For JoJo, her senior years are the first the spaniel hasn’t been stuck in a cage at a puppy mill, birthing litter after litter of puppies.
“She’s blind in one eye. But you can tell she’s just a sweetie,” said Tiger Franks as she pets the old dog, her tail wagging with enthusiasm.
She easily fits the model of Barely Used Pets in Urbana — a shelter named for the “used” dogs it proudly “recycles” in hopes of finding them a new home, Frank said.
The hope is to partner pups likes these who are past their prime with senior citizens as part of their free Seniors For Seniors program.
“I think it extends life and gives better quality of life for both the dog and the person,” Franks said. “Life is just better with a dog. It just is.”
The nonprofit shelter’s workers travel statewide to rescue pets. But it’s the older dogs workers take special pride in. Large blood hound Fluffy came in with no hair, and senior dog Bridgette needed a tumor removed. They were rescued from other shelters and faced euthanasia otherwise.
Donations cover the $115 adoption fee so senior citizens can adopt the dogs at no cost. The idea is the older dogs are already trained and house-broken. Many of them ended up in shelters when their original owners passed away or could no longer care for them.
Saving these dogs and finding them a home is life-changing, Franks said. When she finds them behind bars, she describes the feeling as “heart-wrenching.”
“You see these dogs and you can tell they’ve just given up,” she said. “Because it had been in a home for its entire life and had a warm, fuzzy blanket and somebody petting it and now it’s alone.”
Any senior can sign-up for the program.
The shelter is also seeking financial sponsors. Donations can be made at the shelter, 467 N. Dugan Road in Urbana. Inquiries can be made by emailing email@example.com or visiting its Facebook page at