Pets for the Elderly Program Expands Efforts to Help Seniors Adopt and Keep Pets amid Pandemic

"Seniors take better care of themselves because somebody's counting on them," executive director Susan Kurowski said

senior man with dog
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One organization is ramping up efforts to help senior citizens care for their pets.

Pets for the Elderly, first founded in 1992, announced this week that it is expanding its grant program to include animal care assistance at participating shelters. The expansion will help seniors (aged 60 and up) cover the costs of vet appointments, food, grooming, and in-home visits, in which shelters will check in on the pet owners.

Since its founding, Pets for the Elderly has helped nearly 100,000 seniors across the country pay their pet adoption fees. Executive director Susan Kurowski said helping to connect people with pets — and giving them assistance in caring for those pets — is even more important amid the current coronavirus pandemic.

"Now, especially with COVID, bridging this whole isolation gap with companionship is going to show — when we look back — as being key to so many people’s mental wellness," she told Today. "And you don’t have to live alone to feel isolated."

She added, "Seniors take better care of themselves because somebody’s counting on them. They maintain a routine. They take their vitamins and their prescriptions on time because there’s someone relying on them, and that is so important."

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Michigan resident Pat Smith adopted her dog, Brady, from a local shelter and qualified for a discount from Pets for the Elderly. She told Today her pooch has gotten her "moving around a lot more."

"He’s a wonderful companion," Smith, 71, said. "He’s very active, but he really is my best buddy. No matter where I go in my house, he follows me. He’s a real comfort to me."

"I just think everybody should have a pet," she added.

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