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
After realizing a surrendered dog had recently given birth, staff at the Marin Humane Society in California contacted the dog’s former owner and asked about the pups.
The owner was “evasive” and “unwilling,” but eventually admitted there were pups and agreed — in the interest of the puppies’ health — to surrender them to the Humane Society as well.
That’s what led to this joyful reunion at the shelter on Monday.
The shelter says that when the mother dog, named Cora, was taken in for a routine check-up, vets found that she had recently had puppies — so recently they became concerned about the health of the puppies.
The Humane Society captured the reunion on video.
The puppies have been named Carson, Branson, Moseley, and Edith, all in honor of Downton Abbey characters.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 11th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, california, cora, dog, dogs, marin, marin county, marin humane society, mother, owner, pets, puppies, pups, rescues, reunited, shelters, surrendered, video reunion
(Warning: The video above, which begins after a commercial message, is graphic and disturbing)
In January, a pit bull named Tiger was surrendered to a Louisiana shelter by an owner who complained the dog was behaving aggressively.
Last month, sheriff’s officers in St. Bernard’s Parish arrested the man seen in the video above, Asani Woods — Tiger’s owner.
And people wonder why some pit bulls turn mean.
Woods was videotaped beating Tiger in December. She was surrendered in January, and put down at the shelter that month.
In March, the video was found on cellphone of a man arrested on drug charges — a friend of Woods.
An investigation led to the arrest late last month of Woods, 21, of Violet, on charges of animal cruelty, according to the Times-Picayune
St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann released the video, which shows Woods scolding the dog for getting into the trash, choking her, hitting her with boxing gloves and slamming her to the ground.
Pohlmann on Monday called the video “graphic” and “disturbing … In my 30 years of law enforcement I never saw an incident such as this captured on video.”
He added, “You hear often times about pit bulls attacking individuals, you know, well, this is probably one case where you would like to see the pit bull defend himself, with such a brutal attack.”
Woods was arrested March 28, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and was being held in lieu of a $100,000 bond.
Under questioning from sheriff’s officials, Woods said he was only disciplining his dog: “Yeah that was me. What you going to arrest me because I beat my dog because it shit and pissed all over my house?” Woods is reported to have said to the arrresting officer.
The video was found on the cell phone of a drug suspect who was one of Woods’ neighbors. Johnny Dominick, 21, admitted videotaping the beating, the sheriff said.
In addition to drug counts, Dominick was charged with aggravated cruelty.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 9th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, aggression, animals, arrest, asani woods, beating, brutal, cellphone, cruelty, disturbing, dog, dogs, euthanized, graphic, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, sheriff, surrendered, tiger, video
The elderly couple that abandoned their dog at a Los Angeles County shelter, asking that the sickly 13-year-old dachshund be put down because they couldn’t afford his medical care, has been identified.
But only loosely.
Apparently they are down-on-their-luck traveling ministers, currently out of town, and they say that they’d gladly reclaim their dog — once they get enough money to buy new tires for their car and get back home to California.
The dachshund was left tied to a basket at the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter on March 6, along with a note asking he be put to sleep because his anonymous elderly owners could no longer afford to care for him.
Before euthanizing the dog as requested, the shelter called Leave No Paws Behind, a rescue organization. It took the dog in, named him Harley, and got him the veterinary care he needed — primarily treatment for mange.
The organization’s founder and CEO, Toby Wisneski, sought to track down the owners to reunite them with the dog, and she offered to pay for Harley’s medical care and dog food for the rest of his life.
This week she made contact with the couple and learned Harley’s real name — Otto Wolfgang Maximus. A reunion is tentatively scheduled after the couple returns to California around March 28.
“We thought he was dead, but he lives,” the dog’s owner told a KTLA reporter. “He’s being well taken care of and, boy, we’re just so extremely grateful.”
“We just are living week to week,” one of the owners said in the phone interview. “We can’t even go to the hospital to get our treatment.”
The dog was left at the shelter with a hand-written note that said he had recently gotten sick, was vomiting and had bloody stools.
“We are both seniors, sick with no money,” the note said. “We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animals, baldwin park, california, care, costs, dachshund, dog, dogs, elderly, expense, harley, leave no paws behind, mange, ministers, note, otto, pets, poor, poverty, rescues, reunion, shelters, surrendered, traveling, veterinary
The note said it all.
But the face said more.
A 13-year-old dachshund was left outside the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter last week, tied to a basket, along with the note seen above.
