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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

STARelief and Pet Assistance

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals

Mission: STARelief and Pet Assistance mission is to provide life-saving veterinary care, pet food, emergency boarding and foster care to pets whose families are struggling with financial hardship. Join us. Company Overview STARelief is a group of volunteers dedicated to keeping pets & families together during hard financial times. We do this by providing free life saving pet food and veterinary care, as well as assisting families with spaying & neutering their pets. Our goal is to lessen the amount of animals that are left behind or relinquished to local animal shelters. We donate pet food to low income, seniors, disabled & the homeless with pets. In these difficult times, many families are faced with the hard decision of giving up their pet, because they can no longer properly care for them. This accounts for most of the 3-4 million pets that are destroyed in shelters each year in the United States. STAR hopes to decrease this burden on families by supplying food and supplies. Families should not have to choose between feeding themselves or their pets. We are one of the only organizations of our kind in the area & the need for our help keeps growing each week. As animal shelters fill up and as families struggle, STAR Pet Food Pantry is committed to making a difference in our community in a whole new way. We service the Westchester, Fairfield and New Haven counties. Description STARelief and Pet Assistance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping pets happy, healthy and in their homes.

Results: Donated over 24,000 pounds of lifesaving pet food. Provided over $63,205 in veterinary care to pets in need. Prevented over 317 animals from being surrendered to local animal shelters.

Target demographics: Seniors on a fixed income, Low-income, unemployed, pets of domestic violence, current and ex-military personnel, and people with disabilities

Direct beneficiaries per year: 216 individuals and families

Geographic areas served: National Organization

Programs: Pet Food Pantry Home For Life Veterinary Grants Pets For Military Vets Safe Pet Foster Program

Community Stories

78 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

7

Donor

Rating: 5

I am so impressed by the love, dedication, and hard work of STAR. My sweet cat Honey was rescued by STAR from a terrible hoarding situation of many cats and dogs living in atrocious conditions. She is an absolute joy, and I am so grateful that she was rescued and now with my family.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a Marine Corps veteran of the Gulf War. Just 3 months ago I was provided with a companion dog to help me with some serious issues. His name is Red. In the short time that Red's been with me my life has improved 100%. Unfortunately my current situation is one over very little income.

Red started rubbing his ears, so I looked and by my untrained eye I could tell he had a pretty bad ear infection that was causing him pain. I started to panic.... I called several vets to see if they would work with me on the costs, or accept payments. No luck.

I happened across Starelief while scouring the internet. I completed the application and was contacted the next day. The day after that, Red was receiving medical care to the tune of $300+ which Starelief took care of!!

I can never thank them enough!

Scott in West Haven

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I was told that they weren't in any position to assist me even though they accepted applications.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I feel so blessed to have found this organization that lovingly helped me get my adopted shelter cat her exams and shots so we can both be relieved and I feel they should be given huge kudos for their support and customer service!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

November 10, 2016.

God bless the great folks behind the veil at STARelief org. and the generosity of all who donate to this great program. Special thanks to the board for their compassion and expertise in recognizing when a familys plea is dire and genuine.
I am a disabled veteran and my pension was terminated leaving me with only 133 monthly income. I have a family of five that includes myself, wife, son, 5 yo Eskie "Levi", and cat. With limited income i was unable to provide flea treatment for my pets and as it turned out Levi eveloped a severe reaction from fleabites and began knawing at his back pulling hair out in clumps. His situation was extreme so I had to act fast.
I went online first to diagnose > flea dermtitus - allergic reaction to flea saliva.
Next I tried to find home remedies that would help at all with some good success.
I was able to make his head gear to prevent anymore self mutilation and creation of any more open sores.
I found that Benedryl would help relieve some itching and i could use the extra betadine from my surgery to clean and disinfect his wounds until healed enough to clean with baby shampoo.
He was now infested w fleas and his sores looked infected. So again i go online and find our pets saving grace. . . STARelief org!
Without Starelief our "Levi" would still be suffering without
the proper medical attention that provided relief from the pain and discomfort of his condition.
Also equally important is the HUGE sigh of relief felt when our feelings of anxiety and helplessness were lifted just by knowing your pet will be comfortable and healthy again!

