Animal shelters continue to make pleas to help clear kennels. Nationally, 7% more animals are entering shelters than leaving this year, according to the organization Shelter Animals Count. Some of that is related to inflation and families not having enough money to care for pets.
Now, a long-standing program is expanding its service to help pets stay at home longer. The Pets for the Elderly program pairs aging adults with shelter animals.
The program helped Jill Casteel find her dog, Daisy. Their bond grew quickly, especially when Casteel was diagnosed with lung cancer.
“It’s funny because when I was going through treatment, when I was sleeping, she was sleeping. Dogs know. They just know when you’re going through something,” she said.
Pets for the Elderly started to help older adults feel less lonely and find shelter animals forever homes.
Susan Kurowski, the executive director of the organization, says the pandemic helped everyone understand loneliness better. She says she gets to hear all the stories from older adults about how the adoptions changed their lives for the better.
“One man said he was a chick magnet now because he adopted a cute, little, white fluffy dog and people were stopping to talk to him,” Kurowski said. “We have another woman who sends us $2 in cash every year saying, ‘I know it’s not much, but you helped me, and I hope that my little bit can help someone in the future.’”
Kurowski says she’s taking more calls from seniors who need help paying for medical care for their pets. The organization works off donations, so they are slowly expanding to offer more retention services like helping to pay for veterinary expenses and food.
“When you help us, you are helping two segments of society,” Kurowski explained.
Pets for The Elderly works with shelters in 32 states to reduce adoption fees. It recently surpassed 105,000 adoptions since it went national in 2002.
Click here if you’d like to donate and see the shelters the organization works with.