Writer advocates for older dogs, cats

By Page H. Gifford


Nestled in the Cloverdale neighborhood, near Fork Union, sits the home of Dr. Jackie Meyers and her husband Dave Sagarin and their extended family of older dogs and cats in search of loving homes.

As a volunteer with Caring For Creatures (CFC), she worked closely with Mary Birkholz and also gave a lending hand to the Fluvanna SPCA. But she had always felt that the most wonderful dogs that had so much to offer were those who were overlooked because of their age. Often it was the frisky puppies or younger dogs that had a better chance getting adopted, leaving little chance for an older dog to have that opportunity.

Meyers decided to change all that and became an advocate for senior dogs and in 2002, while Meyers was still employed by Fluvanna County, she started Peaceful Passings, a rescue for senior dogs. Supported by her devoted and diligent husband, their home also served foster animals that came to them through the Fluvanna SPCA and CFC.
In 2009, the process was begun to apply for non-profit status to expand their services to help more animals in need and Peaceful Passings became a non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization, allowing them to accept donations and support for their operation.

“This year we have added a facility for senior cats, a new building made possible through a generous bequest,” said Sagarin. “Peaceful Passings is an all-volunteer organization and, to the best of our knowledge, one of a handful of home-based rescues for senior animals in the state of Virginia.”

  “Peaceful Passings is focused on ensuring senior pets live out their golden years in a happy home,” said Meyers. Their mission is to save senior animals from unnecessary euthanasia and to re-home each of them with a loving family that will help them live out their lives in peace and tranquility. “Our vision is a world where no animal with a quality of life remaining must be euthanized simply because of the length of time they’ve spent in a shelter, their age, or any special needs they may have.”
Meyers and Sagarin explained that Peaceful Passings serves three populations; super seniors, who are 12 and older and will remain with them if they have a quality of life; their hospice animals who will also remain with them if they enjoy a quality of life, and their adoptable seniors under 12 who they work to re-home.

 “Our mission is to save senior animals. Our vision is a world where no animal is euthanized because of age or medical challenges when the quality of life remains. We believe that animals will live a better life when humans respect that all stages of an animal’s healthful life are of value to society.”

    Meyers published Her book “Loving an Older Dog,” in September. It is a collection of intensely personal essays and stories of dogs, dog care, grief, loss, joy, and deep connections.

“It honestly confronts issues of aging while encouraging the reader to seek the profound satisfaction that comes from sharing one’s home with an older pet,” said Meyers. “This book is for people who have an aging pet (all pets are aging) and should be required reading for anyone considering adopting or volunteering to help at a shelter or rescue.” Anyone who id a dog lover will appreciate the wisdom of her work. “It was developed to offer the public information on caring for senior animals and as a resource on death, dying, and grief issues. Our thought was to make this information available so that when people take their animals to a veterinarian, they will be able to apply their financial resources towards addressing their animal’s medical needs,” said Sagarin. Understanding the medical issues can be daunting for most with elderly pets, but knowing what to expect and the quality of life is key in determining the cost.

Some of Meyers senior dogs that lived out their lives with her, lived healthy, full lives beyond the expected average age. Those that know Meyers, know she has miraculous interactions with older animals which is why she is so passionately devoted to them.
“I am a person who cares deeply for the well-being of all animals, and I consider my work with animals to be a calling. I believe our choices in life are driven by who we are; what we need to do to feel complete. In that respect, my choice to work with animals is driven by a need to advocate for a “voiceless” population: our animal companions,” she said. “I have been a human companion to animals for over 40 years. It is a personal and spiritual mission to serve the animals that have graciously chosen to share their lives with me and those who have found their way to Peaceful Passings after years of turmoil, stress, and neglect. The insight that I bring to the mission of animal service has been acquired over time and can be learned by anyone with the desire to learn.”

Dr. Meyers will be discussing her book at Friends of the Library on Jan. 8 at 10 a.m. at the Fluvanna County Public Library. Loving an Older Dog is available from the publisher, Mascot Books, on its website, as well as through Amazon. For more information about Peaceful Passings, visit peacefulpassings.org.


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