Carol Byers already had two dogs when she decided to foster a third. Byers, an active woman in her early 70s, set her sights on an older pet.
“Like most seniors, I’ve experienced loss and know how important quality of life is,” she says. “To give a senior dog an opportunity to live out life with a loving family, a lap to curl up in, a comfortable bed and tummy rubs, means a lot.” (A senior dog is one in the last 25 percent of his or her life; the average lifespan of most breeds is nine to 15 years.)
At a visit to Muttville, a senior dog rescue in San Francisco, a pug/shih tzu named Peggy caught Byers’ eye. Peggy’s owner had died.
“She was 15 and diagnosed with cancer,” Byers says. The dog’s life expectancy was another four to six months. Byers agreed to care for the little dog to the end, and the two headed home, where Peggy began a new life with a new name, Penny.
Michelle Griego interviews Muttville’s Executive Director Sherri Franklin about Muttville and its mission to change the way people think about older dogs. They discuss how Muttville came about, its Cuddle Club and Seniors for Seniors adoption program, and how the organization works.
[With special appearance by sweet, adoptable Tinkerbell]
Paws down, the hautest San Francisco event to take place over the rainy weekend was Haute Dog | SF 4, a doggie runway fashion show held Feb. 6 at the San Francisco Design Center to benefit Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. The always-dapper Wilkes Bashford emceed for the fourth consecutive year and walked his equally stylish Dachshund Duchie down the catwalk. Jane Wiedlin and Gina Schock, original members of The Go-Go’s, were special guests and walked Flora, a pitbull mix from Muttville and in need of a home.
The San Francisco Design Center and Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco teamed up to put on the event, which sells out every year and was well-attended this year despite the rain. A moving video of Muttville, started by Sherri Franklin, a long-time dog advocate who built Muttville from a tiny operation in her own home into a nationally renowned rescue organization that saves the lives of over 500 dogs a year, was shown.
Then it was time for the high-fashion pooches and their chic pet parents to hit the dogwalk. …
When Ed Brower lost his wife to cancer, he felt lost and alone. A retired manager with the Vallejo school district, he no longer knew how to fill his days. His daughter, Tracy, took him to Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco, where they met a spunky Poodle named Felicity. Wearing a festive sweater and bows in her ears, Felicity had come to Muttville from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles.
“She was going to be executed there,” Ed says. Like many older dogs in need of homes, Felicity was once not considered adoptable. Despite good health and a friendly disposition, her age (estimated as around seven years) marked her as less desirable than a puppy or younger dog at most shelters.
Muttville, however, is a different kind of dog rescue, designed to reach out to senior and special needs dogs, offering them the extra care and time they need to find suitable homes. A no-kill, cage-free rescue, Muttville has saved over two thousand dogs and continues to take in new ones every day.
Ed and Tracy connected to Muttville through its Seniors for Seniors Program, which helps match senior citizens with older canine companions. …
At the crack of dawn, Sherri Franklin awakens to a household full of old dogs. Franklin is the founder and CEO of San Francisco based Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. On any given day, she has a dozen grey muzzles of all sizes camping out at her Potrero Hill home. Franklin had always had a passion for animals, dogs in particular, and more specifically, senior dogs. As a volunteer for the SF/SPCA, she saw too many older dogs get passed over for adoption. One day, she rescued one—saving it from certain euthanasia and finding it a new home. Her ad-hoc rescue work grew, and in 2007 she founded Muttville….
Franklin ’s first job in the morning is to feed and walk the dogs staying with her. Before the morning rituals are done, her phone rings. It might be a donor, a potential adopter seeking Franklin ’s skill in dog-person matchmaking, or a contact at an animal shelter with news of a dog in need of rescue. A rescue might be as simple as walking the dog 100 yards from the SF/SPCA, or involve complex transportation logistics. Before the morning is over, she heads to Muttville headquarters to canoodle with the dogs (still the best part, she says), meet with staff, and plan programs and fundraising….
