Old dogs may not be able to learn new tricks, but they can get a new lease on life. The Lee County Tax Collector’s Lehigh Acres service center supports the Senior Paws Sanctuary, a Lehigh Acres-based nonprofit organization that provides urgent care and foster homes for older dogs and dogs with severe medical conditions.
The tax collector accepts donations of food, towels or other pet-friendly items at the service center on 3114 Lee Blvd., where informational displays are set up. The service center also sells candy bars for $1 to benefit the organization, raising more than $1,500 since the initiative began in May 2017.
“We have a commitment to service, and our staff felt strongly that Senior Paws Sanctuary was deserving of our support,” Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart said. “Animals enrich our lives in so many ways. When our team goes this far to help local animals in need, it’s just one more way to show the community that, ‘We’ve got your back.’”
Senior Paws Sanctuary relies entirely on donations and volunteer help. The costs involved with its mission are staggering — the organization spent $40,000 in veterinary medical bills alone last year, according to John Goldsberry, who assists his wife, Debbie, in running the sanctuary. A single heartworm treatment could cost as much as $2,000, he said. Add in food, cleaning supplies and a litany of other costs, and the need becomes profound.
Older dogs are generally more expensive to treat, and people who adopt dogs tend to prefer puppies or younger adult dogs, Goldsberry said. That means a lot of shelters end up having to put down senior dogs, a reality that inspired Debbie Goldsberry to create the sanctuary, which takes in senior dogs from across Lee County. The sanctuary has no hard or fast rules on the age of the dogs. The aim is simply to treat older dogs who need care.
“There are all kinds of rescues out there that will rescue poodles, dachshunds, greyhounds and other particular breeds,” John Goldsberry said. “We don’t exclude any dog because of breed. We won’t do that.”
The fundraising initiative is ongoing at the tax collector’s Lehigh Acres service center, and everyone is invited to assist the organization through its website at seniorpawssanctuary.com or on the Senior Paws Sanctuary Facebook page.