A Retirement Home For Furry Residents? These Unwanted Senior Pets Find Love And Safety

The House With a Heart is an animal retirement home to almost 30 senior animals, including a 33-year-old horse, 4 cats, and more than a dozen dogs that are all over 10 years old. Sher and her late husband Joe Polvinale rescued dogs and cats for nearly 30 years. They founded the retirement house as a nonprofit organization in 2006 with only 10 dogs. After Joe died, Sher started adopting more animals.


Taking care of nearly 30 animals, including a large horse, is no small feat. Fortunately, volunteers from around Gaithersburg, Maryland, where the home is located, have been helping Polvinale take care of the animals. The volunteers begin arriving before lunch and do all they can including cleaning the animals’ quarters, bathing, giving medications, and (of course) cuddling.

Polvinale seldom leaves the house, so Harriette Sackler, the vice president of House With a Heart, drives the animals to the hospital in case of emergencies. One may think that it’s a mundane task, but Sackler deals with the hardest moments in the home. Staying beside a dying pet is heartbreaking, but Sackler stays with the pets until their last breath. The team puts up pictures of each pet as a memorial to the furry friends who shared their lives with them.


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Once adopted into the House With a Heart, the senior pets don’t go through another adoption process or put into another foster home. The home becomes their permanent residence, with Polvinale and the volunteer team taking care of all their necessities, from food to medical treatments. The non-profit organization gets its funds from donations and grants as well as its generous supporters. Polvinale also plans to start a grant-giving program that aids people to adopt older dogs and expand her advocacy by encouraging others to start similar programs elsewhere.

Many senior pets, usually old dogs and cats, don’t have a place to call home and sometimes die prematurely because of untreated medical conditions. What Sher and Joe Polvinale started can serve as an inspiration and instill desire in others to help make life more enjoyable and comfortable for abandoned and rescued senior pets.

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