House With a Heart, an animal sanctuary in Gaithersburg, Maryland, gives aging pets a happy home for their final years. Housing exclusively senior animals, the nonprofit rescues senior cats and dogs that have been given up by their families, and makes sure they are safe and loved, day and night. Sher Polvinale and her colleagues oversee the daily care of more than twenty dogs, and spare no expense when it comes to making sure the dogs are happy and healthy.
“We have dogs come to live with us until the end of their life,” says Sher, “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.”
House with a Heart has an army of 50 volunteers helping Sher run the large, two-acre property filled with various enclosures for the animals. Doggie doors at all major entrances allow the animals freedom that many family pets do not have.
The resident dogs come from all walks of life—many of them come from shelters or from owners who have retired to nursing homes or passed away. At the sanctuary, the dogs are ensured that they won’t be passed along to a shelter or to a new owner who can’t provide the appropriate care the dogs need. They may have lost their previous families, but they find a new one at House With a Heart with whom they can live out their last few years with.
Harriette Sackler, the vice president of House With a Heart, is in charge of transporting the dogs in the case 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,” says Harriette. “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 commemorate resident dogs who have passed away, House With a Heart created the Stairway to Heaven, a collection of photographs of each dog who lived out their last days at the sanctuary.
Want to help? Donate to HWAH, or buy something on their wish list.
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