Sometimes, people cannot take care of their pets, eventually bringing them to a shelter or, horribly, leaving them on the streets. But when it comes to 13-year-old Reese, something else happened.
Her mom left her in a woman’s yard with a sad note attached. A note that begged her to take care of Reese.
Reese, The 13-Year-Old Dachshund Mix
Reese was a 13-year-old senior dog who liked nothing more than to love and cuddle with her human. Unfortunately, while that love was returned to Reese, her owner just didn’t have the time to care for her.
So, they did the only thing she could think of. They took Reese and dropped her off in a stranger’s yard with a note attached to her harness. Hopefully, this “new owner” would be able to give Reese a better life.
The Previous Owner Didn’t Have Time For Reese
It wasn’t that Reese’s previous owner didn’t want the Dachshund mix; it’s just that they didn’t have the time to take care of a senior dog. They didn’t think it was fair to keep Reese around when she had four young kids to take care of.
Not to mention, Reese wasn’t exactly fond of kids. All she wanted to do was lie around, get pets, and love her human — her fully grown human.
Reese Was Left In A Stranger’s Front Yard
Instead of bringing Reese to a shelter, her owner opted to do something a bit unconventional. They brought Reese to a stranger’s house and, without even knocking on the door, left her in the yard and drove away.
Thankfully, there was a note attached to Reese explaining to the stranger why there was a senior dog in their front yard. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be Reese’s last stop or her forever home.
The Note Explained Why Reese Was In The Yard
The note attached to Reese explained why she was in the front yard. It read, “To You:
My name is Reese. I am 13-years-old, and I do not like little kids. I love to chill. I hope whoever gets this [will], please take care of my dog. I love her so much, but I don’t have time for her. She likes soft food, and she likes real food, but I don’t give it to her cuz she throws up.”
The Stranger Couldn’t Leave Her In The Yard
But that wasn’t the end of the letter. The stranger continued reading: “She love all your time and love. I wish I didn’t have to do this, but I have four kids and no time for her.” The note was signed, “Thanks, her mommy.”
Thankfully, the stranger didn’t leave Reese in the yard. She brought the senior dog inside while she thought up her next move. The thing was, she couldn’t keep the dog either. She already had three.
Next Step: Find Reese A Home
It was sad that Reese was just left by her previous owner with nothing more than a note. But the stranger whose front lawn she wound up on couldn’t keep the senior dog either. They weren’t going to do the same thing as the dog’s previous owner, though.
The stranger was going to take steps to ensure Reese found a forever home that loved and adored her. It’s the least they could do.
Facebook Was The First Stop
Not really knowing where to start, the stranger went to Facebook, posting in a private group about their unusual circumstance. At the very least, they hoped someone could point them in the right direction. Then again, at the very best, maybe someone would want to take Reese in!
While they weren’t so lucky to have someone outright adopt the senior dog, someone did help. They tagged a local animal rescue shelter, Royal Animal Refuge.
Royal Animal Refuge Wasn’t Happy With The Situation
Royal Animal Refuge got in touch with the stranger right away, asking about Reese and the entire situation. The shelter’s director, Mariel Weigand, spoke to The Dodo regarding the senior dog’s abandonment, saying, “When we heard about it, obviously we were upset.”
“But at the same time, we thought, ‘Maybe they just didn’t know what to do or who to turn to.’” Now, all they wanted to do was help find Reese a home.
The Shelter Was Very Understanding
While the shelter wasn’t exactly pleased with the events that took place, they were very understanding. During an interview with The Dodo, shelter director Mariel Weigand said, “One of our animal control facilities does not take surrenders, so it makes it very hard when you can’t find a rescue, and you don’t have anywhere to go.”
The good news is Reese’s situation was about to take a turn for the absolute best.
A Veteran Foster Mom Was Happy To Take Reese In
Royal Animal Refuge has a great foster parent program, allowing people to take in dogs until they’re ready to be adopted. In Reese’s case, a veteran foster parent stepped up.
Robyn Klein was an older lady and agreed to take Reese into her home until the shelter found a more permanent situation for the senior dog. The thing is that a permanent situation was about to roll around faster than anyone could imagine.
Robyn Introduced Reese To Her Mother, Suzy
When Robyn took in Reese, she wound up introducing the senior dog to her mother, Suzy Reeves. It was pretty much love at first sight. Suzy just had a feeling there was something special about the dog, and she was ready for another companion.
