about us

helping those who need it most

betterTogether Forever offers resources and referrals to at-risk, under-resourced, under-served, housing-challenged pet parents in Los Angeles, California so that they can keep their pets, keep them safe and healthy and NOT have to surrender them to an animal shelter, give them up, or abandon them on the streets.

Why? Because…

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Too many pet parents are at risk of losing their beloved pets. Too many pet parents do not have access to affordable veterinary care.

6.5 Million dogs and cats are in shelters, alone, without a family to love and take care of them.

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Golden Dog Tag

We do everything we can to keep pets and their families together, off the streets and out of animal shelters, as one should never have to choose between housing or their beloved companion.

This is who we are. This is what we do. This is why we do it.

our programs / services

The core of our mission is to help those who need it most, both people and their pets. We focus our efforts on our following programs: 

UPP

The Unsheltered People with Pets (UPP) program provides support to un-housed/transitionally housed pet parents.  

Click here to learn more.

By providing access to resources and support, this program gives low-income, senior citizens and homeless pet owners options other than surrendering their pets and keeps those pets at home where they belong.

Click here to learn more.

Community engagement, paw in hand logo

We work closely with local community organizations to host pet wellness clinics, pet food pantries, and provide supplies to those who are struggling financially.

Click here to learn more.

our values

Our cornerstone belief is that financial hardship should not prevent a pet parent from giving their pet a good life and loving home. Our values reflect that belief and inform what we do, how we do it, and how we interact with and engage all our constituencies.

compassion

we do what we do because of our love for pets and the people who love them.

integrity

we will always do what’s best for the pet parent and the pet; we will behave with honor; we will earn the trust of those we interact with.

persistence

we are at the ready, we are action-oriented, we are relentless.

progress

we are committed to improving the lives of those we touch, both human and animal.

respect

we will always be respectful of both people and animals.

our promise

The people and pets we help face challenges most of us cannot even comprehend. The people we help want to provide for their pet. They want to keep their companion safe and healthy. But they often face financial, housing, transportation, pet-care and even information access challenges and barriers.

People are often unsure about what to do or how to do it. All that is needed is a helping hand, a guide to navigate the challenges.

Our promise is to do our best to protect the loving bond between in-need people and their pets. Our commitment is to help make sure those people and their pets who are most at-risk stay together, and their pets stay safe and stay well.

our history

betterTogether Forever was founded in 2021 with the merger of two successful animal welfare non-profits, Bark Avenue Foundation and Home Dog LA. We joined forces to broaden our reach and impact, increase our organizational strength, and make Los Angeles a better place for pets and their people.

bark avenue

Bark Avenue was founded in 2004 by animal-lover and advocate, Melanie Pozez. Since the founding, Bark Avenue has helped thousands of animals and their families in Los Angeles and surrounding communities through safety net programs, finding pets homes, providing medical care and sterilization surgery that at-risk pet parents would not otherwise have been able to obtain. In August 2017 Christy Schilling became Executive Director.

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home dog LA

Home Dog was founded by Kerry Armstrong in 2013 at the North Central Animal Shelter in Los Angeles with the desire to help financially challenged pet owners with resources so that they could keep their pets and not turn them in to the shelter. Since 2013 Home Dog LA has helped keep over 4,000 pets out of the shelter by providing free pet food, assistance with veterinary visits, pet supplies, covering the cost to spring a pet from the shelter and more.

betterTogether forever leadership

Christy Schilling

Christy has always had a love for animals, people and giving back which is why she earned her BA degree in Sociology/Social Welfare. She worked and volunteered with pregnant and parenting teens, victims of domestic violence and low-income housing recipients. Through this, her eyes were widely opened to the plight of animals, so she shifted her focus to helping pets and people through humane education, legislation, mobile adoptions, coordinating fosters, volunteers, and transports, and partnering with a variety of organizations. After over 15 years in animal welfare volunteerism she co-founded a non-profit animal welfare organization with the mission to teach, advocate, protect and support pets opening a rescue only pet store. She was awarded 2014 Woman of the Year by Congressman Adam Schiff and the 2016 Animal Activist award from Animal PAC for her animal welfare work. In 2016 Christy decided to focus her efforts on prevention wanting to keep pets out of animal shelters and with their families and became Executive Director Bark Avenue Foundation in August 2017.  Christy resides in Glendale with her loving family that is a husband, 2 rescue dogs and 2 rescue cats.

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Kerry Armstrong

Kerry founded Home Dog LA in 2013 with the desire to cut down the number of animal surrenders to LA City Shelters. Before starting Home Dog LA she was a volunteer at the North Central Shelter and saw too many animals being surrendered by people in tears. People who loved their pets but felt like they had no other option. Inspired and mentored by Lori Weise of Downtown Dog Rescue, she started Home Dog LA as the surrender prevention program at North Central Shelter. Kerry has loved animals for forever and has been involved in animal welfare since 2004 when she was an apprentice dog trainer in New York City with ‘Who’s Walking Who and volunteered at various shelters around the city. Past work includes producing commercial photo shoots, performing with experimental theater company Red Dive. In LA, she was the Senior Producer of The Moth StorySLAM Series and main stage events. Kerry lives in Los Feliz with her family and four crazy rescue dogs.

our board

Kate Sawyer

Board Member

Kate was born and raised in New York City but has lived in Los Angeles for the past 30 years. She graduated from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont with a BA in French and a minor in Spanish. For 24 years, Kate has worked for Cheesecake Factory, where she is Manager of Internal Audit. Kate has served as a Big Sister with Big Brothers/Big Sisters for eight years and is still in contact with her “little”.  A long time pet lover and “owner” (we all know who’s in charge). 

