December 18, 2 018
High on the list of things that “shouldn’t happen to a dog” is being abandoned in old age, or being given up when an elderly owner is too infirm to continue providing a much-loved pet with the care it deserves.
Now Kristen and Marc Peralta, a couple who live in Rhode Island, are welcoming dogs in their golden age to live at Vintage Pet Rescue—a nonprofit that takes in elderly pooches from local shelters when they are unlikely to find a new home.
“We are committed to rescuing vintage [senior] pets from shelters and assisting owners who can no longer care for [them]. We give these animals love, attention, and medical care for the last months or years of their lives,” the Peraltas say on their website.
The two activists met at an animal shelter in Los Angeles in 2013, and discovered their shared love for senior dogs. After they got married and moved to the East Coast, they began rescuing dogs over the age of eight and bringing them to their spacious home, an old church in Foster, Rhode Island.
In 2017, Kristen turned the labor of love into a full-time gig, according to a December 17 report by the Huffington Post—and today, she oversees the care of 27 mostly senior dogs.
“It breaks our heart to see senior dogs in shelters,” she told the online news outlet. “They’re just frail; they’re probably scared; [and] a lot of them have vision or hearing issues. Just seeing them, you just want to help.”
This was the heartbreaking scenario for four older Chihuahuas who lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a woman named Linda, until her Stage 4 lung cancer, prevented her from keeping them, People first reported. Linda needed to move into her sister’s home in Rhode Island to receive care, as well as chemotherapy treatment, but the dogs couldn’t come.
Linda and her sister searched for a rescue that wouldn’t euthanize or separate the four pups, and they came across Vintage Pet Rescue. The Peraltas welcomed the chihuahua pack, and Linda is able to visit them often, as her sister lives just a few miles away.l
“I started out visiting the dogs every other day which was wonderful,” Linda told People. “[Kristin] accommodated me with my schedule and the dogs there are all happy, loved, and taken care of better than I can do myself.”
When she first started Vintage Pet Rescue, Peralta didn’t anticipate caring for animals whose owners needed care themselves, but she said she receives many requests for situations like this.
“We really wanted to be able to provide the dogs with an environment where they’ll be comfortable, living in a home cage-free,” she told the Huffington Post. “It then kind of expanded into helping people who could no longer care for their senior dogs—whether they were going into a retirement home or someone’s relative passed away. It’s not what we set out to do but it’s really nice. The owners can still be a part of their dogs’ lives.”
A life spent waiting on two dozen older dogs can be hectic, she told the news outlet. Peralta schedules vet appointments at least once a week, doles out individual medications and does a lot of bathing and petting. “Throw some social media and fundraising in there, and it’s busy,” Peralta said.
But the work is rewarding, and she thinks it’s helping to show more and more people just how special senior dogs are. “They all have such distinct personalities — every one of them is such a character,” she told HuffPost.
“You can just tell how much they appreciate you,” Peralta commented. “They’re thankful that they’re with you and you love them. It’s so special to know that you saved a dog’s life and that it’s going to have a happy rest of life because of you.”
Research contact: @Kbratskeir