Friday, February 13, 2009

SC No Kill Shelter Goes the Extra Mile for Seniors

I just love this. Old dogs are my favorite. (And I don't mind old cats or humans either.) That's why I was so excited to learn about a program at the Animal Protection League (APL) in Hopkins, SC called Senior Pets for Senior People. The idea is to help in getting senior pets out of the shelter (they are often passed over for younger animals) and into homes with pet loving senior citizens who might be hesitant to take on a pet due to age or health considerations. Studies have shown many physical and emotional health benefits for senior citizens who own pets. Here's how the program works:
  • Anyone over 62 years old who is interested in having a companion dog or cat can contact the APL and explain what type of pet he or she is looking for. The APL will carefully screen available older pets for a good match and bring the pet out to meet the senior at his or her convenience and WITH NO OBLIGATION.

  • If the senior and the pet are happy with each other, the senior can adopt the pet (in essence, entering into a long-term foster agreement) AT NO CHARGE! (In some instances, the APL will even pay for the pet's food and medical care for individuals who are financially unable to do so.)

  • The APL will appoint a liaison to stay in contact with the senior and to provide assistance as needed. This liaison will provide assistance getting the pet to a veterinarian, if need be, and will monitor the relationship to ensure that both the senior and the pet continue to benefit from the relationship.

  • If, one day, the senior can no longer care for the animal, the APL will take the cat or dog back and work to place the pet in another loving home. In fact, the APL will resume care of the pet if at any time, for any reason, the relationship ceases to be mutually beneficial.
This is what I call a win-win situation! Adopted pets come with an "In Case of Emergency" poster with instructions for how to care for the pet: "If I am incapacitated or compromised in such a way that I cannot care for my pet, please immediately notify or return my pet to Animal Protection League".

Here are a couple pets currently available in the Seniors for Seniors program at the APL:

From the APL newsletter:
Ozzie is approximately 13 years old and has lived at the APL shelter since 1999—an entire decade! He doesn't show his age, though, and loves running and playing in the exercise area. Ozzie ignores cats and other dogs, but he gets a little nervous during thunderstorms. If you know of anyone looking for a faithful companion, please tell him or her about sweet Ozzie.

From the APL newsletter:
Caris is a beautiful Bengal cat who loves to chase laser pointers! We think that she hasn't been adopted yet because she becomes very shy when faced with a new environment. Caris needs a patient person to give her lots of time to adjust to a new home. She doesn't like being picked up but loves attention from the shelter staff.
I don't like being picked up either Caris. All paws crossed that these two find loving homes for their twilight years.


Pet Ownership and the Elderly
Seniors Who Adopt Senior Pets Often Stay in Better Shape
Dog Owners Visit the Doctor Less
How Owning a Dog or Cat Can Reduce Stress


Susan said...

What a great program! APL must receive a lot of financial support from the community to have the resources to do this. I hope Ozzie and Caris find homes soon. Especially Ozzie--he's practically a lifer!

Anonymous said...

It's not that the APL gets a lot of financial support for programs like this - It just makes sense to get these animals out of the shelter and into homes. They need financial support either way. If an older pet can't be adopted, why not give it a chance of a normal life - rather than letting it sit in the shelter for the rest of it's days. I love this program.

Anonymous said...

Why limit it to just senior people. It should be a senior pet program available to everyone as long as there is a senior pet in the shelter.

Caveat said...

I agree, why not expand the program? Maybe they are just testing the waters at this stage to see how it goes.

This is a very creative and positive idea - congrats to the shelter folk.

Barb said...

What an awesome program! I've always been a sucker for seniors, and have "fostered" several who never left :-)

Elderly people can need a little more support to adopt an animal - just being willing to bring the pet to them is a HUGE deal since so many older people aren't comfortable driving any farther than to their grocery store. But they tend (I know I'm generalizing but I see this a lot) to make terrific owners. And the pets know when they're really important to someone... it's a "job" for them in a way.