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.
Earlier this month, San Francisco’s pound made an unusual public plea: No more dogs, please.
The city’s Animal Care and Control Department was facing a population problem—it has about 100 kennel spaces, but was taking in some 300 dogs a month from people who abandoned or turned in their pets. “We were completely crunched for space,” says Rebecca Katz, the director of ACC, who put out a request that residents wait a week to surrender their dogs to alleviate the immediate overflow.
Overcrowding at the public pound is afflicting cities across the U.S. amid a weak economy. But in San Francisco, a contingent of animal activists is developing solutions they hope might relieve the pressure. Among them: financial aid for pet owners who can’t handle vet bills; collaboration with private businesses; and specialized placement programs for hard-to-adopt dogs. Some of the programs are among the first solutions of their type in the U.S. to help keep challenging dogs with families—and away from euthanasia. …
San Francisco also has a growing network of nonprofit adoption groups such as one called Muttville, which takes on elder dogs that other facilities would have more difficulty adopting out. Muttville’s founder, Sherri Franklin, began her program in 2007 to give older dogs needed medical care, then pitch them to families in need of dogs with known or calmer personalities.
Muttville may be for the dogs, but if humans associated with the nonprofit group had tails, they’d be wagging while talking about the organization devoted to saving elderly canines.
Since its inception in 2007, Muttville has placed more than 1000 senior dogs, many with elderly people, according to founder Sherri Franklin, a San Francisco hairstylist in her spare time. …
Franklin’s inspiration to start Muttville took root when she was volunteering at the San Francisco SPCA. “I was watching senior dogs get passed over for adoption … I became fairly obsessed and started taking dogs home, one at a time, and finding them homes,” she said. …
At a Muttville fundraiser in July, [Emily] Pottruck, [a founding donor of Muttville], … said: “If there was ever an organization that combined time, effort, compassion, volunteerism with swimming upstream and being a game changer, Muttville would be it.”
After giving credit to the small grassroots organization, Pottruck likely struck a chord with her audience when she said: “These dogs are the ultimate survivors. They are more resilient than most people I know. When I talk about Muttville, which I do constantly, the response is always the same; ‘When I am old, I hope someone takes care of me the same way that Muttville takes care of their charges.’ And maybe that is one of the answers as to what motivates us; the desire and hope that given enough unconditional love out there, we too will be taken care of at the end of our life this go around.”
Why not adopt a dog whose puppy years were someone else’s responsibility? Especially when, by doing so, you can save an abandoned dog who otherwise has a very slim chance at a good home.
There are a lot of things to be said for adopting a senior dog…. Most [senior] dogs are house-trained, understand basic commands and don’t require as rapt and constant attention as puppies do. They also are likely used to sleeping through the night and learning to adapt to a caretaker’s schedule.
Organizations such as the Grey Muzzle Project and Muttville Senior Dog Rescue seek to promote the adoption of older dogs and provide information and opportunities for anyone to help their cause.
DogTrekker was introduced earlier this year to Muttville, San Francisco’s senior and special needs rescue organization. The four-year-young organization, founded by Sherri Franklin, has the mission of changing the way the world thinks about and treats older dogs, and to create better lives for them thorough rescue, foster, adoption and hospice.
This year’s annual fundraiser, Moolah for Mutts: Night of 1,000 Mutts, took on special significance as Muttville celebrated senior dog rescue #1,000! DogTrekker was present with over 300 people at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco to help raise more than 33% in donations over last year. According to Sherri, “the annual Moolah for Mutts just keeps getting better and better. I love that word is getting out about the plight of senior dogs. I thank the many Muttville supporters who have huge hearts when it comes to the plight of older dogs who need homes.”
BEST SECOND-CHANCE SENIORS
If we treated old people the way we treat old dogs, Dr. Jack Kevorkian would have made a fortune. Every day people pack their old pals off to the shelter in their golden poochie years. Many of those dogs – who are healthy but just a step slower and more in need of patience – are euthanized. Muttville, a San Francisco rescue group started by legendary dog-saver Sherri Franklin, aims to change that. The organization takes older dogs from shelters and connects them with adoption-ready families. One look at the website and you’ll fall in love with all the well-worn woofers looking for nice homes – especially considering their potty training, mellow demeanors (Franklin makes sure the ones who’ve led rough lives are fully socialized before they’re adopted out), and underdog chances.
Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, in his blog “A Humane Nation”:
Earlier this month, our Animal Rescue Team came to the aid of more than 150 dogs living on an overcrowded California property. Many of the dogs were sick, injured, pregnant, or nursing litters of puppies, most living in outdoor pens in the blistering summer heat.
Two of the elderly dogs we found on this property especially stood out to our rescue team…. The second dog, Lil Mamma, is a shepherd mix who was a bit scared when we first arrived. She has probably given birth to many litters of puppies. We knew that she might need a little extra help finding a loving home, so we were thrilled when Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco agreed to take her in. She is now called Beauty …
We are so grateful to Muttville for taking her in and for all their amazing work to help older dogs find good homes.
A great half-hour interview with Muttville founder Sherri Franklin by PackPeople’s Rufino Cabang: How Muttville got started, how it’s grown, where Muttville dogs come from, where Muttville’s money goes, misconceptions about shelter dogs, benefits of adopting an older dog, Muttville’s adoption process, the inspiring story of recent Muttville rescue Louie, what Muttville needs (funding, foster homes, unexpired medications, more Mutt Guardian monthly supporters), Muttville events, advice for pet owners, Sherri’s other favorite websites.
Get your official
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