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Old Dog Haven wins $1,000 through support of online fans

ARLINGTON — A prize of $1,000 might seem like a lot of money, but for Old Dog Haven of Arlington, it's just barely enough to cover the initial veterinary bills for a single dog.

Judith Piper isn't complaining, though, especially since she knows that Old Dog Haven received that money because of its many fans online.

The Animal Rescue Site's sixth Holiday Shelter Challenge awarded a prize of $1,000 to Old Dog Haven for getting the most votes in the state of Washington during the contest period, which ended in mid-December, thanks to loyal supporters who voted online daily.

"If they hadn't worked at it this hard, we wouldn't have gotten that money," said Piper, executive director for Old Dog Haven. "I suppose they decided that we needed to win. It's a huge credit to our supporters. I'm so flattered I can't stand it. It just took off through word of mouth. It's nice to know that so many people care."

Old Dog Haven is a 501(c)(3) charity that started in 2005, and Piper estimated that $27,000 a month, or 73 percent of the organization's costs, go toward veterinary care.

"These old dogs that come in are often in terrible shape," Piper said. "Almost all of them need dental work, which can run anywhere from $200 to $2,000, especially on the littler dogs, because they're incredibly difficult to fix."

Piper credited Shoreline Dental with providing Old Dog Haven with discounted service, which the group needs not only due to its limited budget, but also due to the degree of neglect to which many dogs are subjected before they reach Old Dog Haven.

"We just try to keep them comfortable for as long as we can," said Piper, who explained that Old Dog Haven's dogs are cared for in about 140 foster homes throughout western Washington. "We began six years ago with 10 dogs, and we ended 2010 with more than 200 dogs."

"Most of those dogs are permanent residents of our care who don't die on schedule," Piper said. "The longer they last, the more old dogs we accumulate. Dogs ask for so little from us that they deserve to have happy endings, for however much time they have left."

For more information on Old Dog Haven, you can call Piper at 360-653-0311 or log onto www.olddoghaven.org.

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