Elizabeth had quite a few kiddies.
She donated a large sum of money of
her own to local shelter to help cats
and dogs transition to their new homes.
And her own pets were distributed throughout.
Her friends and I took over the original
Alex's care and his friend Hamilton in 2021.
Sadly, on May 9 of 2022, alex
passed away from a neurological disorder.
He was 18 and a half years old.
He had a wonderful life, and we miss him still.
Dearly, as you can tell, we have a
monument on the wall tributed to Alex.
Well, and it sounds like a trend. There.
Was Elizabeth, a fan of Hamilton?
Is that where Alex and Hamilton came from?
I believe so, yes.
I always think it's funny how we
get the names of our animals.
So, now you have Alex the second.
Tell us about him. Absolutely. Yes.
So, after Alex passed away, we had
not even discussed looking for another cat.
And one day, I was on social media, and
there was a local rescue in Philadelphia that had
an orange and white cat that looked just like
our Alex, and his name was Leroy.
So I contacted Marikai Animal Sanctuary, and Kim, who
runs the sanctuary by herself, with the help of
her mom and a few volunteers, she confirmed that,
yes, Leroy did look like our Alex.
And we talked quite a bit about Leroy and Alex, and we
were lucky that she chose us to let us adopt Alex Jr.
Alex Jr. Right.
Well, and you've introduced me to Alex Jr.
And I have to say that the resemblance
is startling between Alex one and Alex two. Absolutely.
Completely different personalities, but yes.
Well, you wouldn't want them to
be exactly the same, right?
No, not at all. All right.
So, Elizabeth had this fabulous idea of helping people
who might be in a financial dire straits because
they have an animal, either a cat or a
dog, that might have an emergency situation.
And she wanted to make funds available to help those
families so that they could continue to love their animal
and get them the help that they need.
So, tell us how we go about taking advantage of
the opportunity to participate with for the love of Alex.
So, pet owners can go to our website and
under Help My Pet, there is an application form,
and that is the initial application form.
It's general questions about the owner and the
pet, and then we review each case.
And we receive about 40 applications a week.
Unfortunately, we can only take one to two pets
a week, which is something that we most definitely
would like to see increase in the near future.
So once we have approved the first application, then we
will send a second application to the pet owner.
And that's asking for a little bit more detail
as far as income goes, because we want to
help the most less fortunate, the elderly, the disabled,
our veterans out there, a low income family whose
dog has just accidentally fell and broke a leg.
We help anyone that we can within a certain
income level, and they have to prove that with
their tax returns or w two Social Security benefits.
Once that's done, we contact their veterinarian directly
and we will put down a deposit for
whatever treatment or surgery is needed.
We stay in close contact with the owner
and the veterinarian office until the pet has
been given a clean bill of pell.
So folks who are listening, you can go to for the
Love of Alex.org and then you click on the cute little
icon that says Pets and it will drop down and give
you the opportunity to fill out the application.
And it sounds like, Carla, that you guys are busy, because
when you get an application, you have to act fast.
We have a 24 hours turnaround period, but obviously if
there is a pet in the hospital that we can
help right now we have what's called an emergency fund.
And the emergency fund is work for the pets
that we don't have time to fundraise for.
They can't wait 24 hours or three days.
The pets that we take, it could be
as simple as a dental cleaning with a
teeth instruction to diaphragmic hernia surgery.
So there is a wide variety of illnesses that we cover.
But you do not cover spay and
neuter operations, nor just routine veterinary care.
Is that right?
We have covered spay and neuter when the pet
is young enough still and has another ailment because
they're already under anesthesia and instead of putting them
through two surgeries back to back, the veterinarian can
take care of that at one time, which is
much better for the pets health long term. Sure.
But you do encourage pet owners who apply
to confirm for you that their pets are
spayed or neutered if they're old enough? Yes.
We are not a spay and neuter clinic.
There's a lot of organizations that have low cost
spayanuda clinics, so we feel that we want to
help those that it's an urgent surgery. Absolutely.
So I think what you're doing is just fabulous.
I love the idea that there
are resources for pet owners.
It appears, from talking to rescues and shelter
organizations, that a lot of pets are surrendered
because the pet parent is having a let's
call it a short term financial crisis.
And this might fall into one of those short
term financial crisis situations where if you can help,
then the people can keep their pets. Yes.
And we actually had a case this weekend.
A dog had broke his leg.
He's playing with he's little human outside
in the yard playing ball, and he
landed awkwardly and broke his leg.
The family, or young family, mum is the sole bread
winner right now because dad had had back surgery.
She was also heavily pregnant and it
was breaking her heart because she just
didn't have the money for the surgery.
They were able to find another organization
to put down a deposit for surgery.
And the dog did have surgery, but there was still
a balance that needed to be taken care of.
And that's where we stepped in this
weekend and use the emergency fund.
And the dog is home and doing well.
That's an excellent story and exactly the kind of
thing that we would want to hear from an
organization that does exactly what you do.
So that's terrific.
So I know that people who are listening are
going to want to know how can they help?
What can they do to support the efforts?
For the love of Alex, all of our cases
are funded by donations from pet lovers like you.
We have not received any grants.
