LITTLETON, Colo. — They take in the outcasts, the neglected, the abandoned, the worst of the worst. And with lots of affection and a little bit of time, older medically-compromised dogs — who would otherwise be euthanized — are loved back to life at Pepper’s Senior Dog Sanctuary. The nonprofit was founded in 2017 by extended family members Leigh Sullivan, Mary Leprino and Justin Klemer.
Leprino had the original idea and tears up while trying to explain her passion: “The joy these dogs bring other people is just amazing. The best part of this is that we think we’re helping them, but they are helping us,” says Leprino.
Leprino, in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, first rescued a Pomeranian named Pepper in 2011. The bond that developed between them lifted her anxiety and depression. “I called him the best little sober companion in the world,” says Leprino.
The family now has nineteen dogs that live in three homes spread across 50 acres of shared farmland with a mountain backdrop in south Littleton. They’re halfway through a $5 million fundraising campaign to finish constructing an 18,000-square-foot facility that will house 50 additional dogs.
“We are building a world class senior dog sanctuary for these little nuggets to live out their forever lives with a full medical facility, they’ll have their own bedrooms and their own play areas and sensory gardens,” says Sullivan.