The Mercury News

March 23 2020

Bay Area pets, rescue groups suffering from coronavirus shutdowns

The threat of coronavirus has forced rescue groups to curtail activities, leaving them short of money and pets without forever homes.

This is an extraordinary time. Businesses closed, people facing financial hardships, people sick and many dying. No one is immune from COVID-19 or the changes it is making in our lives. And that includes pets and the people who care for them.

Forced to cancel or revamp regular adoption and fund-raising events, rescue groups still are working to care for the pets. We can close our doors against the virus, but there’s no putting animal lives on hold.

Larger pet rescues are using cadres of volunteer foster families to care for shelter pets in their homes, arranging for one-on-one adoption appointments, and offering online programs to help train new foster families. …

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco, which specializes in finding homes for older dogs, has been doing one-on-one adoption appointments and all their animals are sheltered in private homes. More needs to be done, says Patty Stanton, public relations director and board member for Muttville. The dogs need to find permanent homes, she says, and a lot of people feeling the stress of COVID-19 fears and trying to work from home, could benefit from the comfort and company of a pet. …

The Washington Post

March 20 2020

Alone no more: People are turning to dogs, cats and chickens to cope with self-isolation

Working from home and unable to go out, people are bringing home dogs and cats for companionship.

On a normal Sunday at the PetSmart in Gaithersburg, Md., Lucky Dog Animal Rescue would hold an adoption event and find homes for about 15 dogs.

But as coronavirus news started to spread this past week, the waiting list skyrocketed from 10 to 40 would-be adopters. “And we had 30 adoptions in three hours at that event alone,” said Mirah A. Horowitz, the rescue’s executive director.

Forget toilet paper, milk and hand sanitizer: There’s now a rush to stock up on real necessities, such as cats and dogs. And rabbits and fish, and even a couple of chickens.

As schools close and millions of people across the United States work from home, the promise of companionship even in a time of isolation is prompting some to take in animals. Many say they finally have the time to properly train and care for a new pet. Animal rescuers across the country say they are seeing spiking interest in adoption and fostering, as well as offers to help everywhere from open-admission shelters to smaller nonprofit groups.

In California, where 40 million residents were ordered on Thursday night to stay home except for essential jobs or trips, such as getting groceries, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) noted an important exemption.

“You can still walk your dog,” he said. …

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, a San Francisco dog rescue specializing in older animals like Pepperoncini, has seen an increase in adoption and foster requests since the coronavirus. …

KGO-TV San Francisco

March 19 2020

Animal shelters in need of temporary homes for pets during COVID-19 pandemic

Animal shelters are considered essential services under the shelter-in-place orders for most Bay Area Counties. However, some of them are trying to find temporary homes for dogs and cats anyway so staff and volunteers don’t have to come into work and can practice social distancing at home.

On the back patio of Sherri Franklin’s Potrero Hill home, a dozen dogs visit and frolic.

Normally they, and more than 70 other dogs, would be housed at the Muttville shelter she founded in San Francisco 13 years ago. That isn’t happening during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“All 80-plus dogs are all in foster homes right now because we don’t want to have to bring people into work” Franklin says.

Although shelters are considered essential services, Franklin says why take the chance of exposing workers, volunteers or clients to the virus. However, for people who are feeling a bit lonely, sheltering in their homes, adoption is still an option.

“We’re setting them up with appointments, 1-on-1 appointments,” she says.

They’re even waiving adoption fees during this emergency period. …


March 19 2020

Muttville Encourages San Franciscans to Adopt a Senior Dog While In Isolation

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue has had to put 84 dogs into foster homes this week as it temporarily shuts down its adoption events and Alabama Street headquarters, and founder Sherri Franklin is foster 12 dogs at her own home.

ABC 7 took its cameras to Franklin’s home for a segment on Wednesday, as Muttville is trying to get out the word about its adoptable dogs. As the organization writes on Facebook, “While so many are working from home, it’s a good time for a dog to get accustomed to you and your home, help save lives!” …


July 5 2019

'Cuddle Club' unites senior people and senior dogs in the sweetest way

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue’s innovative program is a win-win solution for people and animals who need companionship, exercise and affection.

