Like humans, animals too grow old and suffer from various health related problems. There are cases where owners leave their dogs’ side after seeing their condition worsen. And sometimes, animals outlive their owners and have no one who will look after them. In cases like these, dogs get moved to different homes or end up in shelters.
House With A Heart, a pet sanctuary that offers shelter to aging dogs with no family, is run by Sher Polvinale in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Sher along with her coworker, are taking care of more than twenty dogs and they try all that they can to ensure that these dogs feel at home.
“We have dogs come to live with us until the end of their life, and we make sure that the end of their life is full of love and caring [and] lots of attention, and [we] make sure they get all the medical care they need,” says Sher.
Most of the dogs in the sanctuary came from shelters or from owners who retired to nursing homes or passed away. The sanctuary makes sure that these dogs won’t be passed along to any shelter or a new owner who won’t be able to provide the necessary care. Although they might not be with their previous owners, they have found a new place that will care for them in their last years.
“This is the end,” Sher says, “but it’s a happy end.”
The medical costs of the dogs in the sanctuary are expensive, but they are covered by short-term care plans and donations from supporters.
House With a Heart even cares for dogs with walking impairments. They offer them room and equipment to play and exercise.
Spencer in the picture below will be making a quick recovery because of the wonderful care from the organization.
Sher gets up at six every morning and then begins feeding the dogs and giving them their medications. She looks after their needs until the end of the day.
Volunteers come later in the morning to play with the dogs. They also help in housekeeping and grooming.
Sher doesn’t usually leave the house because of her commitment to the dogs. She feels that the ultimate fulfillment is being able to spend her time with the dogs.
The vice president of the House With a Heart, Harriette Sackler, is in charge of transporting the dogs in cases of emergencies or visits to the vet.
“One of the duties that I like least is I am usually with the dogs when we say goodbye to them. We always want to be there with the pets, we never let them leave this world alone. They’re loved until the very last moment and beyond.”
To honor the dogs that passed away at the sanctuary, House With a Heart created a collection of photographs called “Stairway To Heaven.”
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