People love dogs, as evidenced by the estimated 14,000 animal rescue organizations that exist nationwide. Yet, less than 40 of those 14,000 organizations are dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing senior dogs.
One organization that focuses exclusively on senior dogs is Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary in Petaluma. The nonprofit rescue organization saves and re-homes homeless senior large-breed dogs in California.
Now Lily’s Legacy is going national with its second annual ‘Saving Senior Dogs Week,’ an online education and fundraising campaign running October 26 to November 1. The campaign, presented in partnership with senior dog rescue organizations from across the United States, is using social media to raise public awareness of the plight of homeless senior dogs throughout the country.
“There is a perception that senior dogs are harder to adopt, which we have not found to be the case,” says Alice Mayn, founder and Executive Director of Lily’s Legacy. “I wanted to find a way to educate the public, and I also wanted a way to bring the existing rescues together, let people know they’re out there, and maybe encourage other people to start a senior rescue so there are more of us. Because there needs to be more of us.”
‘Saving Senior Dogs Week’ will take to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets all week to share images, videos and stories about senior dogs. Mayn notes that the awareness campaign is more important than ever this year, as the Covid-19 crisis is increasing the number of surrendered pets due to financial hardships.
“It’s not people that have contracted Covid, it’s people who have lost their homes, their livelihood or both, due to Covid,” Mayn says. “It’s hard for them, they’re giving up a family member.”
In August, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals released data estimating that 4.2 million pets will enter poverty in the next six months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a 21-percent increase from pre-pandemic estimates. The total number of animals living in poverty could rise to more than 24.4 million dogs, cats, horses, and other animals.
For more than a decade, Mayn and the volunteer-run staff at Lily’s Legacy have been giving large-breed senior dogs a second chance through fostering and adoption programs, and they care for senior dogs with hospice care.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned from these dogs is gratitude and resilience to hard times,” Mayn says. “Senior dogs, who have been through some kind of trauma, they seem to bounce back when they get some love and good nutrition and medical care. It’s an amazing phenomena.”
In addition to sharing stories of senior dogs, Lily’s Legacy is highlighting the network of other senior animal rescues working throughout the nation.
“I get calls from all over the country from people who want senior dogs, and now I have a resource,” Mayn says.
Seventy-five percent of the proceeds from the ‘Saving Senior Dogs Week’ fundraising campaign will be divided equally among the participating senior dog rescue organizations, and the remaining funds will go into a Saving Senior Dogs Grant program to provide startup funding and support for individuals interested in founding a new senior dog rescue.
Two months ago, Lily’s Legacy awarded its first Saving Senior Dogs Grant to Daisy Lu Ranch Senior Dog Sanctuary in Camarillo to provide medical care for their senior dogs.
“Senior dogs make great companions,” Mayn says. “If you’re considering getting a dog, consider getting a senior dog.”