The first time Vince Louie went with his local senior group to participate in an animal rescue organization’s “Cuddle Club,” he didn’t plan on adopting a dog. The event, hosted several times a month by San Francisco’s Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, gives senior people the chance to spend time petting and walking senior dogs aged 7 and up.

Louie, 75 at the time, met a 14-year-old Maltese mixed breed named Monte and it was love at first sight. Louie adopted Monte that very day.

“He’s pretty mellow, a go-along kind of guy,” Louie told TODAY. “He just seems in sync, so I was like, ‘Well, let’s have a go at it.’ It was time to have another family member.”

It turned out to be an important decision. Louie’s wife died three months later, and Monte offered countless snuggles while Louie coped with his grief.

Over a year later, the two are peas in a pod who go everywhere together. Monte, now 15 1/2, is a popular sight at fundraising events like running and bike races for the Chinatown YMCA, calmly “helping” Louie, now 76, volunteer from the comfort of a backpack.

While many people want to adopt puppies, Louie said senior dogs — who are typically less energetic and already housetrained — can make wonderful pets, particularly for older people. He’s grateful to Muttville for rescuing Monte and offering programs for seniors like the Cuddle Club.

“They do a great service,” he said.

Since its inception in 2007, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue has rescued and re-homed more than 6,600 older dogs. The nonprofit’s innovative programs like the Seniors for Seniors initiative, which waives adoption fees for people over age 62 and offers a free starter kit with pet supplies, have boosted success rates. …

Modern Dog

June 2019

The Magic of Muttville

How a senior dog rescue is changing the lives of senior dogs

It wasn’t Eileen Cremata’s first rodeo when she took in Pepe, the longhaired Chihuahua from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue six years ago. For the two previous decades, the Californian fostered about 150 dogs for a local rescue, specializing in litters of puppies.

Now a serial foster mom and adopter with Muttville, you could say she’s really gone to the other—much older—end of the spectrum.

“The first one we took in was totally blind. Most are hard of hearing,” Eileen says. “Buttercup had one eye missing. I’d not only have to get in front of her to get her attention because she wouldn’t see or hear me—but I’d have to get in front of the side where she had an eye.”

Eileen is now on her 11th pooch. After Pepe came Buttercup the terrier, Caroline the Miniature Schnauzer, Angie the Aussie Shepherd, Miss Abbie the longhaired Chihuahua, Figgy the 18-year-old miniature Poodle, Sweet Girl the Labrador cross, Maddie the Poodle, and Spritz and Marbles, both Chihuahuas.

Their personalities are as varied as their histories. Some were surrendered when their owners passed away, or simply didn’t want them anymore (Figgy was called “stupid” on his shelter intake form). Others, like three-and-a-half pound Marbles, was picked up as a stray.

Repeat fosters and adopters like Eileen are a huge blessing to the San Francisco-based rescue, who take in unwanted animals at risk of euthanization in busy shelters. As its dogs are fostered and adopted, the extra space is used to take in more pups.

“Fostering a dog can absolutely save another life,” says founder Sherri Franklin. “We’re foster based and we couldn’t save so many dogs if we didn’t have foster families and repeat adopters.”

The operation has grown in leaps and bounds since she started Muttville in her home in 2007. That year she rescued 27 dogs. In 2019, Muttville is on track to hit a whopping 1,000 adoptions—nearly three dogs a day. And in total, they’re close to 6,800. While most of the dogs used to be pulled from San Francisco-area shelters, the group now takes in aging and unwanted oldies from different parts of the state, as well as emergency evacuations regions during the recent Northern California wildfires and Hurricane Harvey. …

The Dodo

February 20 2019

Dying Man's Last Wish Is To Find A Home For His Beloved Dog

He’s his best friend – and he wants to make sure he’s always safe.

John simply cannot imagine his life without a dog by his side.

Even though John needs a wheelchair to get around these days, he knew he was still capable of giving a shelter dog a loving home.