> Thanks!! TEAM #STARelief
> Grandiose Appreciation,
> Frank, Jordan, Kimberly
> Pets "Levi", & "Stormy"
> Famiily in Need

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dear Heather and Shamika and everyone at StaRelief,

My name is Skye, you knew me as Reese. I am writing to say thank you for giving me such a great life. I hear my new mom and dad talking all the time about how much they love me and how amazing their life is now that I am a part of it. They are the best! I go for long walks every day (sometimes 2 miles, usually 4 miles), I get to go to work with my mom every day, dad plays with me when we get home, they take me to the dog park on the weekends so I can play with my friends and be a dog.

Mom tells everyone I am really good at my job as a therapist, that I make everyone smile that comes to see us. Everyone talks about how gentle and smart I am and well trained I am. I guess so, all I know is that mom tells me what she wants me to do, I do it, then I get a belly rub or a treat. Pretty sweet deal for me if you want to know the truth! Anyway, I got to thinking that none of this would have happened for me if it hadn't been for you guys, so thank you. Doesn't seem like enough, but I really mean it. We wanted to help out more, maybe give another dog like me the chance I had, so mom put a check in the mail for you today (I helped her mail it!).

Mom is sending some pictures of me at work. It looks like I lay around a lot, but mom says it's gotta be exhausting for me to be so darn cute that she doesn't blame me one bit. (Like I said, pretty sweet deal!)

I hope you guys are around a LONG time and are able to help a lot more dogs (and people too). Mom says you guys made her world more beautiful when you gave me to her. I'm thinking you changed my world for the better to be sure! Thanks again!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

When my cat Joey was sick, STARelief stepped in and helped my Joey out. I had to use their vet which was a good idea. Anyway, they saved my cat Joey life. Thank you STARelief!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thank god for STARelief and Pet Assistance. Without this organization, my pet Henry would not be alive today.
They are the most kind and caring people in the world.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

STARelief is amazing! nothing else to say. They saved my pets' life.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

What an organization,Thanks to Stareleif,all 4 of my dogs had the chance to be spayed and neutered as well as recieving wellness checks and shots,we could not have afforded the service otherwise,this made a difference in our lives and our pets.You will find good solid people here who are genuine in wanting to help and doing it.Thank you from the bottom of our hearts

2 catmandude

Donor

Rating: 1

As you may be aware, many websites contain fake reviews made by either members of the organization seeking funds, paid 'reviewers' and/or their friends, family members, etc.

Based upon my recent, ABSOLUTELY AWFUL, first-hand experiences with STARelief and its executive director, Heather (detailed below), ONE MUST SERIOUSLY QUESTION THE VALIDITY OF ANY/ALL POSITIVE REVIEWS re: STARelief on this and/or any/all other websites.

In lieu of any available NEGATIVE star ratings (-5 stars wouldn't be a low enough review for STARelief), I give STARelief THE LOWEST POSSIBLE REVIEW AVAILABLE.

IN SUMMATION:

PLEASE donate your funds to a verifiable, REPUTABLE organization (i.e. NOT STARelief).

My experiences are detailed below re: the absolute hell that I was forced to experience over the course of the past +/- 2 weeks in my failed efforts to obtain ANY assistance - let alone TIMELY help from STARelief.

As a DIRECT result of across-the-board failures and COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE delays by STARelief and executive director, Heather, my beloved 4-years-young cat, Joey, suffered immeasurably and unnecessarily - then had to be euthanized - FAR too prematurely.

If that wasn't bad enough:

Never receiving payment confirmation to the vet clinic of the paltry, belated, $100 ALLEGED grant, I emailed STARelief 12 days after being approved for the ALLEGED grant - simply requesting email confirmation of payment to the vet clinic.

