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May 2, 2013

Derry senior living facility goes to the dogs

Humane Society pays a visit to Birch Heights

DERRY — Penny was on her best behavior.

The small terrier mix dog was a guest of honor last week at Birch Heights retirement facility, part of a Greater Derry Humane Society program on pet care and adoption.

Humane Society volunteers spent a morning sharing stories about pet adoption. They also offered residents other ways to support pets, including pet therapy and fostering an animal waiting for adoption.

Residents gave the dogs treats and learned all about pet care and the joys of having a pet. Birch Heights residents are allowed to have small pets.

Penny is a poster pup for success, according to her owner Paula Dunlavey. She, along with her husband Martin, have been involved for many years in the Humane Society, fostering animals and adopting a few along the way.

Penny was first fostered by the Dunlaveys several years ago. They already had a larger dog, Willow, who was also adopted. The couple knew they couldn’t resist the tiny dog. After a few months, they were hooked.

“It was her personality,” Paula Dunlavey said. “She was just exceptional.”

Right now, there are several dogs listed on the Humane Society website waiting for homes. The list of cats is much longer, with about 60 now in foster care around the region.

“That’s just too many,” Dunlavey said.

The Derry Humane Society works in tandem with Salem-based Feline Friends to help find homes for cats. Neither organization has a shelter and depends on an all-volunteer network.

Sometimes there are cold spells, Dunlavey said, when there are fewer dogs needing a home. Any stray found in Derry is taken to the pound and kept for 14 days before the Humane Society is called to evaluate the dog and find a foster home. There is always a need for more foster families.

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