7 ways to keep more senior pets out of shelters

7 ways to keep more senior pets out of shelters
Spike was rescued last week from an open access shelter by Young at Heart Pet Rescue. It's also adopt a black pet month.

If you wander the corridors at an open admission shelter, you'll see the heartbreak up close… the senior pets that have spent a lifetime being loyal just to be left behind in their golden years. Many of those senior pets have always had a warm bed, food and a family and are now devastated on the hard, concrete floors of kennel or the cold, steel floors of a cage. The noise, uncertainty and desolation break hearts and can end lives.

Senior cats and senior dogs end up at shelters for many reasons. While some are just dumped, there are many senior pets that have lost their loving caregivers to death, a long-term care facility or financial difficulties. There are options besides open access shelters for senior pets.

Diamond on his freedom ride after being rescued by Young at Heart Pet Rescue.

Diamond on his freedom ride after being rescued by Young at Heart Pet Rescue.

“Obviously, the best options for senior pets is to stay in the family,” says Dawn Kemper, founder and executive director of Young At Heart Pet Rescue, a group that specializes in saving senior petss from open access shelters. “Unfortunately, that isn’t always a possibility. Families may not be able to take in the pet for a variety of reasons. That’s why having a plan beforehand could keep your pet out of an open access shelter and could save your pet’s life.”

Kemper offers these tips to help keep more loyal senior pets out of the shelter system.

  • Have a plan – Most people have a contingency plan for their children and who gets what heirloom if something happens to them. However, they just assume that the family will care for their pet or pets. That assumption lands many pets in open access facilities. Talk to family members or friends in advance to find someone to take in your pet or will spearhead efforts to find your pet a new home. Make sure the information is conveyed in your will or trust.

    Nathan is now also looking for a home after he was rescued last week.

    Nathan is now also looking for a home after he was rescued last week.

  • Reach out to their network – If someone dies without a plan and you're in charge of rehoming their pet, reach out to their family and entire network of friends first. There may be a connection within that network already loves or has bonded with that particular cat or dog. There may also be someone that really wants to pay it back to their friend by taking in this person’s pet and will step up and provide a loving home. Reach out to their church, synagogue or other organizations they may belong to. You never know who will step forward if you don’t ask.
  • Ask for help from your own network – Ask your own friends and family to help you network the senior pet needing a new home. Reach out on social media for help, but be careful to carefully vet anyone who may have interest in the pet.
  • Sweet Daytona has been looking for a home for over a year - he needs a forever home or foster home.

    Sweet Daytona has been looking for a home for over a year - he needs a forever home or foster home.

  • Offer temporary foster care – Pets, especially senior pets, do much better in a home than a shelter environment. Offer to keep the senior pet as a foster and then reach out to rescues to see if they can adopt out the dog or cat. Most rescues don’t have enough fosters and offering to keep the pet until they can be rehomed will open doors to some rescue groups. If you can’t foster, offer to pay boarding fees while the search for a new family continues.
  • Look for cross-posting possibilities – Young At Heart doesn't take relinquished pets, but will offer courtesy postings on their Website. Kemper says her group has had a good track record placing through these postings because often people are looking for a dog breed or type of cat not available currently in their rescue.
  • Give it time – Start working on a plan or networking a pet sooner rather than later. Finding a new home for a senior pet can be done, but takes time.
  • Sherman is also a new rescue.

    Sherman is also a new rescue.

  • Check out special programs – For many older people or those with disabilities, their pet is their lifeline and financial situations can put that relationship in jeopardy. Often pets can stay with that person for the long-term if they connect with services like pet food pantries, low cost veterinary programs, temporary fosters and other services. Here's a list of services.
  • Check out special programs – For many older people or those with disabilities, their pet is their lifeline and financial situations can put that relationship in jeopardy. Often pets can stay with that person for the long-term if they connect with services like pet food pantries, low cost veterinary programs, temporary fosters and other services. Here's a list of services.
  • If you'd like to know more about the benefits of adopting senior pets, read this article and check out this article for the effect of leaving pets behind in animal controls.

    November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month and Senior Pet Awareness Month.

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      Raining Cats and Dogs

      I am a crazy cat lady and puppy mill warrior that blogs to advocate and educate about pet issues. In American animal controls, millions of pets are abandoned each year and an estimated 4 million die just because there are not enough homes. It truly seems like it’s Raining Cats and Dogs.

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