The tragic truth is that every day, dogs in good health with wonderful personalities are euthanized. Why? They’re older. And because they’re older, they’re not considered adoptable.
Shelter workers see it everyday: a dog is brought in because he can’t jog with his guardian anymore. Or he needs a little time to get up the stairs. Or he’s simply not a puppy.
Muttville’s mission is to change the way the world thinks about and treats older dogs and to create better lives for them through rescue, foster, adoption and hospice.
We reach out to senior and special needs rescue dogs; find suitable homes for those dogs that are adoptable; and offer end of life care for those that are not. These are not just shelter dogs; every day, dogs are moved from loving homes to concrete cages because their guardians have died or moved or simply can’t care for them anymore.
If we had our way, no dog would spend its last days in a cold, dark shelter. There is so much love and joy in these dogs! Bringing these special dogs into a home is not only good for the dogs, but such loving, mellow dogs transform the quality of life for the people who adopt or foster them.
Muttville is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the lives of senior dogs. On a local level, Muttville rescues senior dogs and finds them new homes or gives them hospice. On a global level, Muttville provides information about caring for older dogs and support for people who do.
Through associations with shelters and other animal organizations, Muttville finds senior dogs that have been given up and are not likely to find adopted homes. Through outreach and networking, Muttville finds suitable new homes for these dogs. Muttville has its own cage-free facility, housing newly rescued senior dogs while they await to be matched with foster homes.
Muttville was started in 2007 by Sherri Franklin, a longtime animal advocate and rescue worker.
Sherri has spent years rescuing dogs, especially senior dogs. She recognized that the need was greater than she as an individual could ever address. So she decided to start Muttville, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of older dogs through foster, adoption, education, and community.
Dogs come to Muttville from shelters as well as from loving homes. There are so many stories, but here are a few.
Angel was attached by a chain to a truck, dragged, and left for dead. She was terrified of people and difficult for most potential caregivers to approach. Because of her age and her fear, she was not likely to be adopted. Sherri Franklin, founder of Muttville, took her in. She worked with Angel for months, letting her make her own decisions and take her time. After months, she began to trust and ask for affection. Angel (now known as Sadie) today lives with a doting family in Half Moon Bay and was the cover dog for Review Magazine in October 2001.
Other notable fosters include Knight, who was confined in a filthy chicken-wire cage for four to five years at a puppy mill in Kansas, until his owners had no more use for him and put him up for auction for lab research. PETA bid at the auction and purchased nine dogs, including Knight. PETA brought them all to the SF/SPCA for socialization and adoption. All were adopted except Knight, who had been so mistreated and traumatized that he would cower at the thought of going outside, could not look a person in the eye, and was unable to keep his footing on the ground because he apparently had never been let out of his cage.
Franklin brought Knight home for foster. He curled up and refused, for weeks, even to lift his head. With unfailing patience, she made slow, slow progress. Franklin painstakingly acclimated him to human contact, treated his medical problems and socialized him with other dogs. He started to respond to affection, raising his head for a pat instead of shrinking away. He learned to walk and then run on the beach. After eight months, Franklin decided he was ready to be adopted and began to interview potential homes. After turning down several potential adopters, she found the perfect guardian. Today, Knight, now known as Winston, is the apple of his companion’s eye.
Not all Muttville dogs come from shelters. A few years ago, for example, Sherri received a phone call about a man who had gone into the hospital with late stage AIDS. He had two old dogs, Artie and Sparky. Nobody could take them. One of his last requests was that the dogs were cared for, but he hadn’t made any plans for them. Sherri took them. Sparky was very old and fragile. Artie was much younger and spunkier. She kept them together until Sparky died and then found a wonderful, loving home for Artie, where he lives now.
More recently, walking at San Francisco’s Fort Funston Park, Sherri saw a group of dogs walking with a woman. One of the dogs, a beautiful corgi mix, was lagging behind, limping, obviously very old. As Sherri got closer, she saw that a sign on his little vest said, “adopt me.” Sherri approached the woman and heard Andy’s story. Old and disabled, he had been slated for euthanasia at a shelter. But he had been a volunteer-favorite so they called a local rescue group, Animal Friends Rescue Project. The project took him from the shelter, but two homes had not worked out, and the rescuers were not sure what to do with him. They were looking for some kind of sanctuary. Sherri said, “You found her!” Andy now lives with Sherri and is a lovely addition to her pack.
There are so many stories like this, stories of dogs that have been in loving homes and have lost their guardians, or dogs who have been neglected most of their lives and are now given a death sentence at a shelter. They deserve to know love before they go – even for a little while. This is our chance to show them kindness.
Sherri Franklin is the founder and Executive Director of Muttville. She is a long-time animal advocate, a veteran of the Commission of Animal Control and Welfare for the city of San Francisco, for which she served as chair for six years. During her tenure, she developed, and the Commission enacted, the “backyard dog ordinance” mandating minimum requirements for care of dogs and putting some muscle into enforcement. The ordinance is an important tool for education and enforcement and is being used as a model in cities across the country.
For her work on the commission, Sherri was honored in 2004 by In Defense of Animals, an animal rights advocacy organization, and received The Guardian Award for work she accomplished while on The Commission. “One of the most memorable nights of my life was having Jane Goodall hand me that award,” she says.
Franklin began her vocation in animal rescue at the San Francisco SPCA in 1994 as a dog behavior volunteer. She fostered and found homes for dogs considered “unadoptable” because of medical problems or other challenges and managed to find adopters for these unadoptable dogs. At San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control, she volunteered for the groundbreaking Give A Dog A Bone Program, which provided quality of life care for dogs being held in custody awaiting “vicious and dangerous dog” hearings, abuse and neglect cases, and dogs whose guardians have been incarcerated or hospitalized.
Throughout her years of working with animals, she was drawn to the older dogs and moved by their plight. She fostered many herself and found them forever homes, but the need was far greater than one person could fill. From that need Muttville was born.
Sherri started Muttville at her house in 2007, saving 29 dogs that first year. She built Muttville from that grassroots beginning into $2.4 million organization with a physical shelter, a committed and talented board, a staff of 14 employees, and over 300 active volunteers and foster families. In 2015, Muttville saved over 800 dogs.
Because of Muttville’s unique mission, structure, and rapid growth, Sherri frequently speaks on animal rescue and sheltering. She was awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2010 for her work with Muttville.
“Muttville is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way the world thinks about and treats older dogs, aged seven years and older, and to creating better lives for them through rescue, foster, adoption, and hospice.”
Learn more about Muttville in our video.
We need your help to continue with this important work. Our foremost need is for loving homes for these wonderful dogs. If you can foster or adopt a dog, please do. They will bring you so much love and joy. We also need your volunteer efforts and your donations.
Muttville rescues senior dogs. Despite temperament testing and veterinary screening and care, the backgrounds of many of Muttville’s dogs are unknown, and some dogs may have severe, previously undetected behavior or medical problems. As a result, we have created a euthanasia policy.
Our belief is that when a dog’s quality of life has diminished drastically, euthanasia is the right thing to do. We consult with our veterinarians when making this decision. We will always be there for a Muttville dog when it is their time to pass over the bridge. We will make it a peaceful and gentle passing.
We also believe that dogs with behavior and/or aggression issues who are deemed to pose an unacceptable danger to other animals, themselves, or the public are candidates for euthanasia. This is determined with behavior testing and is decided with a minimum of two people, including the executive director and one of our dog trainers. We do not take this decision lightly, and we will try all means to avoid euthanasia of an animal. We believe that knowingly adopting out dogs that can cause harm to a human would be a liability and put our mission to save senior dogs at risk.
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