Special programs connect senior pets with senior citizens

During November, I’ve done several stories on the importance of adopting senior pets and programs aimed at keeping pets and families together. As we wrap up Adopt-A-Senior Pet Month, I’d like to highlight some programs that focus on connecting senior citizens with pets and senior pets with new homes.

Buffy is a senior looking for a home from The Anti-Cruelty Society.

Buffy is a senior looking for a home from The Anti-Cruelty Society.

The wonderful thing about these programs is they match up animals in need of a second chance with people who are looking for companionship. Seniors and others who may find themselves alone have the benefit of the unconditional love of a pet along with the emotional and health benefits they receive for having a loving pet in their home. The pets get a family.

The Anti-Cruelty Society

Senior people and senior pets each have special programs created by The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. Through the Pets for the Elderly Program, anyone over 60 that can provide food, veterinary care and a loving home may adopt a pet free of charge. Under the Aged to Perfection Program, any adopter is eligible to receive a full refund on adoption fees for pets over seven years old 90 days after the adoption is final.

Young At Heart Pet Rescue

Daytona is looking for a home through Young at Heart Pet Rescue.

Daytona is looking for a home through Young at Heart Pet Rescue.

One group that really understands the needs of seniors is Young at Heart Pet Rescue, an organization that rescues only senior cats and dogs from open admission shelters. Through the end of the month, all adoption fees are 50 percent off the normal adoption rates. So, cat adoption rates will be $37.50 and dogs will be $87.50.

The organization also has a  Heart-to-Heart program where adoption fees are waived for anyone over 65 that adopts a pet over 10 years old. They ask that a family member co-sign the adoption to guarantee the animal is returned to YAH in case the adopter can no longer care for the pet.

Tree House Humane Society

During November, Tree House Humane Society has special adoption fee of $65 for all cats 11 years and older in honor of Adopt A Senior Pet Month.

Chicago’s oldest, largest no-kill cat shelter doesn’t have a formal plan aimed at senior adopters. However, the organization works with adopters of all ages to find a good match between the cats in their care and adopters. When dealing with seniors, the organization spends time talking with potential adopters about the life needs of a cat in relationship to their situation.

Lucinda is a sweet senior looking for a home from Tree House Humane Society. Photo is courtesy of Tree House Humane Society.

Lucinda is a sweet senior looking for a home from Tree House Humane Society. Photo is courtesy of Tree House Humane Society.

“We almost do a personalized plan when we are dealing with older adopters,” says Jenny Schuelter, development director of the organization. “When an adopter is on a limited income, we try to point them in the direction of one of the many our special needs cats. These cats come with a medical contract and veterinary care is free or at greatly reduced rates if they bring the cats in to our veterinarian for treatment.”

FIV-positive cats come with a medical contract as well. That program has done a great job connecting special adopters with cats that are often overlooked. Tree House offers temporary emergency foster care on a case-by-case basis and cats are always taken back in at Tree House if something happens to an owner. They also have programs to help adopters set up trusts to care for their pets as well if something happens.

Animal-assisted therapy

Many seniors in nursing homes or long-term care facilities are not able to have a pet. So, Tree House takes the cats to the seniors, visiting nursing homes through their animal assisted therapy program. Alive Rescue’s Reach Out program connects with those in extended care facilities in Chicago.  Animal Education and Rescue in Libertyville also offers a program that visits nursing homes. There are many other pet therapy programs like Love on a Leash have programs in place as well  (our cat Max volunteers in this program).

All of the organizations listed above are no-kill shelters and rescues that will take in any of their pets if something happens to the adopter. However, it’s always a good idea when adopting a pet at any age to have an action plan, will and even a trust set up just in case.

Other articles of interest –

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    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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