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    Saving Seniors: A Groundbreaking National Study

    The Grey Muzzle Organization is pleased to share findings from the first national study focused specifically on the well-being of senior dogs. We are thankful to Maddie’s Fund for the generous grant that made this groundbreaking work possible.

    Saving Seniors: A Study of Strategies to Increase the Adoption of Senior Dogs provides an in-depth examination not only of programs to save senior dogs, but also the context in which those programs were implemented, and lessons learned. In fact, this is the first study to examine the state of efforts nationally to promote the well-being of senior dogs, beyond simply assessing live release rates. The study sought not just to understand whether senior dogs’ lives were being saved, but also how and why, and to identify potentially lifesaving approaches.

    Identifying new lifesaving practices is essential because the adoption rate for senior dogs is lower than that of all other ages combined, and the live release rate is just over 50% (ASPCA, 2015).

    Interviews and focus groups with more than 150 shelter and rescue directors, volunteers, and senior dog adopters pointed to a variety of strategies to help senior dogs who need a second chance. Saving senior dogs requires new ways of doing business, changes in thinking about which dogs are adoptable, innovative strategies to promote adoption, and a willingness to trust that—despite the obstacles and challenges—it is possible to work together to ensure all dogs spend their golden years in homes with families who love them. Senior dogs’ lives depend on it.

    “All of us at Grey Muzzle are thankful to Maddie’s Fund for making this important study possible,” said Lisa Lunghofer, PhD, executive director. “We look forward to putting what we learned into action to save more senior dogs.”

    Executive Summary


    Read the full study.


    Maddie's Fund is a family foundation created in 1994 by Workday® co-founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, who have endowed the Foundation with more than $300 million. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than $237.6 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter management leadership, shelter medicine education and foster care across the U.S. The Duffields named Maddie's Fund after their Miniature Schnauzer Maddie, who always made them laugh and gave them much joy. Maddie was with Dave and Cheryl for ten years and continues to inspire them today.