Local animal rescue competes in national pet tourney for donation

The bracket for Petplan Pet Insurance's "Tournament of Tails." As pets advance through the bracket, they win larger donations for their respective shelters. Every shelter will receive a donation. Photo courtesy of Petplan Pet Insurance

Main Line Animal Rescue (MLAR) in Phoenixville is taking part in a national contest called “Tournament of Tails: Sweet 16 Shelter Pet Challenge.” MLAR is one of the 16 participating shelters across the country hoping to watch their “player,” a dog at the shelter named Jewel, advance through the bracket for a chance to win a $5,000 donation.

The pets, who are also available for adoption, are “playing” to win donations from Petplan Insurance, increasing incrementally for each move they make up the bracket in the Tournament of Tails. Animals advance up the bracket by people voting for them on Petplan’s Facebook page.

Petplan Insurance, based in Newtown Square, supports animals in need with their unique concept of “Petplanthropy.”

Natasha Ashton, co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan pet insurance said Petplanthropy is the name for all the philanthropic efforts the company engages in.


“That includes our volunteer efforts on a local level, our participation in national initiatives to help pets and pet parents in crisis, and our donations to organizations that share our core value that ‘pets come first,’” said Ashton. “Giving back has always been a huge part of our corporate identity, and the name ‘Petplanthropy’ is how we sum up all the ways we ‘paw it forward.’”

Ashton said all types of animals benefit from Petplanthropy, including animals at rescues and shelters.

Tournament of Tails is the first competition of its kind. Ashton said the company started by reaching out to rescue groups and shelters across the country to see who wanted to “paw-ticipate” and each shelter submitted their own “players.”

Said Ashton, “Once we had our Sweet 16 teams, we built a bracket and scheduled all the ‘games,’ with the winners moving on to the ‘Great 8,’ ‘Final Fur’ and then to the ‘Cham-paw-ionship.’

“March Madness is one of the biggest sporting events of the year, so we came up with the Tournament of Tails to mirror that bracket-style competition,” she added. “But in true Petplanthropy style, we knew we didn’t just want to feature cute pets — we wanted to use it as an opportunity to give back. So we came up with the idea that each pet would be an adoptable cat or dog, and they would ‘play’ for donations Petplan would make toward their shelter, while also helping to find that pet and its other shelter-mates ‘fur-ever’ homes.”

Ashton said for the “Tournament of Tails” event, shelters are the main focus and all of the participating groups will get a donation. The pets that don’t advance in each match-up will still score a donation for their shelter: $100 for “Sweet 16” finalists, $250 for the “Great Eight” and $500 for the “Final Fur.”

There’s a new game each day, and people can vote by liking and commenting with the name of their favorite pet in the matchup. Each game happens at 1 p.m. and the voting stays open for eight hours. There is one almost every day between now and April 7.

Jewel, the amazing dog who is the “player” at MLAR, arrived there after suffering unfathomable abuse. She was used as a bait dog in a dog fighting ring. She sustained several injuries, including nine fractures (including a serious jawbone injury), a chipped vertebrae and a hole in her skull. She was also severely malnourished and dehydrated. Somehow, amazingly, she survived. She is now doing well after undergoing major reconstructive surgery at University of Pennsylvania.

Those wishing to support Jewel by voting for her in the “Tournament of Tails” can do so by logging on to Petplan’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Petplan.

For more information on MLAR or to learn how to adopt a pet, visit their website at www.mlar.org.