Sophia is a brown and white beagle with large, curious eyes. At 11 years old, the chances of her being adopted were slimmer than those of the younger pups around her.
Louisa County-based Animal Care Assistance Program pulled Sophia from a public animal shelter to prevent her from being put down and gave her the treatment she needed to live a healthy life.
Sophia’s rescue and veterinary treatment wouldn’t have been possible without funding from the North Carolina-based Grey Muzzle Organization.
ACAP was one of 64 animal welfare groups chosen to receive a grant to fund projects focused on the welfare of senior dogs. Through this grant, the organization will be able to help more low-income pet owners afford veterinary care for their elderly canine companions and offer strays sanctuary while they wait to be adopted.
“No one is more grateful or loving than an old dog, and we’re looking forward to helping more senior dogs get the second chance they all deserve,” said Susan Levi, ACAP president, writing in the agency’s recent newsletter.
Through the Grey Muzzle grant, Karin Magno, ACAP vice president and medical intake director, said her organization will be able to help more senior dogs get the medical treatment they need. Magno and Levi work with public animal shelters in Louisa and surrounding counties and offer assistance to pet owners unable to afford necessary veterinary treatments.
Sophia, for example, was one of the first dogs to benefit from the grant. Because of this funding, she was treated for Lyme Disease; spayed and vaccinated; had growths removed and biopsied and teeth extracted; and got a prescription shampoo to treat a secondary infection caused by fleas. According to Magno, the average veterinary bill comes to about $350 per dog—sometimes less, sometimes more.
Senior dogs face challenges distinct from those of their younger, puppy counterparts. According to Magno, older pets can put financial strains on owners due to health issues and increased costs in veterinary bills.
“Senior dogs are more likely to face increased health issues, just like people,” Magno said. “They [geriatric dogs] cost more and unfortunately, some people just let them go.”
Older dogs are also less likely to be adopted from shelters, due to their health conditions and many people’s preference for puppies and younger dogs. ACAP provides a sanctuary for older strays, saving them from being put down in shelters.
Sophia, once sick and at risk for being put down, has a different future because of ACAP. Shortly after she was treated, someone adopted her.
Magno says her group has been “fortunate to find some amazing adopters,” who want to give elderly animals a forever home.
“There are a lot of people out there who are willing to adopt geriatric dogs,” Magno said. “It’s the quality, not quantity, of time that’s most important to them.”
Because of funding from this grant and donations and the dedication of its volunteers, ACAP will continue offering medical care to the region’s elderly dogs and sanctuary to older strays.