Happy Tails

Senior Rescue: Milo and Shep’s Story

Shep's Glamour Shot

While United Hope for Animals volunteers fall in love many times over with the adorable, affectionate, and comical sheltered dogs we work with on our Glamour Shot Days, each event brings one story that especially touches the hearts of volunteers.

On our May 26th event at the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center, UHA volunteers met Milo and Shep, 13-year-old Lab brothers who had been surrendered by their former owner because they were too old.

UHA volunteer Jana describes meeting Milo and Shep: “When my fellow volunteer and I entered the kennel to take them out, we were deeply saddened. When they tried to stand, they would slip [due to arthritis] and it took about four of us to get them out.”

In spite of their difficulty walking, the brothers exuded sweetness and affection and mustered the strength to walk over to be photographed. Not deterred by the sadness of the situation, Jana set to work the next day with the help of the gentle brothers’ Glamour Shots and video to find a loving place for them to land.

Milo and Shep have beaten the odds faced by most senior pets surrendered to shelters, and have found a foster home with Labradors and Friends in San Diego, where they are being showered with love and cheese burgers.

Milo's Glamour Shot

Jana spoke with Milo and Shep’s foster parents this week and reports, “Milo and Shep are both very old and not in the best shape, so we are not sure how long they are for this world. But be assured that they will be loved until it is time for them to go and in that moment there will be someone to hold and comfort them.”

Advocacy for homeless senior pets is never easy. In addition to being emotionally difficult, rescuing senior pets brings the challenges of higher medical costs and concerns that older pets may not be adoptable.

 “While these are valid concerns,” Jana says, “I have come to believe that rescuing senior and ill dogs, no matter how close to the end they are, is one of the most important things we can do. We don’t know what their lives were before the shelter. Hopefully they had love, but if not and they perish at the shelter then it is a total loss. If we are able to rescue these animals and give them love, if even for a day, it is well worth it.”


Hope For Shelter Seniors: Polly’s Story

By Anna V. Garrison

Polly goes camping with her new family

Polly (far right) goes camping with her new family.

It’s a sad fact, but it’s true: senior dogs at animal shelters don’t have a chance for adoption equal to that of  puppies and purebreds. It isn’t that these sweethearts lack personality or kindness; they’ve already had years of human experience and training, making for impressive resumes. However, many adopters, favoring puppies and young dogs, miss out on a great and unique adoption experience due to a dog’s age.

Polly, a 10-year-old, twelve pound Beagle-Chihuahua mix faced this problem when her owners discarded her at the Baldwin Park shelter, the same shelter she had been adopted from as a puppy. Despite this experience, Polly had nothing but love to share with the volunteers who worked with her at a United Hope for Animals Glamour Shot Day at the shelter on May 14th. Even the small tumor on her upper arm failed to douse her spirits.

In the couple of weeks following the Glamour Shot Day, volunteers and animal advocates fiercely networked Polly, along with her fellow shelter seniors. It was at that time that Kathy Blank, a resident of Sacramento, California, asked through the Baldwin Park Shelter Facebook page if there was any way that someone could bring Polly up north. She was interested in adopting her, and after a UHA Adoption Coordinator spoke at length with her, it was clear that Kathy and Polly belonged together. It just so happened that I had already planned a two-week vacation in Sacramento come the day after my college graduation on June 13th. It was too perfect to be luck – the great big dog in the sky was looking out for little Polly!

Almost two and a half weeks after Polly’s Glamour Shot, and literally the last day the shelter could keep her, I took a quick trip to Baldwin Park to assist in her jailbreak. Needless to say, Polly was grateful for the escape – she wouldn’t sit still long enough in my car for me to take a decent picture!

Polly with her new canine family members

Polly enjoying the some fresh air with her friends.

Polly spent the next two weeks settling down in my home as a temporary foster. She had my own two pups for company, but she seemed to prefer people best, proof that her species knows what unconditional love really means. It didn’t take long for my family to fall in love with this gentle senior dog, and they were sorry to see her leave.

In the early morning hours of June 13th, Polly accompanied me and my father on the 7 hour drive to our state capital. At first a little concerned at such a long car ride, Polly soon relaxed and firmly set her tiny body between driver and passenger in the front seat for much of the ride.  

Polly tackles the Continental Divide

Polly and friends visit the Continental Divide.

Come the end of our trip, Polly was glad to emerge from the car and bound into the arms of her new forever owner! Of course, there was some adjustment time needed as Polly had to accept two new siblings into the deal, but it didn’t take very long for this senior girl to act as though she had always made berth in sunny Sacramento.

But why should you believe me? Take a look at these pictures of Polly’s adventures with her new family and tell me that Polly hasn’t found a place better than heaven!


Call me a sentimental old fool but I was sitting watching an old (1998) music video from Faith Hill ‘Let me let go’ on TV and was thinking about past loves lost when Sarah jumped into my lap and I felt the total comfort of pure uncomplicated love for this little beautiful animal. I don’t know how you could have let her go after being with her for some two months. She is a treasure, so close to my heart; I am inspired by her gracing my life and my space. Thank you for bringing her to me.

John Mapleback

(Pictured Right: John’s other dog Buddy who is 15 years old.)

John writes:
“Sarah and Buddy (“puppy”) play constantly. They wear each other out. They are both eating lots of food and sleeping well. Sarah is so vocal she is quite funny; she makes all kinds of little squeaks and noises, both awake and asleep. She is a total delight and we all love her arrival in our home”.

Sarah, her brother and sister were abandon behind a dumpster in Tecate Mexio when they were only 4 weeks old. Gabriele, Sarah’s sister is happy and also living in a loving home; sadly the boy was not strong enough to survive.

How Belle Got a Hollywood Home

United Hope for Animals was called upon to ask if we could get a few of our rescues ready for their big break. One of our volunteers and one of the founders of our group, Laura Sandoval, along with her daughter Angie, packed up the United Hope for Animals van with dogs that fit Cesar’s description of those that might work for Virginia. Laura, Virginia, Jack (and let’s not forget Spike) were guided by Cesar in evaluating the dogs and making the best choice for energetic Jack and still peppy, but aging Spike. In the end, Belle won their hearts and a found herself in a new, loving home. Of course it didn’t hurt that Belle, the little Chihuahua mix, was sweet as pie and cute as can be.

But where did Belle come from . . .

Many of our friends who watched the show about Belle have asked, “Where did you find Belle? Where did Belle come from?”

During the summer of 2006 Belle was alone and unwanted, at the perrera (pound) in Tijuana. Belle was just hours away from being euthanized via electrocution, when Laura and Mary Ann Foster (another dedicated UHAvolunteer) swooped her up and decided that she was one of the lucky ones that we could rescue. The sad fact is that we can only rescue a small percentage of the dogs on death row at the perrera, but the good news is that now dogs are NOT euthanized via electrocution. In August of last year, after years of effort and fundraising, we were able to initiate our program to stop the electrocutions at the perrera in TJ. With the support of our friends like Cesar, and YOU we can continue our work at the perrera and prevent the needless suffering of beautiful dogs like Belle..