MALONE — More and more older dogs who have been loyal companions to senior citizens are turning up at North Country Animal Shelter.
Most times, their owner has died or moved into a nursing home or another place that doesn’t allow pets.
Sometimes, the person can no longer feed and care for the animal properly, and their family or caregivers are unwilling to or can’t take on added responsibilities of pet ownership.
That leaves older dogs like Shasha, Maya, Pup, Little, Lola and Georgiana awaiting adoption at the shelter.
The shelter is doing what it can to make older-dog adoptions easy, and it doesn’t cost new owners a thing.
The free Senior-to-Senior Program gives dogs 7 years old and older to responsible owners who are 65 and older.
The program applies to senior cats, too.
The shelter tries to match people with dogs that fit their lifestyle, Shelter Director Shirley Morton said.
“If a dog was raised in a quiet, senior home, you don’t know how they’re going to adjust if it went to a family with younger children around or other animals,” she said.
“We take the time to find a home similar to what they had.”
The shelter is housing about 10 senior dogs, 30 puppies, 30 senior cats and 20 kittens.
Dogs are a little harder to place and can live as long as 15 or 16 years, so matching an older canine with a willing senior citizen makes sense.
“If it’s a dog that’s 10 years old, they’ll live another seven or eight years, which is just fine for a senior person,” said the shelter director.
Morton recently had to tell her family not to get her a puppy after she lost her 16-year-old dog to cancer.
“I’m almost 70, and if a puppy lives 16 to 20 years, I’d be in my 90s or not alive. It’s not fair to the puppy to live longer than I would.”