In a city as big as Phoenix, the population of dogs and cats that need good homes is at an all-time high, with some shelters re-homing more than 4,000 dogs and cats at any given time.
While so many people may feel drawn to buying purebred puppies from established breeders, the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” motto has gained traction in the Valley, with more prospective dog owners choosing to head to their local shelter to find their new best friend.
It’s easy to fall for adorable little puppies, but older dogs need forever homes too. That’s the focus of Two Pups Wellness Fund. This local organization, founded by Arcadia resident Nancy Silver, supports animal shelters and rescues and it has started a new program called Grown Pups for Grown Ups.
This initiative will shine a light on dogs five years and older while addressing in advance the barriers and concerns that may prevent their adoption. After all, senior dogs can offer just as much love, cuddles and companionship as puppies.
“Two Pups was established as a vital community resource to provide financial assistance, working directly with our local shelters and rescues for animals that are injured, neglected, abused and/or abandoned and need life-saving care,” Silver said.
Silver and her team are on a mission to recognize the resources that local animal shelters need the most, including medical care, behavioral training and basic human kindness and attention.
“You’d be surprised to learn how frequently pet owners will turn in their dogs or cats because they can no longer care for them or afford the medical care their animals need,” Director of Operations Bip Haley said.
Roadblocks including dogs’ age, potential health problems and current behavior are communicated openly and honestly through Grown Pups for Grown Ups, with the hopes of encouraging more people to take a closer look at older dogs that need a safe place to live out their years.
“I knew families facing tough decisions and the shelters and rescues were not equipped to financially provide medical assistance that is needed in some cases,” Silver said. “If we can help get a case of heartworm under control, get repairs to broken bones and provide medications needed, we know these animals have a better chance of being adopted.”
This is particularly true for animals older in age, as any persistent injuries or illnesses will often make would-be adopters look elsewhere. With the high numbers of dogs and cats that are abandoned and surrendered, shelters and rescue centers are simply running out of space.
“We have seen a steady increase of senior dogs and cats entering the shelter system. These animals are confused and scared; you can see it in their eyes and body language and they are often overlooked for the younger animals,” Silver said. “When we realized this, we knew we needed to do something to help and our Grown Pups for Grown Ups program was born.”
The program provides paid adoption fees, blood tests to rule out significant disease prior to adoption, treatments for diseases that are discovered, expert behavioral training and promotional events and materials. Plus, Maricopa County Care and Control houses the Grown Pups in newly refurbished rooms, which make it easier for potential adopters to see and interact with the animals.
By helping others understand the benefits of adopting a senior dog, they are hopeful they can get abandoned pups into homes where they can feel safe and secure.
One of the biggest tasks on the to-do list is sharing the truth to battle misconceptions of adopting older dogs.
“People think that these dogs are at the end of their life. This is so far from true. I have a 6-year-old that hikes and has more energy than some 3-year-olds,” Haley said. “They also assume they will have behavioral issues. Most of the older dogs are calmer than a younger dog and they are usually house trained.”
“They make such great additions to a family and they really are so grateful and just want to please us.”
Pups in the park
Two Pups Wellness Fund will be hosting the 2nd Annual Booze and a Band for the Bow Wows and Meows on Saturday, May 18. This “Pups in the Park” party will take place at the Arizona Science Center and will include live entertainment, dinner/drinks and dancing. Proceeds will support Two Pups Wellness Fund.
For more: twopups.org.