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  • Lollie, a senior Shih Tzu
  • Pookie
  • Jayden
  • Annie (Lil Bit)
  • Thomas

    Grey Muzzle Within Reach Of Granting $250,000 To Save Senior Dogs' Lives

    Since 2008, The Grey Muzzle Organization has awarded $230,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations working to help homeless and at-risk elderly dogs. Grey Muzzle has supported 37 nonprofit organizations and is currently funding lifesaving efforts in 18 states. 

    Annual Grey Muzzle grants average $2,100 and many grants have been renewed. Old Dog Haven in Lake Stevens, Washington; Muttville in San Francisco, California; St. Louis Senior Dog Project, House with a Heart in Gaithersburg, Maryland; and Cumberland County SPCA & Animal Shelter in Vineland, New Jersey are among the nine nonprofit organizations that have received more than $10,000 in funding since 2008. 

    All grant funds are provided through public donations.  “We’re proud that we’re able to continue to fund many of these great groups year after year, helping them build long-term programs to benefit elderly dogs,” says Grey Muzzle President Julie Dudley, who expects her organization’s grant total to reach a quarter of a million dollars by the end of 2012.

    Grey Muzzle believes that every senior dog deserves to live out their golden years, months, weeks, or even days, in a place of love, security and peace. Here’s how Grey Muzzle’s $230,000 in total grants breaks down by category:

    • Adoptable Dogs Medical Care: $107,000 
    • Hospice and Long-term Care: $60,000
    • “Seniors for Seniors” Adoption Programs: $28,500
    • “Keep Dogs With Owners” Assistance: $27,500
    • Community Outreach/Therapy Dog Programs: $7,000

    And here are examples of how some of the organizations in each category are putting the funds to work for senior dogs in need:

    Adoptable Dogs Medical Care

    This category includes grants made to nonprofit shelters and rescues for adoptable senior dogs’ medical care. 

    Cumberland County SPCA & Animal Shelter Foster Care Coordinator Maria Stoerrle reports that the staff has a new attitude towards senior dogs, thanks to Grey Muzzle support. Over an 11-month stretch, CCSPCA’s Red Collar Society aided 62 senior dogs. The program provides medical treatment and then outreach to either keep senior dogs with their families or focus on adoption, foster or transfer to no-kill shelters or rescues.

    “Staff often believed that a senior dog was older than they actually were, or their health was worse because of their demeanor in the shelter,” writes Stoerrle. “Having the ability to treat and get these dogs into foster homes and monitor their progress has proven that while a senior dog may be more prone to depression in a kennel environment, there are very few seniors who won’t have a wonderful quality of life in a home environment.”


    Pookie is an eight-year-old Chow Chow who received extensive medical care thanks to CCSPCA’s Red Collar Society and a Grey Muzzle grant. Read Pookie’s happy adoption tale here.

    Grants to rescues for adoptable dogs’ medical care allow at-risk senior dogs in shelters to receive treatment and be moved to a safe foster home environment. In Chicagoland, the “Increase the Adoptability of Senior Dogs” program run by Young at Heart Pet Rescue provides full-scale vetting, as well as grooming and the use of professional photography and video for dogs’ profiles. 

    According to Executive Director Dawn Kemper, YAH rescued 83 senior dogs from January through November 2011, with ten of the dogs being aided by Grey Muzzle funding, including Jayden, a 10-12-year-old Boxer mix. “Sweet and docile, she became a fast favorite at the local animal control and as her time grew short, the staff began to contact every boxer rescue and no-kill animal shelter in the area to save her,” says Kemper. “The response? Every single organization said she was too old to be adopted. Her brilliant smile and endearing personality proved to us that she was adoptable – she just needed a chance!”

    A visit to the vet found that Jayden needed a teeth cleaning and thyroid medication plus a lumpectomy that proved benign. Kemper says a professional photo shoot helped Jayden’s adoption profile shine and she has found her forever home. 

    “Jayden has become our not-so-little lap dog and we’re so happy to have her here with us,” shares Jayden’s new mom, Misty. “The vet says she’s in good health and looks great for her age.” 

     A Grey Muzzle adoptable dogs medical care grant helped Young at Heart Pet Rescue find senior Boxer blend Jayden her forever family. Jayden received a teeth cleaning, lumpectomy (results were benign), vaccinations and needed thyroid medication plus a professional portrait for her adoption profile from Petraits Pet Photography!


    Hospice and Long-term Care

    Hospice and long-term care grants help rescues and sanctuaries provide a loving final home for dogs, or long-term care for dogs who may, or may not, be adoptable due to their medical conditions.