Instead of providing the reasonably requested confirmation - again: 12 DAYS AFTER THE FACT, Heather withdrew her NON-EXISTENT grant, knowing full-well that STARelief WOULD thereby STIFF my ELDERLY (86 & 90 YEAR-OLD) PARENTS out of reimbursement for any of the $266.95 that they were FORCED to place on their credit card - as a DIRECT result of Heather's COMPLETE and UTTER FAILURE to 'step up to the plate' in a TIMELY manner - or, more accurately: AT ALL.

Rather than utilizing any LEGITIMATE criteria - i.e. for no VALID reason, Heather's decision was based upon her ornery disposition and clearly biased attitude - which was quite evident throughout the entire hellish, grueling, time-wasting and ultimately fruitless application process.

Prior to her decision to retract her paltry $100 grant (that, as it turned out, never existed in the first place), it was CLEARLY explained to Heather (via the email grant payment request confirmation) that my elderly parents are on extremely limited fixed income AND that my 90 year-old Dad is suffering from dementia - which will soon require substantial eldercare costs.

Made no difference, whatsoever, to Heather - as she continued her pattern of sheer callousness by first, retracting the paltry, ALLEGED grant - in a most-condescending and patronizing manner, no less - then abruptly told me (via the same email) to never contact her again. Does it GET any better?

It goes without saying that no human being should EVER treat ANY others in such a manner - whether or not under the guise of 'volunteer'. There's simply no rationale - and NO EXCUSE - for such behavior.

As such, I STRONGLY advise that any and all who may consider donating to this - at best: poorly run (dis-)organization, or at worst: complete sham and/or scam to RUN - not walk away - and FAST. Your (and my future) donation(s) will be FAR better utilized in most ANY organization OTHER than this disgracefully botched operation.

And if there's any justice in this world, it will come in the form of ZERO additional donations to this despicable (dis-)organization - as well as a full-scale investigation + shut-down of its sham operation by the state attorney general's office. An appropriate prison term hopefully awaits, as well.

How Heather can even GLANCE at her own reflection and/or sleep at night is beyond comprehension.

For your reference, below is the copied, pasted and edited email sent 9/14/16 to STARelief executive director, Heather - which speaks for itself:

*************************************************************************

After this email, I won’t ‘bother’ you again – as my next email will be via formal complaint to the CT State Attorney General’s office (copied on this email) re: the absolute SHAM / SCAM OPERATION that you’re running in Stamford. I’d refer to STARelief as an utter joke – but it would be far too complimentary and there’s NO humor in taking advantage of ANYONE – let alone those in legitimate need.

Additionally, I will post online reviews and comments reflective of my DISGRACEFULLY POOR experiences with you and STARelief – on every available ratings website – including all non-profit review sites - ensuring that NO ONE else receives such despicably callous, un-empathetic, unsympathetic treatment by you as did I.

Unlike you and/or the dis-organization that you claim to ‘run’ – I’ll be 100% transparent:

You never had ANY intention of helping me – PERIOD...

Instead, you took every opportunity to deny my VERY REASONABLE – AND approvable application for financial aid. As admitted by your webmaster, Andy, your online application is rife with tech (AND procedural) issues. As you’re well-aware, the tech issues wiped out my entire first application – on which I worked for several hours (for ALLEGED EMERGENCY care – no less). In addition – as mentioned, you require documents that in many cases (such as mine) do not exist – AND you require ‘estimates’ for vet care.

While I fully understand the need to qualify and quantify applications on the basis of financial need, NO ONE should be denied simply because he/she doesn’t collect unemployment, food stamps, etc. – that’s absolutely absurd. There are other ways to prove that a need exists – however, your website remains shortsighted in its requests for information that may not exist. And worse – it doesn’t provide the applicant any alternate means to provide such information.

