A neighbor’s dog attacked a sweet, long-haired Chihuahua.
When Rosco, in need of surgery, shots, and antibiotics, and his owner were unable to pay for his medical bills, Rosco was one of the first animals to receive assistance from Armani’s Angels.
Armani’s Angels was started by Jessica Robertson, a full-time loan officer at Flat Branch Home Loans. The nonprofit was named after Armani, Jessica’s “discount puppy” she got as a gift from her mother after a difficult breakup.
In October 2013, Jessica came home to find her house broken into and Armani severely beaten. The burglar hit the 20-pound Cockapoo puppy with a hammer he used to break open a safe. The extent of Armani’s injuries initially led veterinarians to think he had been shot.
“I said, ‘Do whatever you can,’” Jessica recalls.
Jessica stayed by Armani’s side for 12 days. During that time, she saw how many pet owners couldn’t afford health care for their animals. Jessica recalls a young couple screaming in agony because they didn’t have the money for euthanasia for their pit bull puppy. One veterinarian paid the bill.
“I saw so many people that were just heartbroken — the tears, the screams, the agony that people were going through — because they couldn’t afford the treatment for their animal,” Jessica says.
Armani lived for a year and a half following the incident before he died due to related complications. Jessica says she spent approximately $40,000 on Armani’s medical bills by the time he passed away. The initial 12 days at the veterinary hospital cost Jessica nearly $15,000.
“For many people, that amount of money isn’t anything they can fathom,” Jessica says.
A year after Armani’s death, hope for pet owners emerged in the form of Armani’s Angels. The nonprofit is dedicated to raising funds to assist pet owners in treating ill or injured pets.
“Our goal is to help bridge the gap for what the owners can’t afford to help get treatment started,” Jessica says.
Assisting Pets in Missouri
Armani’s Angels has helped more than 250 animals in Missouri since 2015. In its second year, the nonprofit helped 12 animals; by 2018, that number had grown to 87 annually. In 2019, Armani’s Angels decided to decrease the scope of their efforts.
“We were handing out money too freely,” Jessica says. “It’s hard because who are we to say this pet deserves it more than the other? But at the end of the day, we don’t have unlimited funds. We rely a lot more on the veterinarians to assess the need of the animal than we did when we started.”
Today, the nonprofit organization offers financial assistance to emergency cases. Jessica says many of the situations Armani’s Angels helps have animals that have either been domestically abused, attacked by another animal, or hit by a car. Many of these animals need amputation, surgery, shots, or antibiotics.
Rosco is among the hundreds of animals Armani’s Angels has helped. Dipstick, a rescued puppy, is another — he had to have emergency surgery to remove bladder stones that had obstructed his urethra. At risk for kidney failure, Armani’s Angels covered the majority of Dipstick’s surgical costs and all of his post-operative care. Other pets — Zuzu, Milo, Daphne, and many more — have become success stories because of Armani’s Angels.
“Armani sacrificed his life for many because, without him, this organization wouldn’t be here, and we wouldn’t have been able to help as many animals as we have,” Jessica says.
Expanding to Kansas City
Armani’s Angels expanded into the Kansas City area in 2018 and has since filled their kennel to help care for ill and injured pets on both sides of the state line.
“Expanding into Kansas City has opened a lot of doors for Armani’s Angels. We are reaching more pet owners than ever before,” Jessica says.
The Kansas City chapter operates under Armani’s Angels but has its own board members and creates and hosts their own fundraising events, such as the A Par for a Paw event. They also collect their own individual donations.
Armani’s Angels wants to keep touching the hearts of pet owners and provide for their financial needs while expanding the nonprofit across the map.
“We want to continue achieving our mission of assisting ill and injured animals,” Jessica says, mentioning that she would like to find a national donor to support Armani’s Angels. “We would love to have multiple branches if we can expand our current resources.”
The culmination of fundraisers sponsored by local businesses and individual donations has made Armani’s Angels’ mission a reality. The nonprofit has been a saving grace for keeping animals alive and keeping families together. For Jessica, the organization has helped her move past Armani’s death.
“Armani would want goodness to come from his life, and I think Armani’s Angels has been that goodness,” Jessica says. “I’m so lucky that I was his mom and that terrible situation happened to me because I had the resources, and I was able to start this organization that has turned that tragedy into something amazing.”