The Nightingale Fund is a specialized fund within the AAC designed to help animals who are severely injured or gravely ill. Photo: Ben Dann

JACKSON, Wyo. — This past May, a small Chihuahua mix named Lupine found himself in an overcrowded Texas animal shelter with a significant injury. He shared his kennel with five other small dogs, all with hopes of being adopted or transported to a partnering rescue. With hundreds of healthy dogs residing at this shelter, Lupine’s possibility for a second chance was slim due to his condition.

Fortunately for Lupine, Animal Adoption Center (AAC) co-founder Tom Patricelli, along with his wife Caroline and their two young children, had established the Nightingale Fund to help animals exactly like him.

The Nightingale Fund is a specialized fund within the AAC designed to help animals who are severely injured or gravely ill. The Fund provides life-saving surgeries and specialized veterinary care for dogs and cats who may otherwise be deemed unadoptable in the shelter system. With help from the Nightingale Fund, these animals get the ultimate second chance and go on to find loving forever homes.

It was Tom’s personal rescue experience years ago with his beloved Alaskan Husky, Flash, that led to the creation of the Nightingale Fund. Flash was a sled dog who ran away from her keepers in the dead of winter. For nearly a month, she eluded capture and ran as a stray through snow-covered ranch fields. She had nearly starved when she was hit by a car. Tom found Flash injured and emaciated in a parking lot and took her to the veterinarian in hopes of saving her life. Though Flash was on the brink of death, Tom adopted her from the sled dog company and began a year-long journey of complex orthopedic surgeries and physical therapy.

With an abundance of patience and love, Flash recovered and became a treasured member of the Patricelli Family. Over the years, the Patricelli house served as a rehabilitation center for many such animals who then went on to be adopted by loving families after their recoveries. “We’ve had some great times, with the kids hand-feeding recovering animals and family physical therapy walks with post-surgical dogs,” said Tom. After a while, he decided to formalize the operation and created the Nightingale Fund. “We wanted to help the neediest of the needy, and on a larger scale than we could do at home. Setting up the Nightingale Fund at the AAC was the perfect way to do it,” said Patricelli.

“These are the hardest of the hard cases, but these animals can be saved,” said Tom when creating the Fund. “That is what the Nightingale Fund is all about. We’re going to save them.”

That was certainly the case for Lupine, who found his way onto a Dog Is My Copilot flight after being selected by the AAC Team. Upon arrival, Jackson Animal Hospital took X-rays and discovered that Lupine’s jaw was severely broken. His best chance to lead a happy and healthy life required specialized orthopedic surgery.

Thanks to the Nightingale Fund this news did not give the AAC team even the slightest pause. Instead, they traveled to Sun Valley Animal Center where Dr. Randy Acker expertly reconstructed his jaw. Despite a long and complicated surgery, Lupine got to travel back to Jackson and be reunited with his adopters. His name is now Chewy Louie and he is living his best life in Teton Valley while he recovers from surgery.

With the help of the Nightingale Fund, the AAC is able to welcome animals with significant medical conditions into their rescue program. “It is a gift beyond compare to be able to say “yes” to special cases like Lupine,” said AAC Executive Director Carrie Boynton. “Our entire team is thankful to the Patricelli family and the many other dedicated supporters who fuel our mission and make second chances possible for homeless animals,” said Boynton.

To meet other animals saved by the Nightingale Fund and learn how you can make a difference, visit the AAC website. There are a multitude of ways to support the AAC and their life-saving programs this summer. Join other animal rescue enthusiasts in-person or virtually at the AAC’s annual fundraiser, New Leash on Life, on July 10th. All proceeds raised at this inspiring event will go directly towards the AAC’s rescue, adoption, education, and spay/neuter programs.