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Columbia Humane Society receives grant to fund medical tests, treatment for senior canines

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Stella, a 13-year-old Golden Retriever mix, is one of the senior dogs at Columbia Humane Society who will benefit from the Grey Muzzle grant. Stella and two other dogs were brought to the shelter when their owner was taken into hospice. Humane society staff encourage elderly pet owners to plan for their pets future in case they are eventually unable to care for their furry companion. Columbia Humane Society recently received a $5,000 grant from Grey Muzzle, a nonprofit dedicated to helping aging dogs, to improve care for senior dogs.

In Columbia County, the grant funds will also benefit future dog owners. With the grant money, CHS will be able to provide more thorough medical testing for senior dogs.

All dogs received by the humane society get basic medical care as needed, such as vaccines, microchipping, flea treatment and being spayed or neutered. But the grant will help fund more tests for senior dogs.

"It just gives us a full picture about what might be wrong with that animal," said Lisa Beggio, the humane society's executive director.

CHS is one of 62 groups nationwide that received funding from Grey Muzzle this year.

"Through these grants, many more senior dogs will get the second chance they all deserve," Lisa Lunghofer, Grey Muzzle's executive director, stated in a press release.

Just like people, dogs tend to have increased health issues as they age, which can quickly rack up a hefty bill.

"You see so many senior dogs out there, and people don't know what they're getting into," Beggio said. "I don't think that's fair."

Thorough medical testing can help identify health issues that aren't immediately visible in a dog. That information is shared with potential adopters to help avoid dogs being returned to the shelter or inadequately cared for when adopters are caught off guard by a pet's expensive and time-consuming medical needs. PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Ceile, a 14-year-old Chocolate Lab, is one of the senior dogs at the Columbia Humane Society. 'She is looking for a retirement home to call her own,' says Lisa Beggio, the humane society's director.

"We want to keep pets in their homes. We don't want them," Beggio said.

Finding good matches of owners and dogs is "our responsibility," she further explained.

Aside from the medical testing, humane society staff talk with potential adopters about their lifestyle, from who is present in the household to what their physical activity level is, to make sure that both owner and dog will thrive.

CHS does provide behavioral training with dogs in the shelter when necessary, and offers ongoing free behavioral help for the adopted dog and their new owner.

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