During an interview with The Dodo, shelter director Weigand said, “[Klein’s] mom is an older lady … and she just recently lost her baby [dog] a few months ago, so she stepped up to foster.”
Suzy Fell In Love With Reese
The interview continued with Weigand saying, “Robyn said her mom is so in love with Reese already.” The original plan was to have Suzy foster Reese. It wasn’t going to be a permanent situation.
But the family soon fell in love with the 13-year-old Dachshund mix that they decided, “why not just adopt Reese and make her part of the family?” They wound up making the adoption official pretty quickly.
Reese Had Quite The Adventure
What a whirlwind of a month for Reese! First, she was left on the front lawn of a stranger’s house. Her original owner’s hope was for that stranger to take the 13-year-old dog into their family, treating her as their own.
When that didn’t work out, Reese found herself in the hands of the local rescue shelter. The poor senior dog was probably so confused! Thankfully, Suzy was ready to help out and make her life better.
Suzy And Reese Are Very Hppy Together
Suzy and Reese couldn’t be happier together. During an interview with The Dodo, Weigand spoke of the adoption and how great the ending was for both parties. She said, “She’s very happy to give her a home. She told me she’s going to be loved. And it’s a happy ending for Reese.”
A happy ending indeed! Reese came a long way, from being left on a stranger’s front lawn to being loved by an older woman.
Reese Found A Forever Home
Reese wasn’t the only one who was happy in the end. Suzy couldn’t have been more thrilled to bring the senior dog into the family, especially since she had recently lost a dog of her own.
The two both needed companionship and found it in each other. Reese was going to live out the rest of her days very well-loved and it couldn’t have made the rescue shelter any happier.
The Royal Animal Refuge Also Rescued Elsa
Reese wasn’t the only dog to be saved by Royal Animal Refuge. Elsa was also lucky enough to have their help finding a forever home, even if her story is a bit different than Reese’s.
Spotted on the streets, the lady who originally found Elsa wasn’t sure what to think. Actually, she did; she thought the poor animal was half bear, half dog! Elsa was just that big and scraggly.
Elsa Was Very Gentle
According to the lady who found Elsa, “she’s very, very gentle. And she has this thing where she keeps on giving you her paw. I think she knew we were trying to help her.”
Thankfully, Elsa hopped right into the nice lady’s car. They drove directly to the vet to get her checked out. It was very apparent that Elsa had a type of mite, as she was pretty much bald.
She Was Taken In As A Christmas Foster
Unfortunately, not many people wanted to adopt Elsa. She was just so big! About six months later, though, her fur had grown in, and people were beginning to take an interest in her.
Someone wanted to take her in as a Christmas foster, housing Elsa for two or three days over the holidays. But something happened during those days. The lady who fostered Elsa wasn’t ready to give her away!
They Weren’t Ready To Give Elsa Away
When the Royal Animal Refuge sent a family over to look at Elsa, the dog’s foster mom began to cry! She didn’t want Elsa to go to another family. Thankfully, the family said they weren’t able to take the dog.
This was good news for the foster parents because they weren’t about to let her go. She was the friendliest pooch, with both dogs and humans. There was no way they were about to give up the perfect dog.
Reese And Elsa Are Very Happy
The Royal Animal Refuge has helped more than one dog find its forever home, starting with the loving help of foster families. And, ironically, it seems like Reese and Elsa’s charm was even enough to win over their foster parents!
Both the senior dog and the former street dog found loving families to take them in and make them part of the family. It’s the perfect ending to what could have been a sad story.
Sherri Franklin Is An Animal Lover
Sherri Franklin’s home has always been a safe place for senior dogs in need of a foster parent. Being a long-time animal advocate and shelter volunteer, the decision to help older pooches was a no brainer. In an interview, Franklin discussed her love for older dogs that other people deem “unadoptable.”
She said, “I’ve always loved the ‘oldies’ and had a soft spot for the dogs that were considered unadoptable due to their age or behavioral issues. After a while, I realized that I could probably be doing more, so I started fostering these dogs and finding them permanent homes.”
Before Her Non-Profit, She Volunteered At Shelters
Ten years before Franklin thought up a business plan for a non-profit, she was an avid volunteer at the San Francisco SPCA. There, she saw a rotating door of older dogs coming in and out of the shelter but never leaving with a furever family. Senior dogs tend to be the first ones slated for euthanasia.
