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Seniors and homeless pets helping each other

by Therese on November 26, 2007

in Cats, Dogs, Health, Pets

20071126seniordogs.jpgSome Colorado Springs, CO seniors are getting a new family member to love and care for…and to bring more life into their own lives. Thanks to a new program, Senior Citizens Pet Companionship Program, which is administered by the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, in Colorado. The program was originally funded by a retired banker and college economics teacher, but the Humane Society hopes more people will donate to the program.

Monty, a more-than-cute Jack Russell terrier, didn’t exactly save Joan Bourell’s life, but he sure made it better. Since getting the dog last spring, the 77-year-old Colorado Springs, Colo., woman has lost 32 pounds and her diabetes has stabilized, thanks to the six daily walks she takes around her apartment complex with Monty.

And, she says, “I’m not lonely anymore.”

The arrangement is made even sweeter by the fact that Bourell — a retired drapery seamstress who lives on Social Security — doesn’t have to pay for most of Monty’s upkeep. She got Monty compliments of the new Senior Citizens Pet Companionship Program, which is administered by the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, in Colorado.

The program not only gives free pets to qualifying low-income seniors 60 and older, it provides a subsidy of $400 per dog or $300 per cat each year of the pet’s life. The money comes from a special donation fund and covers health care and food for the pets.


“With help, this program could even grow to provide 100 pets a month to seniors,” Buz Rieger says. “That would be 1,200 animals a year. That’s a lot of loving homes and happy seniors.”

The seniors are shown mostly older, well-trained and sometimes more-sedentary dogs or cats that fit in better with their lifestyles. Once the seniors get their pet, they have to demonstrate that it’s getting its vaccinations and twice-a-year health exams. If their pet dies, they can get another one under the program. If the owner dies, the subsidy is transferred to a family member. If the survivors don’t want the pet, it’s returned to the shelter.

Read more about the Senior Citizens Pet Companionship Program.

I think this is a great program. It not only gets dogs and cats out of animal shelters, and off of death row, but it places them in homes with people who will love them and will benefit by having them in their lives. Studies have proven that many older folks suffer from depression, high blood pressure, and other ailments, and yet others have shown that having a pet to love and care for can help combat many of these health issues. What a great way for pets and humans to help each other live happier, healthier lives. I would love to see this program in more cities!

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