Shell-E the Shelter Dog cuddles Candice, a 7-year-old beagle who needs a home. Ned Jilton II photo.
Older dogs need love, too.
At least one organization thinks so. They have started a program exclusively promoting the adoption of older dogs from area animal shelters.
The program is called Shell-E’s Shining Seniors. It is presented by Shell-E the Shelter Dog, a mascot for animal shelters across the region.
“Basically what we’re looking to do is to supplement whatever a senior pet may be lacking, whether that be surgery or shots, to make them more adoptable,” said Tracey Barr, president and founder of Team Shell-E.
Shell-E is the brainchild of Barr and his wife, Misty. The couple started Shell-E the Shelter Dog in 2010 to encourage more people to adopt shelter pets.
It is a cause that is close to the couple’s hearts. All of the animals they have came from the shelter, and the couple wanted a way to let people know that great pets can be found at animal shelters. So they created Shell-E the Shelter Dog.
The couple have paid for everything associated with Shell-E from their own pocket, including Shell-E’s suit and transportation. Some animal shelters, including the Kingsport Animal Shelter, have been receptive to what Barr is trying to accomplish. Other shelters haven’t been as receptive, but that doesn’t stop Barr from trying.
Shell-E’s Shining Seniors was started in May and already has one candidate, a feisty, 7-year-old beagle named Candice. When Candice first came to the shelter, she had an affliction called cherry eye and needed surgery.
As part of the program, the Barrs paid for Candice’s surgery out-of-pocket. They also paid for her to be up to date on vaccinations, microchipping and any other needs she had to make her more appealing to potential adopters.
Paying for everything out of the couple’s own pocket can get expensive. Both have full-time jobs. Tracey Barr is applying for nonprofit status for Shell-E and is about halfway through the application process.
“We hope to get donations and things like that,” Barr said. “We hope to keep the program within reason as to how many animals we can help at one time. I feel like if we keep it smaller, we can visit them more regularly and take pictures of them more regularly.”
The Barrs chose Candice because they own two beagles and spotted the dog after an event.
Another reason for the program was because Barr saw so many senior pets not being adopted in favor of younger dogs. He wanted to show that senior pets still have a lot of life left and make great pets.
Barr believes if people saw these animals more, adoption rates might go up for senior animals.
“We’re holding out hope they get adopted,” Barr said. “‘Finding love for the loyal’ is Shell-E’s tag line for the Shining Seniors program.”
For more information about the program or to donate, visit www.shell-edog.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Shell-E-the-Shelter-Dog/104647582921084, or call Misty Barr at (423) 764-0344 or (423) 341-2553.