Muttville may be for the dogs, but if humans associated with the nonprofit group had tails, they'd be wagging while talking about the organization devoted to saving elderly canines.
Since its inception in 2007, Muttville has placed more than 1000 senior dogs, many with elderly people, according to founder Sherri Franklin, a San Francisco hairstylist in her spare time.
Muttville, headquartered in Franklin's home, rescues dogs from shelters all over California. "We are the phone call or email of last resort for many of these dogs," Franklin said. "We are called because regularly dogs that are over the age of 7 are not considered adoptable, because of their age, and are often euthanized. That is why I started this," she said.
Franklin's inspiration to start Muttville took root when she was volunteering at the San Francisco SPCA. "I was watching senior dogs get passed over for adoption ... I became fairly obsessed and started taking dogs home, one at a time, and finding them homes," she said.
Franklin's devotion to "man's best friend" also landed her a seat on the San Francisco Animal Control and Welfare Commission from 2001 to 2007. While there she coauthored - and received a commendation for - a bill called the "backyard dog ordinance," which set minimum standards for dogs being left in yards.
In the next few weeks Franklin will be receiving a 2012 VW Beetle from Oprah Winfrey who recognized Muttville on one of her shows. Winfrey also sent Franklin home with an iPad, diamond earrings, a Coach bag, and all sorts of things, she said. But go figure: She auctioned the items off online and used the proceeds for Muttville.
"I do hair three days a week and I do this, seven days a week. Even between clients I am on the computer saving lives. I told a client recently, ‘I just saved a life while you had your hair color on,'" Franklin said.
It could have been Windsor resident Emily Pottruck, who has been a client of Franklin's for 16 years, and was a founding donor of Muttville.
"I will always have Muttville dogs," Pottruck said on a recent Monday morning, a Yorkie tucked under one arm, a Pomeranian under the other.
Pottruck, who treats her animal babies like a doting mother treats her child, is one of Muttville's biggest supporters, both financially and emotionally. Which comes as no surprise considering Pottruck, the author of "Tail of Devotion," several years ago donated all of the proceeds from her book - or $260,000 - to over 70 animal rescue organizations in 22 states and two countries.
"I met a gazillion people in the animal welfare world which is the best thing that ever happened to me," Pottruck said. "I look up to Sherri's organization and the myriad of volunteers and foster families who are deeply committed to the mission of Muttville."
At a Muttville fundraiser in July, Pottruck in a speech - an inspirational, touching story in itself - said: "If there was ever an organization that combined time, effort, compassion, volunteerism with swimming upstream and being a game changer, Muttville would be it."
After giving credit to the small grassroots organization, Pottruck likely struck a chord with her audience when she said: "These dogs are the ultimate survivors. They are more resilient than most people I know. When I talk about Muttville, which I do constantly, the response is always the same; ‘When I am old, I hope someone takes care of me the same way that Muttville takes care of their charges.' And maybe that is one of the answers as to what motivates us; the desire and hope that given enough unconditional love out there, we too will be taken care of at the end of our life this go around."
Old dogs are the only dogs now for Sebastopol resident Donna Turrentine. "Like Sherri, I have my calling, too. I will have older dogs and I will give them a good ending," said Turrentine, who heard about Muttville on a late night radio show a couple years ago and a week later, had her "first" Muttville dog, Teddy, a blind Pomeranian mix.
Why senior dogs?
"I have been a dog lover for quite a long time - 45 years. I am 68 now and I was thinking about starting with another puppy but I didn't want to get a dog that might live longer than I would," she said, noting she considered getting a grown dog that was 5 or 6 years-old, but then she heard about Muttville's senior dogs.
"I chose Teddy 'cause quite frankly he was this little ugly old dog that I thought might not be chosen. I thought I'll take the ugliest dog in the group. He was old, deaf and blind and toothless, and his tongue hung out on the side of his mouth. I thought I will give him a happy ending," Turrentine said. And she did. Teddy died of old age a year and three months after she took him in. Turrentine currently has four Muttville dogs living in her home.
Muttville has around 70 available dogs, at any given time, waiting for homes. To adopt, donate funds, volunteer, or for more information visit www.muttville.org.