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Senior home says Penny has to go

Penny, the popular pooch at Regency On Whidbey senior care center for the past four years, will likely have to leave the facility due to an incontinence problem.

The friendly but aging wiener dog was acquired at WAIF to be a companion for resident Jane Shorrock, 84. For the past four years they’ve been inseparable, with Penny alertly perched on Jane’s lap when not being taken for a walk.

“They all love her,” Shorrock said of her fellow residents at Regency on Whidbey in Oak Harbor. “There’s nothing not to like — until now. She’s never bitten anybody, she’s a very innocuous little dog. But she’s old now. She never used to have accidents at all.”

Estimates put Penny’s age at 13 or 14 years.

It is those “accidents” that compelled Jeff Gettmann, facility manager, to decide Penny has to go. She started leaving puddles and piles behind, which can’t be allowed in such a facility.

“We are evicting the dog,” Gettman admitted Thursday. “This dog through aging has become incontinent of bowel and bladder and leaves the results of that throughout the building. It’s very disappointing for us to make that decision.”

Regency On Whidbey allows residents to have small pets, but owners must sign an agreement saying the animals will be taken care of. Dogs have to be walked outside and feces picked up and disposed of properly.

Shorrock’s daughter, Coupeville resident TerryAnn Gallagher, was miffed at Gettman for how he handled the problem, going to her mother rather than her to announce Penny’s impending eviction. “Nobody consulted her family during any of this,” Gallagher said. “The dog’s real popular with the whole building.”

Gallagher wanted to work out a plan that her mother would have to follow to keep Penny, including assurances that any “mistakes” would be cleaned up immediately. But Gettman sees that as impractical considering the circumstances.

“We just can’t have an incontinent dog in the building,” he said.

In the middle of the dispute is Lexie Lamborn, an Anacortes woman who has a power of attorney agreement with Shorrock and looks after many of her affairs. On Friday, she agreed with Gettman’s position that there’s little choice but to boot Penny from the building.

Lamborn said she had talked to Shorrock’s DSHS case manager as well as the facility’s ombudsman, and all agreed Penny’s time is up at Regency On Whidbey. “The dog has to go somewhere else, but it’s not that they’re heartless,” she said. One problem is that Shorrock is forgetful and probably couldn’t follow a plan to care for an incontinent canine.

“I don’t think it’s possible to keep the dog there,” Lamborn said.

Gallagher took both her mother and the dog out of the facility on Thursday until the matter is settled. She has several dogs of her own and might take Penny in. Meanwhile, Gettman floated the possibility of Shorrock getting another dog, one that’s trained to go outside.

“I don’t know if Jane could accept another one,” Lamborn said. “They’ve had a beautiful relationship.”

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