In Allentown, a Sanctuary for Senior Dogs

At Marty’s Place, four-legged residents live out their final days with love, dignity and comfort—and an occasional dip in the pool.

Marty’s Place

Doreen Jakubcak and Brandi at Marty’s Place. Courtesy of Marty’s Place

When Doreen Jakubcak learned of Marty, a sickly senior dog bouncing from foster home to foster home, she knew she had to help him. Jakubcak opened her Spring Lake home to Marty for the last year of his life, and Marty opened her eyes to the plight of older dogs that wind up in a shelter environment.

Four years later, in 2015, Jakubcak founded Marty’s Place, a senior-dog sanctuary in the Monmouth County borough of Allentown. The sanctuary ensures that senior dogs can live out their days with love, dignity and a real home. 

The dogs at Marty’s Place, all seven-years old or more, end up there for a multitude of reasons. While some have faced neglect, others come from loving homes no longer equipped to care for a four-legged friend. “For some of the dogs’ caregivers, the notion of relinquishing their dog is very gut-wrenching,” Jakubcak says. “We feel that we can provide them with a peace of mind and a sense of relief, knowing their dog will be in a safe place and well cared for and, most of all, loved.”

At the sanctuary, the dogs—currently about 15–20 of them—are referred to as residents and are treated as such. Volunteers work shifts, walking, feeding, administering medications and socializing with the dogs. For Robin Conrad, a Hightstown resident who has been volunteering with Marty’s Place for three years, the socializing is the best part. “It’s fun to watch them blossom,” she says. “You’re not sure of their personality until they feel comfortable. I love to see that come out when they relax and realize they’re someplace safe.”marty's place

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For sleeping and mealtimes, each dog has its own room, but for the majority of the day, the dogs are grouped together in one of several common areas in the specially designed house. 

Marty’s Place is located at the site of a former tree farm. “There were just rows and rows of trees,” says Jakubcak. “Everything that is here, we put in specifically to support our mission,” she says. Now, the dogs enjoy walking trails on the acres of land, ample indoor and outdoor space, and an indoor saltwater pool that allows low-impact exercise for dogs with mobility issues or other conditions. 

Since opening Marty’s Place five years ago, Jakubcak has found that the demand for housing senior dogs is greater than she imagined. Unfortunately, Marty’s Place can’t house them all. “We also have our adoption program, where we want to try to find new forever homes for dogs,” Jakubcak says. 

When Conrad tells people about her work at Marty’s Place, they often say it might be “too sad” for them to endure. She assures them it is quite the opposite. “I tell everyone…you actually feel happy for those dogs.”

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