For 10 years, Karen Scherer has been fostering dogs and taking in different breeds. Five years ago, her diabetic pug, Mingus, drowned in a family member’s pool while Scherer was out of town. Since that “devastating period” in her life, she has founded Mingus Manor Animal Sanctuary to care for senior and special needs dogs in his memory.
“Deemed unadoptable, we bring them here and care for them,” she said.
Dogs must be at least 10 years old to be considered senior. Scherer said their medical issues “run the gamut” and range from congestive heart failure to blindness or deafness.
“My main goal is to help our senior citizens. When the time comes due to illness or the financial responsibility, they know their animals will be cared for and they won’t be euthanized.”
Scherer started working with rescue groups by taking in their older dogs so they could make room for younger dogs.
“We’ve gotten to the point where I can’t do that anymore,” she said.
Scherer currently houses and supports 13 senior and special needs dogs at her home near 32nd Street and Baseline Road in Phoenix.
“All they care about is having a nice, soft bed and they sleep. They’re not getting crazy and running around,” she said.
In addition to a loving and supportive home, the dogs also receive medical treatment while residing at Mingus Manor.
“We don’t do heavy-duty surgery and chemotherapy. Our goal is to keep them comfortable and provide them with medications to keep them comfortable until it’s time. It’s a hospice center,” Scherer said.
When she takes in another dog, the first thing she does is take it to a local animal clinic for blood tests.
“It’s a good start to see what’s going on,” Scherer said. “Then we just go from there.”
Medical bills for the shelter cost about $1,500 per month, according to Scherer.
Mingus Manor’s yearly budget is about $80,000, which comes entirely from donations and fundraisers.
Scherer is hoping to find someone experienced in grant writing to assist the shelter in applying for grant money.
The shelter is run by Scherer and a dozen other part-time volunteers. Locals such as Earl and Joy Dysert come according to their schedules, usually a few times each week.
Volunteers do whatever work is needed at the shelter that day, like bathing and feeding dogs, hosing off the patio, or other yard work.
Joy Dysert met Scherer through a pet-sitting organization that both women belong to. Each owns a pet-sitting service.
Joy said if Mingus Manor didn’t take in these animals, the dogs would have nowhere to go.
“They’d be euthanized at the vet or they’d go hungry,” she said. “Normally dogs that are elderly or disabled, those are the last ones to be adopted. She has a really big heart for the animals.”
The volunteers meet once a month for potluck dinners to talk about new animals, update volunteers on donations and plan monthly fundraisers. Meetings are in the evenings to accommodate volunteers’ full-time work schedules.
The group planned a charity dinner and silent auction night last weekend at a local hotel to raise funds to build a new structure for the dogs. They currently all live inside Scherer’s home and on the 5-acre property.
“It is hard to have this many in the house because some are incontinent, and they go to the bathroom wherever they are. I have to have diapers on them,” she said.
Dogs benefit from the attention and care they receive at Mingus Manor, Joy Dysert said.
“They really blossom from an old, broken dog to a happy old dog. It’s a wonderful thing to see.”
Anyone interested in donating time or funds to the shelter can visit www.mingusmanor.org or call (602) 296-5568.
Kathleen Gormley is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.