Our mascot Ocean Blue searches for causes around the world that she thinks are worth barking about!
FEATURED CAUSE: SUSIE'S SENIOR DOGS IN NEW YORK, USA
Ocean and I are fortunate to be connected to Erin O' Sullivan, founder of Susie's Senior Dogs, after she helped Muttville Senior Dog Rescue by sharing a post about a dog named Chelo that went viral. Thanks to a little senior dog captured by the camera lens of Erin's boyfriend, Humans of New York founder and author, Brandon Stanton, Erin and Brandon's lives were enlightened to the cause of senior dog rescue. Statistics show that 5 in 10 dogs in shelters are euthanized simply because no one adopted them. Of the "hard to adopt" cases, the largest percentage (24%) are senior pets. This cause is near and dear to ARM's heart too. (Ocean Blue is a Muttville senior dog rescue!)
Tell us about how you became aware of the cause you've chosen to rally for, homeless senior dogs.
Susie is a 14 year old Chihuahua mix whom my boyfriend, Brandon, adopted almost three years ago. She is 100% of the inspiration! As all loving pet owners would say about their own animals, we think Susie is the best dog in the whole world. She and Brandon have a particularly strong bond, it sounds cliche, but it's beautiful. There's been nothing lost in adopting a senior, as compared to adopting a puppy. Love is love. Sure, we'll have less time with her, but I'd rather have less time with Susie than no time with Susie.
Susie is unique, for us. And I know there are other senior dogs out there (especially the ones sitting in shelter cells!) that would give anything to give their unique love to a human that will love them back.
Tell us more about you:
I grew up in Connecticut with a childhood dog. My parents adopted Pepper, a mixed breed rescue dog, when I was about six months old. I always thought every family had a dog, just like another sibling. My brother and I certainly considered Pepper our third sibling, we "tortured" with endless playtime, I'm guessing! She was such a good dog, she was very calm and always loving. When I was in high school, my mom was alone with Pepper when she had to be put to sleep. She was almost 16 years old and had gotten very sick. I always feel guilty for not being there.
I currently live in New York City.
When did you decide to make a difference for animals?
In the past couple of years, Susie has grown her own following on Facebook, just for fun. A dog company reached out to Susie a few months back to raise money together for a dog charity of our choice. A senior charity first came to mind to help, since Susie is a senior herself. A quick Google search did not bring up many reliable senior specific rescue organizations, at least not in the New York area. In hindsight, that's what planted the seed, but Susie's Senior Dogs was never officially planned. The starting of it has all flowed so easily, like the floodgates were opened and this was just supposed to happen.
Tell us about your decision to tackle this cause. What convinced you to do so, and what did it take to actually create your movement?
One day, I posted a photo on Susie's page with the caption "Discussing our retirement. We're thinking of starting a senior dog and human match making service." Again, this was on a whim. I put up Susie's posts in the moment and whatever comes to mind within a few minutes. Right after I posted that, I had the thought to make a page about this "retirement plan" and call it Susie's Senior Dogs. I would research senior dogs around the country and post their information. Right from the beginning I knew I wanted it to be more than just putting up a photo with contact information - I wanted it to be more quality, lengthy postings to bring the animals to life, not just their photo with a few stats.
A few days later, Brandon shared SSD on his blog, Humans of New York. Within 24 hours the page had almost 100,000 likes coming from his post. Brandon has grown an incredibly loyal following the past three years and SSD would not have had such instant success without his help.
How have you made a difference in your community, in the lives of both humans and the animals?
My heart is for the seniors sitting on concrete floors behind bars. That's a dog in true need. A dog's lifeblood is companionship. A senior in that situation has either come from a hard life and now has a depressing life, or they have had a good life and have suddenly found themselves alone on a cold floor, and they have no idea why. Even the best of the best shelters that are filled with loving staff and volunteers cannot compare to a good home with a companion for them. Now imagine a shelter that is anything less than that. That depresses me. So to pull an animal from this situation and give them companionship changes everything for them, and that's the basic and most obvious difference made.
But I believe that dogs (or cats), young or old, end up doing more for us humans than we can ever do for them. I believe as humans we all need to be needed, to varying degrees. A dog need for companionship with us is very desirable, it makes us feel good! And then on top of that they love us! Nothing I can put in writing will bring to life the companionship and love between a human and their dog.
What are the best marketing strategies you employ today?
The only guideline I have for myself for SSD is to gather as much information as possible about the dog to write a quality story. I'm all for quality over quantity. One could easily post 10 dogs a day, throw up a photo with their age, breed, and location. But you would lose the feeling of getting connected to the dog. If I post one dog a day and one dog a day finds its forever soulmate, that makes me happy!
What are your greatest achievements thus far for your cause?
Hands down the numerous adoptions. That is the sole reason for SSD to exist and successful adoptions will stay the greatest achievement. Second to that, is the increased awareness on senior dog adoptions, even for those who are not in the position to adopt. They may tell their friend who is to adopt a senior!
What would you like to accomplish in 2014?
I want to uncover the seniors who might never have a chance, I love the "underdogs" as my boyfriend says. He's right, I've come to learn about myself that I gravitate towards the unpopular things or lesser known routes. I want to help the "unpopular" dogs!
What does it mean to you to be an animal rescue advocate?
There are 320 million people in the U.S. There about 8 million cats and dogs in shelters. 8 million is only 2.5% of 320 million, so it would only take 2.5% of our population realizing they are in the position to adopt to solve the problem. So simple. :P