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Daily Inspiration: Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

Today we’d like to introduce you to Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary (OFSDS) received nonprofit status on April 27, 2012. Our founders, Zina and Michael Goodin were inspired to create a sanctuary for senior dogs after volunteering at a local golden retriever rescue. They saw that the senior goldens were not being adopted at the same rate as the younger dogs, and realized if that was happening with the most popular breed in America, what was happening to senior dogs of other, less desirable breeds?

OFSDS started in their home, and at one point they had over 40 dogs living in their house. In 2017, they moved to Grandpaw’s Gardens, which was a converted garden center, and in 2019 they began planning the development of The PAWvillions. OFSDS moved to The PAWvillions on June 12, 2021.

Through the power of social media (OFSDS has 1.8 million followers on Facebook and 164k on Instagram), OFSDS has been able to provide high-quality care, including food, vetting, shelter, etc., to senior dogs (currently about 104 at the sanctuary and over 400 in forever foster homes) thanks to the support of our private donors. While OFSDS has received some very generous donations, the average amount is $25. We could not do what we do without our supporters!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has not always been a smooth road for Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary. For about five years, it was just Zina, Michael, and a handful of volunteers rescuing and caring for the senior dogs at OFSDS; it wasn’t until mid-2017 when they hired their first employee. In late 2017, they were given three months’ notice that they had to move the organization out of their home and neighborhood. They found a location that would work for them but, as time approached to sign the lease, the building owner changed their mind. Thankfully, Zina and Michael had recently held a fundraiser for their move and the donations from that event were enough to put a down-payment on a local garden center that had just come on the market (which affectionately became known as Grandpaw’s Gardens). Zina and Michael had to convert the entire building, even replacing all the electrical, to make it suitable for the needs of OFSDS. This was a challenge in and of itself, not to mention that OFSDS was not well-funded or financially stable until mid-late 2018 when Facebook page that Zina had been running for OFSDS suddenly took off and became the main source of donations. The challenges we face now are finding new outlets and ways to maintain our fundraising so we may continue to provide exceptional care to senior dogs.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. OFSDS provides sanctuary to senior dogs from local animal control facilities, shelters, and rescues, who may otherwise be euthanized if unadopted. We provide high-quality food, vet care, compassion, and comfort to these dogs and aim to place them into Forever Foster homes. Our Forever Foster program is different than a traditional adoption and is something we are very proud of being able to do. While the intention is for our dogs to permanently live with their forever foster families (aka Geezer Guardians), OFSDS retains legal ownership for two reasons:

1) We provide and cover the cost of medical care for the remainder of each dog’s life. This includes monthly preventatives, routine examinations, vaccines, prescription medications, specialty care (oncology, ophthalmology, neurology, etc.), physical therapy and rehabilitation, surgeries, etc. and takes money out of the equation for those who do not adopt senior dogs due to the costs associated (we also do not have an “adoption” fee);

and 2) If for any reason the Geezer Guardian(s) can no longer care for their Old Friend, that dog returns to our sanctuary rather than being rehomed or finding themselves back in animal control or another shelter or rescue.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
We have a fully-functioning, state-of-the-art medical wing at The PAWvillions (our new and current location). Our Medical Director & Veterinarian, Dr. Christine Puskaric, DVM, and her team of Vet Techs/Assistants and Rehabilitation Staff, take care of over 500 senior dogs (~100 at the sanctuary and 400+ in forever homes). While some of our Old Friends are perfectly healthy, most have ailments (some including hip dysplasia, heartworm, arthritis/mobility limitations, dementia, hypothyroidism, cancer, etc.). At Grandpaw’s Gardens, our vet team was limited to non-sterile procedures only, and we had to outsource most of our care. At The PAWvillions, however, we can do everything and even have our own underwater treadmill on-site. We now only outsource for specialty care like oncology, ophthalmology, and emergencies for those in forever homes. We also provide and perform physical therapies such as laser, soundwave, acupuncture, cavaletti training, chiropractic care, and – of course – underwater treadmill.

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Image Credits

Devi Sanford

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