SOUTHAMPTON — Since 2010, Michele Allen has been fostering older, sick, and hospice dogs, but one special stray — who stole Allen's heart after being taken in — led her to create an organization in 2015 to partner with shelters and provide comfortable, compassionate end-of-life care for these aging pups.

That's the idea behind Monkey's House, a Dog Hospice & Sanctuary, which concentrates on the tri-state area of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, but has accepted shelter dogs from as far away as Kentucky and Tennessee. Allen estimates she and her husband Jeff have helped 45 to 50 dogs so far, including the late Monkey, the group's namesake.

Shelters generally have little to no money allocated for older dogs that are dying, according to Allen, so she has those shelters call her to foster the animals. In some cases, she has adopted dogs to expand their access to veterinary care and provide a greater quality of life.

"While dogs are dying, they're also living, and they have very specific needs," she said. "And there's no help for that, there's no funding for vet care, there's no funding for anything."

As Allen, who previously worked as a registered nurse, grew her interest in fostering, she started to explore ways to do what she did on a larger scale. She said social media has been a definite help in crossposting "worldwide," but Monkey's House also now enlists dozens of local volunteers who dogsit or are put on walking duty. That's a challenge, since many of the dogs are blind, deaf, have serious heart murmurs, difficulty walking, or various other ailments.

The overall goal is making these animals comfortable in their last days, weeks or months.

"This is their last home, so they're on the sofas, they're in beds, they're on the chairs," Allen said. "They live the same kind of life that every dog who's loved in a home lives."

While many of the dogs at Monkey's House are unadoptable, Allen said some do get matched with forever homes once their medical history becomes clear.

"A lot of these dogs are strays, they're stressed, and they have a lot of illnesses that make it look like they're dying, but they're fixable," she said, calling these dogs "impostors" who may be younger than her organization's regular clientele.

To find out more about what Monkey's House does, visit monkeyshouse.org, and for updates on the current fosters, go to their Facebook page. The group is looking for volunteer and fundraising help, as well as possible investors in order to purchase a dedicated property for even better care.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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