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Wed, Oct. 16

Golden Paws program pays for older pets’ vet, medication bills

This is Bear after his rescue, washed and groomed and happy. Bear is available for adoption through the Circle L Ranch Golden Paws program for senior dogs.
Courtesy photo

This is Bear after his rescue, washed and groomed and happy. Bear is available for adoption through the Circle L Ranch Golden Paws program for senior dogs.


This is Bear when he left the home of a hoarder after the owner died.


Susann Shields visits with Mr. Cuddles, 13, one of two Hurricane Katrina survivors. He is arthritic, but can go for little walks, she said. Like his name, he is a sweet dog.




Susann Shields, left, and Diane Pursselley, gather a few of the senior dogs available for adoption through the Golden Paws program at Circle L Ranch They are focused on the treats Shields has in her hand.

Circle L Ranch in Prescott Valley has initiated a new program called Golden Paws that matches senior dogs with new owners -- maybe seniors themselves. It waives the adoption fee, and pays all approved veterinary bills and medication costs.

“So all the adopter has to pay for is the food and any extras, like toys, bedding, leashes, things like that,” said Susann Shields, Circle L Ranch volunteer who heads up the program. “The adopter doesn’t have to be a senior, maybe a veteran, or just someone who otherwise needs or wants a companion but can’t afford the potential vet bills.”

Ranch personnel conduct home checks for each potential adopter to be sure the home is safe. “We try very hard to match dogs and people,” Shields said.

The Ranch has several potential adoptees needing homes. Bear’s owner died recently, and this three-legged border collie, age 12, resides at Circle L. He came to United Animal Friends a little scruffy, got clean and fluffy, and now awaits adoption at the Ranch. A “sibling,” Trooper, 13, a husky/shepherd mix, would like to remain with Bear.

Likewise ready are Bongo, a friendly, white and brown-spotted pit bull, who has allergies and needs his food specially cooked; Chester, 10, a large chocolate Chesapeake Bay retriever who is doing his best to unlearn his “counter surfing” skills; and Meme (pronounced Mee-mee), on the small side and a little hard of hearing.

Circle L Ranch also cares for two dogs who survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005. All the rescued dogs had lived together in a large area with little contact with people. The two remaining dogs are unable to get along with other dogs, yet are good with people. Volunteers walk them every day.

Princess, 13, has some arthritis, but is healthy, loving and affectionate. Shields calls her “the perfect ambassador for the pit bull breed.” Mr. Cuddles, also 13, also arthritic, and also friendly, can go for short walks.

Another one-dog-home senior is Reba, 10, who is in good health, very friendly, but losing her eyesight. “She’s adorable; she just wants friends.”

Shelby is deaf. A volunteer regularly takes her to an off-site “beauty salon.” Heidi, 10, another pit bull mix, also healthy, knows commands, and could use a more active home.

Barney, at 8, isn’t really a “senior,” but he is available through the Golden Paws program. “He’s one of my favorites,” Shields said. “He loves people.” He’s little overweight, so she feeds him low-fat treats. He belongs in a one-dog household, plays ball, and knows his commands.

Donations, online raffles, fundraising events, arts and crafts shows, and private grants provide for the care of the dogs and for the Golden Paws program.

“There are special grants we can apply for specifically for senior dogs, which we will be doing in the future, but first we need some solid measurements as to how our program is working,” Shields said.

Circle L Ranch is located at 8538 E. Smitty’s Place, off Coyote Springs Road north of Highway 89A, Prescott Valley. For more information, call 928-273-7005 or visit

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