His unidentified owners, an elderly couple who said they could no longer afford to care for the sickly dog, asked that he be put down:
“We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep.”
The Los Angeles County-operated shelter, before carrying out that wish, contacted Leave No Paws Behind, a nonprofit rescue, which picked the dachshund up, named him Harley and took him to East Valley Veterinary Clinic in Sun Valley, according to KTLA.
He tested positive for noncontagious demodectic mange, but his blood work came back fine, according to Toby Wisneski, head of the rescue group.
“He is as cute as can be, he had a bath, he has been started on medication, he is eating, he is as happy as can be,” Wisneski posted on the Leave No Paws Behind Facebook page.
Wisneski said if she can can identify and locate the owners, she’d like to try and have Harley return to his home. If the couple is able to care for him, Leave No Paws Behind would pay for Harley’s medical expenses, she said.
If she can’t locate them, she plans to finding Harley a foster home, and put him up for adoption.
If you’re interested, contact Leave No Paws Behind at email@example.com.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, baldwin park, basket, california, dachshund, dogs, elderly, elderly couple, euthanasia, foster home, harley, leave no paws behind, los angeles, mange, note, pets, rescue, shelter, sick, surrendered
Gayla’s Little Poodle Palace, on the outskirts of Sparta, Tennessee, wasn’t so little.
More than 200 dogs — 221, according to the Humane Society of the United States — were seized from the puppy mill last week by the White County Sheriff’s Department after complaints that they were being housed in unsanitary conditions and lacked proper socialization and medical care.
All of the animals have been surrendered by the owner to the custody of the White County Sheriff’s Department, according to an HSUS press release.
The HSUS assisted in removing the animals and transporting them to an emergency shelter set up and staffed by the HSUS, the White County Humane Society and United Animal Nations. There, the dogs will be examined by a team of veterinarians before being transferred to animal shelters for evaluation and adoption.
“These dogs were being sold to unsuspecting consumers over the Internet and through newspaper advertisements. This should be a reminder to anyone looking for a new pet to first consider adoption, and only purchase a dog if you have personally visited the breeder,” said Leighann McCollum, HSUS Tennessee state director.
The dogs, mostly toy poodles, some with serious medical issues, were all living living in a small home.
Sheriff Oddie Shoupe said puppy mill owner Gayla Jackson was cooperating with authorities.
“She said she needed the help and didn’t know where to turn, and that this was a blessing in disguise,” said Shoupe. “She started grooming dogs, then it blossomed into a breeding operation, and it was too much for her to take care of.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 200 dogs, conditions, gayla jackson, gayla's poodle palace, health, hsus, humane society of the united states, news ohmidog!, poodles, puppy mill, raid, seized, sheriff's department, sparta, surrendered, tennessee, toy poodles, unsanitary, welfare, white county
Chihuahuas are becoming the most common dog in California’s animal shelters, replacing the pit bull as the breed most often forsaken by owners.
The “101 Dalmatians” effect that many predicted the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” would lead to seems to have come to pass, exacerbated further by the Paris Hilton effect and, maybe even moreso, the yukky economy effect.
About a third of the dogs in San Francisco’s animal shelter are Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes, Kat Brown, deputy director of City and County of San Francisco Animal Care & Control, told Robert Siegel on NPR’s “All Things Considered” Wednesday.
About 60 percent of the Chihuahuas coming into the shelter are owner-surrendered, she said.
“I think it’s because a number of things. Some movies featured Chihuahuas. Also, a pocket pet kind of thing, from some of the movie stars, Paris Hilton. Also, the economy. I think we’re seeing more owner-surrendered animals generally across the board,” she said.
“But Chihuahuas unlike other dogs are more difficult to handle sometimes. People think of them as something, they’re like stuffed animals or whatever. But in fact they’re like a little dog, and they need all of the things that a big dog needs.”
Brown said the phenomenon seems to be California-wide:
“We have shelters from the Bay Area who also have the same sort of problem. Oakland, Contra Costa, Peninsula Humane Society. Silicon Valley. San Jose. LASPCA (in Los Angeles) said to us we don’t have time to count, there are so many of them.”
You can listen to the interview here.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 101 dalmatians, adopt, all things considered, animal care & control, beverly hills chihuahua, california, chihuahua, chihuahuas, forsaken, glut, homes, kat brown, los angeles, movie, movies, npr, overpopulation, paris hilton, pit bulls, popular culture, san francisco, shelters, surplus, surrendered