Our Mission

Peppers' Senior Dog Sanctuary (PSDS) provides senior dogs with a compassionate, forever home, at our veterinarian supervised sanctuary. We care for our dogs for all the days of their lives, including hospice needs. We are the premier “dog retirement community” for canines who need us most—forever. We fill a unique need and space in senior dog sanctuaries. While you won’t find shuffleboard at our sanctuary, our seniors have other amenities and supports that make Pepper’s a well-deserved luxury for senior dogs. We provide small group and one-on-one care; enormous space to play, lounge, and sleep kiddie-pool-side; individual bedroom suites, professionally trained staff and volunteers; and dedicated physical therapy and medical care. Dogs who become part of the Pepper’s family win the retirement lottery. 

A bassett hound running down a dirt road


We will officially open in 2023 after construction completion of our full-scale sanctuary. We have already welcomed some dogs who currently live with our leadership team and at the sanctuary, and are raising funds to complete our $5 million capital campaign.

PSDS only adopts dogs from area shelters and rescues, helping to ease the burden of overcrowding at shelters. We DO NOT accept dogs via owner surrender or drop offs. The ASPCA estimates that approximately 670,000 dogs who enter U.S. shelters each year are euthanized. Sadly, many of these dogs who are considered seniors and special needs dogs are prematurely or unnecessarily euthanized due to age, special medical needs, testing heartworm positive, or having a disability. At PSDS, age and appearances don’t matter—we’re specially equipped to care for elderly and special needs dogs for their entire journey, and we are all in for the rest of their lives once they come to us.

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Our Story

Pepper's Senior Dog Sanctuary was founded in 2019 by a trio of dedicated senior-dog advocates: Justin Klemer, his mom, Mary, and Leigh Sullivan. All three are Colorado natives, lifelong animal rescuers, and proud foster fails who've saved and nurtured dozens of dogs. PSDS is located on 50 acres of beautiful farmland in Littleton, Colorado. And it was a feisty in-need seven-year-old Pomeranian named Pepper that made it all happen.

More than a rescue, more than a shelter, Pepper's is a sanctuary that was founded to honor a special Pomeranian, Pepper, who found the love and safety that he desperately needed, a dog who needed others to see the incredible worth of an old soul. Sometimes you're lucky enough to find all three rolled into one special heart. Some wear capes. Some sport a snarl, lackluster dental care and hygiene, and a healthy dose of suspicion for others. This was Pepper: he was a sidekick, a hero, and best friend to his partner in crime and human rescuer, Mary. She adopted Pepper in 2011 when he was around seven. His first years of life were difficult, until he sniffed Mary and spent his remaining years being pampered by her compassion and acceptance of all his quirks, gifts, and unconditional love. Really, they accepted each other exactly how they were: their true selves.

Pepper became Mary's sober companion. They were soulmates who made it their mission to pay it forward to other sidekicks in need who are waiting to find their forever home and unconditional care, no matter how undeserving they may first appear to be on the outside. Pepper inspired Mary, Justin, and Leigh to open Pepper's Senior Dog Sanctuary in order to help other senior dogs in need. Pepper's legacy teaches us to appreciate the connection and purpose we find within each other and the honor that it is to care for the most vulnerable among us. As Pepper showed us, senior dogs have so much love and wisdom to share.

Our Staff

We are pleased to introduce you to our fabulous and hardworking staff here at Pepper's Senior Pet Sanctuary.

We also invite you to explore our Leadership Team here.

Stephanie Ward holding dog

Stephanie Ward

Sanctuary Dog Care & Volunteer Coordinator

Stephanie is a proud Colorado native, Wheat Ridge Farmer, and CSU Ram. So it is fitting that from age five, her wish was to be a cowgirl surrounded by dogs and farm animals. Growing up she was sure the cherry tree in the backyard provided enough shade for a pony. While that turned out not to be, here she is some fifty years later...

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Julie Roberts with dog

Julie Roberts

Sanctuary Dog Care and Volunteer Coordinator

Julie spent 24 years working for a major tech company as a corporate trainer, project manager, and communications specialist, as well as founding EMPOCO, a local nonprofit that provided medical and educational opportunities to underserved communities both in Colorado and abroad, before its transition to YANAM2M.

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Painting of a building

Bringing Them Home