A little peace, and quiet, and love, and attention — they’re all any of us really want in life.
And maybe even more so when death is on the way.
For humans, hospice care is now big business, but the opportunity for sick and elderly dogs to die in peace and dignity isn’t always there.
And often, their last days are less than peaceful — especially for those whose owners, hoping to avoid the expense of veterinary care, abandon them to shelters or worse.
Seeing that happening too often — seeing them get abandoned at the time they need someone the most — a northern Michigan woman started the Silver Muzzle Cottage, a rescue and hospice for homeless old dogs.
The Detroit Free Press on Sunday took an in-depth look at the organization and the woman behind it, Kim Skarritt.
Silver Muzzle Cottage takes in dogs left behind either by owner choice, or by circumstances, as when a dog’s owner suddenly dies and no one else can care for it.
In two years, she has cared for more than 70 of them. It remains the only such hospice in the state, and one of the few in the country.
“They don’t ask for much when they’re really old,” said the 56-year-old former auto engineer. “They want to be loved and cared for, they want food and they just need a warm place to lay their head at night.”
Five years ago, Skarritt opened a dog boarding and fitness center called Bowsers by the Bay. Through that work, she noticed the pattern of elderly dogs being abandoned in their final days. After calling animal shelters throughout the state, she estimated there were about 900 senior dogs within 500 miles of Elk Rapids needing a home.
Skarritt researched the issue, finding many area shelters were taking in old dogs whose owners had surrendered them, sometimes just leaving them tied outside the shelters at night.
“I kept seeing these 14-year-old dogs and 13-year-old dogs in shelters and needing homes, and I’m going, ‘What is that? Who does that?'”
So she bought an empty storage building next door to her business and opened Silver Muzzle Cottage as a nonprofit rescue just for elderly dogs, which she defines as age 10 or older, or terminally ill but not suffering so much they need to be euthanized.
The Free Press described the inside of the rescue as a “big living room with couches, throw pillows, a fake fireplace with decorations atop the mantle, end tables with vases and a coffee table with a thick photo book about dogs atop it. It looks like a normal house, except there’s a bunch of dogs lounging on the couches like they own the place.”
The dogs aren’t caged at night, which means someone has to be there at all times. Skarritt moved into a small bare bones room adjacent to the living room and sleeps there at night.
About 100 rotating volunteers visit the dogs, take them for walks and car rides and pet and play with them.
Despite their old age, many get adopted — both by volunteers and by those among whom Skarritt works to spread the word about both the plight old dogs face, and the joys of having them around.
If you ask me, the world could use more places like this — for dogs and humans; places that aren’t about being poked, and prodded and prolonged but about being treated with some love, dignity and compassion when the end is near.
Silver Muzzle Cottage is at 201 Industrial Park, Elk Rapids, Mich., 49629. For information, call 231-264-8408, or visit the Silver Muzzle Cottage Facebook page.
(Photo from Silver Muzzle’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 18th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, adopt, adoption, animals, compassion, death, dignity, dog, dogs, dying, elderly, elderly dogs, elk rapids, hospice, kim skarritt, michigan, old, old dogs, pets, rescue, sanctuary, shelters, silver muzzle cottage, surrendered
Video stores and libraries aren’t the only places where you’ll find “night drops.”
Some animal shelters have them, too — areas where dogs and cats in need of homes can be dropped off after hours, anonymously, and under the cover of night.
A few weeks ago, a veterinary technician who was the first to arrive for work at the Animal Friends of the Valleys shelter in Riverside County, California, found two boxers — one pink, one brown, both nearly hairless.
Both of the dogs, who were abandoned without a note identifying their previous owner, had a skin condition called demodex mange.
“I felt so badly for Artie and Asia when I first saw them,” said Jennifer Glover, a vet tech for the shelter in Wildomar. “But I was encouraged by the fact that we would be able to start helping them.”
“They were very sweet when they arrived but they were depressed,” Glover added. “Within just one day of having someone care for them here, they were so much happier and more outgoing.”
The skin condition is a treatable one.
The dogs have been responding well to treatment and both have been sent on to Last Chance at Life Rescue to be put up for adoption, according to People.com.
Asia, the pink one is believed to be about 10 months old, and Artie about 2 years old.
On top of the skin condition, caused by mites, Asia has a heart murmur, and Artie has some eye issues, but they otherwise seem healthy and playful.
“I assure you they were both unsettled with being dumped but they know very quickly that the staff at Animal Friends of the Valleys and the volunteers at LCAL are their ‘friends,’ and there to help them,” said Lisa Hamilton, founder and president of Last Chance At Life. “They are with us until we find their perfect home.”
Hamilton says people have already inquired about adopting the pair, and that anyone interested should contact them through the organization’s website.
