Animal Hero of the Month: Toby Wisneski

Many people work to help dogs in shelters regain quality of life. Toby Wisneski is one of those people and our Animal Hero of the Month for August.

Toby Wisneski is our animal hero of the month for August.
Toby Wisneski is our Animal Hero of the Month for August.

Our Animal Hero of the Month award winner for August is Toby Wisneski of Leave No Paws Behind in Sun Valley, California.

Toby’s rescue of a senior dog named Colby created a strong desire in her to rescue more pets in the same situation. While Leave No Paws Behind (LNPB) rescues as many animals as possible, she places a strong focus on the animals that are considered unadoptable.

From the old, the abandoned and the cancer-stricken to the ones scheduled for euthanization, Toby’s organization seeks to give them the quality of life they are missing or to be the loving hand that stays with them until they pass on. For those that are so ill they can no longer walk, Toby will pick them up and carry them out of the shelter.

The Nomination

The nomination we received for Toby came in from Tamar Love Grande:

“Toby runs Leave No Paws Behind, an 11th-hour rescue that takes the worst cases from the shelter, usually ancient, abused and/or very sick dogs. When people network the really pathetic cases, including evidence dogs, I can almost guarantee she’s going to take the dog.

As you can imagine, these dogs can rack up thousands in vet bills, but Toby is smart — she doesn’t usually take a dog unless she has the funds and a foster home in place. Because of her excellent reputation and many Facebook followers, she’s usually able to find both, but when the vet bills are more than she expected, she tries to raise funds. She’s mostly successful, but not always. Right now, for example, she’s struggling to pay the vet bills.

I’m nominating her for two reasons: Not only does she do amazing work, but she is committed to saving dogs that are a day away from death just so she can give them the most wonderful last few hours possible. She has the grace and strength to do this without losing too much of herself. Hospice is hard — we’ve done it several times — but she takes on this responsibility month after month.

Instead of letting her years of working with abused animals change her for the worse, Toby seems to have become even more empathetic and kind. She’s a wonderful role model who has inspired people around the country to help last-chance dogs.”


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

  • 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)

The donation represents Pets Adviser’s ongoing commitment to give back to the animal welfare community.

About Toby’s Organization

LNPB is a nonprofit, all-breed rescue in California. They rely on donations, foster parents and volunteers to help the many animals they rescue. Many times animals are surrendered to a shelter because they are old or ill, and Toby believes an animal deserves better than to be removed from a loving home only to die alone in a shelter. This is reaffirmed in her rescue message:

The bittersweet side of rescue are the ones who are terminal, and we know will not make it to see tomorrow. The ones who we have to carry out of the shelters, the ones who are riddled with cancer, the ones who have lost all control of their bodily functions, the forgotten ones who have been left at the shelter, alone, suffering with no hope of ever leaving. They are the ones who are truly left behind, our precious seniors.

Tinkerbell's before picture.
Tinkerbell’s “before” picture.

Two dogs recently taken in have become fan favorites. Bentley, aka “Mr.B,” and Tinkerbell, aka “Tinks,” were surrendered by their owner who could no longer care for them. The dogs were covered in pounds of matted hair and underwent amazing transformations.

Mr. B and Tinks are only two of the countless dogs LNPB has helped. The list grows every month, and it’s a constant decision-making process when animals need to be pulled.

Here you can see Tinks during her transformation:

The funds for medical care need to be there; a foster family, sometimes those that can handle the terminally ill, need to be there. The medical bills run up to a staggering $9,000 per month. Donations ensure they continue to help those animals desperately needing assistance.

There are many examples of dogs surrendered for various reasons. An owner never got his female dog fixed, and he doesn’t want to deal with her mammary cancer discovered at 5 years old. A 14-year-old dog who needs help eliminating waste and has no control of his back legs is just too much of a demand on the owner.

Dogs like these end up alone in a cell — a square, cold reminder of the love, companionship and home they lost. They wait at the gate with tail wags, hoping the person walking by will stop and give them attention. Someone who will give them a chance, a warm bed, a home, even if just for a little while.

Toby is the person who, when given the option of walking by, stops to open the door instead. And she turns a dismal experience into the first day of the rest of their lives.

LNPB has helped so many pets in the last month that their vet bills are nearing $10,000, and they are running out of foster homes and funds.  Click here if you can donate or contact them if you can foster in California.

1. Toby, what got you started helping animals?

I have always loved animals; however, when I started reading the stories of Patrick and Lancelot, I knew in my heart that I had to find a way to help. My mission at LNPB changed in March 2012, when I met and rescued a senior dog named Colby. He could not walk and was riddled with cancer. He was getting ready to be put to sleep at the shelter; I begged them to wait until I got there. They had to carry him to my car, and I rushed him to our vet. He could not move, so our vet came out of his busy office to check on him.

With tears in his eyes, he said, “I am so sorry, Toby.” In a matter of minutes, this sweet old Golden Retriever passed quietly in my arms. I made a promise to him that if possible, I would do whatever I could to ensure that no senior animal was left behind to die alone and wondering.

In honor of sweet Colby, LNPB began the Colby Memorial Rainbow Bridge Fund to help those who did not have the means be able to hold their loving pets in their arms as they crossed the rainbow bridge rather than surrender them to die alone on a cold shelter floor.

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

I remember my first dog, Shep! He was a magnificent silver and black German Shepherd. He would wait for me every day when I got home from school. He lived to be 19; and when he passed, my heart was broken. He was my first dog. I loved him, and to this day I still look for his bright and shining star in the sky. Though he took a piece of my heart with him, he left all of his behind.

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

Six years old.

4. What is your favorite animal?

My dogs.

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

My current senior Golden Retriever, Alley. She has been my constant companion for 11 years. She is my confidant, my strength at times and my best friend. She has seen me through the ups and downs and good and bad times in my life. She is my best friend.

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

One and two.

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

“Thank you, Mom.”

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

The surrendering of senior pets. This just breaks my heart. They are family members, and to suddenly after so many years find themselves abandoned to a shelter without their humans they have loved all their life leaves me breathless and speechless.

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

I would come back as a Golden Retriever as I find them to be so “human like,” highly intelligent and spiritual.

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

All of them!

* * *

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.

Photos are copyrighted and used with permission from Toby Wisneski.

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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