Abandoned Senior Pets Can Spend Their Golden Years At House With A Hea

Maggie Marton
by Maggie Marton
Puppies and kittens are always the first to be adopted from shelters. But what happens to older pets who are harder to place? They’re welcome at House With A Heart – a retirement home for dogs and cats.

What happens to a senior dog when, through no fault of his own, he’s left without a home? Most elderly dogs aren’t considered “adoptable” at shelters. Throw in age-related illnesses or disabilities, and shelters struggle to place these deserving pups.

To the rescue – literally – House With A Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary.

Founded in 2006 by Sher Polvinale and her late husband, Joe, the sanctuary takes in elderly dogs and cats who have lost their families (they even have a senior horse!). However, they aren’t a foster or rescue group. Instead, every animal taken in is given a home for life. Sher works full time at the sanctuary providing love and care for the animals, along with a team of 55 volunteers. The sanctuary also offers short-term care for dogs of any age.

Related: Top 10 Reasons for Adopting an Older Dog

Based in Montgomery County, Maryland, the sanctuary started and thrives at Sher’s home. Volunteers walk, bathe and provide love and care for the resident retirees, while maintaining the house and two-acre sanctuary.

Their heart-warming mission: “The House with a Heart Pet Sanctuary mission is to provide senior and special needs pets with a loving and caring home where they will be allowed to live out their lives in a secure, nurturing environment.”

Related: These Beautiful Photos Of Old Dogs Will Bring A Tear To Your Eye

To fulfill that mission, in addition to daily love, care and space to play, the seniors are fed special diets as needed, and veterinary health and wellness checks are routine—including consultations with specialists.

The organization’s website hosts information for owners of senior pets who are having trouble caring for their animals, with a full list of breed-specific and local rescues, plus resources on training and help for affording pet care. Beyond that, they offer courtesy listings of adoptable senior dogs.

House With A Heart is a 501(c)(3) that relies on donations, grants and gifts to operate. You can support their mission through a financial contribution to one of their special funds or by fulfilling requests on their wish list. In addition, there are volunteer opportunities ranging from day-to-day love and care of the resident animals (and who doesn’t want to spend time scratching a sweet gray muzzle?) to special opportunities like event planning, grant writing and fundraising.

Maryland locals can attend an event to support the sanctuary animals. From anywhere in the world, you can check out the stories of the sanctuary dogs and cats and even choose one to sponsor. Click through to read their stories of how each animal arrived at the shelter and share on social media—like Spencer’s, a gray-faced miniature Pinscher, a former show dog whose heartbreaking story includes being sold several times, a stint at a puppy mill and, ultimately, being picked up as a stray at 10 years old.

To learn about some of the animals at the sanctuary or to learn about the volunteers, the site hosts a blog. But to really see those seniors in action, check out the organization’s YouTube page. Visit House With A Heart online or check out their updates on Facebook.

Maggie Marton is the definition of “crazy dog lady” and an award-winning writer based in Bloomington, Indiana. Obsessed with dogs, she writes for numerous pet-related publications and is active in animal welfare. When she’s not reading about dogs, writing about dogs or walking dogs, she loves to hike and nap—both activities usually with her dogs. Maggie lives with her husband, John; Emmett, a pit mix; Lucas, a shepherd mix; Cooper, a pit mix; and Newt, the lone kitty (who, of course, runs the show). You can find her online at OhMyDogBlog.com.

Maggie Marton
Maggie Marton

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