(Photos: Last Chance at Life Rescue)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 28th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, abandoned, adopt, adoption, animal friends of the valleys, animals, artie, asia, boxers, california, demodex mange, dog, dogs, hairless, last chance of life rescue, mange, night drops, pets, pink, pink dog, rescues, riverside county, shelters, skin, skin condition, surrender, wildomar
After at least five years as a stray, avoiding human contact, surviving in a vacant field and regularly outsmarting animal control officers, a Texas dog named Bear may finally be heading for a home.
And good thing, because construction is expected to begin soon on the field he has called home, which is slated to become a housing development.
Bear is something of a legend in Hutto, a town of about 15,000 people, northeast of Austin. He’s a dog owned by no one, though many residents appreciate him from afar.
But in the past few years, one woman has gotten closer to him than most. Irma Mendoza and her son started bringing him food a couple of years ago, and also built him a dog house on the land.
Now, she is working to find him a home.
“It all started a couple of years ago when my mom found Bear by the block where we live,” said Alfonso Salinas, Irma’s son. ” …After that she just started to feed him and try to take care of him,” he told Fox 7 in Austin
Every day Irma comes to the field to give Bear food. She also gives him his annual medications.
“This dog is pretty much a family member,” Salinas said.
Bear has been seen roaming the neighborhood since 2010. Some think he was left behind when his owners moved.
Over the years, others in the community have pitched in to make sure Bear is taken care of.
“He is a survivor that’s for sure. He’s smart, he stays out of the way, stays out of the street, avoids people, and everybody has grown fond of him,” said Richard Rodriguez, who lives in the neighborhood. “He’s got his own Facebook page so that speaks something to how people like him.”
“No one can get close to him but Irma so we haven’t been able to catch him. He’s gotten wise to our dog traps, he recognizes the animal control truck so he’s very leery about new people,” Cunningham said.
Mendoza is now working with Cunningham to help find Bear a permanent place to stay — with a friend who has spent years helping her care for him.
“He deserves to be in a loving home,” said Niroshini Glass. “He would be so spoiled. He would get anything and everything he wanted, when he wanted, how he wanted it. He would be very, very spoiled.”
All this hinges on Bear’s cooperation, of course, but with the progress that Irma has made, the willingness of Glass to provide a home, and the field destined to soon become a construction zone, the time appears ripe to take Bear out of the wild.
Once he is caught, he will be taken to the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter to be evaluated before adoption.
A GoFundMe campaign has started to raise money to help pay Bear’s vet costs, and ongoing care.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 13th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, adoption, animal control, animals, austin, bear, dog, dogs, facebook, feral, field, friends, hutto, irma mendoza, pet, pets, rescue, shelter, socializing, stray, texas, training, trust, wild, williamson county
This public service ad from France lays it on a little thick — but maybe that’s what’s necessary to get through to humans so thickheaded and coldhearted that they would abandon a dog.
Launched by French animal welfare group, Foundation 30 Million D’Amis (30 Million Friends), the video begins with a dog at his owner’s side in the hospital.
Through flashbacks we learn the owner had driven his dog to a remote area, ordered him to stay, and then drove off.
When he spots the dog in his rear view mirror running after his car he has an accident — and guess who saves him?
Each year in France, tens of thousands of pets are abandoned — most of them during the summer.
NPR reported a few years back that many such abandonments take place while families are on vacation:
“Every summer an estimated 100,000 domestic animals are abandoned in France by owners who say they are unable to take them along or find someone to look after them,” the report said.
The ad — just the latest in an ongoing campaign by humane organizations against abandonment — is being shown online and on French television.
If nothing else, it reminds us which species is the more loyal.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 17th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 30 million friends, abandon, abandoned, abandonment, ad, animal welfare, animals, campaign, dog, dog owners, dogs, france, french, loyalty, pet owners, pets, public service, summer, television, video
A dog born without her front legs has learned to get around by hopping on her rear ones like a kangaroo — and she’s becoming a bit of a tourist attraction in Peru.
Estrella was abandoned on the street as a puppy, but taken in when she was six months old by a couple that runs an animal shelter in the small town of Tinga Maria, according to Reuters.
While many have asked to adopt her, Ivan Escobar and his wife Elva Carhuaz, who operate the shelter, say they plan to keep her.
The dog’s presence has led to an increase in visitors to the shelter, and more donations to help care for her and other dogs.
Elva Carhuaz said Estrella helps increase awareness about stray dogs and about dogs with disabilities.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 8th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, adapting, animals, disabilities, dog, dogs, estrella, hops, kangaroo, kangaroo dog, pets, shelter, tinga maria, two-legged, video
A former Pittsburgh Steeler, who made feel-good news last year when his Baltimore Raven brother donated a kidney to him, has let his dog languish in a Baltimore kennel for more than nine months.
