Xena: A Life Saved by a Teenager’s Generosity and a Forever Home

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Many times, animals who have a lifelong medical problem are the first to be euthanized in county shelters due to the difficulty in finding someone willing to invest the time and money required to adopt such special needs pets. For this reason, North Shore Animal League America created a sponsor program in which such pets are rescued from county shelters and receive monthly funding from generous animal lovers in order to receive the life-saving treatments needed.

Xena was one of the pets saved by the sponsor program, thanks to a very generous teenager who fell in love with her after reading about Xena on North Shore Animal League America’s website. Xena is a hound mix who was rescued from a municipal shelter after it was found that she had a life-threatening condition called portosystemic  shunt (PSS), also known as a liver shunt. Among many severe symptoms, PSS can cause weight loss and seizures, both of which Xena was suffering from.

Emily Meets XenaEmily was a passionate animal lover since childhood and after reading about Xena, decided immediately to put that passion into action. The timing coincided with her Bat Mitzvah project, so it was the perfect opportunity to show her kindness and commit to sponsoring Xena. Emily would put each week’s allowance towards Xena’s medical treatments.

Thanks to Emily’s generosity, Xena received two surgeries necessary to treat her PSS. Xena would continue to struggle with health issues requiring lifelong care but her condition was greatly improved. The sponsorship also helped in providing Xena daily medication and an ongoing special diet.

Soon after Xena received the needed medical care, she was adopted by a loving forever family. Animal lovers Theresa and Stephen came to look for a second dog to add to their family and fell in love with Xena. Theresa said they could immediately tell that Xena had so much love to give.

Xena has been transformed by being in a happy, loving home. According to Theresa,

“Xena is awesome! She has gone from not allowing you to cuddle her to snuggling perfectly into your legs for pets and scratches, and from rejecting treats from your hand to kissing your hand constantly. She is a very happy, spunky, verbal member of our family, and she brings us nothing but smiles!”

Xena’s sponsor, Emily, had not forgotten about the dog whose life she had saved, though. She began to wonder if she could meet Xena in person.  Emily’s dad, Steve, inquired about the possibility and was pleased to learn that Xena lived on Long Island, very close to Emily’s family. Xena’s forever mom, Theresa, also thought it was a great idea.

So, this past October, Emily and her parents joined Xena and her family at a local dog park for a playdate. Emily describes the encounter:

“It was a great experience. I was so happy to see that Xena looked so healthy and active. She’s very friendly and the people who adopted her are so nice. I’m so glad she has a great family to take care of her…When I’m old enough, I’m going to volunteer at North Shore Animal League America!”

Theresa even allowed Emily to give Xena her daily dose of medication, making Emily even more proud. Theresa was extremely grateful to Emily and the sponsor program:

“We’re so grateful to everyone who gives toward Xena’s care through the Sponsor Program. We were so proud and excited to be part of watching a young girl whom we didn’t even know make a difference in Xena’s life, and Xena making a difference in Emily’s life. The experience we shared was very special to all of us.”

***If you are interested in sponsoring an animal like Xena, please email [email protected] or call 1-877-BE-MY-PAL.  You can also access information and sign up to be a sponsor on their website by clicking here: Sponsorship


North Shore Animal League America is the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization, having saved over 1,000,000 dogs and cats’ lives since beginning in 1944. They are an innovator in animal welfare, committing to rescue and rehabilitate all animals and create a more sustainable world for them. They rescue animals from overcrowded shelters, unwanted litters and from owners who are no longer able to care for them. They also provide affordable veterinary care and dog training services.