If you’re a dog and you’re reading this, I’m sorry to break it to you: You might not always have it as good as you’ve got it now.
Actually, if you’re a dog and you’re reading this, please send SFBay an e-mail immediately. Good pup.
But let’s face it. Nearly every human wants a puppy at some point in their lives without realizing the demands of responsible dog ownership, or considering alternatives such as adopting a mature or senior dog.
Pet overpopulation is fed by unregulated or illegal puppy mills, and often results in unwanted pets being dumped in animal shelters or simply abandoned in the streets. Not even show dogs — like poor Briana, found wandering the streets of Oakland — are spared from such fate.
The most fortunate of rescued senior doggie citizens end up in the care of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, a nonprofit founded in 2007 by Sherri Franklin to improve the lives and welfare of senior dogs.
Franklin is known in the animal welfare community as the “fairy godmother.” Among animal enthusiasts, she is an angel who has changed many lives, humans and dogs alike.
Equipped with a few crockpots in her kitchen, she cooks organic and healthy food for the dogs daily.
Franklin has converted her Potrero Hill home of 20 years as Muttville’s headquarters which houses up to ten rescue dogs. The backyard has special ramps and comfy beds for the dogs to enjoy the warm sun, with up to five volunteers per day who dedicate their time.
She gets inundated with hundreds of e-mails a week, yet Franklin is relentless in her crusade:
“Senior dogs get euthanized. They get to shelters and nobody adopts them.”
In five years, Muttville has successfully rescued and placed up to 1,325 senior dogs to loving homes.
With her uncanny ability to care for abandoned and special needs dogs, Franklin also has the power to attract talented and dedicated people who believe equally in volunteering time, resources, foster, adoption or hospice care for these otherwise lovely pets.
One volunteer and board member of Muttville, Patty Stanton adopted her first Muttville senior dog in October 2008, Frankie aka Dog No. 142.
Stanton is now Muttville’s media relations volunteer. She first volunteered after she adopted Frankie:
“All the dogs at Muttville have become unwanted, by no fault of their own and the dogs come from all kinds of situation. … Frankie is so amazing. He’s the perfect ambassador. He’s so mellow. We call him ‘Little Gent’ in the house. Frankie came along and it changed my life.”
Prior to Frankie’s “King in the Castle” lifestyle, he was in the worst physical shape that Muttville has ever seen. Not only did the poor mutt arrive covered in foxtails dug into his skin, Frankie’s face was entirely covered with maggots.
In the video, The Story of Mutville, Franklin describes the lhasa apso crooner:
“Frankie is truly a lovable and gentle soul who even enjoys a bath because he loves being touched. That’s all he needed.”
In many cases, these older pets were owned by people who have died and their dogs have nowhere to go.
The elderly who end up in nursing homes get served with a double blow. Not only is mom or dad — or both — not going home with their immediate family, but any pets left behind often get neglected, mistreated or simply abandoned.
Families who decide that they don’t want to keep mom or dad’s pet often drop them off at shelters all over California.
Muttville relies heavily on fundraising events such as Moolah for Mutts because the senior dogs that they get are often with medical needs. Some of the dogs come from the Central Valley where access to veterinary care is almost impossible.
Each rescued dog costs an average of $850 in veterinary bills just to prepare them for adoption.
Luckily at Muttville, almost one dog a day gets adopted. Muttville is generally contacted through their website. If you want to help in smaller ways, they are always in need of canned foods and leashes.
Most importantly, Muttville is equipped with an army of awesome volunteers. Most of this passionate brigade either have day jobs or are retired. They walk, groom, feed and cuddle with the dogs unconditionally at Muttville’s Potrero Hill headquarters.
Annie Lauck, a Muttville volunteer who worked closely on a recent hoarding case, chimed in and said:
“Some of these dogs were rescued from an elderly lady who owned 150 dogs in Southern California. Some were laying there dead with flies in their eyes.”
SFBay was introduced to Greta, a timid chow mix still recovering from a hoarding owner. Another has already been adopted and is thriving in her new home.
These dogs come to Muttville for socialization. They meet people and come a long way. They learn to trust again.
This Sunday, Muttville supporters and volunteers will be joining the San Francisco Gay Pride parade.
The Muttville Team will be marching behind the custom Volkswagen Beetle they won from Oprah’s Favorite Things. The car will be towing a giant dog bed trailer that will carry Jane Wiedlin and Gina Schock of The Go-Gos, along with a few Muttville senior dogs on their laps.
At this rate, Franklin said that the only thing that is holding back Muttville from helping more senior dogs is the lack of funding.
“If we have the funds to take care of these dogs, Muttville will have more ability to say ‘yes’ to many more of them. Because at Muttville, it’s never too late for a new beginning.”
Seizing every possible opportunity, Muttville even managed to have Tim Lincecum pitch in. As one of the winners from Popchips’Game Changer contest, 15 world class athletes are chosen to give back to their communities.