Animal Hero of the Month: Sue Rogers

Animals born with birth defects are often euthanized because of their conditions. Sue Rogers of The Mia Foundation is dedicated to helping them live.


The May 2014 winner of our Animal Hero of the Month award is Sue Rogers of The Mia Foundation in Rochester, New York.

Being born with a birth defect is usually a death sentence for animals.

When a chihuahua was born with a cleft palate, Sue was advised to euthanize the puppy. Despite this advice, she decided to name her Mia and take her home. Mia was able to receive medical care while in a loving environment where she thrived for almost two years.

As devastating as this loss was, Sue knew the two had been paired together for a reason.

Inspired by the experience of caring for and loving Mia, Sue wanted to help more animals. She started The Mia Foundation to help animals with birth defects by raising funds for veterinary care, creating a network of foster parents, arranging transport plans for animals in need and much more. Looking back on this challenge that she took on in Mia’s honor, Sue said:

It wasn’t until after her death that I realized the reason for Mia’s existence. By taking the time to save her life, she in turn touched so many people and saved many animals, too. Mia was a miracle! She was an inspiration! She opened the eyes of veterinarians, breeders and people that thought special needs babies weren’t worth the effort.

The Nomination

Sue Rogers’ nomination was sent in by Tracy Glass:

I recently met Sue Rogers from The Mia Foundation through a friend when she was looking for foster homes for The Mia Foundation. The Mia Foundation was developed to give animals born with birth defects a fighting chance. So many animals born with birth defects, such as cleft palates or missing limbs, are euthanized at birth. With a little work and a lot of love, these animals give back so much more than anyone could possibly imagine. All they need is a chance! A tiny little Chihuahua named Mia was the inspiration behind The Mia Foundation.

Mia was born with a cleft palate and it was suggested at birth that she be euthanized. Sue gave Mia a chance and in return gave much love, hope and inspiration to many people all over the world! I called Sue and instantly agreed to foster Miguel. Miguel is a cat who was born in Puerto Rico with only three legs and was transported to Sue as a kitten. Miguel has grown up to be a healthy, active cat and is now in his forever home.

Immediately following that, I agreed to foster Maverick. Maverick is a 4 month old Boxer who was born in Texas with a cleft lip and a cleft palate. Maverick came to The Mia Foundation as a baby and was tube fed by Sue until he started eating and drinking on his own. Maverick is the happiest puppy in the world and brings so much joy to my house. When he goes to his forever home, I will miss him terribly.

I foster, transport, raise donations and do everything I can to support Sue Rogers and The Mia Foundation.

There are so many other stories I could share! Sue has dedicated 100 percent of her time to saving these babies. She spends most nights sleeping on her living room floor to be up for tube feedings around the clock. Sue is an angel and a hero to so many people around the world, but especially to me!


Here’s what all of our Animal Hero of the Month award winners get:

Winners will receive the Animal Hero of the Month medal and a $50 cash prize.

  • 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 shipped to the winner
  • $50 cash award

About Sue’s Organization

The Mia Foundation provides support and care to animals with birth defects.

Whether they are located across town or across the country, they are given a second chance at a happy life thanks to the efforts of Sue Rogers and the many people involved in this organization.

Funds are raised to cover the costs associated with such specialized veterinary care needed by these animals because of their differences. They are offered a home instead of euthanasia, a network of supporters and a chance to live and love for as long as their lives may be.

Transport and foster parents can be arranged throughout the country, and an animal’s individual care is coordinated with the rescue. For those animals born with cleft palates, they must be fed a certain way to avoid aspiration. This usually involves being fed through a tube several times per day, and those who choose to care for them do so with selflessness and devotion.

The rescue will send an emergency kit to those caring for animals with cleft palates, and their website also gives detailed instructions on the process and the correct type of nutrition to provide.

An animal need not have a cleft palate to receive assistance from The Mia Foundation. Jiminy is a small dog in Korea experiencing back leg paralysis and constant twitching. He doesn’t seem to be in pain, but he needs additional, specialized care. He left Korea for New York on April 30 to be taken in by The Mia Foundation.

Jiminy isn’t the first lucky animal to cross international borders. Other rescues have come from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The rescue has also helped cats, promoted adoptions, held fundraisers and organized charity walks.

Donations are always appreciated, as are foster parents throughout the country. The more help The Mia Foundation receives, the more animals they can give a fighting chance.

Q&A With Sue Rogers

1. Sue, what got you started helping animals?

I have always loved animals and did what I could to help. My little dog Mia (cleft palate Chihuahua) was the inspiration behind me helping animals born with birth defects.

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

My earliest childhood memory that is animal related is going with my parents to pick up a poodle puppy. I had begged and begged for a puppy, and we were finally getting one. I think I was five years old. We only had Pepe for a few months before my parents gave him away. It was a heartbreaking experience!

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

I was a young adult when I got my first dog of my own. She was a Lab and she lived to be almost 14.

4. What is your favorite animal?

My favorite animal is a dog.

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

The one animal that I will never forget is Mia. There are really no words to describe the depth of the bond we had.

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

The least amount of pets I’ve had at one time is one cat. The highest amount is probably 20 (all special-needs or critical care).

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

If my pets could talk they would say, “Thank you” — and to keep trudging on!

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

If I could solve one problem facing animals it would be to make breeders accountable and responsible for what they bring into this world. If every breeder took back their dogs instead of them being dumped at the pound, we would have fewer problems. People need to start taking responsibility.

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

If I could come back as any animal it would be a dog. They have the ability to make people happy and ask for nothing in return. Of course, I would like to come from a responsible breeder.

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

If the rainbow bridge exists, I would love for Mia to be waiting for me with all of the others that we worked so hard for but didn’t make it. Little Mia touched so many people all over the world because she was given a chance even though she wasn’t born perfect. There was a reason for Mia’s existence, and I am so very proud of all that she accomplished through life and death.

I would really love the opportunity to thank her for not only being the inspiration to save others like her, but for showing me my purpose in life. So many people just exist in this world having no purpose. So, yes, the one little dog I would love to see is Mia, the little dog that lit up the world with just one smile and showed me my destiny.

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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