One of life’s little-known tragedies is where an older dog, who after giving unconditional love and loyalty to an owner all its life, too often ends up in a shelter facing euthanasia. this heartbreak is what volunteers at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue want to prevent.
“We have a saying, it’s never too late for a new beginning,” said Muttville Senior Dog Rescue founder and Executive Director Sherri Franklin. “Older dogs, like older people, have so much love left to give. They shouldn’t be forgotten.”
The San Francisco-based Muttville began as a one-person startup by Franklin and has grown to 200 volunteers achieving nonprofit status in 2007.
Older dogs are given up by owners perhaps because the owner died, relocated to nursing care, or lost their home in a foreclosure. Other dogs were abused or abandoned. Animal shelters from throughout California contact Muttville and offer senior dogs for possible adoption. Volunteers find temporary foster homes for the dogs waiting to be adopted, and then permanent homes called “Forever Homes.”
“We always have about 60 dogs in our foster care waiting to be adopted at any time,” Franklin said.
Dogs are adopted from throughout the Bay Area, including Santa Cruz County.
A hair stylist in San Francisco, Franklin formerly worked as a commissioner with the Animal Control and Welfare Commission in San Francisco and was a volunteer at local animal shelters for 10 years.
“I saw there was a huge need to give older dogs a chance,” she said. “So far we’ve rescued 1,150 senior dogs, many of whom would have died.”
Older dogs are less likely to be adopted once they reach a shelter because people often want younger pets and puppies. popular breeds of older dogs include Australian shepherds and Pomeranians, who get adopted fast because they’re cute, Franklin noted.
“All our dogs are people and dog-friendly and many also get along well with cats,” she said. “Older dogs tend to be mellow in temperament.”
There are other advantages. most of the dogs are already housebroken.
“Older dogs are often already trained, so you know what you’re getting,” agreed Muttville volunteer Patty Stanton.
Some of the rescue stories are heartrending.
Angel, a 7-year-old Golden retriever mix, had been attached to a truck by a chain, dragged and left for dead. Franklin worked for months with the dog, who was terrified of people. The dog regained trust and today has a loving family in Half Moon Bay.
Knight, age 8, had been confined to a filthy chicken coop in Kansas after birth in a puppy mill and was put up for auction to be vivisected in lab research. The dog couldn’t even look a person in the eye and for weeks refused to lift its head. Again, Franklin’s seemingly endless patience paid off. she helped the animal to get used to other dogs and then people. Today Knight, renamed Winston, has a new owner.
“People have written me cards and letters telling me how much they love their new pet,” Franklin said. “One elderly lady told me her new dog saved her life, not the other way around.”
Ivan Rich who lives near Capitola, is an 85-year-old retired high school teacher. He acquired Kenzie, a 13-year-old mini Schnauzer two years ago.
“She’s about my same age in dog time,” Rich said. “They found her down in Bakersfield, and now she’s my total life. I had been heartbroken because I had lost my other Schnauzer, Lady Di, when she had a stroke. Kenzie means so much to me. I thank Muttville every day.”