In Cathie Garnier’s eyes, all dog lives matter.
Through her nonprofit Elder Paws Rescue, Garnier works to save the lives of senior dogs, with or without disabilities, who would have otherwise been euthanized before being able to experience their golden years.
After the death of her 16-year-old dog, Pandora, to organ failure, Garnier wondered what happens to senior dogs whose owners can’t afford their veterinary bills for elder canine ailments.
When she found that most of those elder pets ended up in shelters — and eventually euthanized — Garnier decided to do something about it.
“A lot of people told me it wasn’t a good idea, it wasn’t going to work,” she said. “But we have saved over 200 dogs in the last four years by taking them in and fostering them or putting them in a hospice care center.”
Elder Paws Rescue was founded in 2012 and accepts all breeds, from the largest Great Danes to the smallest terriers. Volunteers foster senior dogs over the age of 7. Healthy dogs are adopted out to loving families, while dogs who are very ill are cared for until they pass away, Garnier said.
About a month ago Garnier established The Pandora’s Fund Foundation to keep elderly animals out of rescues in the first place.
“We get calls from social workers, from the veterans administration, from veterinarians who tell us about people who are struggling to afford to keep their dogs,” Garnier said.
The funds to care for the dogs come from private donations.
“Our success is directly related to the community,” Garnier said.
Paws for Pasta, a luncheon fundraiser, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 at DiCicco’s in Old Town Clovis to raise money for emergency vet care to low income pet owners.
Pizza, pasta, French bread, salad and beverages will be served family style at the restaurant at 408 Clovis Ave. Vegetarian options will be available. A raffle and silent auction will also be held. Tickets, which are tax deductible, cost $35 in advance at www.elderpawsrescue.org, or $40 at the door.
Garnier’s mission is to keep families together by providing for ailing senior dogs to remain in their homes rather than live out their lives in overcrowded kill shelters or in the overwhelmed rescue system.
Sometimes that can be costly, Garnier said, noting she has spent up to $4,000 to have an animal’s health restored.
“We want to honor and give credence to the lives of older dogs,” she said.
Success stories abound and Garnier is thrilled to tell them.
“Last year we had somebody call us. The family had an older dog, 8 years old, who had four abscesses in its cheeks. The husband had recently become unemployed. The didn’t want to put the dog to sleep, but they couldn’t afford to help the dog themselves,” Garnier said. “I told her, ‘You’re going to keep the dog. We’re going to do an online fundraiser.’”
Donations came in from animal lovers all over the Valley and the dog was treated by a veterinarian.
“He could’ve wound up dead in a shelter,” Garnier said. “But he ended up healthy and lives at home with his family.”
Elder Paws Rescue