By Caity Gray
What has four legs, a wispy Mohawk that flows in the wind, fifteen years of wisdom, and a non-profit organization to save the lives of her pawed pals? There is only one majestic creature that could be all of that and more; her name is Susie.
Back in June, Moomah fell in love with Susie and her parents, Erin O’Sullivan and Brandon Stanton, fellow friends, and supporters of Animal Haven Shelter. Erin, Brandon, and Susie made an appearance at the Animal Haven Spring Benefit, where Erin was presented the Leonard Simon Award for Susie’s Senior Dogs: an organization that focuses on helping older dogs get adopted. Susie and Erin (the leaders of this incredible organization) shine a light on dogs who may be overlooked simply because they no longer belong to the puppy club.
Susie is a senior dog herself. Her dad, Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York, was on one of his great city adventures when he stumbled upon a vision in white with a wispy hairdo. He proclaimed her to be “the greatest dog in New York.” After posting her photograph, Susie became quite the internet sensation. Not long after, Brandon came across Susie and her owner once again, and this time, Brandon was the one being asked a question: Would he be willing to adopt Susie? Unable to afford and take care of her, Susie’s owner needed assistance, and Brandon could not resist. He took her home to meet Erin, and they fell in love with their new friend.
Suddenly immersed in the world of a senior dog, Erin began to do her research and soon realized the unbelievable number of dogs like Susie, who come from terrible backgrounds and are left ignored in shelters simply because of their age. She and Susie set out on a mission to help senior dogs around the country and create a platform on which their stories could be told. In January, Susie’s Senior Dogs was launched and in just one short year it has already helped over 200 senior dogs find good homes. And, those are just the ones that can be counted! Susie has built an incredible online following through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where she tells the stories of dogs in need and updates the world on the most recent senior adoption success stories. Susie’s Senior Dogs has even transcended national borders to help dogs all over the world. On a recent expedition to Ukraine, Erin was astounded by the number of stray dogs and overpopulated shelters. She decided it was time to act. Erin visited a shelter just outside of Kiev and found two hundred volunteers doing everything in their power to maintain a shelter that houses over 2,000 dogs. The resources needed to keep up with that many animals is unimaginable, so Susie’s Senior Dogs began a campaign to raise money. They raised around $6,600, which would go towards funding the construction roofs over the top of the outdoor kennels, to protect the dogs in the shelter from the harsh weather.
Erin realizes that she cannot post all of the stories she receives about senior dogs onto the Susie’s Senior Dogs page, as there are entirely too many in need of a safe home. So how does she choose which to feature? Erin proclaims that she chooses “the small town underdogs:” those seniors who may not get the exposure they need to make their way into the hearts of animal lovers everywhere. Her activity on social media has raised awareness and inspired prospective pet owners around the world to adopt senior pets from their local animal shelter. Even though Susie can only post stories about so many of her fellow dogs, the ideology behind the organization ripples and opens the minds and hearts of potential adopters who take initiative in their hometowns. It’s about opening people up to the idea of adopting a dog who may not be given as much love and attention just because they are a few years older.