Animal Hero of the Month: Karen Ferreri-Miller

Our Animal Hero of the Month left a successful job to do what she loved the most: rescuing animals. Find out why Karen Ferreri-Miller deserves this honor.

Meet our animal hero of the month for November, 2013.
Karen Ferreri-Miller poses with Holly, a rescued Siberian Husky from Missouri.

Our Animal Hero of the Month award winner for November is Karen Ferreri-Miller of Free Spirit Siberian Rescue in Harvard, Illinois.

Free Spirit Siberian Rescue takes in Siberian huskies, mixed-breed dogs and even cats when possible. Ferreri-Miller started the rescue in 1999 after a successful grooming career, and animals in need have been the fortunate recipients of her dedication and hard work ever since.

The Nomination

Ferreri-Miller’s nomination was sent in by Peg Moore:

“Karen works continuously to rescue Siberian Huskies from kill shelters in many states, gets them transported to her rescue and gets them adopted to great homes. Just about every dog she has in her rescue would be dead if not for her selfless efforts to save them. She works with a few volunteers to care for these dogs.

She recently took in 12 dogs from California to her rescue in Illinois because the shelters out there were going to put all of them down to make room for the dogs displaced by the wildfires. She takes in not only the puppies but also the parent dogs if they are also in the shelter. She takes dogs that have heartworms and treats them.

She does not turn away a dog because of a situation that makes it a special needs animal. She takes in purebreds and Husky mixes and occasionally some other breeds. This woman puts in a 30-hour day into 24 hours. She deserves the recognition she has earned.”


Winners will receive a Animal Hero of the Month medal.Here’s what our Animal Hero of the Month award winners receive:

  • A feature article like this one
  • Social media mentions across all of our platforms
  • A permanent spot on the list of winners
  • Our custom, engraved gold-tone paw print medal with ribbon
  • $50 cash award
  • $50 gift card to Pet Food Direct (U.S. winners)

About the Organization

Ferreri-Miller was a master groomer for years and kept a clientele of 1,200 furry customers and their beloved owners. She loved her job but wanted to take on an additional role of helping animals in another capacity. Anyone who knows her knows she took in strays every chance she found, and this selfless and compassionate nature led to a desire to help animals in a more influential position.

When the opportunity arose to change course, Ferreri-Miller embraced it. She thanked her beloved customers, retired from grooming and opened Free Spirit Siberian Rescue in 1999.

Ferreri-Miller was not only focused on the plight of Siberian huskies, mixed breeds and other animals, but she dedicated her life to helping animals. After Hurricane Katrina plagued the Gulf Coast (a scene with which I am all too familiar, being born and raised here in Louisiana), Ferreri-Miller traveled down to the area to spend weeks helping the displaced animals of this natural disaster.

She didn’t go home empty-handed either. She explained to me that every night one dog kept running to the place where she was staying. It was cute the first night, coincidence the next and fate after that. She knew it was meant to be, and this dog and a few others made their way to Illinois with her upon her return.

Since the start of her rescue, the Louisiana trip and continuing to help animals in need, Ferreri-Miller kept a revolving door open for animals needing a home and people looking to adopt. She’s not entirely sure of the number of animals adopted out since she started. She thinks it’s around 1,500. She didn’t count the adoptions for the first few years because, as she told me, “Numbers weren’t important; animal lives were.” We could not agree more.

Ferreri-Miller is supported by her generous and similarly minded volunteers in running her busy rescue. The video below shows a volunteer explaining the purpose of the rescue:

Many times the animals taken in by Free Spirit Siberian Rescue were previously abused or neglected, but their condition does not deter the rescue from its mission. From heartworms to puppy mill survivors, no case is too complicated for the rescue created for the sole purpose of giving pets a second chance.

In addition to rescuing and re-homing animals, Free Spirit Siberian Rescue also participates in events and fundraisers to raise awareness of rescue and adoption and seek new adoptive homes for their worthy rescue animals. Their extracurricular activities include attending expos and pet events, participating in parades with a sled team, offering sled dog handler training, offering monthly volunteer web seminars and pulling rescues as often as possible.

With her busy mission and schedule, it is easy to think Ferreri-Miller is overwhelmed by the responsibilities and activities of her rescue. You’d never know it by talking with her, and she insists she loves every minute of being an instrumental part of animals’ lives. She believes they all deserve a second chance, and this sentiment is one we here at Pets Adviser echo every day.

Please join us in congratulating our Animal Hero of the Month for November and thanking her for all she has done and continues to do for the animal welfare community.

Q&A With Karen Ferreri-Miller

1. Karen, what got you started helping animals?

I started finding baby animals that would die if not cared for, such as baby rabbits, baby mice and kittens.

2. What’s your earliest childhood memory that is animal-related?

We always had dogs and cats; and instead of toys in my playpen, I had real animals. I still have pictures of them with me. I loved to be with them all the time.

3. How old were you when you got your first animal?

I was 15 months old when I got my own cat, and she would sleep with me.

4. What is your favorite animal?

Obviously, the dog!

5. Tell us about the one animal you will never forget.

When I was a child, my family had a Beagle that my mom found. She was named Lindy Lou and was a very sickly puppy. Our family doctor treated her and made her healthy, and she became my best friend. Every day, she waited for me to come home from school, waiting on a chair looking out the window in the dining room. She was my best friend.

6. What are the least and highest amounts of pets you have had at one time?

Personally, I have had at least three dogs, raised 100 canaries and parakeets, rescued lots of cats and rescued 120 dogs last fall.

7. If your pets could talk, what would they say?

If my pets could talk, they would say, “Thank you for saving us.”

8. If you could solve one problem facing animals, what would it be?

Not to have them euthanizied for space.

9. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose and why?

I would be a dog loved by a wonderful human who would keep me until my life was over and not throw me away like a piece of garbage.

10. If the rainbow bridge exists, which pet would you most like to see waiting for you on the other side?

I would love to see all the animals that I have rescued throughout my lifetime.

* * *

If you would like to nominate someone to be Pets Adviser’s next Animal Hero of the Month, nomination details are available here.

Help us make this award even more special. If you or your company is interested in sponsoring our Animal Hero of the Month award or adding prizes, contact us at [email protected]

  • Learn more about how Pets Adviser is working to help make a difference: How We Help.

Image and video courtesy of Karen Ferreri-Miller/Free Spirit Siberian Rescue and used with permission.

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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