A Chattanooga dog named Lilo touched the hearts of people all over the world when the dog's story was shared in January by McKamey Animal Center, which established a fund in Lilo's honor that continues to touch the lives of people and their pets.
McKamey took in Lilo after the dog was found in Chattanooga with a leash and note attached.
"Please love me," the note said. "My mom can't keep me and is homeless with two kids. She tried her best but can't get help. I cost too much for her. She really loves me and I'm a great dog and love to be loved on. Please don't abuse me."
McKamey was able to track down the owner through social media, and the two were temporarily reunited at the shelter.
Unfortunately, several months after the dog was found, Lilo is still at the shelter while the dog's family continues to seek permanent housing.
"Since this has all started, it has become very real to us how big the need in our community is for support and resources," McKamey Director of Advancement Lauren Mann said by email.
In honor of Lilo, the shelter established the MAC Cares Fund to provide assistance to other families faced with giving up their pets because of homelessness or financial reasons. Donors have contributed more than $20,000 to the fund so far.
The fund provides assistance such as pet food, supplies, temporary shelter for pets and pet deposits for housing. People in need can fill out a help request form on the shelter's website at bit.ly/McKamRes.
"While we are still working out all of the firm details about how the fund can best serve our community long term, we have had a few requests come through our new application page since its launch -- which we have been able to handle thanks to those who supported the fund," Mann said.
The shelter is in the process of establishing relationships with boarding kennels that could provide pets with temporary housing care, as McKamey lacks the space in its kennels to accommodate more homeless animals, Mann said.
McKamey is also working to hire staff to expand the shelter's community outreach efforts and form new partnerships, she said.
"We hope with all of these efforts we are set to maximize our support and meet as many of the requests that come to us as possible," she said.
Although she was unable to give in honor of Lilo, Chattanooga resident Laura Peoples told the Chattanooga Times Free Press by Facebook message that she's grateful for the people who were able to donate to help families and pets stay together.
"It is so important for both human and animal to keep their bond," she said.
For more information or to make a donation, visit bit.ly/MACcares.