We are applying, but it literally comes from
the $5 donors on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
We also send an email out every week to
those that have subscribed to our newsletter every week.
And that's how we fund each case. Excellent.
And has the pandemic affected the fundraising
efforts of your organization at all?
In 2020 and the beginning of 2021 was
probably our lowest fundraising year, we really struggled.
We could not take as many cases as we wanted to.
We were only able to help 33 pets in 2000 and 22,021.
But last year we were able to help 57, which
is an incredible jump up from the previous two years.
Well, that sounds great, actually.
And so how do people typically find out about
your organization and the benefits that it offers?
Mostly on social media or on
our website or the Internet.
We're on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube,
Pinterest, all the fun places.
All the fun places, yes.
And we post something on social media pretty
much every day, even if it's just a
follow up to previous pets that we've helped.
And then also once a week we feature the
pet of the week that needs help now. Awesome.
Because you're doing some active fundraising on
a pet by pet basis too.
Yes, we do that.
Those are many of the cases that is going to run into
the two, three, $4,000 where we really need to put it out
there to get as many people to help us as possible.
And although you are located in Pennsylvania, you are
not restricted to only helping people in Pennsylvania?
No, we help pets throughout the United States.
We currently have 15 active cases right
now, and they are in Washington, South
Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, Minnesota,
Texas, and New York. Wow. Okay.
That's quite a reach.
So thank you for that.
All right, I want you to tell us about a couple
of cases that are success stories for the love of Alex,
and one of them was a little five week old kitten.
Tell us about Nubbins.
Yes, so this is such a sad story.
Little Nubbins, he's only a five week old kitten
that had been rescued, and his mum was elderly.
She was disabled and in a wheelchair, and
she accidentally ran over Nubbins and he was
paralyzed, and he absolutely broke her heart.
We got her into the vest immediately.
They did x rays and ultrasound, and luckily
for Nubbins, there was no broken bones.
It was all soft tissue damage.
He did have a slight hairline fracture in
one of his gross plates, but as he
grew, it filled in and he's developed fine.
So, yeah, today Nubbins is a year old kitten
and he's a cat, and he's doing amazing. That's great.
And he's providing the comfort and companionship that
she adopted him for in the first place. Absolutely.
All right, after Nubbins, we have Muffin the dog. Yes.
Muffin was from North Carolina.
He had two softball sized tumors growing in
his groin area, which obviously was affecting his
ability to hold his urine and to walk
properly affected the way he could walk.
And plus, he was kind of overweight because he
wasn't able to get out and have some exercise.
His surgery was $3,500.
And it's something that his mom, elderly mom, who
is on a fixed income, could not afford.
But Muffin, we raised the money through
fundraising for Muffin, and he had surgery
and he made a full recovery.
He's doing great.
I love that story about Muffin.
All right, we will tell one more success story.
So tell us about Moon, the kitty from New Jersey. Moon.
Oh, my goodness.
So Moon was a naughty boy.
He ate something he shouldn't have, and
he had a complete abdominal obstruction.
He was not eating, not drinking, not using
the bathroom, and he was declining fast.
His mom was a single mother who worked, but she
was low income, and this was her little girl's cat.
And they were absolutely broken hearted that he
was dying literally in front of them.
We went ahead and got a deposit down from
the emergency fund to get Moon into surgery immediately.
But what shocked everyone was what Moon ate.
He had chewed through on eight silicone bracelets that we
have some here for the love of Alex bracelets.
And he'd ate five pieces of that and then a bunch
of string and all that had got stuck in his abdomen.
And he was unable to, like, I say, eat or drink.
And he was really, really sick.
But Moon had surgery.
He bounced back amazingly, went home the
next day and made a full recovery.
That is awesome.
And the little girl got her cat back.
Yeah, that is awesome.
I have had some naughty kids in my lifetime,
too, who have eaten things that they were not
supposed to and ended up getting very sick.
Yes, that is a very frightening and very
emergent situation that absolutely addressed without delay.
So happy that you guys could do that for
all of these animals who were so deserving.
Nubbins and muffin and moon and many more, all
of which you listeners can review success stories online.
So I see lots of happy faces on there.
Chippy smokey and pluto and cane
the dog, willow the cat.
Lots of cats seem to get themselves in trouble here.
The curiosity killed the cat.
That is true. Oh, my goodness.
Well, you have a kitty on there that
looks almost exactly like one of my kitties.
So I would encourage all of our listeners to
do one of two things, so check out the
website for sure, for the love of alex.org.
Secondarily, find a place in your heart to help
support the efforts of this organization that has helped
so many and continues to help lots and lots
of deserving families and their babies.
What would you like to leave us with today, carla?
I just wanted to say thank you
to everyone that does support our organization.
We couldn't do what we do without these people.
And we have some amazing donors that give so
graciously, and they've been loyal for ten years.
This year, we'll be celebrating our 10th anniversary, and we
just want you to say thank you to everyone that
has supported us and continues to support us.
And that is quite a milestone. Ten years.
Thank you on your fabulous success.
All right, my dear listeners, please support
this lovely organization, and we will bring
you another interesting story next time.
And you know my personal philosophy.
It is until there are none.
Please adopt one.
And don't forget to get a pet trust.
See you next time. Happy days, else.