Mitzvah Hero: Melvin “Buzz” Miller is founder and president of PACT, a nonprofit organization that allows “humans and their companion animals to live happier and healthier lives together, both physically and psychologically," he says. Since 2010, PACT (pactforanimals.org), has been serving "animals in need while involving the community and helping humans," by arranging short term foster homes for pets whose owners are deployed or hospitalized. The organization also filters donations to animal shelters and supports permanent adoption programs.
What It’s All About: A prominent attorney — with degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and its law school as well as a master’s in tax law from New York University — Miller gave up his successful 35-year-career a decade ago to do pro bono work for animal welfare organizations.
“My business career was leaving me empty inside” the Main Line resident explains. But he found fulfillment in pairing dogs, cats and even two ferrets with foster families. His wife, Judi Goldstein, “was totally supportive; my non-materialistic friends were totally supportive," Miller says. "My more materialistic friends could not understand why I walked away." Former clients and business partners “thought there was something wrong with me.”
Miller notes that he was also impacted by tours of Dachau and other concentration camp sites during frequent trips to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s.
“To this day, I have a hard time understanding why any one group, two- or four-legged, would be singled out for euthanasia for any reason," says Miller, a lifetime member member of the Pennsylvania SPCA. "I decided in 1983 that some day I would spend my life helping others to make a change in this world before I leave it.”
Not a One-Time Thing: Miller, who also owns and runs the Bow Wow Meow in Narberth, which he describes as “a unique pet retail supermarket and companion animal education center,” sees a need for his non-profit work outside the United States as well. A few years ago he contacted synagogues in the Delaware Valley seeking Bar Mitzvah students to help raise money for bomb-sniffing dogs and search and rescue dogs in Israel. The costs — which have increased since — were too prohibitive. But Miller says he'd still like to pursue this kind of service some day.
Good for Him: “I could lecture for days to an audience of all ages about tons of incidents where companion animals have enhanced the lives of humans,” Miller says, citing heart-tugging tales about patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and deployed soldiers.
PACT “has changed my life," he continues. "It restored my faith in so many humans wanting to help others without looking for anything in return.”
Miller credits his parents and grandparents for modeling tzedakah. His late mother devoted more than 50 years of her life to charity work, including serving as a president of the women’s division of the Philly outpost of the American Society for Technion.
“My wife and I have one beautiful home and one car each and want very little in the world of goods," Miller says. "I hope I am able to do this for another 50 years.”