House With a Heart is an animal sanctuary in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that’s exclusively dedicated to the care of elderly dogs and cats. Founded in 2006 by Sher Polvinale, the shelter regularly rescues senior animals abandoned by their owners, and cares for them until the very end.
Sher and her husband had been working with rescued cats and dogs for nearly 20 years before they had the idea for House With a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary. Over the years, they had received several calls from people who could no longer care for their aging pets. These animals almost never got adopted again, so they eventually decided to convert their home into a haven dedicated to their care.
“I started thinking about all the dogs and cats we had placed over the years and how we had agonized over finding just the right home,” Sher said, speaking to The Huffington Post. “I just felt terrible thinking about a pet who loved and trusted its person being given up because it was old, and not so convenient anymore.”
The couple used their own home in Maryland to set up House With a Heart, transforming it into a full-time haven for pets from all over the nation. The animals that live with them are all aging and ill with conditions like dementia, incontinence, or blindness. Many of them cannot walk unassisted and need wheeled devices to help them move around. Others have diabetes or heart disease. But thanks to contributions made by generous donors, Sher ensures that every dog’s special needs are met.
The home has a total of 55 volunteers who come in at different times of the day to care for the animals around the clock – changing diapers, cleaning up, and engaging the dogs in various games. Sher herself rarely leaves the house, dedicating all her time to looking after the animals. She starts her day at 6am to prepare the dogs’ food and doesn’t go to bed until well after midnight. Despite her strenuous schedule, Sher says that she enjoys every minute spent in the company of the animals.
“Every morning I open my eyes and jump up ready to spend another day loving and caring for these dear ones who need me,” she said. “I am so fortunate to have this life!”
Sher’s relentless dedication and the volunteers’ hard work extends until the very end of each dog’s life. And even after their passing, the residents of House With a Heart are never forgotten – their photographs are displayed on a wall as a special tribute.
Photos: House with a Heart/Facebook