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Muttville: Rescuing Dogs in Their Twilight Years

Oct. 22, 2013
Personal Taxes, Taxes
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Charitable Giving Can Save You Money on Taxes

Holiday time is fast approaching, which means many of us are thinking about charitable donations. For those who itemize deductions on schedule A of their tax return, charitable donations can result in considerable tax savings. Check out NerdWallet‘s charitable giving primer to understand the tax implications behind your donations.

While understanding the tax benefits of charitable donations is important, many of us struggle to identify charities that really need our contributions. NerdWallet Taxes has combed through local San Francisco charities to find out which are most deserving of your donations or volunteer time. As San Francisco is a city of dog lovers, we focused on nonprofits conducting groundbreaking and impactful work for the benefit of dogs.

For dog enthusiasts who want to support an organization that specializes in the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of senior dogs, NerdWallet highly recommends donating to or adopting a dog from Muttville.

What is Muttville?

Muttville is a 7-year-old rescue group that greatly improves the lives of dogs 7 years or older through rescue, foster, adoption and care. It was the first organization in California to address the rescue and adoption challenges facing senior dogs, and it currently stands at the forefront of a larger movement advancing the idea that older dogs are just as adoptable and worthy of affection as their younger counterparts.

Muttville’s mission is that no senior dog should spend its final days in a shelter. According to founder Sherri Franklin, the senior dogs “deserve to know love before they go.” She outreaches to senior and special needs rescue dogs, finding appropriate homes for those that are adoptable and offering end-of-life care for those that are not. Contrary to popular belief, many of these senior dogs are not rescued from other shelters but rather were the pets of people who passed away, moved or can’t care for their dogs anymore.

Muttville’s Impact

Currently, Muttville houses 50 dogs across its network of 100 foster homes. Typically, dogs spend an average of 6 weeks in a foster home before they are adopted. Those with no health issues usually get adopted within 2 days of their rescue. For the 10% of dogs that need terminal hospice care, Muttville has 10 foster homes providing specialized care.

In 2011, Muttville rescued 340 senior dogs and saw a 59% increase in contributions and donations. It managed to save $117,000 after expenses, an increase of more than 300% from 2010. For 2012, Muttville rescued 382 senior dogs and 360 were adopted. For 2013, Muttville is on track to make 500 rescues and adoptions, and hopes to hit a milestone of 2,000 rescues by year end. This important milestone represents 2,000 dogs that otherwise would have been euthanized and wouldn’t have had a chance to give and share unconditional love with their new human companions.

Awards and Recognition

Muttville’s work has met wide acclaim and helped people realize that they can have a wonderful experience adopting a senior dog. Muttville has set a strong example for other shelters, which are now putting senior dogs up for adoption.

In 2013, Muttville received grants from the Doris Day Foundation and Genentech, was honored as one of San Francisco’s favorite charities in the annual 7×7 magazine contest, and was hailed Best Rescue Group, Best Canine Cause and Best Fundraising Event (Moolah for Mutts) by Bay Woof Magazine.

For her work, Ms. Franklin was awarded the Guardian Award in 2004 on behalf of In Defense of Animals. Her dedication to dogs continues beyond Muttville; she also volunteers for the “Give a Dog a Bone” program, which provides shelter enrichment and quality of life services to dogs held in custody and awaiting “vicious and dangerous” dog hearings, abuse and neglect cases, and whose guardians are incarcerated or hospitalized.

How Can I Help Muttville?

Muttville has a wide variety of needs and you can help in any way that you feel is most rewarding for you.


When Muttvile started 7 years ago, it rescued 27 senior dogs, and now that figure has ballooned to over 500. To be able to rescue as many dogs as possible, Muttville relies on donations and will require a larger space (currently they are in a year-to-year lease) so that they can say “yes” to every senior dog in need. Muttville is a certified 501(c)(3) organization and your donations are fully tax deductible.

Foster and Adopt

Muttville has a strong need for people to adopt or foster senior dogs. Visit their website to see the dogs available for fostering or adoption; the list changes frequently!


For those who would like hands-on work with the dogs, Muttville asks for a 3 hour a week minimum commitment for six months and asks potential volunteers to view and apply for its available opportunities. Volunteer opportunities are diverse, spanning from event planning, outreach/adoption events and helping with administrative tasks at Muttville’s shelter.

Recent and Upcoming Events

Muttville is highly active in the SF community and typically holds adoption events every weekend. This past Saturday, Muttville hosted several dogs at its adoption exhibit at the Potrero Hill festival.

This year at the 20th annual San Francisco Pet Pride Day on October 27th, Muttville will feature some of its adoptable senior dogs at their exhibit in Golden Gate Park.  If you see a dog on their site that you’d like to meet at an upcoming event, contact Muttville ahead of time so that your dog will be ready to meet you and potentially change your life for the better.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.