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. Ultimately, Muttville will have its own facility to house dogs that are not yet placed, or that are unlikely to be placed.
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, a long-time dog advocate, served six years as vice chair of the Commission of Animal Control and Welfare for the city of San Francisco. She cares for abandoned and special needs dogs from a number of rescue organizations, including Animal Care and Control, giving them hospice care or finding them loving homes.
In 2004 Sherri was honored by In Defense of Animals and received The Guardian Award.
“One of the most memorable nights of my life, having Jane Goodall hand me that award.”
Franklin began her vocation in animal rescue at the San Francisco SPCA in 1994 as a dog behavior volunteer. As an article about her in the SPCA newsletter reported in 1997, “She also loves the older dogs, and in fact she’s got plans to make a retirement home for old, bereft dogs when she retires herself.”
In 1995, she began caring for dogs for the SF/SPCA that were considered “unadoptable” because of medical problems, behavior issues, or other challenges. Her first foster was an Akita mix whose back legs had been crushed and was thought never to be able to walk again. She walked him every day at the shelter and finally took him home; Jack the Bear lives with her today.
Though foster parents almost always return dogs for the SPCA to find permanent homes, Franklin never once returned a dog. Instead, she always found new “forever” homes for her charges. (It was well known at the organization that any dog lucky enough to go home with Franklin had found a “fairy godmother.”)
Franklin continued to foster dogs as she trained in animal behavior, traveling to seminars and conferences around the country. In 2002, she was persuaded to begin work at San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control (ACC), a city shelter without the resources of the SF/SPCA. She continues to volunteer for the Give A Dog A Bone program, which provides quality of life for dogs being held in custody awaiting “vicious and dangerous dog” hearings, abuse and neglect cases, and dogs whose guardians have been incarcerated or are in the hospital.
Franklin was appointed to the San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare in 2000. In 2003, she began work on an ordinance that both mandated minimum requirements for care for dogs and put some muscle into enforcement. The “backyard dog ordinance,” as it was known, went into effect in January 2005 and made headlines around the country. In the first ten days it was in effect, the ACC received 15 calls about substandard care. Three dogs were confiscated, and the other guardians were educated as to how to care for their dogs properly. The ordinance continues to be an important tool for education and enforcement, and is being used as a model in other cities for similar legislation.
Franklin was elected Vice-chairman of the Commission in 2002 and continues to serve the community and address many animal-related issues, advising elected officials on animal-related legislation. She also continues to foster and hospice senior and special needs dogs for many organizations in the bay area.
“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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THANKS TO OUR VET PARTNERS
Muttville is honored to have veterinarians who donate their time to work in Muttville’s Vet Suite. We thank them for being so generous with their time and so loving with our dogs.
Dr. Margaret Holiday
Dr. Naomi Nagayama
Dr. Siobhan O’Connor