FAQs

What does Phinney’s Friends do, exactly?
We are an all-volunteer run organization that helps low-income people in Massachusetts keep their pets. That means we will try to help in any way we can to keep a family and their pets together. We help pay vet bills, we foster animals, we walk dogs and clean litter boxes when their owners can’t do it. We also collect and distribute pet food and supplies to families in need. This way we can avoid more shelter surrenders and keep people and pets together when they need each other the most: during a crisis.

Where is your office?
We don’t have an office. Volunteers are assigned their tasks over the phone or via email, and go visit families to help care for their pets. Other volunteers transport donated pet supplies from one place to another. Directors work from their homes and meet once a month at a restaurant or someone’s house to discuss Phinney’s Friends operations.

Where are your clients located?
Our regular clients (families we help regularly with pet care, fostering, advice and vet services) are located in the greater Boston area. We can only help regularly families located in areas where we have volunteers available.

We help people all over the state with emergencies, too. We don’t need local volunteers for that because we can generally resolve financial assistance over the phone with vet clinics.

My pet is sick and I can’t afford the vet bill. What can Phinney’s do for me?
If you can prove your low-income status and you live in Massachusetts, we may be able to help you. Call us at 617-979-8705 or email us.

How do I know if I’m eligible?
You need to leave us a detailed message at 617-979-8705 or email us and answer our questionnaire. You must be low-income and live in Massachusetts for us to be able to consider your case. Beyond that, we have other qualifications and limitations and will need you to provide us with information to determine if we can help you.

Why do I have to live in a certain area to be helped?
Our work requires a lot of volunteer hours. So we established an area of coverage when we started, and we have been expanding it as we grow our volunteer base. Little by little we may be able to cover more of Massachusetts, if we find the people to volunteer their time to the cause.

Why do I always get an answering machine when I call Phinney’s Friends?
We are a very small all-volunteer organization with limited resources, and we cannot afford to have staff to answer phone calls. To make sure your request won’t be lost in the volunteer rotations, we have a messaging system: you leave a message with the subject of your call and your phone number, and a volunteer responsible for the area related to your call will get in touch with you as soon as possible. Please do not email and call for the same reason. Choose the means of communication that suits you best. Otherwise you will create a double request in our system.

When I received financial assistance, why did Phinney’s ask me to commit to donating back to the organization at some point in the future?
You are the most important stakeholder in your animal’s welfare, and we know that if you could pay for the care yourself, you would. That is why we ask you to “pay it forward” in whatever way you are able in order to help others like you who are facing similar hardships. That way, we are a community supporting each other.

My pet has chronic health problems. Can Phinney’s help me?
We may, depending on where you are located and what your pet needs are. Please leave us a detailed message at 617-979-8705 stating your name, location, urgency and problem with your pet, and we will see what we can do for you.

I have a chronic illness that is making it really hard to keep my pet. Can you help?
Yes, if you are eligible and we have the funds and/or volunteers to help you. You need to leave us a detailed message at 617-979-8705 or email us and answer our questionnaire, so we can evaluate your case and evaluate how we can help you.

My pet is chronically ill and I can’t afford treatment. Can you help me?
Depending on your location, eligibility, and if we have the right volunteers in your area, we may very well be able to help you. You need to leave us a detailed message at 617-979-8705 or email us and answer our questionnaire, so we can evaluate your case and evaluate how we can help you.

I want a pet but can’t afford it. Can you help me?
No. Our mission is to help people keep their pets – the ones they already have, and for some reason are having difficulties keeping or caring for them. Caring for an animal is expensive and you will now have a lifelong commitment to that animal. Please think long and hard before adopting an animal if you are concerned that you will not be able to care for him or her.

I recently got an animal but can’t afford it. Can you pay for its routine care?
No. We have limited funds and must prioritize assisting people with strong bonds to their animals who have fallen upon hard times. While we may be able to offer emergency veterinary assistance if you otherwise qualify, we cannot provide intensive ongoing support. Please see our Resources page for other organizations that might be able to help you.

If you truly feel that you will be unable to provide the animal with his or her basic needs, and are unable to find support, we would urge you to consider returning the animal to the original owner or surrendering the animal to a shelter or rescue.

I do not qualify for help from Phinney’s Friends. Do you know of any other organizations that might help me and my pet?
Yes. Please consult our Resources page.

How do I become a volunteer?
Our volunteer section has more information on becoming a volunteer. Get in touch with us by email, and we will send you our Volunteer Manual for you to read, and our Volunteer Packet for you to join us. Thank you!

How am I going to be trained if Phinney’s doesn’t have an office?
In addition to receiving a volunteer manual, volunteers receive one-on-one training when they are assigned a task. That means that if you are paired with a family and will go visit them for the first time, another experienced volunteer will accompany you and guide you through the visit. If necessary, volunteers will accompany you until you are ready to perform your task on your own. You may also become part of a team of volunteers if you decide to take care of a family on a regular basis. We also offer periodically group training by subject (refresher training, understanding mental illness, what is animal abuse and neglect, etc.). As Phinney’s grows, we keep adding more group training opportunities.

Can I donate items, like food and pet beds?
Yes. Please drop off pet supplies for Phinney’s Friends at one of our donation bins, located at:

PETCO Brighton – 304 Western Ave, Brighton, MA – 617-254-8800

PETCO Natick – 1324-1334 Worcester Road, Natick, MA – 508-651-1441

PETCO Needham – 163 Highland Ave, Needham, MA – 781-444-8100

PETCO Revere – 339 Squire Rd #108, Revere, MA – 781-560-1302

PETCO Waltham – 75 Linden St, Waltham, MA – 781-736-0200

Polkadog Bakery – 42 South St, Jamaica Plain, MA – 617-522-1931

Unleashed by PETCO Wellesley – 165 Linden St, Wellesley, MA – 781-237-0754

We are always in need of cat litter and cat food, especially. Please donate only clean items as we do not have the capacity to handle soiled or dirty items.

What does Phinney’s Friends need the most?
Monetary donations! Also, people committed to volunteering with us for at least a year, who are willing to have a leadership position, managing several volunteers or leading a project from beginning to end. We also need volunteers who are able to foster our client’s animals when clients become homeless or are hospitalized.

I can’t volunteer but I want to donate. What’s the best way to do that?
You can send us a check, an online donation via credit card or PayPal, and you can sign up to donate monthly. Please visit our Donate page. Your donation is tax-deductible to the extent of the law.

I called for assistance/sent in a volunteer application/emailed with some questions but haven’t heard back yet. Why?
We are an all-volunteer run organization. Please know that, while it may take a little while, we aim at responding as quickly as possible.

I am a business and want to help. What can I do?
Businesses are some of our greatest allies and supporters. You can promote an event to raise funds for us, distribute flyers to your clients, help us reach out to your community to recruit more volunteers, engage your employees in volunteering for us… If you are a vet clinic, you can give us discounts on vet visits, procedures and surgeries. If you are a pet daycare, we are always in great need of boarding. The possibilities and endless. Please email us or call us. I’m sure we can find something interesting and exciting. Thank you