I offered to provide you with legitimate, alternative proof of my hardship – yet you failed to take me up on my offer. You then asked me if I would consider driving to Stamford to visit your ‘discount’ vet – then ‘pulled the plug’ on me for simply – and reasonably - asking to check online reviews for your vet (after just being horrified while reading reviews of my 2 most recent vets – as I LONG-awaited your follow-up).

First of all – note to (your)self – and this just in... (as if you didn’t already know): vets are neither car dealer service shops nor home improvement contractors. As such, vets don’t provide ‘estimates’ – especially for emergency pet care. Get real.

Secondly – your definition of ‘emergency’ is more than a tad ‘off’.

How can you claim to offer financial aid for ‘emergency’ pet care (for ‘emergency’ medical treatment for my bleeding and dying cat, Joey – the circumstances of which you were well-aware at that point), then:

A) require that your ungodly, longwinded application process be completed PRIOR to one even receiving ANY (ALLEGED) consideration for EMERGENCY assistance, then...

B) make me wait several HOURS to speak with your webmaster, then...

C) require that I re-apply to even be considered, then...

D) unfairly deny approval due to documents that don’t exist, then...

E) ask if I’ll consider your discount vet, then...

F) make me wait OVERNIGHT – AS MY BELOVED CAT, JOEY LAYS SUFFERING, then...

G) unfairly deny approval AGAIN – claiming that it wasn’t an emergency because I checked online for vets who handle emergencies – and their reviews – ALL WHILE AWAITING YOUR REPLY, then...

H) you disappear off the face of the map (AND fail to return the detailed voicemail that I left on your cell phone), then...

I) make me wait several MORE HOURS – AS MY BELOVED CAT, JOEY LAYS SUFFERING, then...

J) spinelessly – in your ‘stead’ (or – more accurately: as you hide under your desk) you have Amy email ‘approval’ of a (very lame), ALLEGED $100 grant (coupled with the threat that if I didn’t accept by day’s end, she’d (ALLEGEDLY) give it to someone else, then...

K) after I email Amy (well-before the day’s end) with my acceptance of said (lame) offer, the ALLEGED grant $ is NEVER sent to [the vet], then...

L) only after I email you to request confirmation that the grant was paid to [the vet], as promised, (shockingly!) you reply with a withdrawal of your ALLEGED ‘grant’ – 12 DAYS AFTER THE FACT?

Instead of doing the right thing (including returning the voicemail left on your cell phone), you cowardly had Amy CLAIM that you were ‘on vacation’. Did your cell phone voicemail go on vacation, too?

Do you make a habit of offering such ALLEGED ‘emergency’ pet care aid – stalling the process long enough so that the affected – and beloved – pet suffers needlessly to near-death (especially when you’re well-aware of the circumstances) – unfairly deny the approval (not once – but twice) – then go ‘on vacation’ without notifying the applicant – mid-process – as the pet is, by then, near death?

As Lincoln stated: ‘You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

2 Barbara265

Donor

Rating: 5

I was a volunteer on a project with a family that was housing multiple cats with litters in a run down home that eventually got condemned. Someone suggested I reach out to Starelief to get some assistance for the kittens. After assessing the situation, Starelief not only helped with the kitten litters but worked with their vet to get the Mom's neutered & also provided much needed medical assistance for some of the other cats. They also helped with food and cat litter since the family was in obvious need. It's been a few years since our first introduction and all of the cats have been relocated with their help (either tangible or simply being pointed in the right direction).

4 Lynne45

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hi this association was extremely helpful when we first got our dog we adopted from another place. They helped us get a low-cost neutering as well as Initial shots in the first year.

6 Marjorie5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Four years ago our dachshund, Bindi, needed back surgery. As we were struggling with her expensive surgery bills, STARelief helped us with some of the costs. To give back for their assistance, I have a minimal amount deducted from my checking account each month. A small amount does add up over time and can greatly assist STARelief to help other animals and their families.

