Gray Muzzles and Full Hearts: Senior Dogs at CASPCA


This week it’s all about those gray muzzles! During my time volunteering at CASPCA, I’ve noticed a good amount of senior dogs in the kennels, so I decided to bring out my camera and highlight a few of these older pooches! I also had the opportunity to interview Chelsea Mitchell, the Marketing and Promotions Coordinator and former Animal Care assistant to get some insight into the lives of senior dogs in shelters.


My interview with Chelsea Mitchell












Can you first tell me a little about your job here?

  • My job is the Marketing and Promotions Coordinator. I do all the social media postings and I do all of our media spots, so whether that is a news story, a radio spot, special features; anything that has to do with the media, I do that! I am also the Events Coordinator, so all of our big events that we have like the Critter Ball and the Bow-Wow Walk, I am the person doing the planning, all of the logistics, and all of the background work. Then I help run all of our off-site events, whether we are at the mall or a pet store, anytime we are out in! I’m getting all the supplies and making sure volunteers show up, then I’m also there as well helping with adoptions. I also manage the website!

Wow, you do a lot! How did you get this gig?

  • I’ve been here for almost two years in June. I started out in Animal Care for about a year or a year and a half, but then I went to talk to Leslie Hervey, the Executive Director, and Lisa who used to be in charge of Marketing Department and told them that the Marketing and Promotions Coordinator was my dream job! They had me do some writing samples and a small internship, and after I graduated in December they offered me the job!

So you’re a recent grad? What school?

  • I went to VCU. Every weekend when I was at school I’d come back to Charlottesville and work Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday at CASPCA.

That’s dedication! So why did you work at this shelter and not one in Richmond?

  • My family is from Charlottesville, and I’m not a huge fan of the hustle and bustle of Richmond. I love the outdoors and there’s so much to do here, so I would rather prefer to come back to Charlottesville!


So what criteria does an animal have to meet to make it a “senior?”

  • Our vets deem it 7 and up, and that’s basically it!

What do you think the general ratio of senior dog to other dogs is in this shelter?

  • I can’t give you an exact ratio. We definitely don’t see a lot of senior dogs, we have a few at a time but there are usually a lot more of the younger dogs. Senior dogs do have a harder time getting adopted because of their medical conditions; people have the stigma of “oh they’re old, they don’t have a long lifespan left” but that’s not always the case.

Where does this stigma come from?

  • I think that people want that little, happy go lucky puppy and when you walk in and see a gray muzzle, people just automatically think that they don’t have a lot of years left, but they have just as much to give and they have such big hearts.

What are some reasons to adopt a senior rather than a young or adult dog?

  • Most senior dogs are already house broken because they were surrendered or strays so they’ve been in a house for a long time. They are also calmer than a puppy, a lot better mannered. They just want to be your constant companion. They may not have all the energy of a younger dog, but they still want to go out for walks with you, and they’ll just sit with you and ask for love! They are very low key and low maintenance. They’re calm, they’re mellow, and just want to be your friend.

Do you think senior dogs are more likely to be surrendered to shelters than younger dogs?

  • It really depends on the situation. Sometimes people surrender their senior dogs because they are going into an assisted living home or there are medical problems, so there are just so many different situations and circumstances.

Does CASPCA have any programming to assist in the adoption of Senior Dogs?

  • Yes we do! We have a program called “Senior for Seniors” where any person over the age of 60 can adopt a senior animal for free. We’ve seen a lot of success with this program. There was one case where an older man came in and adopted two BFF senior dogs. He was so happy about it because he said, “I’m a senior and these guys are seniors, and they are just going to hang out with me!” Like I said, sometimes it’s hard for seniors to get adopted, but some people come into CASPCA and just get so excited about this program.

Do you think senior dogs need more care in shelters?

  • Being in Animal Care, and I don’t know if it’s just me or not, when I came in and saw a senior animal, I just automatically gravitated towards them. I would give them extra blankets, extra love, extra toys because it is harder for them to be here than a younger dog. They’re just looking for that special somebody, and it really breaks my heart seeing senior animals here because they need to be in a home, they don’t need to be in a kennel.

These wonderful senior dogs are available for adoption at CASPCA, don’t miss out on finding that fur-ever friend!

Hitch (adopted)




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s