The road of animal rescue work is paved with extraordinary people who do extraordinary things.  They save and care for animals that often come from tragic circumstances, and find them new and loving homes.

Many of these animals have been abused or neglected. Some are near death but are brought back to life through good medical care, love and attention.

So it is for the dogs at the Senior Dog Sanctuary in Anne Arundel County, one of our area’s newest rescues. This is a place that can restore anyone’s faith in the goodness of people.

The Sanctuary’s founder is 75-year-old Val Lynch, an Air Force retiree and semi-retired financial planner.

He remembers discovering his love for dogs at the age of eight when he was growing up in the Bronx.

One day, he found a cold and shivering Chihuahua in the doorway of a neighborhood bakery and took it home.

“My mother was less than thrilled that I brought a wet and stinky dog in the house,” he says, “but she was kind enough to let me keep him and…care for him.”

He took in another stray. Then another. “After we got to three dogs,” he remembers, “my mom said, ‘that’s it. No more.’”

As an adult, Val and his family adopted older dogs. Then about a year and a half ago, he sat down with his three adult children and told them he planned to spend their inheritance to create a sanctuary for senior dogs.

“They were all in favor of the plan,” he says.

So last year he bought a home in Anne Arundel County, renovated it, and created a kennel area in a large three-car garage. In January, he opened the Senior Dog Sanctuary and runs it along with his wife and son.

Val pulls dogs from open admission shelters or takes them from owners who cannot or will not care for them. The dogs have ranged in age from 8 to 17.

They often have enormous medical problems. Val raises funds to pay for critical care. Staff and volunteers tend to the dogs’ every need, getting them physically and mentally healthy and ready for adoption. Since opening, the Sanctuary has found loving homes for about 50 dogs.

People “come and just fall in love with the dogs,” says Volunteer Coordinator Debbie Gill. “ They…have so much love to give.  Even though they’re older, they have so much that they still have to offer.”

I visited the Sanctuary one day during an open house and was so moved by the place and the people who run it. Despite their difficult pasts, the dogs were happy, well, and playful, just waiting for the right people to open their hearts and homes to them.

Check out this short video to see the Sanctuary and meet its adorable residents and loving staff.



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