Watching Louisa Johnson play with her lively little dog Gus in a Calgary park, you would probably never guess the tough times he’s been through.
“Gus came to us from the pound down in Medicine Hat,” Johnson said. “He was really neglected, very unhealthy.”
And right beside them, another pair who’ve had to deal an unexpected obstacle: Maria Guerrero, walking with a dog named Molly, who had faced an uncertain future when her owner could no longer keep her.
“The lady had to move,” Guerrero said. “And she couldn’t take Molly with her.”
Both Johnson and Guerrero are volunteers with the ARTS Senior Animal Rescue group, which specializes in helping Alberta pets that are getting on a bit in age.
“ cats who are aged 10 and older,” Johnson said, “ dogs who are aged eight and older.”
Gus is believed to be around nine years old, while Molly is 12.
By helping animals like Gus and Molly, ARTS is able to find new homes for pets that might get passed over when people look to adopt from other rescue organizations.
“People generally like puppies,” Johnson said.
“A lot of people think getting an older dog comes with extra expenses for health,” Guerrero added.
But Johnson said she’s has not faced any major medical costs since adopting Gus in 2018.
“Watching him go from being so unhealthy to being a really healthy boy, it’s probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” Johnson said.
The ARTS volunteers say that’s an experience shared many other Albertans who have adopted senior dogs and cats.
“They’re so thankful,” Guerrero said. “They always give you all their love and they appreciate the second chance you give them.”
The group has helped almost 500 older pets find homes over the past five years, with volunteers now trying to find a home for Molly.
“We’re going to get you adopted real quick,” Guerrero told Molly. “Yes, we are!”
Molly is one of 18 dogs and 19 cats currently available for adoption through ARTS.
“I might only get five or six years with Gus,” Johnson said, “but I’m going to make those the best five or six years of his life.”
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