Great need for senior dog foster homes

Great need for senior dog foster homes

Kristen Peralta, of Vintage Pet Rescue, sits outside with several of her senior rescue dogs. Peralta said there is a great need for adopting senior dogs and giving them a place to live out their golden years.

FOSTER – Senior dogs are at the highest risk of being euthanized at animal shelters nationwide, but Kristen Peralta, of Vintage Pet Rescue in Foster, says older dogs still have a lot of love to give.

This week, Nov. 4-10, Vintage Pet Rescue is teaming up with Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary of California in the first Saving Senior Dogs Week in a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of senior dogs in shelters.

Peralta and her husband Marc began Vintage Pet Rescue two years ago in North Kingstown after fostering a senior dog while living in California. Peralta said the dog was given a few months to live and stayed with them for more than a year before she died.

“We completely fell in love with her and took another on from there in her memory,” Peralta said.

A year later, after a move out east, the Lincoln native said the couple is caring for 35 senior or hospice dogs in their Foster home, which happens to be a large refurbished church. While 35 dogs is the most the rescue has had, Peralta said there is usually an average of 30 dogs in their home.

“There’s a lot of need out there for people to take in senior dogs. We get a lot of requests out there,” Peralta said. Peralta spoke with The Valley Breeze & Observer while driving from Foster to the Cranston Animal Shelter to meet and possibly adopt a terminally ill dog. Vintage Pet Rescue takes in dogs age 10 years old and up. She said she considers her rescue a hospice for the elderly and sick, who are welcome to live at her home until they die.

Most of her charges are Chihuahuas around 15 years old, she said. All of the dogs live in the home, with supervised outdoor time in the open back yard.

As a nonprofit, Peralta says Vintage Pets gets by on donations and with the help of dedicated volunteers who help care for, clean up after, and walk the dogs.

Vintage Pet Rescue is one of approximately 40 animal rescues dedicated to rehabilitating and rehoming senior dogs out of the more than 14,000 animal rescue organizations nationwide, according to Lily’s Legacy.

“The main goal of our rescue is to spread the word about senior dogs and how loving they can be,” Peralta said.

Clara Franco, of Lily’s Legacy, said the goal of Saving Senior Dogs Week is to spread the word about the need for adopting senior dogs, and to share about the love senior dogs can give.

“Give a dog a second or third chance,” Franco said.

She said senior dogs are not as rambunctious as puppies and are suitable for young families who do not have the time to train or exercise a youthful pup. Another benefit of adopting senior dogs is that the animals can teach children how to be respectful and care for the elderly, Franco said.

“There are so many benefits. It’s unreal,” Franco said.

Bottom line, Franco said is to not fear adopting a senior dog because “they’re going to love you back tenfold.”

“You’re giving them a good golden year every good boy or girl deserves,” she said.

Mostly a hospice center, Peralta said Vintage sometimes fosters out elderly dogs that will be better suited for a single-dog home.

But, she said not all dogs are ill. Sometimes, it’s the owners who need to enter a senior living center or become sick and can no longer care for their pets.

“A lot of dogs we have come from owners who either pass away or go into nursing homes. A lot of times, we make them the promise that we’ll keep the dog and make sure they’re happy and loved,” Peralta said.

She said Vintage recently took in a dog from a woman diagnosed with stage 4 cancer who knew she would die before the dog. Peralta promised the woman her dog would have a home with her.

“It was a relief to know someone would be there to take care of the dog,” Peralta said.

Peralta said she wishes every state could have a senior dog rescue due to the “huge need out there.” Older dogs are hard to adopt out, though she said older dogs tend to be more grateful to have a caring home.

“I would say yes, I think older and senior dogs really appreciate having a home and being loved,” she said.

Sick dogs with a short life expectancy are difficult to adopt out, she said, and often shelters don’t want to put that burden on potential adopters.

“It’s a lot to ask from a person,” Peralta said.

For her and her husband, who she met while he ran a shelter in California, rescuing senior dogs is a full-time, unpaid job.

“It’s what I do all day. I take care of the dogs and make sure they’re happy, safe and eating,” she said.

She said the rescue runs 100 percent on donations, which cover food, veterinary bills and cleaning supplies.

To donate to Saving Senior Dogs Week, visit www.lilyslegacy.org or call 707-787-7010.

Nino, a rescue senior is enjoying his life in retirement at Vintage Pet Rescue in Foster.