The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Making the golden years shine for senior dogs

Introducing Vet Friends Foundation and Camp Golden Years


July 6, 2019

Photo provided

According to recent ASPCA statistics, senior dogs account for 12 percent of dogs that end up in shelters across our nation annually. Of that population, only 25 percent of senior shelter dogs get rescued or adopted compared to a rate of over 60 percent for younger dogs. Senior dogs may not have much time left and it is hard to process the loss of a friend it seems like you just met, but loved completely nonetheless. Senior dogs may need a little more care and higher costs to maintain, but the rewards of senior dog companionship far outweigh any monetary or emotional costs. It takes special people with outstanding moral character to take on the short term, emotional and financial journey to adopt a senior shelter dog. Enter Vet Friends Foundation, a veteran founded nonprofit organization, dedicated to changing the outcome for senior shelter dogs.

Vet Friends Foundation emerged in 2016 after Joel Rockey, completed his service as a Navy Corpsman, having been deployed with a group of snipers from the 2nd battalion, 9th Marines. Rockey enlisted the help of fellow service members, James Plummer and Dre Bandoo, who he served with in Iraq and Afghanistan, to assist him on his mission to develop an organization to help veterans continue their service by rescuing and serving animals.

The foundation focuses on senior dog rescue and ideal placement with veterans who agree to become Vet Friends to the end. All medical costs are covered for senior dogs placed with veterans for life as long as the veteran agrees to give them a last great home. Of course, all are welcome to adopt these loving seniors who still have a lot of life and love to give.

Vet Friends operates Camp Golden Years, "Ole Dog Bootcamp," which was established at the Marley's Mutts Ranch in Tehachapi in 2018. It serves as a temporary base for senior shelter dog recruits to thrive and receive any necessary medical care until they meet their forever families. So far the foundation has rescued and placed more than 130 senior dogs and has roughly 30 seniors living out their last days with loving veteran families all across the United States.

Photo provided

Currently Camp Golden Years is rounding up some new recruits during Vet Friends Foundation and Marley's Mutts "22 in 22" program. Vet Friends Foundation along with Marley's Mutts created the "22 in 22" campaign to bring awareness to veteran suicide. Recent statistics show that nearly 22 veterans commit suicide daily in the United States. Vet Friends and Marley's Mutts are rescuing 22 shelter animals in 22 days with the goal of saving lives, both human and furry. The mission is to create value and awareness through service, not only for veterans, but for shelter dogs as well. Many veterans adopt, foster and/or volunteer their time for this program.

Camp Golden Years will be hosting several movie nights throughout the summer, so look for the recruits "Letters from Camp" in future editions or check out Camp Golden Years on Facebook and Instagram.

For more information on the recruits awaiting forever homes and/or fosters, or to sign up to volunteer as a Drool Sergeant go to


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