This shelter offers 24/7 care for terminally ill dogs and is dedicated to finding homes for abandoned senior pets

By Kelli Bender
April 20, 2017 05:35 PM

The name Silver Muzzle Cottage offers a hint about the kind of dogs this program is dedicated to.

Senior canines can find a warm and welcoming home here, regardless of being sick, disabled or unwanted. Silver Muzzle Cottage is a non-profit in Elk Rapids, Michigan, run by a group of dog lovers who are dedicated to giving senior dogs in shelters and those relinquished by owners a magical place in which to spend their golden years.

This brilliant and inspiring program was started two years ago by owner Kim Skarritt, who was sick of hearing about senior dogs being abandoned or relinquished by their owners when the dogs became too much work when they simply required a little extra care. According to the Detroit Free Press, her rescue and hospice for aging canines is the only facility like it in the state — and one of the few in the country.

“They don’t ask for much when they’re really old. They want to be loved and cared for, they want food and they just need a warm place to lay their head at night,” 56-year-old Skarritt, who has taken in more than 70 dogs so far, told the Detroit Free Press. “At some point they were cared for, and then when they needed it most they’re not. And that’s why they really need a place like ours.”

Dogs requiring 24/7 care due to their failing health have a home at Silver Muzzle, which is currently undergoing renovations to offer on-site, around-the-clock care from trained professionals that will allow them to live their final moments cage-free in dignity and comfort. For those seniors dogs who are advanced in years but need less assistance, Silver Muzzle provides them with a temporary home until they can be adopted or fostered out.

Credit: Sliver Muzzle Cottage

Silver Muzzle Cottage started when Skarritt bought an empty building next to her business, a dog training facility call Boswers by the Bay, and transformed if from a cold expanse into a welcoming home filled with couches, plush beds and a fake fireplace. This space is open to homeless dogs that are 10 or older, or pups of any age suffering from a terminal illness.

Skarritt lives among these grateful pooches, creating a small bedroom for herself at the cottage, to ensure the animals get the 24/7 care they require.

“Seriously, I sometimes wonder if I’m just crazy,” she said. “But somebody has to do it. I don’t require much. I don’t need a big fancy house. I’ve got everything I need here.”

Credit: Sliver Muzzle Cottage

She is helped by 100 volunteers who interact and care for the dogs, taking them on walks and car rides, giving them a cuddly buddy. The work can be hard, not because of the care the canines require, but because of the attachment one can form to these creatures who don’t have much time left.

Credit: Sliver Muzzle Cottage

Even with a shorter predicted lifespan than most younger dogs, these senior dogs often find loving homes. At a forever home, they get to spend their golden moments in the warm embrace of a loving family. But even if they don’t get adopted, the ending isn’t much different. Silver Muzzle Cottage makes sure every furry resident is comfortable, content and adored.

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“For some people it’s too hard,” Skarritt said. “They really can’t handle it. But for those who can, they find it very rewarding. We have to look at it in a positive light, otherwise it would be very depressing. But it’s a win-win for us and it’s a win-win for the dogs.”

To donate Silver Muzzle Cottage and learn more about the organization’s work, visit the GoFundMe and Facebook pages.