12/17/2009 at 05:29 PM EST
When family and friends announced they were hosting a bridal shower for Brynne Johnstone, 25, and fiance Andrew Salmon, 26, last month, guests asked where the couple had registered near their New Hampshire home.
Their answer: Nowhere. Instead of mixing bowls and bread makers, this couple just wanted kibble ... and a few more bits for needy pets.
"Between the state of the economy and our love for animals, we asked guests to bring gifts we could donate to the New Hampshire Humane Society in Laconia
," Johnstone, who has volunteered there and also adopted three cats from the shelter, tells PEOPLEPets.com. "Andrew and I just built our dream house, and we have everything we could ever need. The Humane Society needs us, and it is the charity of our choice."
Johnstone and Salmon, employed by the Tilton, N.H., police department, were in awe at the response of their 55 friends during the four-hour, Nov. 28 shower. They received dog and cat beds and crates, food, toys and donations, ample supplies to help animals in need at this non-euthanizing shelter, one of the oldest facilities in the state.
"We were very excited and our friends thought the whole thing was so awesome they plan to do the same thing when they have birthdays, weddings and other occasions," says Johnstone, who shares four cats and a German shepherd puppy with her fiance.
When the couple took the gifts to the Humane Society and saw the look on the staffers faces, they felt, well, doggone fantastic.
"We were elated and grateful to this young couple for thinking of us and our wonderful animals," Amy B. Porter-Coffaro, director of marketing for the New Hampshire Humane Society, tells PEOPLEpets.com. "We get about 1800 pets a year, and they are all very appreciative!"
The positive reaction encouraged the unselfish couple to continue giving to the Humane Society. For their upcoming April 17 nuptials, Johnstone and Salmon will continue their creative pet philanthropy. Instead of spending from $300 to $500 for wedding favors, the couple will donate that money in the names of their attendants.
"There are so many better uses for money today than to buy things for people who don't need them," Johnston concludes. "I am glad others think the same way. I hope we have started a trend that will benefit animals. Helping them have a better life makes me so happy!"See more animal angels on PEOPLEPets.com:Katherine Heigl's Foundation Saves the Lives of 25 ChihuahuasHometown Hero! Dr. Neil Shaw Treats Pets in Need for Free