How it all began

Board Members

Dr. Donna’s Foundation was inspired by the love and joy that I experienced when adopting two shelter dogs. My first boy Buddy was a Katrina rescue dog. Even though he was older and thought to be 8 at the time, was scruffy and had cataracts, he struck something in the hearts of the rescuers. They took him from the streets of New Orleans and brought him here to Florida to Tri-County Humane, a no-kill shelter. They too saw something so special in him that they offered to pay for a $2000 surgery to fix his eyes if we would adopt him. We agreed to take him and he had the surgery.

I had him for three full years before he passed. You could tell that he had never been inside as he had no idea what sliding doors or window blinds were. His teeth were worn down from chewing on rocks and cans. He was so sweet and appreciative of everything. I knew instantly why they saved him.

He brought me so much joy that, when he passed, I started “The Buddy Fund” at Tri-County. It is dedicated to the healthcare of senior dogs housed there. It helps pay for any serious medical conditions or surgeries that a senior may need in order for someone to be adopted. The success of that fund and the generous response from donators proved very rewarding for me. The fund still exists today.

My second experience of rescuing a street dog that was housed in Miami-Dade shelter is Brindy, a twelve pound, two-year-old toy terrier and whippet mix. It was obvious that she had been abused badly by someone and had already delivered babies somewhere on the street.

Brindy was literally on the euthanasia list for the next morning at Miami-Dade shelter. She was held in a run with two other big dogs and was scared to death. No one adopted her because she hid under a trampoline that was in the run because she was simply terrified.
Her nails where so long they were curled up under her pads preventing her from walking normally because the shelter didn’t cut them.

Luckily, an employee fell for her and had a friend agree to foster her the day before they euthanized her. However, the foster didn’t understand what was happening to her medically. It was apparent that she was sick. She was 9.7 pounds down from the 12 lbs. when she entered the shelter and had turned as yellow as a banana.

This is where I came into the picture. I took her from the woman and got her to a vet. The vets determined that she had a tick-borne disease that caused her immune system to shut down. She was 36-48 hours away from death at best. This could have been prevented had the shelter paid attention to the fact that she had three ticks on her, or given her a simple blood test before spaying her. The vets suggested I put her to sleep as she was so sick. I looked down at her face and saw, once again, a special soul that had been obviously abused and abandoned by someone. I just couldn’t do it, so I asked them to try to save her.

  • Buddy
  • Buddy

With some good care from good doctors, she recovered and became a healthy and wonderful dog. The road wasn’t easy, but the reward has been so great. Shown a loving home and a lot of hugs and kisses instead of punches, she has become a beautiful, grateful, and appreciative pet.

The sad part is that they would have euthanized her just because she was terrified in the run where she was improperly placed. She became sick after leaving there, which, with a little basic care and observation from the shelter’s staff while she was in their care, could have been avoided. They would have killed a wonderful animal who did nothing wrong but be scared in a horrible environment.

During my journey through these experiences, I got to see the horrible conditions that exist in Miami in the county shelter and, similarly in Broward, where dogs are killed needlessly due to being older, scared, or even just black. The medical care is basic at best.

They do not check them to see if they have ticks or fleas. Life threatening illness of Eurlichia, Babesia and Heartworm could easily be prevented if they did. If the shelters are full, they pick the most likely dogs not to be adopted quickly (such as seniors or black dogs) and euthanize them without ever giving them a chance at a new life. Never do they call another shelter to see if there is space at their facility.

Miami Dade County and Broward County Animal Control have recently initiated some programs to help with overcrowding, but this needs to be expanded and new avenues added to make the changes that are needed.

Every dog deserves a chance. They need a voice and we need another system.

Shelters should all be no-kill facilities, meaning that no healthy adoptable pet should be euthanized. Each dog should be evaluated and placed in the right environment. There must be a better way to protect these animals and give each a chance at a new life.

It became my driving mission to find a plan that would address, on all levels, all of the failures within our current system and lessen the overwhelming population of strays, abused and neglected animals.


Dr. Donna Watson

Dr. Donna Watson


Vice President

Peggy Rogers



Camar Jones, Esq.


Volunteer Coordinator

Eunike Stenersen