September 24, 2020

National Heroes: Maddie’s Fund


Maddie was a beloved Miniature Schnauzer whose unconditional love, devotion, loyalty and spirit inspired her guardians to start a charitable foundation, Maddie’s Fund®, in her name.

Dave and Cheryl Duffield fell head-over-heels for Maddie when she was only ten days old. “We held her in our arms, and loved her immediately,” says Dave. “Maddie melted our hearts from the first second we saw her,” adds Cheryl, “with her sweet ways, her stubbornness, her independence, her intelligence, her spirit, and her devotion.”

Dave, Cheryl and Maddie shared ten memorable and happy years together. Dave remembers one particularly good day during the formation of his company, PeopleSoft. Playing with Maddie, he picked her up and made the following promise: “If we ever make some money, I promise we will give it back to you and your kind so others can be as happy as we are today.”

Dave and Cheryl are fulfilling their promise to Maddie. They have endowed Maddie’s Fund with more than $300 million and have spent $118 million through FY 2011-12 to save dog and cat lives. In their lifetime, Dave and Cheryl have given more of their personal wealth to the animal welfare cause than any other individuals. And although they don’t want to make a big fuss over their unprecedented contribution, they do want to honor their cherished companion and the special bond they shared with her.

Animal lovers can understand this sentiment. More and more of us view our companion animals as family, giving them the same care and tenderness we provide our two-legged family members. Our pets enrich our lives with their unconditional devotion to us. They enhance our lives with their stability, love and companionship. The rewards of animal companionship are immeasurable.

Maddie inspired Dave and Cheryl to give generously to help save homeless pets in desperate need of love and care. Thanks to the dog with the indomitable spirit, shelter pets are afforded new opportunities to find compassionate homes in which they, too, may share in the joy, love and companionship that Dave and Cheryl enjoyed with Maddie.


With 300 million plus dollars to spend, the impact across the country has been tremendous. Maddie’s Fund has spearheaded the no kill animal shelter movement on several fronts. Creating a model for shelters to follow, encouraging regional shelters to work together, and bestowing grants to organizations who have dramatically increased their adoption rate. They have spent millions of dollars in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States and the Ad Council encouraging people to go to their local shelter to adopt rather than buying a pet in a public awareness campaign called The Shelter Pet Project.

Maddies Pet Adoption Day has spread across the country and even inspired some shelters to sponsor their own free adoption day.

Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days

 Dates: June 1 – 2, 2013

Potential Funding: $5 – $7 Million

Participating Organizations: 177

Estimated Adoptions: 7,700+

 Nearly Eight Thousand Happy Endings at Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days!

 It started before dawn on the East Coast and followed the sunrise across the country: long lines of people waiting to adopt a new dog or cat at Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days, the nation’s largest free pet adoption event. Before the June 1-2 weekend was over, nearly 8,000 pets had gone to loving homes – far surpassing even the most optimistic expectations. 

This was the event’s fourth year, but the first time it extended outside the San Francisco Bay Area. New communities included Washoe County, NV, Dane County, WI, Alachua County, FL, and New York City – a total of 177 rescue groups and shelters at 192 locations in five states and eight communities across the nation. 

“As the event unfolded, new communities were at first surprised, then shocked, and then elated by all of their adoptions,” said Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days manager, Joey

“We broke our pet adoption goal of 1,000, set a new goal of 1,500, and then broke that,” said Steve Gruber of the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals, which ultimately adopted out around 2,500 dogs and cats that weekend. 

Jeanette Peters of Alachua County said the community had done 516 adoptions on Saturday alone. “That already beat our two-day goal of 300,” she said. “And we still had one day left! Amazing!” 

In Dane County, WI, the Rock County Humane Society told Maddie’s Fund that “for the first time we have no dogs available for adoption!” 

Adopters were drawn to the adoption locations by an unprecedented wave of media attention, from the New York Times and Associated Press to local TV and radio network affiliates, blogs, Facebook pages and regional newspapers in every participating community. 

Adoptions were free during the event, showing once again that this practice is proving to be an effective way to generate excitement about adoptions while still resulting in lasting matches. 

“The numbers tell the story,” said Maddie’s Fund president Richard Avanzino. “Research done at the University of Florida as well by the ASPCA clearly shows that fee-waived adoptions are just as loving, and just as lasting, as those for which a fee is charged. And as even the possibly skeptical first-time groups learned this year, they definitely draw crowds of quality adopters.” 

In addition to sponsoring the event, Maddie’s Fund is providing adoption stipends of $500, $1000, or $2,000 per adoption to each participating organization. The higher stipends are for senior pets, pets with certain health conditions or both. 

“We planned on giving around $4 million this year,” said Maddie’s Fund founder Dave Duffield. “It will be more like $7 million, and we couldn’t be happier about it.” 


The loving hearts, dedication, and generosity of Dave and Cheryl Duffield have created a movement and changed pet welfare forever. To every pet lover and person concerned about pet well being and the plight of homeless pets, Dave and Cheryl Duffield and the organization they built in honor of their beloved dog, are true heroes.



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