Sara Harris

Board Member

Sara Harris is an audio artist, writer, and journalist with 20-years-plus experience in Los Angeles, Mexico, and the Netherlands. She has volunteered for years as a dog and cat handler for Los Angeles Animal Services and Best Friends/NKLA; and loved most of all working for Home Dog LA as a bilingual intervention counselor. Sara is a Certified Master Gardener who runs everyday with her two boisterous dogs in Elysian Park and check on the Red Tailed Hawk nests for the Los Angeles Raptor Count. She is co-founder of neighborhood-based, Los Angeles nonprofit 1866 (www.solanocanyon.org). 

KarenGrant

Karen Grant-Selma

Board Member

Karen Grant-Selma currently serves as the head of the business and legal affairs department at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Prior to joining OWN, she handled business and legal affairs for companies such as DreamWorks Animation, ITV Studios America, Live Nation Productions, AMC Networks and NBCUniversal.  In addition to supporting both of her alma maters, University of Southern California and University of Miami, she is a friend and fan of furry animals. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son and their energetic Portuguese Water Dog.

Syreen Martin-Hancock

Board Member

Shyreen Martin-Hancock, is a native of South Carolina and has lived in California since 1990. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Johnson C. Smith University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. Shyreen is currently an Administrative Hearing Examiner and also a private civil law mediator, California Real Estate Broker, and California Notary Public. Shyreen is currently serving as a board member for an Independent School and was previously a homeowners association board member for 8 years. Shyreen has always had compassion for all fur babies since childhood and is very passionate when it comes to families being able to have the resources for keeping their fur babies happy and healthy.

Lana Meier

Board Member

Lana Meier has worked as Director of Business Operations at a boutique talent agency specializing in music for the past 20 years. She has always been passionate about animals, which evolved into her doing rescue work. Since its inception in 2014, Lana has volunteered for the Intervention program counseling families at the North Central Animal Shelter, and follows up to be sure that their needs have been met. Lana loves living in the chaos of a home with her husband and their five rescue pups.

Julie Maigret

Board Member

Julie has had her own Interior Design practice since 2007, and has a passion for all things modern.  Over the past 12 years, she has lent her free time to local rescue organizations through serving as a staff photographer, organizing adoption events, and planning fundraising events to help animals in need. With a deep appreciation for the innovative and impactful work of shelter intervention programs, she is honored to be a board member of betterTogether Forever, a pioneer in changing the lives of animals and humans for the better.  Julie lives in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles with her 2-legged and 4-legged family members.

Sally Nemeth

Board Member

Sally Nemeth is an award winning playwright and screenwriter. Her plays have been produced by theaters throughout the English speaking world and many are published. She began her TV career writing for “Law & Order,” and has written for every major television network. She’s also a published author of novels for young adults. A lifelong rescuer of critters, large and small, she and her husband live with two former shelter dogs, two ex street cats, two hens and countless fish.

our partners

funders

This work could not be done to help the communities without the generous support of these foundations and organizations:

  • Annenberg Foundation
  • ASPCA
  • California Community Fund
  • Georgia B. Ridder Foundation
  • Humane Society of the United States (Pets for Life)
  • LA City (Mitch O’Farrell’s office) 
  • Mary Jo and Hank Greenberg Foundation
  • Michelson Found Animals Foundation
  • Petco
  • Pet Care Foundation
  • PetSmart Charities

community

We work with numerous local, community-based organizations, veterinarians, pet supplies/food stores, and other non-profits to keep pets safe and healthy, including:

  • Best Friends Animal Society
  • Blue Cross Pet Hospital
  • HEART LA
  • LA Animal Services
  • LA County Animal Care and Control
  • LA Veterinary Clinic
  • LA Family Housing
  • Latino Alliance for Animal Care Foundation (LAACF)
  • North Figueroa Animal Hospital
  • NSI
  • People Assisting the Homeless
  • Pasadena Humane Society
  • Pedro Pet Pals
  • Pets for Life
  • Rosie Bunny Bean
  • Sam Simon Foundation Clinic
  • Shelter Me
  • Southern California Animal Hospital
  • Weingart East LA YMCA

diversity and inclusion

Our culture is one of inclusion. We embrace and salute all people, regardless of their origin, culture, race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental ability, or work-life situation. We believe that when we include, when we collaborate and work together as one, we all benefit.

501(c)3

betterTogether Forever is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and contributions are tax-deductible for income, gift, and estate taxes. Our EIN is 20-1329182.