National Nonprofit Organization Pets for the Elderly Expands Adoption Program to Also Provide Animal Care Assistance for Seniors 60 and Older

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The Pets for the Elderly Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) public charity whose mission is to provide companionship and health benefits to older adults through pet ownership and animal care assistance, while saving the lives of homeless shelter animals in shelters; animals which might otherwise be destroyed due to lack of appropriate homes, and space limitations.

Pauline adopted Cow from PFE partner shelter Greenville Humane Society in Eugene, Ore.

“Over the years, we have received important feedback from our partner shelters and seniors themselves who have indicated that while providing reduced-cost adoptions to seniors is a very beneficial service, there are additional financial needs that go into caring for a pet."

Since 1992, the Pets for the Elderly (PFE) grant program has paid a portion of the adoption fee for nearly 100,000 seniors 60 and over adopting a dog or cat at PFE’s participating shelters across the U.S. Understanding that pet maintenance and long-term care is a barrier to pet ownership for many seniors, PFE has announced an expansion of its grant program to now include animal care assistance at any of its participating shelters who apply for the grant.

Recognizing the many well-documented health benefits of pet ownership for seniors, PFE pays a portion of the fee for senior citizens (age 60 and over) to adopt a companion dog or cat from participating animal shelters, including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter, if part of the adoption cost. PFE is currently the only national organization matching shelter animals with senior citizens and works with 52 participating shelters in 34 states – shelters that are not only dedicated to saving the lives of animals, but also committed to supporting and implementing the PFE mission.

The mission at Pets for the Elderly (PFE) has been to provide companionship and health benefits to older adults through pet ownership while saving the lives of homeless shelter animals. The PFE mission is especially important today, as senior isolation and loneliness are reaching epidemic levels.

PFE believes, and medical research supports, that companion animals reduce loneliness in older adults, while providing numerous health and well-being benefits. However, once seniors bring home their pet, they still have the task of providing food, veterinary care, and grooming, which can greatly impact their budget.

According to the ASPCA, the first-year cost of dog (or cat) ownership exceeds $1,000. While the elderly can benefit by owning a pet, the cost of its care throughout that pet’s life may be a deterrent for some of them to adopt. In some instances, seniors feel the need to surrender their beloved pet because of a lack of money to care for them.

“Over the years, we have received important feedback from our partner shelters and seniors themselves who have indicated that while providing reduced-cost adoptions to seniors is a very beneficial service, there are additional financial needs that go into caring for a pet, and ones that may contribute to preventing seniors from adopting a pet in the first place. These include the cost of feeding and sheltering the animal as well as veterinary costs,” said Susan Kurowski, executive director at PFE.

PFE is taking its program a step further to address and help alleviate some of the financial expenses that some seniors may face in owning a pet. Thus, the PFE program will now include funding for shelter programs that cover veterinary services, retention services, food shortage support, and other services for animal adopters age 60 and over.

PFE funding can now cover the following and will be implemented through a certified PFE partner shelter include routine veterinary care, surgery, food, home visits and grooming.

PFE relies on funding from a myriad of foundations, grants, and individual donors. The Foundation is hoping to continue to expand its program reach to include several shelters in each of the 50 states by 2021; but this will require an increase in financial resources.

“In order to expand our reach and services, we require additional funding,” said Kurowski. “To help generate that funding, we’re in the process of implementing a brand awareness campaign that includes the launch of a newly refreshed website, the addition of PFE social media channels, a donor appeal, and online advertising,” added Kurowski.

While any pet owner can certainly attest to the many benefits of living with a furry friend, studies confirming the health benefits of pet ownership have appeared in such respected publications as the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, American Heart Association News, the Mayo Clinic’s Health Oasis, the Journal of Social Issues, The Journals of Gerontology, Clinical Nursing Research and the British Journal of Psychology.

Pets for the Elderly is looking to add new animal shelters to its program. Shelters wishing to participate can visit the website at http://www.petsfortheelderly.org.

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