Marjorie Swarts
Client Served and Current Donor

4 Jim_168

Client Served

Rating: 5

We adopted two young cats from STARelief and have continued to support their efforts via charitable contributions for several years now. STARelief does fabulous work for pets who need assistance. These are truly remarkable folks!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered with STARelief and Pet Assistance for over 3 years and I can honestly say that this is the most organized, dedicated and fun non-profit I've ever volunteered with. Everyone is completely dedicated to keeping pets happy, healthy and home! Also important is that everyone in the group truly likes working together and everyone pitches in to help each other. Great group with a great mission!

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with or donated to several organizations over the past few years and STARelief & Pet Assistance has proven to be one of the best. A group of dedicated volunteers give their time and energy to helping people keep their beloved pets healthy, happy and home rather than surrendering them to shelters (or worse, euthanasia) due to lack funds. STAR's mission helps alleviate the burden of overcrowding in shelters and is an important one, especially since many of the pets they help are elderly and would likely have trouble getting adjusting to shelter life. STAR is small but they do a tremendous amount of great work for the size and funding of the group.

2 bow wow

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's so rewarding to help an organization that keeps pets out of shelters and in their homes. It's not just the pets STARelief helps, it's also the pet owners. And that is amazing.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is my third year volunteering for STARelief. The work we are doing is amazing and so rewarding. The smiles on our clients faces when we show up with pet food for them is priceless. I love this organization

Read more
1

Client Served

Rating: 1

I am absolutely 100 percent grateful for the help i have gotten for my 6 (now 4) cats i have chosen to bring inside from outside where i found them. I had two females, 4 males, and a ton of kittens were being cranked out. I just couldn't afford the vet bills for the spay/neuters, and i was going through a rough time because i had just gone back to school, raising 3 kids and 6 cats on loans, so i got help with feeding my kitty's as well. Again, don't get me wrong, i appreciate the help. What i do not appreciate is the insanity i have encountered with the woman who came out to help with the cats. I will not name names, but someone came out to transport the cats to and from and to drop off food. At first everything was great, she said i could get all the cats fixed etc... When she brought one female, and two males to the vet one day, she came back with one. Apparently, the female was pregnant and she gave permission for her to be boarded at the vet, without even asking the owner first. (Me...) One of the males was given away for adoption, and this was afger she asked if i would consider it, and i answered with : "sure, i'll CONSIDER it." I wrote her many emails about the fact that we want that cat back, that i discussed it wit my kids and we want him back, but to no avail. The cat that was boarded? I asked repeatedly when i can get her back, when can we visit....all answered with vague "soon, or when the babies are born..." after a while i just waited, waited for her or the vet to tell me when i can get her. Then, i find an email in my box saying i have abandoned her and her babies and to not accrue any more charges in boarding at the vet (which i never even granted permission to have done!) she and the babies have been give up for adoption. I am LIVID. and sad. She is my pet. I love that cat, my kids love her, and this nonprofit has just swept her away...why? Could it be i was being judged the entire time by this woman who drives a really nice car and lives in a really nice house and had to come to the side of Stamford that no one likes to visit to see me? to help me? who told me point blank that 6 cats are too many? I think so. But it doesn't matter. What matters is this woman stole my cat. I had been in contact with the vet, i had been visiting her just days before i got that email, and i'm told i have abandoned her? And seriously, how do i hold her accountable???I can't figure out who is in charge of the place. Just be careful. Get the help u need but don't believe anything these people say.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thank you STARelief! Gypsy was unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time, and a newly formed tumor of melanoma. I wasn't sure how I was going to try and pay for more vet bills, but between STARelief and an anonymous donor I was able to get my baby dog back into good health. From the start to end of applying for a grant with this organization I was completely calm, and offered assistance and sympathy when I needed it the most. This is a wonderful thing that is hard to come by these days. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help with gypsy's surgery. She is fully recovered as of today, stitches are out, and she is completely cancer free now. I hope STARelief is around for a long time, as well as the staff.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Because of STARelief we still have our loved dog. We thought her diagnosis was a death sentence because of the cost. She is still with us, 2 years post surgery and I can't thank STARelief enough for giving our family this time with her.