CHEERS to North Country Animal Shelter in Malone for its program to match senior citizens with senior pets.
Shirley Morton and her staff of volunteers strive to see that the animals in their care find the best forever homes. Most families — especially those with children — come to adopt cute and cuddly puppies and kittens, which is also encouraged and appreciated.
But, the mischievous and rambunctious younger pets might need more training, hands-on care and attention than older people want to take on.
There are an average of at least 10 older dogs and 30 older cats at the shelter at any given time, and they need a loving home just as much. They may not fetch or run and play as energetically as they once did, but they still have plenty of love to share and companionship to give.
Many have been brought to shelter either because their previous owner died or the person could no longer care for the pet properly because of their own infirmity or because the elder person’s family could not, or would not, take responsibility for them.
But the shelter’s Senior-to-Senior Program matches cats that are age 6 and older and dogs age 7 and older with humans who are 65 and older.
And the best part is that these adoptions are free.
Morton said her staff screens the applicants to learn more about their lifestyles, such as whether they have other pets, if they live in a quiet home or one full of activity, whether there are children who visit often who would interact with the pet and if the senior is physically and financially able to care for the pet’s needs.
The shelter wants to make sure the pet is placed in a home similar to one they have come from, so the adjustment will be smooth for everyone.
The new owners are told that, if at any point their circumstances change after the adoption, arrangements be made to return the pet to the facility so the animal will be cared for, another commendable aspect of this program.
And if an unforeseen medical condition surfaces in the dog or cat after an adoption, the shelter will assist the owner in getting veterinary care or will take the pet back. That’s a comfort to seniors on limited incomes who might be worried about unforeseen expenses.
What a wonderful opportunity for a senior citizen and a senior pet to have richer lives as companions.
We would like to see more area animal shelters set up these kind of free, supported adoptions. It might get some of the older animals that are now living in cages into loving homes.
— If you have a Cheers and Jeers suggestion that you want the Editorial Board to consider, email it to Editor Lois Clermont at email@example.com.