Story of Coco Wins Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes Grant

Willamette Humane Society is thrilled to announce winning a grant of $50,000 for the story and video of Coco.

The Petco Foundation in partnership with Halo, Purely for Pets, announced Willamette Humane Society as one of two second place winners of its second annual holiday grant campaign, Holiday Wishes, designed to help the most dedicated animal welfare organizations succeed in their mission to save pets’ lives – at the holidays and year round.

Suzanne Kogut, Executive Director of Petco Foundation, personally presented the grant check to Willamette Humane Society on Wednesday, December 17, at 10 am, during a reunion of Coco and her puppies.

 Watch the award-winning video


Abandoned with thirteen puppies, Coco the dog was in need of a second chance.  With community support, Willamette Humane Society in Salem, OR was able to say yes and find a foster home to care for Coco and her large litter.  Once weaned, more foster families were found to help raise, train, and socialize the puppies.

Eight weeks of foster care included hard work, sibling bonding, and more than a few shenanigans.  After vaccines, puppy behavior classes, and spay and neuter surgeries, all 13 puppies found forever homes. Coco was next.

After watching her raise her babies for nine weeks and change from the scared, skinny dog that she was into the amazing dog that she had become, all were devastated to find out that Coco had cancer.  “Coco was given just a few months to live,” said Krystal Kraig, Coco’s foster parent.  “We were so sad to think that her newfound happiness would be short lived.”

After one adopter backed out it started to look like Coco might never have a true home of her own. That is, until one special couple, Dick and Jean, said yes to Coco.  “When I first saw her, I knew this was the one, you know?” said Dick. “We bonded right away. She’s just a big ol’ mutt that’s full of love. She’s a great dog.”

But Dick and Coco’s story doesn’t end there. After a few months, Coco’s lumps miraculously disappeared. Dick’s family strongly believes that Coco was brought into his life for a greater purpose.  “Coco came into my dad’s life at a time when he was having a lot of health problems,” Dick’s son shared. “She gave him a new lease on life.”  “She’s sensitive to me,” Dick added. “She makes me feel better right away.”

Fourteen lives saved because countless people SAID YES.

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The story of Coco was just one of the many heart-warming stories of people helping animals submitted by animal welfare organizations across the country. The Petco Foundation made holiday wishes come true for a total of 33 organizations that were chosen as winners, based on the impact of the organization’s overall work and their success story. The Foundation’s Holiday Wishes campaign celebrates the tireless efforts of staff and volunteers across the country who are committed to saving the lives of animals year round.

“Holiday Wishes is another way in which the Petco Foundation invests in incredible organizations and communities that are committed to lifesaving,” said Petco Foundation executive director Susanne Kogut. “We want every animal to spend the holiday season with a family, and through Holiday Wishes, we hope to increase this possibility each year.” 

Each of the winning organizations will receive checks from the Petco Foundation in the next two weeks, just in time to save more animals in need this holiday season. Grant money will be used at the discretion of the winners for needs such as facility upgrades or expansions, adoption event support and animal care.

For more information on the Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign, and to read the winning stories, visit Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter and Instagram or by using the campaign hashtag, #HolidayWishes2014. For more information on the Petco Foundation, visit

Willamette Humane Society (WHS) was founded in 1965 by local civic leaders to serve Marion and Polk counties, Oregon. WHS provides pet adoption services, shelters surrendered or homeless cats and dogs, teaches responsible pet care, behavior and training — and reduces pet over-population through its low-cost Spay and Neuter Clinic. WHS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that relies on donor support and fees to accomplish its mission. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and includes a 35 FTE member staff, and 800+ volunteers who serve over 6,000 dogs and cats each year.  For more information about Willamette Humane Society and the story of Coco, visit


Holiday Wishes Check Presentation:  Willamette Humane Society

December 17, 2014 at 10 am
4246 Turner, Salem, Oregon 97317

  • BJ Andersen, Executive Director of Willamette Humane Society, thanked supporters in the room for making Coco’s happy ending a reality.  From the donors, the foster homes, to the shelter’s volunteers and adopters like Dick and Jean Wadleigh, all have an important role in saving lives.
  • Susanne Kogut, Executive Director of Petco Foundation, explained the rationale behind selecting Coco’s story as a grant recipient, and how the power of working together saves lives.  While some would look only to Coco’s breed, through her story we see her as an individual, an abandoned dog with thirteen puppies in need of help.  “Together we’ll create a lifesaving nation. That’s what Petco Foundation is here for.”
  • Krystal Kraig, Coco’s foster mom, described caring for (and mostly cleaning up for) Coco and her thirteen puppies, and how good it felt to see them all adopted.
  • Dick Wadleigh, Coco’s adopter, described his determination to adopt Coco after forging a connection with her, even after learning of her cancer diagnosis.  Coco comforts him through trials with his health, and he feels a strong commitment to return that care in their relationship.