Chris Kemoeatu, the former Steeler, and his brother Ma’ake Kemoeatu, a Raven whose decision to donate a kidney ended his career, moved back to their home in Hawaii to open a family gym.
In November, 2014, they dropped Chris’s dog, Zeus, at a kennel intending to retrieve him later.
But the six-year-old Cane Corso hasn’t been picked up from Pooches and Purrs on Holabird Avenue, and the kennel owners are getting tired of footing the Super Bowl veteran’s bill for room, board and veterinary care.
While several have offered to adopt the dog, Chris Kemoeatu has repeatedly asked the kennel owners to wait a little longer for the dog to be picked up.
The situation was described yesterday in a report by WRAL’s I-Team. You can watch the report here.
Pooches and Purrs owners Keith and Renee Mason say the former Steeler’s bill has grown to nearly $10,000 since the dog was dropped off last November, about three months after the transplant surgery.
Renee Mason said she last spoke to Chris Kemoeatu three weeks ago.
“He said he was coming back in about a week or two and then we were going to move forward, and then I didn’t hear from him,” she said. “Technically, I could have found a home after 10 days, but I’m trying to do the right thing for the dog.”
“I have two perfectly good homes for this dog and I said, ‘They really want the dog, just sign the dog over or whatever. I can find a home for your dog. I have two people waiting.’ And he said, ‘Please don’t get rid of my dog,’ and the dog is still here.”
We won’t suggest the Baltimore kennel owners might be more patient if the dog belonged to the former Raven brother — because we think they have been plenty patient already.
“I know that he had medical issues, so I was trying to be understanding, but, I mean, he’s taking advantage, completely,” Renee Mason said.
(Photo: The Kemoeatu brothers at a press conference after the 2014 kidney transplant; by Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 5th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, animals, baltimore, baltimore ravens, brothers, Chris Kemoeatu, dog, dogs, hawaii, kennel, kidney, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, nfl, pets, Pittsburgh Steelers, pooches and purrs, transplant
In terms of its story line, White God isn’t too different from any other movie in which the bullied rise up and get even with the bullies.
What makes it different — and makes it shine — is that in this case the bullied are abused and mistreated dogs, a species that already knows (perhaps better and more instinctively than us) that there is strength in numbers.
Perhaps the most talked about scene in the much talked about Hungarian film — winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Prize Un Certain Regard Award and an official selection of Sundance Film Festival — is when a pack of 250 dogs, all mutts, stampede through the streets.
And what makes that scene even more impressive is that it was achieved not through computer graphics, but with dogs.
Director Kornel Mundruczo first issued a casting call for 100 dogs for the scene, then decided bigger would be better. More than 200 dogs ended up being involved, many of them from local animal shelters.
The scene serves as the movie’s climax, and it was a first of its kind achievement for the dog trainers involved.
Under the leadership of Hungarian dog trainer Árpád Halász, a team of humans was able to train the dogs to stampede in a pack in what was, in reality, a massive rush for treats.
One of the dog trainers involved, Teresa Ann Miller — daughter of a trainer who worked on films like Beethoven and Cujo — was interviewed about the movie on NPR this week.
Miller helped cast and train the two dogs who shared the role of Hagen.
The movie’s story begins when a young girl is forced to give up her dog, Hagen, because it is of mixed-breed heritage. Her father, unwilling to pay the fee required to keep a mutt, abandons Hagen in the streets.
Young Lili tries to find him, and Hagen tries to find her, but eventually he joins forces with, and becomes the leader of, hundreds of other abandoned, abused and mistreated dogs living in the streets.
As a pack, they rise up to seek revenge for the indignities they’ve suffered at the hands of humans.
(If the film has one fault, it’s the notion that dogs would seek revenge. They’re better than that.)
Miller told NPR that director Mundruczó wanted the stampede scene to look as real as possible — a goal complicated by the fact that no one has ever seen hundreds of domestic dogs running as a pack.
It was first rehearsed with 100 dogs running together.
Trainer Halász watched and then said, “What about 150?” Miller recounted. “And 150 looked so good that he says, What about 200? And each time Árpád learned, as he acquired the dogs and introduced other dogs into the pack, that it was possible.”
It took four months to prepare for the scene, she added.
“And that was amazing to see; that was fascinating. I’ve never seen it done. I’ve never seen such a large pack of dogs run together. And, quite honestly, I don’t think we’d ever do it here (in the U.S.) just for the time that it takes. It’s so much easier just to CGI it, but the director didn’t want that effect at all.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 30th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, abused, animals, dog, dog training, dogs, entertainment, film, hagen, hungarian, hungary, mistreated, mixed breeds, movies, mutts, neglected, pack, pets, revenge, stampede, streets, trainers, training, white god