SAN FRANCISCO -- With many people returning to the workplace after adopting a dog during the pandemic, Bay Area shelters are crowded with pets that are being abandoned or turned in by owners who are unable to keep them.
Whenever Sherri Franklin feels a little overwhelmed, all she has to do is go nose to nose with one of her 92 dog. Within seconds, she's slobbered with reassurance.
"I truly believe that when I bring home one of these dogs, they are incredibly grateful that we're giving them that second opportunity at a beautiful life," she said.
Fifteen years ago, after volunteering at an animal shelter, Franklin noticed all the senior dogs were getting passed over.
"Some of them got euthanized because they weren't getting adopted," she said.
She decided to open her very own rescue called Muttville. The operation is specifically tailored to man's oldest friend. Since then, she's saved more than 10,000 of San Francisco's older, scraggliest and most grateful pooches.
"They're soulful and cuddly and so kind," she said.
Even though her facility is already at full capacity, on Wednesday she was taking in two more senior dogs.
"It's hard for us to even take a breath," she said. "We're really slammed with so many wonderful dogs."
Animal shelters across the Bay Area are scrambling to accommodate an unprecedented influx of dogs coming through their doors, with some considering euthanasia for the first time in years.
"This probably the most challenging time that I have experienced working in rescue and sheltering," said Katy Jones, a rescue coordinator at the San Francisco Animal Care and Control.
While Jones and her team insist they only opt for euthanasia in cases of extreme health or behavioral issues, they've seen an 84% uptick in custody intake over the last year alone.
"A lot of people who held off on surrendering their pets are now being forced to. They've lost their housing, the eviction moratorium has been lifted. A lot of people have been living below the poverty line and can no longer care for their pets," she said.
But Wednesday was a lucky day for two mutts named Catalina and Mr. Potts as they got a new leash on life thanks to Franklin.
"This is symbolic for all of us because now this means, my dear, you are no longer homeless. You're at Muttville and you're going to have a great new life," Franklin said as she put a fresh new collar on her new arrivals.
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