“Senior dogs are the most lovable and loving dogs out there. They just want a lap to hang out on,” Connie Call said about Underdog Animal Society’s focus.
The nonprofit organization, based in Gulfport, started earlier this year and began fostering senior dogs — over age 10 — on Aug. 1. So far, they have seven older fur babies, ranging in age from 17 to 10, in foster homes. Area shelters alert them of dogs that they take in, said Call, the organization’s executive director. She also is owner of Pet Parent Paradise, a pet sitting and dog walking service in Gulfport.
“We are 100 percent volunteer and 100 percent foster. We have four foster families now and seven senior dogs,” she said. “I have three at my house, one volunteer has two and two others have one.”
Elsa, a miniature pinscher, is the 17-year-old. She takes six pills a day that cost $84 a month, Call said. “She was owner surrendered because the owner suffered from a medical issue and could no longer care for her. She is a total sweetheart and very funny.”
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Variety of backgrounds
The dogs come from a variety of situations.
“Two of our others came from a hoarder, two came from a puppy mill and were horribly abused, and the other two were owner surrendered after giving multiple births for reasons that most pet owners would not even consider a reason to give up their senior companions,” Call said.
It’s those potential complications that keep many people from considering older animals, she said.
“At the shelters, the most euthanizations are pit bulls, Chihuahuas, cats and seniors,” she said. “People don’t want to deal with a senior pet maybe peeing themselves now and then or needing medicine. We’re up front with people about what challenges the dogs might face. People don’t want to adopt senior dogs because they’re afraid they might have issues. We work with people on training and understanding the needs of senior pets. They deserve to live out their days in comfort.”
Call has always had senior pets.
“I had Jack, who was my muse for Underdog, and he died at 15 from kidney failure,” she said. “This might sound silly, but I felt like I was cheating on him if I adopted someone else, so I’ve fostered.”
Call would like to add cats to Underdog Animal Society’s roster, but constraints such as money, number of available foster families and the territorial nature of cats mean the organization is focusing on dogs, at least for now.
“We’re not really contacted about cats,” she added. “There are so many cats because people don’t spay or neuter.”
Dogs get medical attention while they are being fostered, she said.
“All of our dogs get updated on shots, spayed/neutered and temperament tested and receive the medications they need while with us,” Call said. “Our adoption/foster process includes doing vet checks, an application process and a home check plus an adoption fee, although we do offer 25 percent (discount) for seniors who would like to adopt. Our current dogs are all available for $75 each.”
November is Senior Pet Month, she said, so Underdog Animal Society will offer a 50 percent discount that month for approved applicants.
Doggy Day Extravaganza
On Oct. 29, Underdog will host Doggy Day Extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hiller Park in Biloxi. The pet- and family-friendly event will include a best in contest event for dogs, paw painting, weiner dog races, tiny toy carnival games and trick or treating for children and dogs. Participants are asked to take a new dog toy to be donated to a local rescue.