Shelter volunteers take up cause of old pet adoptions



Nancy O'Malley is an advocate for elders -- four-legged ones. A volunteer at the Sonsini Animal Shelter, the retired Boston public school teacher walks the dogs at the shelter on Sunday mornings when she is in the Berkshires where she has a weekend home in Cheshire.

It was there that she met and was charmed by the "smile" of an elderly, deaf, blind, one-toothed pug whose chances for adoption "probably rated a zero," she said.

"But the look in his eyes told me that I had been taken in -- for good," she wrote of her adoption experience in The Eagle on Sept. 9, 2012. She named the ancient pug Danny Boy and took him to live with her in Winthrop, where he enjoys the beach and the company of her other dog, Molly, and her cat, Callie.

O'Malley was not content to let a good deed rest with just a single rescue, however, She got to talking with another Sonsini volunteer, photographer Martha Pope, about doing more -- specifically telling Danny's story in a book that would encourage others to adopt elderly pets.

Pope, too, had noticed Danny Boy even before O'Malley adopted him.

"From the moment I saw him, I realized what cameras are for and what I was really meant to do," she said

If "eyes are the window to the soul" this little man was infinite. ... I was mush in his paws. I melted every time I looked at him."

But with three rescue dogs of her own, she said it was out of the question for her to adopt him. When O'Malley did, Pope said, "Magic happened. He got everything he deserved and more. He got Nancy."

The two women were moved to do something more to help other elderly pets at the shelter and collaborated to produce a book, "The Chronicles of Danny Boy," which they have published and hope to sell in support of the Danny Boy Adoption Fund they established.

O'Malley wrote the text as if Danny Boy is telling is own story, and Pope illustrated it with color photos of the title character and other animals and people in his life.

"We spent our own money -- $1,500 -- to get our prototype out to supporters and potential donors," O'Malley said. "We are now are putting together the second edition with some new photos and Martha's beautiful forward."

That edition will be available at Sonsini, Berkshire Humane and South Street Veterinary on May 1.

They plan to sell the 30-page, hardcover for $25 and the softcover for $15, with all funds going to support elderly dogs and cats in the shelters and increase their chances of being adopted. They also want to assist those who do adopt aged animals to meet the costs of medical care.

Lawrence W. Hazard, president of the Sonsini shelter board, said the book "tells the real story of what we face every day."

Many older pets are given up by equally elderly owners who can no longer care for them, he said. People are reluctant to adopt them because of the expense of medical care and the likelihood they will die within a few years anyway.

But others, he went on, both volunteers and adopters, are "passionate" about the welfare of aged animals and even offer foster or hospice care to make their final years comfortable.

For such people who would give donations anyway, he sees the "Chronicles of Danny Boy" as something to give back in recognition of what they've done.

To reach Charles Bonenti:,
or (413) 496-6211.
On Twitter: @BE_Lifestyles

To order or donate

Nancy O'Malley and Martha Pope ask those interested in ordering "The Chronicles of Danny Boy" to contact them at dannyboyadoptionfund

Donations and book requests can also be mailed to the Danny Boy Adoption Fund PO Box 4043, Pittsfield, MA 01202.


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