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Senior Paws Sanctuary a lifeline for older dogs

By Staff | Jul 12, 2018

A nonprofit organization that began three years ago has provided a helping hand with finding senior dogs a forever home.

Senior Paws Sanctuary, Inc. founder and Lehigh resident Debbie Goldsberry said she started the rescue in 2015. To date, 160 adoptions have been completed.

“Our goal at that time was to do three, or four dogs at a time, all senior dogs, and find them homes,” she said. “Once we found them homes we would move on to the next three or four dogs.”

That plan quickly changed when they found themselves with 26 dogs.

Once the dog enters the Senior Paws Sanctuary they are placed in a foster home and receive vet care, nutrition and any surgeries, or medications needed. Once a vetenarian releases them, they become adoptable.

“The rescue provides everything for them,” Goldsberry said of the foster parent.

Senior Paws Sanctuary currently has 22 dogs, six of which will never be put out for adoptions because of various health issues.

One of the dogs up for adoption is April, a 3-year-old terrier mix. This particular female came to Senior Paws Sanctuary after it was rescued from a cruelty case that left her in a wheel cart.

“She is a normal dog in her mind. You put her in her cart and you better be willing to run. She is healthy,” Goldsberry said.

Although she is healthy, April has to wear a diaper due to blunt force trauma to her spine. The trauma broke her spine in half which had healed incorrectly.

“The nerves are gone. She is sometimes unable to control her body functions,” she explained.

Goldsberry said April just keeps going and does not give up. She loves toys and playing with other dogs.

Another example of one of Senior Paws Sanctuary recent rescues occurred approximately six weeks ago when they got a call from Tampa of a dog, Benny, being confiscated due to animal cruelty. The two other dogs in the home had died.

The dog had been starved to death and arrived to them totally emancipated, Goldsberry said.

“He had diabetes. His blood sugar was over 600. That’s a coma state for most dogs in that condition,” she said.

Thankfully, under Goldsberry’s care, the dog is doing better and has gained a pound and a half.

“That’s tremendous. His body didn’t know how to process food and water anymore,” she said.

Although he is making gains, it is unsure if Benny will ever get into a home due to the insulin and other round the clock care he will need. Goldsberry said she is fostering him until he gets out of medical crisis.

“It’s been a long month . . . constant blood readings, vet trips. We are still hitting blood sugars up to 500,” Goldsberry said. “He is literally a rack of bones with skin over it.”

With that said the dog’s personality is “perfect.”

“We actually took him out in public for a short while. He wanted to kiss everyone he saw,” she said.

Most of the animals they receive come from Lee County Domestic Animal Services. They call, or send her an email with a list of dogs that are in need of homes.

“We try to stay with the senior group. The group that wasn’t being taken out of the shelters,” Goldsberry said of dogs 8 years old and older. “Senior dogs are perfect for senior people.”

One of the dogs taken from Lee County Domestic Animal Services was Morgan, an at-the-time 18-year-old long-haired dachshund.

“We still have him,” she said of Morgan who is now 20 years old. “He’s slowing down a lot.”

Those who are interested in meeting the senior dogs or adopting them can do so every Sunday at Petco, located at the Forum, from noon to 3 p.m.

“We bring as many dogs as we can and people can meet them there,” Goldsberry said.

Depending on the medical attention the dog has received, the adoption fees range from $75 to $250. Many times, she said they will receive sponsors that help with medical care for the animals, which keeps the adoption fees down.

Those who would like to sponsor a dog can do so at seniorpawssanctuary.com

“We have people that say I cannot bring a dog into our home and they donate $10 a month, (which) covers a heartworm tablet for one dog per month,” she said.

With Senior Paws Sanctuary being a nonprofit organization, Goldsberry receives help from approximately 10 to 12 volunteers who foster, offer medical care sponsorships and retrieve dogs from the shelters.

“It’s a group of people doing it,” Goldsberry said, adding that they are always looking for more volunteers.

For more information, call (239) 470-7022, email seniorpsanctuary@aol.com, or visit seniorpawssanctuary.com.