    A Grey Muzzle grant covered a portion of Old Dog Haven’s hospice care costs in 2011. From January through mid-November, Lake Stevens, Washington-based ODH took in 29 dogs known to be terminally ill or diagnosed soon after their arrival. Old Dog Haven Executive Director Judith Piper reports that Grey Muzzle grant funds provided four dogs with care and “a gentle death with love around them.”



    Grey Muzzle grant recipient Old Dog Haven’s Final Refuge program provided Annie (Lil Bit), a 13-pound Chihuahua/Terrier mix diagnosed with advanced lymphoma, end-of-life love and care. “For a few weeks, she didn’t care and her foster family forgot too as she entertained them and thoroughly enjoyed herself,” writes Old Dog Haven Executive Director Judith Piper.


    National foster care network Blind Dog Rescue Alliance regularly takes in senior dogs who have higher than usual medical care costs. Thomas, a partially blind 11-year-old Siberian Husky, is one of BDRA’s fosters assisted by a Grey Muzzle grant. Thomas received a wellness exam, treatment for a persistent ear infection, and was neutered. Thomas, who’s in foster care in West Virginia, is now ready for his forever home. 


    Thomas, who’s partially blind and deaf, gives a paws up to senior dog rescue! “Thomas is very calm and nice,” writes Blind Dog Rescue Alliance Treasurer Eric Belfi. “He walks very well on a leash, loves to chase tennis balls, and gets along well with other dogs and kids.” A Grey Muzzle grant helped Thomas receive the medical care he needed to be adoptable. BDRA will transport Thomas a reasonable distance to an approved adopter, even if out of state, at no extra cost.

    “Seniors for Seniors” Adoption Programs

    “Seniors for Seniors” grants assist programs runs by rescues and shelters that help senior citizens adopt senior dogs. New Grey Muzzle grant recipient Senior Dogs 4 Seniors in Chesterfield, Missouri will use its Grey Muzzle funding for its Veticare Program, which provides medical treatment for senior dogs before they’re adopted. “Many senior people want a dog companion but aren’t sure that they can manage all the needs of the dog,” writes Senior Dogs 4 Seniors President Diane Pierce. “We assist the people so they can simply enjoy the companionship of the dog. It’s a win/win proposition for them and the senior dog.”


    “Angel, a 12-year-old Lab mix, is very calm and affectionate,” writes Senior Dogs 4 Seniors President Diane Pierce. “She spent her life outside in a pen, and it was her lucky day when she was surrendered as her family was moving out of the country. She seemed amazed when we brought her into our house and she walked around wagging her tail. She truly is an angel and perfect in every way. She’s potty trained, doesn’t get on the furniture and would be a perfect companion for an older person.” Learn more about Angel on Pet Finder.

    “Keep Dogs With Owners” Assistance

    "Keep Dogs With Owners” grants assist programs, typically run by a shelter, that provide food and medical care for pets of low-income owners. 

    The Sergey Foundation’s Judy Larkin says Grey Muzzle funding has been key to her Bellingham, Washington-based organization’s mission to keep senior dogs healthy and with their families. “The cost of veterinary bills increases exponentially as a dog grows older,” says Larkin. “This hits the senior population extremely hard.”

    Karin Frye’s senior Belgian Malinois, Baldo, received surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament thanks to The Sergey Foundation and a Grey Muzzle grant.

    Tails of the City Animal Rescue, a new Grey Muzzle grant recipient based in Los Angeles, California will use the grant to support its Senior Permanent Foster Program, as well as launch its Shelter Intervention Program. Says Tails of the City Founder Mary Ann Lagana, “It’s been our experience that keeping seniors in their existing, loving home is best for all involved.”


    12-year-old Shih Tzu, Lollie, is in permanent foster care with Grey Muzzle grant recipient Tails of the City. The rescue turned her life around with treatment for a thyroid condition, bladder infection and an abscess that had spread into her nasal cavity. A dental led to eight extractions. While Lollie has neurological issues, Tails of the City Founder Mary Ann Lagana says she is content. “She loves her soft bed and she loves her walks and her treats.”

    Since 2008, therapy dog programs and community outreach have accounted for $7,000 of Grey Muzzle’s total grants. Grey Muzzle provides funding to help senior dogs give back to the community—for example, by becoming therapy dogs—because Grey Muzzle believes elderly dogs contribute positively to our quality of life and have much to teach us about patience, loyalty and unconditional love. 

    Vinnie brightened many lives as a therapy dog while in the care of The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs in Ohio.

    Find out more about The Grey Muzzle Organization's mission.

    Note: All dog images used in this article were provided courtesy of the respective individual rescues, with the exception of Jayden whose photo was taken by Petraits Pet Photography.

    By Chandra Conway