Animal rescue will deliver ‘Puppy Grams’ this Valentine’s Day in Manatee-Sarasota

Who wouldn’t love to be showered with puppy kisses on Valentine’s Day?

Puppy love fills the air this time of year and manifests itself in the form of roses and chocolates galore. But could showering your loved one with puppy kisses actually be the key to making this year’s Valentine’s Day extra special?

Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue, the no-kill animal shelter on Lorraine Road in Bradenton, is running a special first-time program for this year’s holiday that promises to deliver the cutest surprise. For a $100 donation to the nonprofit animal rescue, you can order your very own Puppy Gram, which gives the gift of surprising your Valentine with 20 minutes of puppy cuddles and kisses from two pups from the rescue, as well as flowers and chocolates.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t get much more adorable than that.

“There’s nothing like puppy breath and puppy kisses. They make everybody happy. You can’t help but smile and let it brighten your day,” said Karissa Mayer, a spokesperson for Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue. “Puppy Gram is for everybody. It’s a great way to make Valentine’s Day fun for anybody.”

She said some early requests for Puppy Gram have been a husband who is planning to surprise his wife, who is a teacher at an elementary school, and a woman who is planning to surprise her parents who recently lost their dog but aren’t quite ready to get a new pet.

But those puppy kisses could be for anybody.

#apolloLink{color:#000;background-color:#F4BE11;text-shadow: none;padding: 8px 15px 10px;font-family: ‘Roboto’, sans-serif;font-weight: 600;border-radius:10px;}

Read more Manatee news stories

And the money goes toward a good cause, too, according to Mayer, who said that the donations support their animals in foster care.

“At any given time we have multiple litters, sometimes 50 or 60 animals in foster care that are too young to be in a shelter and require around-the-clock care. That means formula, food, puppy pads, multiple sets of vaccines, medications, de-wormers. So that money typically supports the animal care for those under age puppies and kittens,” said Mayer.

The rescue generally has anywhere between 120 and 150 animals at any given time between on site and foster. Last year alone the shelter had nearly 2,200 adoptions.

But puppies and kittens can be demanding. In the case of newborns, foster care could last for as long as 8 weeks, meaning that a lot of resources are expended in the process.

So donations can go a long way.

The idea for Puppy Gram, according to Mayer, comes from two existing programs at the rescue. One of them, Puppies with a Purpose, sees shelter animals brought to places like assisted living facilities and adult day cares to interact with older adults and brighten their day.

When they first started doing that program, they had to knock on doors at the facilities on the first weekend to get people to come out and play with the puppies.

But next time, everybody was out in the lobby waiting for them and ready to pet some pups.

“Their whole family is usually there and ready to play. Their kids are there and their grandkids are there — sometimes people who haven’t visited for a while show up. A lot of times these assisted living facilities can be awkward spaces where you don’t know what to do, but now the whole family knows it’s going to be puppy time and it makes a huge impact on the health and well-being for the residents in that program. So why not make Valentine’s Day just as happy?” said Mayer.

The other program that was used as inspiration for Puppy Gram was Santa’s elf deliveries, where every year for Christmas the rescue coordinates with parents who are pre-screened for an adoption to deliver the kids their new family pet on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

“Our volunteers absolutely love doing that every year. They fight to be the person who gets to dress up as an elf,” said Mayer.

Mayer said it’s not kitten season, so Kitten Grams are out of the question for now. Not to mention: “They’re a little less predictable. You can’t always count on kitten kisses.”

Puppy kisses, on the other hand, are essentially a sure thing.

To find out more information or to give the gift of a Puppy Gram, visit