Michele Allen has devoted her life to sick shelter dogs
We would like to introduce you Michele Allen who has devoted her life to sick shelter dogs ensuring them love, happiness, and comfort before they die. Michele has had many dogs over the years. But her dog Monkey changed her life forever. Monkey was a foster dog and struggled with heart problems. Michele and her Jeff took care of him until his final days of life. When Michele found out that so many old dogs like Monkey were being euthanized, she decided to set up her six-acre farm. Since 2015, the Allens’s farm, named Monkey’s house in Burlington County, New Jersey, has become home to many foster and rescued animals. Today, around 25 dogs are being cared for with individual meal plans created by the organization’s veterinarian. Michele and Jeff have about 50 volunteers who are called aunts and uncles. The volunteers always help to cook, walk dogs or prepare medication.
“It’s extremely important to me that we not fail dogs in their final moments. I want them to have a very gentle passing, and I want them feeling as loved and supported as they can be.”
You can read a short interview with Michele:
Can you give us a little bit background about Monkey’s House? What Monkey’s House is? How and why did you start it?
I have always had dogs all of my life. When I started to adopt dogs, I realized that it was a very healing and rewarding experience for me. I wanted to learn more about how I could help shelter dogs as I was working as a nurse. And I was surprised by the number of old and sick dogs in shelters and how little help there is for them. Shelters and rescues did not cover that level of veterinary care. There were no resources at all. There was not even a foster home. Therefore, I felt that the best healing was done in a home. Our shelters are nice and the dogs are loved in and fed. It is not any place to spend final days or especially if you have a few good days left. It is just not a place that is going to help them feel better. So, we started to foster senior dogs and I had one hospice dog with brain tumour. I adopted her and we put her to sleep very shortly. Thereafter I only had a few weeks but I promise to love her forever. It was the beginning of a journey and I started adopting more dogs. And I didn’t know if the dogs were dying, what I needed to know was what I could do to make them comfortable. Honestly, I did not care that adopting dogs needed thousands of dollars of veterinary works, assistants and medication in the final year of their life. In spite of this, I kept adopting seriously sick dogs and I always kept thinking there was going to be a better way to do this. So, we started to take bring dogs that have terminal diseases from shelters in order to give them good healthcare, nutrition, exercise and love.
Can you tell us the story behind the name Monkey?
He was a shelter dog that had a heart diagnose. We knew that he was dying and we didn’t want him miss an opportunity love him. When you are grieving, it is just you want to take care of them. We want to love them but they are not with us. This was a way just to push through the grief still in a way to take care of him in saying let’s start bylaws for Monkey’s house, let’s look in the funding for Monkey’s house and let’s try fencing for Monkey’s house. So, it’s got like a way we still care for him, love him and honour him. And it really helped us to move our grief.
How do you decide which dogs take in your house?
Dogs have to be good with other dogs and cats. They cannot have a bite history. I just have a regular old house and there are currently 25 dogs. I stopped taking blind dogs for a while because they bumped sighted dogs causing them stress. And people sometimes do not understand difference between dying and just needing more care. When people ask me take blind dogs, I always say if their dogs have heart disease, diabetes or cancer. They say no. And I just recommend them that their dogs need a good vet care and some love. And they can work out everything.
Can you tell us one day at Monkey’s House?
Our work starts at 6.30 morning. All dogs go to the bathroom. Then our breakfast starts. And breakfast usually takes two hours because each dog gets special nutrition, medicine, eye-drop, medicated bath and massages. We make sure each dog has their own private space to eat. We also have volunteers that come during the day to walk our dogs. Because of our amazing volunteers, all of our dogs receive loads of individual attention. They are all extremely social, loved and happy. Our volunteers say that Monkey’s House is a peaceful and great place to distress. I think the dogs heal us as much as we heal them.
To find out more about Monkey’s House, please click on the following link http://www.monkeyshouse.org/cms/