The success of Muttville is astounding. Franklin has grown Muttville organically from a day-by-day operation that recused 27 dogs in 2007, to a business-savvy organization that rescued 780 dogs in 2014. Her success, she says, is in part due to her unfailing passion for the cause and that of her staff and volunteers. Franklin devotes nearly all of her free time and energy to Muttville. She says it is much more demanding than a regular job, and much more rewarding. With so much need and constant successes, staying motivated has never been a problem.
Rescue groups ramp up senior animal adoptions with special promotions and incentives.
Classic. Mature. Vintage. We use these words every day when describing the finer things in life, be it cars, cheeses or wines. But rarely are these words heard when extolling the virtues of senior animals. Too often, older pets are viewed as disposable due to medical challenges, changing family dynamics or simply because they’re not as much fun as they once were. The sad truth is senior cats and dogs wait in shelters and grow older as they are passed over for their younger counterparts.
Thanks to the perseverance and passion of many rescue groups and sanctuaries, perceptions around adopting older animals are changing. As a result, homeless senior animals are getting a second chance at love and life while adopters are discovering the joy of caring for a senior pet.
(With a section aptly titled “Senior dogs rule” that’s all about Muttville.)
The Bay Area is awash in unwanted dogs—and in groups dedicated to saving them. But not all rescue organizations are created equal.
“That’s Fonzi. He’s a real humper.” Sherri Franklin says as an eight-year-old miniature pinscher darts by our feet on his way out for a walk. “He grabs on and doesn’t let go.”
Even senior dogs get frisky, especially when they’re pampered as lavishly as they are at Muttville, Franklin’s shelter for dogs age seven and older. Downstairs, Franklin shows off the shelter’s “community cuddle room,” a space where potential adopters come for meet-and-greets and senior citizens convene for a bimonthly “cuddle club” with the dogs. Upstairs, she points out he kitchen where dinner—a mix of whole grains, vegetables, blueberries, chicken, and nutritional supplements that even I might deign to eat—is cooked for Muttville’s residents. Next up is the veterinary suite, built entirely with $50,000 in donations. A chorus of raspy barking greets us as Franklin shows me the area where anywhere from 17 to 22 dogs are kept, cage-free, in “different rooms for different personalities.” She bends down to pick up a particularly decrepit-looking Pomeranian mix with patchy fur and ragged ears. “Hey, sweet boy,” she coos, “are you coming home with me for the night?” …
“There are so many rescue groups now, more than I’ve ever seen before,” says Pali Boucher, the founder of Rocket Dog Rescue, a 13-year-old organization based in Bernal Heights…. To the casual observer, many of these groups are indistinguishable…. But talk to people in the dog-rescue community about who stands out from the pack, as it were, and certain names come up repeatedly. Franklin’s is one. …
November isn’t just the season of thanks and giving, it also happens to be Adopt a Senior Pet Month!
And in honor of that, we are very pleased to announce our first Heart to Paw $20,000 grant recipient – Muttville Senior Dog Rescue.
Muttville, based in San Francisco, CA (HQ city of Big Heart Pet Brands, too!) is dedicated to changing the way the world thinks about and treats dogs aged seven years and older, and aims to create better lives for them through rescue, foster, adoption, and hospice.
“We are incredibly thrilled and honored to receive this grant from Big Heart Pet Brands,” said Sherri Franklin, Muttville’s Executive Director. “This money will give Muttville the ability to purchase some medical equipment that we otherwise would not be able to purchase. It is a great gift and we are so very thankful! We will be able to quickly assess some of our most critical medical cases, ultimately allowing us the opportunity to save more lives. We are so thankful to be nominated by Big Heart Pet employees! Some of our best volunteers are Big Heart Pet employees and we love them!”
This Heart to Paw grant will enable Muttville to purchase an ultrasound machine, a critical tool for their growing medical suite that will help them save more than $50,000 a year in medical expenses. …
Purchase tickets for our annual award-winning gala at moolahformutts.org.
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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