“I would see these dogs arrive at the shelter with so much hope and joy in their eyes, and watch as it slowly disappeared,” says Franklin. She knew there was more she could do for the senior dogs. But what could she possibly do?
A Beagle-Basset Mix Named Heidi Changed Her
While working at the SPCA, Franklin met a beagle-basset mix named Heidi, an elderly pooch who came to live at the shelter because their owner had passed away. Franklin became enamored with the animal, always playing and bringing her on walks.
But one day, when she went in for her shift, her furry friend was nowhere to be found. Franklin had to come to terms with the truth: no one had adopted Heidi, and she had been euthanized. Unfortunately, Heidi’s fate isn’t that uncommon for older shelter dogs, something that didn’t sit well with Franklin. She wanted to help the senior dog population.
Older Dogs Are Less Likely To Get Adopted
According to research, dogs that are seven or older are less likely to get adopted. And because of overcrowding in shelters, they’re more likely to be put on a euthanasia list. Being an animal lover, Franklin was not okay with her friend meeting that end; she had to do something.
“I am not one of those people that can just watch something and not do anything about it, so I knew I needed to get involved,” says Franklin. The problem was, what could she possibly do? But when there’s a will, there’s a way.
An Idea Started To Take Shape
After a lot of thinking and brainstorming, the beginning stages of what is now known as Muttville came to be! According to their website, the mission behind Muttville is to “give senior dogs a second chance at life.”
But it wasn’t easy to get to where the organization is today. Franklin’s idea was brand new, so she was starting entirely from scratch with no direction or non-profit background. How was she supposed to found and fund an organization? She had no clue where to start!
Everything Started Out Organically
With no previous non-profit experience, Franklin was playing it by ear. “I would look up adoption applications on the web and say ‘okay, let’s try out that type of form.’ The growth was always organic from the very beginning,” she says.
She also couldn’t run the entire operation on her own. She needed help. Starting with her friends, Franklin began to recruit volunteers for her senior dog vision. It didn’t take long for word to spread! Volunteers began organizing fundraisers, and even Girl Scouts were giving their cookie proceeds to Muttville.
2007: The First Year
The first year of Muttville was in 2007, and it was a trial by fire. The organization was being run out of Franklin’s home because there wasn’t enough money to rent space for a shelter. But she believed in her vision and business plan, so everything was bound to work out. Right?
With the help of her many volunteers, Franklin was able to rescue 27 senior dogs in the first year of the non-profit’s operation. The news was quickly spreading of Muttville and Franklin’s mission to save senior dogs, and the number of rescued and adopted dogs just kept growing!
She Had To Make Older Dogs Marketable
Franklin wasn’t sure how to market the older dogs, or if there was even a market for them! She went through a few different strategies, one being “let’s make senior dogs sexy.” Since other shelters weren’t doing much in terms of marketing the elderly animals, it was as good a place to start as any!
Franklin says their marketing mission grew from there. The goal was to make senior dogs look like the best dogs ever, focusing on how soulful and easy to care for they are. Franklin even went as far as to say, “they’re like putting on your favorite pair of slippers.”
She Started With A Few Different Marketing Strategies
After working out a few different strategies, Franklin soon realized that to attract different kinds of people, she was going to have to utilize different marketing ideas. Instead of talking about how old the dogs were and how it’s sad that they were brought to a shelter, Franklin decided to put out hopeful and positive stories about the rescues.
As social media wasn’t big at the time of Muttville’s creation, to get the stories out, Franklin and her partners decided to create a beautiful webpage. Now, however, sites such as Facebook and Instagram are very important for sharing stories and other news regarding the non-profit.
2010: Finding A New Space
After the first year of Muttville, Franklin began receiving hundreds of emails regarding senior dogs, asking her to take them in. By 2010, she had rescued nearly 600 elderly dogs, making her home in the Bay Area feel a bit smaller than it used to!
With the increase in furry residents, Franklin decided that it was time to relocate the operation to a proper building. The only issue was that the company is non-profit, and they didn’t have the funds to rent out space for a prolonged period of time.
Franklin Solicited Donations
As rent money for a new space was a concern, Franklin made a plan to solicit donations from the public. After all, the Bay Area was fully aware of her mission by that point, so she was sure some would be willing to help. She was right!
After posting out inspirational pictures and videos on social media, as well as sending out newsletters explaining Muttville’s mission, Franklin was able to raise $100,000 by 2012! With that money, Muttville signed a lease for vacant office space at the San Francisco SPCA adoption center, the place Franklin used to volunteer.