So in 2017, he met Pawpaw at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in California. Pawpaw was 11 years old then, a senior just like John. They instantly bonded – and that’s how John and Pawpaw became a family.

The last couple of years have been full of love between John and Pawpaw.

This is the 13th dog John has lived with throughout the course of his life – and he couldn’t imagine a more perfect companion. Even though John suffers from ALS, a neurodegenerative disease, he has treasured every single day with Pawpaw.

But now John’s health has been declining more rapidly, so he has to plan for the future – and there’s nothing more important to John at this moment than finding his beloved Pawpaw a forever home for after he passes away.

“Pawpaw is his family and it’s bittersweet, knowing that John may leave us soon,” Sherri Franklin, founder of Muttville, told The Dodo. “I am honored to help Pawpaw find his new family.” …


August 16 2018

Sherri Franklin of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue: Helping Senior Dogs Get a Fresh Start

“Dogs are the gateway to teaching children and others compassion for animals.”

Since starting her nonprofit in 2007, Sherri Franklin, founder and CEO of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, sought to change the idea that older dogs in shelters were undesirable and unwanted, and has placed nearly 6,000 senior dogs in forever homes. Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk, MissionBox co-founder and CEO, talks to Sherri about taking a nonprofit from a vision to reality and what makes senior dogs so special to so many, and her hope that others will follow the Muttville model of success.

Nob Hill Gazette

February 2018

Cause & Effect: A New Leash on Life

It was in the late 1980s when Sherri Franklin, a longtime hair stylist, decided to start volunteering at animal shelters in San Francisco. Skittish at first, she worried about her potential reactions to the heart-wrenching sights of dogs in cages, in need of attention. Within months, though, she was hooked, soon putting in nearly 20 hours per week.

“I noticed that volunteers wouldn’t come in to walk the dogs on Christmas Day or the Fourth of July, so it became a cathartic way for me to deal with the holidays, which have never really been my thing anyway,” she says.

The hardest part of her experience was witnessing old dogs come into shelters happy and then slowly lose hope. “They would stop wagging their tails; dogs would get euthanized just because they were old,” she said. “That is what got me to go back every day.”

Compelled to help aging dogs, by the mid-‘90s Franklin started bringing them into her home, helping them get healthy and adopting them out to friends and some of her hairstyling clients. She did this for more than 10 years–putting up flyers at beaches and parks for senior dogs, building ramps in her home so they’d stay safe–all the while telling her community how much she’d love to one day launch a senior dog rescue.

In 2007, she decided to take the plunge and opened Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. Muttville rescued 27 dogs during its first year as a nonprofit and has only grown from there. The organization rescued 1,051 senior dogs in 2017 alone. …


September 6 2017

69 Animal Refugees From Houston Arrive in the Bay Area for Adoption

On Sunday night, a private plane touched down at Oakland International Airport. Traveling from Houston, the flight was sold out, its seats taken up by 54 dogs and 15 cats, all displaced from overwhelmed shelters in Southeast Texas.

In the week following Hurricane Harvey’s record-shattering rainfall, recovery efforts were carried out with a sense of dire urgency. Countless Houstonians were left with nothing but the shells of their former homes, now blanketed by thick films of clay silt. Savings accounts dwindled down to right-of-decimal-point sums; rent was, however, still due for many of the properties caught in Harvey’s path. In the ensuing turmoil, hundreds of dogs and cats, young and old, were left to fend for themselves in various Lone Star State shelters.

This week, 69 of those in-need animals found their way to the Bay Area.

Our own San Francisco SPCA joined forces with three other Bay Area local adoption agencies – Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, Mad Dog Rescue and Milo Foundation – to rescue dozens of dogs and cats. With transport kennels and leashes in tow, the quickly assembled rescue team boarded a private plane, graciously offered up by an affluent Sonoma county resident, and headed to Houston on a heroic expedition.

“What we can do is relieve those shelters that had all those dogs [prior to the storm] and now they can handle the homeless animals that are being rounded up daily,” said Sherri Franklin, founder and CEO of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, to SFGate. …

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