Thanks to the Mr. Mo Project, old shelter dogs are given the chance to spend their last years in loving foster homes. With the program financially covering food and medical bills, all foster families have to do is open their doors and hearts to an old dog in need.
Indeed, with many adopters put off by the cost of rehoming an elderly dog, the Mr. Mo Project gives senior pups the chance to find a permanent home without the fosters having to worry about the dog costing more than they can afford.
To date, the non-profit has helped more than 70 dogs live out their senior years in permanent homes. Most of these dogs are elderly and sometimes ill and come from various shelters and animal rescues across the United States — places from which they are unlikely to be adopted because of their advanced age and thus where they face a high risk of euthanasia. The program thus saves them from either spending their last years in a shelter or being destroyed for lack of space.
It All Began With One Inspirational Elder-Bull
The Mr. Mo Project was started over a year ago by Mariesa and Chris Hughes and owes its name to the first senior dog the couple rescued, Moses the Pit Bull, whom they adopted in 2012. Unfortunately, Moses was subsequently diagnosed with a severe and inoperable tumor on his spinal cord and passed away two years later. The Hughes decided to honor their late pet by helping other elderly dogs be placed into loving homes.
Having faced the cost of caring for an elderly dog first-hand, they realized why most adopters are deterred from the prospect of taking home a shelter senior. They recognized that many families who would otherwise be thrilled to provide a loving home to an older pet were often unable to meet the medical cost of caring for one with health issues.
With this in mind, Mariesa and Chris decided to start an organization that would fundraise to cover senior pets’ medical bills, while placing them in permanent foster homes.
“The Mr. Mo Project aims to give these senior dogs a chance to have a life again and a home” they say in a video detailing how their project started.
“Removing that financial hurdle allows care and compassion to take center stage,” explains Mariesa. “Plus, if we’re able to help a senior dog remain in a familiar home environment before an owner resorts to surrender, all the better. We keep yet another dog out of a shelter system that’s already overflowing.”
A True Dedication to Dogs in Need
When alerted by a shelter volunteer or staff member of homeless seniors in need, the Hughes often drive from their home in upstate New York to collect the dogs and take them personally to their permanent foster homes.
One grateful testimony relates the Hughes’ ongoing help with Walter — one of the senior pups fostered through the program — when he had to undergo emergency cancer treatment. The couple not only drove Walter down to Florida to place him with his foster Janice Markey, but also covered his medical expenses through donations made to the non-profit, and then personally took him to Cornell Veterinary Hospital to be treated by an emergency oncologist.
Aiding the Mr. Mo Project to carry out their life-saving work is a whole network of committed helpers and sponsors. From transportation service Kindred Hearts Transport Connection and commercial sponsor BarkBox, to generous individuals who donate to the project, the Hughes value the support they are given in their endeavor to help old dogs in need.
The VCA Animal Health Center in Clifton Park, New York, is Chris and Mariesa’s go to veterinary resource. One of the vets who works there, Dr. Andrew Hagner, addresses the common perception that senior dogs automatically present obvious or latent health issues that are expensive or difficult to handle: “In many instances a senior dog’s health issues are fairly easy to diagnose and straightforward to treat,” stating that most common disorders ailing older pets — such as arthritis, dry eyes, allergies or hypothyroidism — are often treatable with relatively cheap medicine as opposed to major surgery.
Of course, the foster families themselves play a huge role in ensuring these dogs have a place to live out their golden years. Take 15-year-old senior dog Dakota, pulled in extremis from a high-kill North Carolina shelter by the non-profit, despite suffering from cancer and being given only a few months to live. Thanks the Mr. Mo Project, Dakota gets to live out his remaining days with a family devoted to making them as enjoyable as possible for him. They have even crafted an adventure-filled “bucket list” for the old guy, the progress of which can be followed on Facebook. Dakota has since become a TV star — look no further than the old pup’s grateful tail-wagging at the end of the video to epitomize how rewarding saving a senior dog can be.
One particular story proves that it’s not only canines who benefit from the Mr. Mo Project’s fantastic work, the program helps people too.
Vicky Neville is one such woman whose sweet Pit Bull Macy, whom she met thanks to the Mr. Mo Project, helped her overcome the loss of her sister and the depression caused by a painful divorce. “I really believe that Macy saved me,” says Vicky, “she just makes me feel happy, which I never thought I’d feel again.”
The Perks of Adopting a Senior Dog
“It’s pretty amazing what a dog can do for someone,” says Chris. “And senior dogs, in particular, have so much love to give. They just need the right person who’s willing to share it.”
Indeed, adopting a senior pet has countless advantages. Sure, puppies are cute and fluffy, but they’re also a lot of work. Older dogs are calmer, quieter and already housetrained. They require a lot less energy and are often wise and loyal companions.
With older pets being the most difficult to rehome, you’d also be saving a life by keeping an old dog from being euthanized or living out his or her last days in a shelter.
How You Can Help
Chris and Mariesa are always searching for foster families to provide the indispensable love and nurturing senior dogs need in their last few years. If you can, why not apply online to foster a Mr. Mo dog?
Funds raised to cover the dogs’ medical bills and food come from donations alone and help ensure these dogs can be placed in loving homes. All generous contributions from the public or businesses go directly to the dogs’ lifelong food and vet fund. As such, the Mr. Mo Project is always in need of donations.
You can also donate to each of the dogs’ individual amazon wishlists by choosing the “dogs with a wishlist” tab.
Finally, consider adopting an older dog from a shelter, for, as they say, “They might be a little older, but they love just the same.”
All images source: Mr. Mo Project / Facebook