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Michelson Found Animals Celebrates 15 Years of Saving Pets

“It is truly heartening to hear the gratitude and appreciation from people who receive support for their pets,” says Brett Yates, chief executive officer of MFA. “Their message is that we are making a difference, that goes to the heart of MFA, where the belief is that pets make lives better for everyone.”  

The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative recognizes that there are more pets than children in U.S. households today. And while 76% of property managers consider themselves “pet-friendly,” 72% of pet parents still say pet-friendly housing is hard to find. That is a massive disconnect which can leave pet owners facing a difficult decision of keeping their pet or having a home. The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative strives to demonstrate to property owners the value of pet-friendly housing. Owners of pet-friendly apartments say their properties rent considerably faster than those with “no pets allowed” signs. Those owners also remain 21 percent longer (15 months versus 12, on average). The initiative convenes professionals to share knowledge and promote pet-friendly housing. A prime example is the Big City, Little Paws: Pets in Urban Communities Forum hosted by MFA, where participants learned how cities and private partners can work together to create pet-friendly communities. 

Leap Venture Studios is a partnership between MFA, Kinship (a division of Mars Petcare), and R/GA. It seeks to foster innovation and overall growth in the pet care industry. As of this writing there are almost 20 different companies in the Leap Venture Studio portfolio who have, collectively and, in no small part because of the training participants received, raised over $75 million to support the growth of pet care businesses. In 2020 alone Leap Venture hosted over 35 webinars, engaging with 300-plus pet care professionals seeking to grow the pet care business nationwide.

Also in 2021, we will be introducing Michelson Institute for Pet Professions where we will provide scholarships to students in at-risk communities to become certified in one of several pet professions.  The first of these programs will be in Boyle Heights where animal services is rarely seen as a career and in that community we will train more than a dozen students to become groomers and they will all have professional certifications when they are done.  Additionally, we will assist them in the job placement efforts and provide them with all of the tools that they need for their new careers.  Over time, we expect to change the face of animal services throughout the nation.  

“Over 15 years, we have dramatically altered the landscape for animal welfare in Los Angeles,” says Michelson Found Animals Foundation founder and co-chair Dr. Gary K. Michelson. “In many ways, we are putting ourselves out of business by dramatically reducing shelter euthanasia through expanded free and low-cost spay and neuter services, microchipping and registry services, and other programs and grants to keep pets and their families together. We remain committed to being an agent of change disrupting broken systems and pursuing catalytic solutions to save lives by helping pets and the people who love them.”

15 years of saving pets is not the only number the Michelson Found Animals (MFA) can be proud of. Here is a quick look at what MFA has accomplished since 2005.

  • More than 6 million microchips were placed in pets.
  • With more than $11 million in grants awarded to get and keep pets out of shelters, MFA is the largest grant funder of companion animal welfare in Los Angeles.
  • Almost 8,000 animals spayed per year.
  • More than $17 million was awarded via the Michelson Prize and Grants in reproductive biology.
  • Close to 7,500 cats were placed in homes via the Kitten Foster Project.

And we’re just getting started.

For 15 years MFA has been the driving force of positive change throughout the animal welfare community. In addition to the facts cited above, MFA has an incredible amount of positive accomplishments to celebrate.  

Microchipping is one of our core efforts. A chipped pet who becomes lost has significantly higher chances of making their way back home. In fact, dogs are almost three times more likely and cats are an amazing 20 times more likely to make it home when they have a microchip and a current registry. And in the 15 years we have been active, we have made it absolutely free to pet parents to have their keep and maintain a pet registry (visit to register your pet), and managed to slash the chipping cost to animal shelters by more than half. 

Along with chipping a pet, we also make sure they have a home. In 2010 MFA opened the former Adopt & Shop, created to improve the process and experience of pet adoption. During their time they found homes for over 16,500 animals. We are especially proud of the incredible volunteer force who had contributed over 450,000 hours to the cause.  

Today MFA is extending its reach by growing a trifecta of initiatives, all designed to help pets and their owners: the Better Neighbors Project, the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative and Leap Venture Studios.

The Better Neighbor Project provides  food and medical support for hundreds of pets living in some of the neediest communities in Los Angeles. While providing much needed support to pets belonging to and low-income individuals or persons experiencing homelessness, the Better Neighbor Project has served nearly 12,500 pets in Los Angeles, a twenty-fold increase from when the effort began in May 2020. Best of all, nearly a dozen different charitable organizations have banded together under the Better Neighbor Project banner to support this endeavor.  Los Angeles may be the foothold, but plans are underway to expand the Better Neighbor Project beyond Southern California.