by Lee Juslin
Since the inception of Silver Muzzle Cottage in 2015, it has taken in seventy-eight dogs who had no place to go.
“Too many people give up on old dogs, but with proper care these seniors often have years left and a lot of love to give” said Kim, owner and manager of Silver Muzzle Cottage in Michigan. Because shelters are often crowded and dead ends for older dogs, some people would rather euthanize their elderly dogs than take them to a shelter. At the cottage, which is a renovated former tool and dye shop, fifty percent of their intakes come from area shelters and fifty percent are turned in by owners. Of the seventy-eight they have taken in, only seven were so ill they had to be euthanized almost immediately. In addition, two taken from a hoarding situation lasted only an hour at the cottage.
When dogs come in from a shelter, they are housed in a quarantine section until they have been vetted. All the dogs are evaluated and when possible, some are put up for adoption and some work in the community activities the cottage sponsors like their “Seniors for Seniors” program. Kim and volunteers take these dogs to visit elderly residents in nursing homes, an activity close to my heart.
There are two other buildings on the cottage’s land including a boarding kennel and living quarters for Kim. As the only full time staff member, Kim is at the cottage 24/7 to take care of dogs with illnesses, like diabetes, that might need medication or care during the night. However, there is a roster of volunteers, including students from area schools, fulfilling community service requirements to help with the day to day requirements.
The cottage is a 501c3 non profit that depends on volunteers and donations. They always take a loss on turn-ins because older dogs often need a lot of vetting, special care, even socializing as some of these dogs have had no human interaction. They do charge a $75.00 turn-in fee and a $150.00 adoption fee. However, some turns-ins are owners giving up their dogs due to lack of funds, so sometimes Kim will waive all or part of the fee. Recently, the Cottage’s profile was raised due to a story in an area newspaper so, to meet the increased need, the cottage is having its first fund raising auction in July on Facebook, their only advertising venue.
Kim says that while she has a kennel license, she is not a shelter, and she personally adopts all the dogs she takes in, many of which are deemed to have only three years or less of life. The Cottage works with area vets who, Kim says, have been very supportive, as well as with rescue organizations. “When we have a dog that is adoptable, we do home evaluations, get vet references and do follow-up evaluations with the help of area rescue groups. Currently we have five dogs up for adoption.”
Check out more animal rescue & therapy animal stories in our Pets section.