The Space Was Perfect!
The rented space is located on Alabama and 16th in San Francisco and was perfect for Franklin’s needs. The vacant building has a spacious layout, giving the rescues a great place to roam and play. “A shelter is generally not a happy place for a dog, so we have made ours more like a home,” says Franklin.
“Our facility is 4,000 square feet. It’s cage-free with dog beds, sofas, and ramps everywhere.” But her main goal is not to spoil the dogs but to get them to one of the 50 foster homes she works with, in hopes of finding an adopter.
Now That They Have A Space, What About Other Funding?
With all of the great causes out there, a big question Franklin is frequently asked is how Muttville is able to stay afloat. It is a non-profit, after all. The answer is simple: the money comes from fundraisers, private donors, and foundations. In 2015, Muttville was able to raise $675,000 from the Moolah for Mutts event that’s hosted once a year!
Even though that seems like a lot of money, Franklin says that it’s a constant challenge keeping up with funds. This is because more of the money goes to vet costs for the senior dogs for things such as microchipping, vaccines, and wellness exams.
They Find Ways To Save
The good news is that because the elderly dogs are so well taken care of at Muttville, all of the pets Franklin rescues move on to permanent housing! With an adoption fee of $200, it’s nice to know the non-profit’s funds will never go dry — there will always be dogs to rescue and adopt.
It also helps that the staff is made up of 250 volunteers who aren’t compensated in the traditional sense. What they get is even better, the knowledge that they are part of something that helps better the lives of innocent animals.
Seniors For Seniors!
One Muttville program that has become increasingly popular is Seniors for Seniors, an initiative that has senior humans coming in to adopt a senior dog free of charge. Franklin says that many families will bring in their older family members in hopes of finding them a furry companion.
The families are even able to sit down with an adoption counselor, so they find the perfect senior dog! Franklin says, “A lot of our older dogs have come to us from senior owners, so they’re used to a lap and a mellow life. We do a lot of matchmaking.”
Franklin Has Learned A Lot
In an interview with Driven for Women, Franklin said that the biggest thing she learned while starting a non-profit was to “pick your board wisely, not just your friends!” Starting an organization such as Muttville requires a tremendous amount of teamwork, so you need to hire the right people. If they happen to be your friends, great, if not, find someone else.
Also, she’s learned how to ask for help when she is unable to do something. Franklin admitted that “being able to step away and say ‘no, I don’t know everything, I don’t know how to keep my books or write a budget,’ is huge!”
Franklin Is Thinking About Next Steps
Muttville has grown substantially since its creation in 2007, now having a building and various programs for the senior dogs. One such program is “fospice,” hospice for foster dogs. Franklin’s plans for the future include creating a manual for other shelters that want to start a similar program for their rescues.
The non-profit is also looking into hosting a conference. They want to create a space that allows rescue workers and volunteers to share their stories about what their shelters are doing. Since “adopt, don’t shop” is becoming increasingly popular, Franklin wants to bring people together to discuss trends in rescue shelters in hopes of bettering the adoption process.
Neuter, Spay, And Educate
When asked what the most impactful way a person can help dogs, Franklin’s answer is simple: neuter and spay! It’s important because the homeless dog population is a real issue, so making sure your pet is taken care of is a big help.
Another way to help is through education. Franklin says that if a parent teaches their children at a young age that a pet is a lifelong commitment and not just a Christmas gift for one day, then more dogs will have happy lives.
The Future Looks Bright
Franklin’s hope for the coming years if to find the non-profit a furever home. The space they are renting now is becoming too cramped because of all of the senior dogs Muttville has been able to rescue. Franklin believes that if they had their own space all of their programs with senior citizens, “fospice,” and humane education would be able to grow.
Franklin says, “We could do so much more of everything if we had our own home. That’s my big goal before I leave Muttville.” There’s no telling what Muttville would be able to accomplish with a larger space!
Franklin Wants To Share MuttVille’s Blueprint
The second mission Franklin hopes to achieve in the coming years is to share Muttville’s blueprint with other shelters. After various trials and errors, Franklin and her team have found a blueprint that works for their senior dog rescue non-profit. Her hope is that the formula will work for other shelters looking to revamp how they go about getting their older pets adopted.
In an interview, Franklin said, “there are people that have come to us, from as far away as New York, to follow our blueprint and start their own senior animal rescue or add seniors to their other programs.” Here’s hoping other shelters adopt Franklin’s plan!